Fighting Stance: Boxer

Boxing stance frontby Johnny N, Expert Boxing, September 24, 2010

Your boxing stance and foot placement determine the effectiveness of your offense, defense, and footwork.  Learn the proper boxing stance; what it is and more importantly, what it does.

What Is The Perfect Boxing Stance?

This is such a tricky question since there’s so many stances out there and yet many of them will work pretty well in different ways. The idea behind the “perfect” boxing stance is there is no one particular stance but rather it is one that maximizes your strengths in the ring the while minimizes your weaknesses as much as possible. The perfect stance will be one that is suited to your style, your skills, and your abilities and it may not be the same one as your favorite boxer.

What will a good boxing stance do for you?

The best boxing stance for you will be balanced between multiple important attributes for fighting. The perfect boxing stance will give you:

  • Power & Defense
  • Range & Balance
  • Flexibility & Security
  • Stability & Mobility

The proper boxing stance will give you solid power in each hand but still allow you to efficiently defend yourself if you get counter-punched. The proper boxing stance gives you good reach with both hands without making you reach to land your punches or vulnerable to getting pushed off balance. The correct boxing stance will allow you to throw a wider variety of punches without leaving you too exposed. Lastly, the right boxing stance for you will allow you to stand firm on your ground but still have the ability to move away if needed. Again, the perfect stance is balanced– it gives you strengths without exposing you.

Foot Placement

Your foot placement is probably the most important aspect of your boxing stance. Where you place your feet on the ground determines your advantages and disadvantages in offense, defense, and mobility. Because everything starts from the ground, it is crucial that you learn proper foot positioning before any other aspects (hand placement) of boxing stance.

Toe-Heel Alignment

The first thing any boxer should learn when it comes to basic stance is the toe-heel line. Simply place your feet at shoulder-width distance from each other (or maybe a few inches wider) and place them along the toe-heel alignment line. Below I show some (crude) illustrations of different ways of placing your feet along the toe-heel alignment line and how their placement impacts your boxing ability. The toe-heel alignment will serve as a great guide for any beginner boxer wanting to learn how to place their feet correctly.


Boxing stance good

Good foot placement allows you to have solid balance without sacrificing in mobility. You have good power and reach with both hands while still positioning your body at an angle that makes it easier to defend.

Boxing Stance too forwardThis stance makes it easy for you to be aggressive and chase your opponent down with big hooks from either hand. Your body is facing too much forward so your right hand will not pivot very much giving you less power on right and left crosses. Your body will be heavily exposed making it easy for your opponent to land everything he throws. You will also have a hard time moving backwards and easily lose your balance if you opponent pushes forward into you.

Boxing Stance too squareThis stance has the same problems as being too forward. Your stance is still too squared making it easy for your opponent to land straight punches up the middle. It can be hard to defend or counter against his punches if he throws up and down at your head and body. You are still vulnerable to falling backwards and your jab has less reach.

Boxing Stance too straight

This stance is commonly used by boxers with backgrounds in martial arts. The first problem is that the strong hand, the right cross, is too far making it hard to reach your opponent with a 1-2 combination. The next problem is that you will fall off balance every time he throws a left hook; you will fall off balance to the left even if you block it. This stance is also vulnerable to your opponent squaring up and getting behind your jab. If he gets his right foot outside your front foot, he will be able to hit you with both hands whereas your jab is too close to do any damage and your right hand is too far to rotate all the way over to land. You be constantly turning into his punches or forced to run away (which is the only advantage of this stance).

Boxing stance too wideThis stance looks good except only people don’t realize that it’s too wide – which means bad balance & low mobility. Many boxers believe that widening their stance gives them more balance but it’s actually wrong. A lowered stance gives you better balance, not a wider stance. A wider stance can make you even more vulnerable to getting pushed off balance. This stance also has a problem of being too wide for the right hand to reach the opponent. Worst of all, the wide stance gives you poor mobility. Because your feet are already stretched out, they will not be able to take big steps when you want to move. Most people with wide stances end up having to jump every time they want to move because their feet are anchored to the ground. This burns energy and makes it hard to keep your feet on the ground, which in turn reduces your punching power.

General Boxing Stance Principles


Back foot heel is always slightly lifted off the ground. Being on the ball of your back foot gives you more mobility. Front foot heel can be planted on the ground but try to keep more weight towards the front of the foot. Your feet are spread about shoulder-width or a few inches wider.

Your knees will always be bent. This gives your more power, more balance, and more mobility. Your hips will always be relaxed and heavy which gives you even more balance and more power. Boxers that tighten up their upper body will usually carry their hips which makes them fall off balance easily and also burns energy faster.

Your weight is distributed about 50/50 between the front leg and the back leg. If anything, you can distribute it 55/45 giving the back leg a little more weight. The common mistake is to put too much weight on the front foot which makes it hard for you to step away quickly and also takes power off your right cross.Boxing stance side


Shoulders and arms should be relaxed. Elbows are down and in, hands are up, chin is down. Your shoulders should only slightly turned towards your opponent. They shouldn’t be squared so much that your stomach is open. Your front arm should be covering most of your body. Your rear hand should be at cheek or eyebrow level held at a diagonal angle to your chin. Your rear hand is responsible for protecting the straight left jabs as well as the left hooks that come from the side. Your left hand will be held in the air about 1 foot in front of your chin. The left hand is high enough to cover your chin but low enough to allow you to see over it. It’s close to your chin for defense against right crosses to your head but it’s also held out so that your jab can come out faster giving your opponent less time to defend or counter against it.Boxing stance front side

Different Boxing Stances

All the different stances of boxing generally utilize the same boxing stance principles mentioned above. The only difference is that they will vary in hand positioning, foot placement, and angle of the body. Where you place your hands is determined by your offensive and defensive needs throughout the fight. Your foot placement determines how you should position the rest of your body. For example: if you’re using foot positioning that doesn’t allow for much mobility, you probably shouldn’t pair that up with a hand positioning that offers low defense. Likewise, if you want to use offensive hand positioning for chasing down your opponent, you probably don’t want to use a foot placement that won’t let you move forward very well. Ultimately, the perfect boxing stance is the one that fits your style and your situation.


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