By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to

6 minutes reading time (1117 words)

How to Counterpunch

As your skills advance, so do your techniques in the ring. This includes counterpunching, which allows you to use your opponent's own attacks against them to better take command of a fight.

But as with most things in the fight game, counterpunching takes time and athleticism to establish. Even so, it's also the skill that will take your game to a whole new level that goes beyond merely punching and being punched by putting an emphasis on your mental talents in the ring.

In other words, it's a technique you need to establish on your way to becoming The Champ!

What is Counterpunching?

By now you should have the number 1-rule of boxing defence down, which is of course: keep your hands up! But unless you're planning on just standing there being pummelled until your opponent drops from exhaustion (let's hope not), you will need to throw some punches too. Of course, this also means leaving your head exposed briefly—something which also happens to your foe when they throw a punch.

In fact, it's these little openings that a good counterpuncher takes advantage of. To do so requires rhythm, timing, accuracy and quickness, so there's more to establishing a good counterpunching game than most other skills in the ring. It can also add an element of poker to your game that's much like the relationship between hitter and pitcher in American baseball. Just as a hitter looks for tendencies and patterns from the pitcher to help predict what pitch will be thrown next, a good counterpuncher looks for his opponent's punching habits to predict openings.

Once you're able to establish a good counterpunching game, you have the best means of keeping your opponent off balance and flailing rather than landing solid punches. Likewise, you will also be able to inflict more damage and better take control of the fight with your punches.

Counterpunching Fundamentals

Counterpunching is complex, and there's no one single "way" of doing it. It requires that you know your opponent and their tendencies, as well as to have split-second timing, accuracy, and quickness to take advantage of these openings.

This involves allowing your opponent to go on offence, which you will use to your advantage to let them think they're in charge. You can then use distance to create brief openings, and rhythm, timing, hand speed, and accuracy to land punches before your opponent can "seal the gap."

But not all fighters are easily duped, and some can be quite clever—thus counterpunching's brain-game. Remember that an intelligent fighter is sizing you up in the same manner you are they, which may require that you be less greedy on offence--at least initially.

This takes practice, and may require feinting, blocking, and parrying to inspire confidence in your opponent. This is also when you'll be "doing your homework" and learning their tendencies so that you can set up a counterpunch attack, though again, the smart ones will also be seeing what you got, so keeping your cards close is critical. On the other hand, you can't wait too long to produce offence without the ref requiring that you do so. 

You also need to avoid repetitive use of some counters, since broadcasting your follow up to certain punches lets your opponent to know what to expect.

But these are all aspects that will come with time and practice, and for now, let's go over some of the basics.

Countering Basics

Just as you need to know your basic punches and combos, you also need to establish basic countering techniques. This goes for whether you become a counter fighter who lets their opponent initiate offence as a rule, or if you are more of an offensive fighter, which most fighters are. Becoming a counter fighter is usually something that establishes itself over time as your skills develop; and remember too, a pure counter fighter can put the audience to sleep with continuous backing-away, parrying, and evading rather than going forth with the gloves, so don't expect most flamboyant fighters to be counter fighters.

Though it's best demonstrated through videos or by your trainer, here's an idea of what you need to work on to establish your basic counter game:

Your trainer or pad holder will start with a lead punch for you to counter. Do these drills as you would other boxing drills by starting slowly and deliberately before working up to faster tempos until your muscle memory is intact at fight speeds. You can (and should) incorporate these drills into your shadow boxing and bag work to further establish them.

To start, have your trainer lead with a:

  • Left jab—counter with left jab
  • Left jab—slip right and counter with right hook
  • Left jab—slip inside and counter left to body
  • Left jab—drop the front knee and counter right cross to body (go low)
  • Left jab—slip head, step left, and left hook. This one is more advanced and must be done fast to be effective

Next, have your trainer lead with a:

  • Right cross—slip left and counter with a left hook
  • Right cross—slip left while simultaneously countering with a right cross
  • Right cross—drop the left knee and counter with a right to the body (go low)
  • Right cross—slip left and counter with a right overhand

Finally, have your coach lead with a:

  • Left hook—duck right and counter with a right cross
  • Left hook—lean back and counter with a right cross

And then a:

  • Right hook—duck left and counter with a left hook
  • Right hook—duck left and counter with a left hook followed by a short right

And then wrap it up with a:

  • Left jab—slip right—coach throws a right cross—slip left and counter with a left hook followed by a right cross

This will give you an idea of the "basics" of counterpunching, though as previously stated, your counter game will be more complex than this and will (should) see ongoing development. This will, however, give you something to work on and build off so that in time, your countering game will be unique to your fighting style.

Counterpunching Counts

Though the fundamentals of counterpunching are anything but fundamental, your counterpunching game is fundamental in the ring—at least, if you want to rise to beat better opponents.

By establishing some basic approaches to build off that includes learning to read your opponent and their tendencies, you can lay down the framework of a winning approach.

And just like everything else in the boxing world, all it takes is a little hard work.

Well, perhaps a LOT of hard work, but that's what keeps us coming back!

Controlled Sparring: Its Benefits, and How to Do i...
Tips on Keeping Your Hands up