Tricks to Keep Your Hands Up While Boxing

The defensive stance is arguably one of the most important fundamental aspects of boxing. Keeping your hands up will allow you to be an ideal position to both block punches from your opponent, and also deliver punches or counter-punches as well.

Consistently keeping your hands properly positioned by your face is an area where boxing newcomers struggle. That’s because most people either haven’t been taught the right way to position their hands, or they don’t have the practice and experience of keeping their hands up in a defensive position.

That’s why we wanted to provide you with a few drills that will help ensure that keeping your hands up by your face becomes a subconscious practice that you never have to worry about.


The Importance Of Keeping Your Hands Up

The biggest misconception among new contenders is that the most important part of boxing is to be bigger and stronger than your opponent so that you can deliver the most forceful punches to knock out the competition.

That mindset ignores a rather obvious counterpoint: it doesn’t matter how hard you punch if you leave yourself wide open to being on the receiving end of hits from your opponent. It doesn’t matter how much punching power you have if you’re lying on the canvas after getting knocked out.

We fully recognize that most people who attend a Gloveworx training session may not have any desire to box professionally, and that’s ok. Still, that doesn’t take away the importance of keeping your hands up as part of your boxing training.

Your base defensive stance with your hands forms the foundation from where all your punches will originate. Even when you’re performing defensive maneuvers to dodge punches, including shuffles, pivots, and slipping-and-rolling, it’s imperative to keep your hands by your face. That positioning will allow you to quickly, efficiently, and powerfully deliver a punch when you complete those defensive movements.

Just because you have no intention of sparring against another contender, that doesn’t mean it’s not essential to learn the proper fundamentals of boxing. It’s no different than learning how to play a musical instrument: you may have no intention of putting on a concert, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to learn the fundamentals of how to hold, practice, and play the instrument the right way.

How To Practice Keeping Your Hands Up

It’s very common to see a novice contender start to drop their hands away from their face when they’re boxing. As mentioned, continually holding their hands up is a practice that they’re not used to. Further, it’s only natural that your hands could start to drop as your arms get tired from throwing punches.

While it’s an understandable practice, it’s also a habit that contenders should actively focus on fixing. Instead of always devoting mental bandwidth toward having the “perfect” boxing stance, here are a few ways to make it easier to correct your hand positioning in a way that’s more familiar.

The Phone And The Microphone

For any novice contenders who may potentially struggle with or forget where exactly they’re supposed to hold their hands in a boxing stance, all they have to remember is “the phone and the microphone.”With your lead (non-dominant) hand, hold your hand up toward your face like you’re holding a microphone -- in the same manner that you might see a television news reporter or karaoke singer hold it. This is the left hand for most people.

With your back (dominant) hand, you want to hold it over your ear, as if you’re trying to hold up a telephone that you’re trying to speak into. This is your right hand for most people.

This drill works regardless of whether you’re a righty or a lefty. If you’re the former, then your right hand is holding the telephone, and your left hand is holding the microphone in front of your face. If you’re a lefty, it’s reverse -- your right hand is holding the microphone, and your left hand is holding the telephone.

As always, after you deliver a punch or a combination of punches, you want to ensure that your hands return to the respective microphone/telephone positions.

The Coin Against The Jaw

If you're really looking to practice ensuring that your dominant hand remains by your chin, then you should practice "the coin against the jaw" drill.

Start by assuming your preferred boxing stance, with both your hands balled up tightly into fists (if you're not already wearing your gloves). Now place your dominant hand directly underneath your jaw, such that your knuckles are pressed up against the jawbone on that side, right underneath your molar teeth. So, if your right hand is your backhand, then your knuckles should be pressed up underneath the right side of your jaw.

While in that stance, imagine that someone placed a coin in between your knuckles and your jawline, and asked you to tightly squeeze your fist against your jaw in a way that, no matter what movement you make, that coin remains in place between your fist (or glove) and your jawline. In fact, if you're able to get a friend -- or a Gloveworx coach -- to do so, try and actually have them place a real coin between your fist and your jaw to make this drill more realistic!

When ready, you want to start practicing punches using the hand that's not holding the coin in place. So, if you're a righty, you've got your right hand against your jaw, securing the coin in place, and your left hand will be the one punching. As you practice punches with your left hand, such as jabs, hooks, and uppercuts, you always want to be mindful that your right hand is firmly pressed up against your jaw, keeping that coin from sliding out of place.

As you might've guessed, the goal of this drill is to ensure that your dominant hand is always in the right position, where you're able to either slide it up quickly to protect from an incoming cross or hook, or it's in the right place to deliver either one of those punches of your own.

While you won’t be sparring with your fist touching your jaw, it creates muscle memory of being in that position.


If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it plenty: shadowboxing is one of the most valuable drills for contenders of all levels because it allows them to focus on their individual form, flow, and movement.

Most people associate shadowboxing with practicing combinations and moving your body as you simulate avoiding punches from an opponent. Shadowboxing also helps you monitor where your hands are at all times, especially if you practice in front of a mirror.

Even if you don’t have the luxury of watching yourself in a mirror, you can use shadowboxing as a way to really focus on where your hands and feet are positioned, as opposed to punching a particular object.

If you’re new to boxing as a whole, you may want to try and few rounds of shadowboxing, lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, and have a partner or a Gloveworx coach watch your movements. That way, they’ll be able to provide you real-time feedback.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Hand Placement

Regardless of which drill you use to optimize your hand placement during your progression as a contender, the most important part is that you’re actively and deliberately focusing on your hand positioning. It’s not enough to perform a drill over and over again, hoping that your coach cues you. Those repetitions need to be combined with actively paying attention to your movements, and making adjustments throughout.

During all of the boxing-centric drills of a Gloveworx training session, our coaches will be watching contenders to ensure they’re keeping their hands up. They’ll also be providing plenty of constructive feedback. Practice holding the phone by calling the studio to book your first Gloveworx training session.