Boxing Lessons – All in the Stance!

by Fran on August 14, 2012


Boxing Lessons on the Pads – Stay Calm, it’s a Southpaw

This is the second in a series of video articles in which I look at the punch pads and the kind of boxing lessons that I can give as a coach in using them.  If you haven’t already it would be worth starting at the beginning and going back to the first article Boxing Lessons for Real.

As with the previous article I’ll cover a couple of aspects of what I’m doing on the pads and also one or two things about the boxer.  The boxer that I am working with here is a young man named Nick Mooney, and in Nick there is a particularly interesting fact.

The Southpaw – Orthodox Conundrum

Nick came to our boxing gym about 12 months ago having been at another gym for the previous couple of years.  Since he’s been with us he has had a really active period, racking up the fights and making great strides developing his boxing skills and boxing techniques.

A few weeks ago, my fellow coach noticed Nick signing in the membership book.  Nothing unusual in that you might think.  However, my colleague noticed that Nick was signing the book with the pen in his left hand.  This we felt was unusual for an orthodox boxer, that is someone who has been trained as a right-hander.  Doh.  We were dealing with a southpaw!

We wasted no time at all in encouraging Nick to give the southpaw stance a go, and the pad session in the video below believe it or not is Nick’s first serious attempt to hold the southpaw stance during a relatively intense round of pads.

Speaking as an ex-boxer who was never able to master the southpaw stance (many would suggest that I failed to master the orthodox stance), I feel that Nick did a fine job here.  His punching is sharp, his balance is good and there is a relaxed feel to his boxing.  Of course he is at the start of a journey here and there are many improvements to be made, but I see no reason why Nick cannot develop into a boxer who is equally comfortable (and effective) as a southpaw or an orthodox.  Happy Days!

Here’s the video and below are a couple of observations about the pad session:

The Punch Pads Boxing Lessons #3 – Realistic Target

In the first article of this series I wrote of the importance of replicating a live opponent when working with a boxer on the pads.  A clear demonstration of this replication in play is shown in the first 30 seconds of the video.

Within that period, you can see Nick use a jab followed by a lead hand hook combined with a pivot (a classic southpaw trick).  You will notice that I hold both pads very close together so that the faces form an ‘L’ shape.  I want as little distance as possible between those pads because I need to form a ‘head shape’.

The same is true at 0.23 when Nick uses the simple one-two.  I receive both shots on the same pad, again based upon the fact that a single pad is about the same size as a single head.  Sometimes coaches will have a boxer punch to the opposite pad, that is the boxer’s left hand would land on the coach’s left pad and the right hand on the right pad.

I have found separate pads is fine for blasting cardio work (for example throwing 6, 8 or 10 straight shots), but for technical development that too much space can grow between the pads.  If this replicated the fight situation then I would need to prepare boxers for opponents whose head would be the size of a small family car.  Unrealistic, well, most of the time anyway.

As a final tip, I have found that I can receive maybe 3 straight shots to the pad before it becomes unstable and there is no telling where a shot may be deflected.  If there are more than 3 shots then I use both pads.

The Punch Pads Boxing Lessons #4 – Switch the Stance

Those sharp-eyed observers will notice that I switch stance for large periods of the round, that is I go southpaw in response to Nick’s southpaw stance.  Why is this?  Am I preparing Nick for the eventuality of meeting a southpaw opponent?  Well, not really.

As an orthodox boxer, when you use the lead hand block against a fellow orthodox boxer’s right cross, you are in fact pitting your physically weakest arm against your opponent’s most powerful punch.  The same principle is true here for a coach using the pads.  By me receiving Nick’s hammer-like one-two’s onto my rear pad and am much more able to absorb the power of the shots.

Body Punching & Head Punching

I am a big fan of body punching.  Some may suggest that it is difficult to score them in modern amateur boxing with the computer scoring system.  For me though, a boxer who doesn’t throw body shots is like a race car without wheels.  Check out Nick’s lead hand hooks to the body from about 0:50.  We do need to build in some bend in those legs, but the shots are sharp and accurate and again my pad is held where I want the shot to land.

From about 1.09 Nick begins doubling up.  First from the lead hand hook to the body then short range lead hand hook head.  Notice at 1:15 I change Nick’s head shot to a mid range lead hand hook to the head, you see me motioning to Nick with my pad palm down to demonstrate.  Finally I really like the double lead hand hook to the body at 1:50.  Again we need to build some bend into those legs, but all in all it’s an outstanding show for the first night as a southpaw!

Any comments or questions then please leave them below.  Alternatively if you’re ready to find out more about the pads, check out the article Boxing Techniques on the Pads.




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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim January 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

Hi, Fran

I just wanted to thank you for your excellent videos and articles. I boxed a little at university and have now taken it up again (many!) years later. I have really benefitted from your videos and articles – the great thing is that you can re-watch them until you get the finer points right. In the face of competition for time with the coach, your articles and videos have made a real difference! Thank you. Tim


Fran January 14, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Hey Tim

Thanks very much mate. I put a lot of thought into the explanations, I always want them to be as precise and complete as possible. So, it’s great that that’s paying off for you.


Paul Smith August 31, 2012 at 10:54 am

I see some real nice pad technique and excellent, devastating punch combos in this video Fran.


Fran September 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Thanks Paul. New one going up in the next few days.


Karl August 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Hi Fran,

I think we all agree that punch pads can provide a giant step forward when we’re trying to learn this craft called boxing. You demonstrate one of the main reasons in this video. You punch back.

The way I see it, raw beginners think of boxing solely in terms of offence. The more experience will add defense as a crucial second element. In my opinion, plenty of boxers get stuck at this level, offence then defense, defense then offence. First they apply one and then the other. These two elements are critical to boxing but it’s a mistake to treat them as separate things. We have to look at it like this -offensedefense- one thing.

I like how you demonstrate that concept in this video. Plenty of examples where you throw out a punch first and he counterattacks. Counterattack is the same thing as -offensedefense-. He slips your jab, but knows that the slip is the beginning of his counter punch and not just the beginning of his defense. Know what I mean? If you think of a slip/duck/block in terms of strict defense (like most beginners do) your brain will stop the action once you have successfully defended, then you will have to reset your brain to begin the process of punching back. This is far too slow in the boxing world. One needs to flow into the other seamlessly.

It takes a lot of time to erase that mental speed bump between slipping a shot and returning fire. In my opinion it’s difficult to practice on other equipment but you can really attack the problem with mitt work. It’s also hugely rewarding for the fighter. They begin to see that boxing doesn’t have to be a war of attrition. They realize that HIS punch towards you is actually a gift if you time it right, because every punch creates an opening. When I hold mitts I always try to stress this point. Not by verbalizing it, but simply by demonstrating it several times and allowing them to realize it on their own. I know when they do because they get this huge smile on their faces.

Great video Fran. I also like your pad placement for the double hooks. I hold them a little differently, but I think your way is better. I’m going to copy it!


Fran August 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm


There’s nothing I can add to that comment. I just hope that those on the site are fortunate enough to read it because of they do then in the words of Rudyard Kipling “… yours is the world and everything that’s in it”

Lovely comment Karl, thank you.


Ivan August 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Good job in spotting Nick’s dominant arm. Even if he doesn’t convert completely to southpaw, his jab will be really strong (now that you know you’ll probably work on it) and a strong jab is harder to deal with than a strong back hand.
Body punches are an essential part of the arsenal and they are not just a tactical weapon or a guard opener, they simply hurt more than head shots. Even if the judges don’t score all of them, the opponent will. There is not enough time in an amateur contest to really break down a strong opponent with body punching, but if you push the button and they go down, they usually can’t shake it off like a head shot. A good body shot can hurt for a week.


Fran August 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Spot on Ivan. I was really relieved to see lots of body punching on show at the Olympics. We all know that Lomachenko loves his body punching, but a host of other top guys also demonstrated this fine art. Umanchireg from Mongolia stood out, as did Sapiyev. And the point you make on the importance of body punching is absolutely on the money, and body shots are a great platform for the follow up head shots.

Cheers Ivan.


Ivan August 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

There was a lot of body work in the Olympic bouts and another good example of the usefulness and effect of well placed and timed body blows was Oleksander Usyk’s work against Clemente Russo in the 91 kg final. I think it was the most meaningful bout for a lot of reasons, and Usyk’s straight back hands to Russo’s torso were a joy to watch. They did stop the aggressive brawler from closing in and folded the thick-muscled Italian in two on several occasions. It was a clash of styles, tactics and prototypes but Usyk had to overcome the judges’ “fondness” of Russo as well, defeating the bent scoring system in the process. You just can’t keep a good man down


Fran August 29, 2012 at 9:53 am

Absolutely Ivan. All of the Ukrainian boxers in the Olympics really switched the attack well from body to head and back again. Usyk was really smart in that bout switching the straight back hand from the body to the head and making constant feet adjustments to really unsettle the Italian. Great boxing from the Ukrainian Heavy.


Ben August 15, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hi Fran

I started boxing 4 months ago and like Nick, I am also left handed being trained as an orthodox boxer. My coach is also completely unaware that I’m left handed.

I had my second sparring session yesterday and although I feel more comfortable boxing as an orthodox, I left the gym wondering if I should start training as a southpaw. After seeing this perfectly timed post, I am assuming this is something you would recommend?

I understand Nick has been boxing for a lot longer than myself but is the aim for him to be a southpaw or are you just experimenting so he can choose for himself?

As you know, I have not even scratched the surface of learning how to box as an orthodox, so would your aims be different for me?

Thanks a lot


Fran August 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hey Ben

Certainly discuss it with your coach. If you were a right hander who had been coached as a southpaw then I would effect a change. The reason to effect the change the other way round is even more compelling. I am sure that your coach would at least like to know. I would see in the longer term Nick boxing as a southpaw and having the option to change.

Hope this helps


Matt August 15, 2012 at 9:50 am

Hi Fran
This article is as though you read my mind! As a southpaw I’ve recently been pondering how my partner should hold the pads for me to replicate a realistic situation. In our club, we get taught how to hold the pads for each other based on the opposite arm/opposite pad principle. If you’re orthodox, the pad person stands in orthodox stance, vice versa if you’re a southpaw.

The conundrum for me relates to your point “The Punch Pads Boxing Lessons #4 – Switch the Stance”. If I’m a southpaw and my partner holds the pads in a southpaw stance, its not giving me the correct angles that I would face against most opponents, as they are orthodox, and I have to circle in the opposite direction.

However, when my partner stands orthodox we find if difficult to place the pads effectively. For example, using his lead left hand for my right jab/left cross/left uppercut places his lead hand is too far away from his face, so that I am punching too short from the realistic target.

Similarly, if I use his rear right hand for my jabs, crosses etc, it presents the problem that that pad is too far away, as he is left foot forward, and it does not create the correct angle for the left cross, negating that twist to the right as the pad is straight in front of me.

Therefore is it better to do what you’re doing in that video? Make the pad person stand in a southpaw stance to give better punching angles, even though the feet don’t replicate the orthodox/southpaw position, and the pad person only switch to orthodox when practicing counter punching (slipping the left jab, counter right hook) as you do in the video, which eliminates the awkward angle of having to hit the left pad from a southpaw stance?




Fran August 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hey Matt. For me it’s a question of the person holding the pads to be able to ‘absorb’ the power of the incoming shots. Don’t worry too much about the range, it works out about the same albeit with the lead arm being in a different spot. I do tend to switch to work on specific southpaw v orthodox techniques, but as a general rule I go with the way you guys do.


Dave Waterman August 15, 2012 at 7:54 am

Hi Fran,

I’m on my hols with my children in Devon. Lovely part of the world and very relaxed but no internet connection. So I’m reading this on a 2″ mobile phone screen without the benefit of seeing the video and trying to write this with a minute key pad and failing vision (the joys of ageing) so please excuse any errors on spelling, sentence construction or syntax.

I’ve been very interested in your pad articles because I feel my own pad work is an area needing development. My skills (or lack of) in pad work are those handed down from my own coaches and a little bit of advice from Q Shillingford. I’ve tried the single pad to receive the front and rear hand but it feels unnatural after years of left pad receiving left hand (jab in the case of orthodox) and right pad receiving right hand. i think I can get over the problem of presenting a wide target and encouraging punching across the centre line. This style seems to work well with my stronger arm taking the power shot and discouraging the boxer from reaching for the jab and losing balance which is someting I feel might happen when calling for a jab onto my own rear hand. But this style presents a problem when working with southpaws. I experiment with staying in the orthodox stance and switching myself. Also I have to mentally get out of the habit of calling, for example, ‘left hook’ when I want a lead hand hook.

It’s beyond doubt that the experience I provode a southpaw is inferior to that I can give an orthodox boxer. But the Olympics demonstrated that southpaws are becoming more prevalent now. Is this because there has been a history of coaches encouraging left handers to fight in the orthodox stance, which it seems might be the case with your charge, Nick? And do you think this might have been done because it was easier for orthodox coaches to work with all their boxers in the orthodox stance?

The first question we ask of a new boxer is are you right or left handed? I try to supress the inward groan when the answer comes back ‘left’ but that’s because of my own shortcomings rather than any inherent dislike of working with southpaws.

Thanks for these enlightening articles, Fran. I look forward to seeing the video when I get home, assuming the daily ingestion of cream teas doesn’t result in a coronary 😉


Fran August 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Glad you told me about the spelling thing Dave. Your sentence construction and spelling is usually so precise that any degradation would have caused me concern that your drink had been spiked or that you were having a mild, Devonian breakdown.

Don’t worry about the verbal difficulties of calling out the shots for a southpaw. I am yet to overcome this myself and southpaws tend to compensate really well for our coaching shortcomings in this area.

The general question around southpaws is a very compelling one. Whether in the past coaches have ‘forced’ southpaws to box orthodox for selfish reasons is a valid question. One thing seems pretty obvious to me, and that is that international boxing team selection seems to favour southpaws just based upon the sheer number of them operating at the highest level. Only 1 in 9 are lefties, so statistically there shouldn’t be that many in Olympic finals, so there must be a clear gap in skills capabilities for the orthodox boxers to bridge. The challenge for them is how to do this, easier said than done.

A strong, clever, hard-hitting southpaw is worth their weight in gold. I do suppress the groan just as you do, but if we forced them to go orthodox then we both know that this would ultimately be self-defeating. We are in this business to coach successful boxers. Good southpaws, as the current evidence clearly suggests, have an increased chance of being successful. Just thought, could it be another computer scoring issue? I don’t know, need to think on that one a bit.

It’s a great comment Dave. Keep working through the cream teas in a systematic way David. Just make sure that you and your lovely partner don’t come home in the forms of Wurzel Gummidge and Aunt Sallie. That would never do down Battersea way.

Take care lar.


Poster August 15, 2012 at 6:50 am

Hi Fran,

now the calling for lead hand hook went much better. Specially when you asked the boxer to throw first lead hand hook to the body and then to the head. Maybe it was just a mistake on the last video and I was crying for nonsens. : D


Paul August 15, 2012 at 6:30 am

Great lesson. I think the person who is holding the pads needs to be on their game as much as the guy throwing shots.


Fran August 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Agreed Paul. I find that thinking like a fighter when on the pads really helps me. Takes me back …


ronnie miller August 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Good job. I prefer using the mitts and the full body pad so my fighter can really get in close for the body, head combinations. Again, glad to see you not doing the “Mayweater slap routine” with the pads- still can’t see the benefit of that unless your opponent wants to slap his head on your gloves. Oh well, to each trainer his/her own.


Fran August 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Agreed Ronnie. We do have a body pad, maybe I should use it more. I’ll definitely not be doing the Mayweather slap thing though!


Peter August 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thank you again Fran for another gem of a lesson(s)!


Fran August 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm

You’re welcome Peter.


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