Your Complete Guide to Slipping Punches in Boxing

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What made Ali great? Which aspect of his boxing game fascinated us the most? Was it his punches? Was it his defense? Was it his technical abilities? You’d often find yourself thinking how boxers in his early careers weren’t able to hit him? 

The same way we think of Mayweather today. Any great fighter’s biggest strength is their superhuman ability to slip incoming punches. On paper, slipping punches is extremely simple but if it was that simple, almost anyone could’ve been Ali, Duran or Mayweather.

Slipping is an advanced technique in boxing, primarily related to a defense that allows you to avoid an incoming punch by moving out of the way. By slipping, you can prevent sacrificing your arm for defense and can set yourself for a counterpunch pretty easily. Slipping is a basic technique that is indeed one of the toughest to follow through.

A superior defensive maneuver takes away all the damage since you’re not sacrificing any part of your body. Slipping is dangerous because it requires you to be dependent upon your reflexes. So, if things go haywire, you possibly would find it extremely hard to recover from the depth. If you can’t slip well, you are bound to eat clean punches and eventually go down.

Why slipping punches is more effective than Blocking?

In our previous guide, we learned why parrying is more effective than blocking and today we’re going to study why slipping punches is more effective.

Puts your opponent in a disadvantageous position

See, when you slip an opponent’s punch, it instantaneously puts them in a terrible spot. They directly end up in a disadvantageous position by falling off-balance or losing their stance. The moment they lose track, they know that you’re coming from them. Thus, slipping punches in a way signals your opponent about your advanced boxing skills.

At the same time, slipping takes very little effort and thus it’s a great technique to tire your opponents who put their entire energy in a punch. We’ve seen boxers like Naeem Hamed and Roberto Duran getting the better of their opponents simply by slipping punches and frustrating them.

Makes room for an easy counter

Slipping frees up your arm since you’re no longer blocking the incoming punches. The major benefit of this is that you can counter punch right away. What makes your punches crunchier is the fact that your opponent will walk into your punches trying to get back at you! The reason why they will enter the trap is that they won’t be able to track your movement. From a subconscious perspective, the moment I miss a punch, I’ll automatically think about an incoming offense. So, not only does slipping punches make room for an easy counter, they make way for a powerful counter as well.

Helps you compete at elite levels

Like parrying, slipping too is an advanced technique. These techniques help to unlock the defense even when it’s extremely tight. Skills like this help to create an opening out of nowhere. Slipping is unpredictable and when you master it, you can use your opponent’s offense to change the momentum almost instantly.

Slipping creates countless opportunities for you to get back at your opponent. At top levels, the minutest of techniques and movements make the biggest difference. So, if you want to be in the big leagues, slipping punches is a technique you’ll need to improve.

When to Slip Punches?

What’s the use of a technique without knowing how to implement it? The same goes for slipping punches. Knowing when to slip punches is crucial. Slipping punching does require perfect timing along with awareness and energy.

If you don’t time your slips well you won’t just waste your energy but will also leave yourself susceptible to incoming attacks that can spell doom. Thus, it’s important that you avoid giving away your slipping pattern to prevent your opponent from anticipating the next move. Let’s about some instances where you should actively slip punches:

Slipping During Combinations

Slipping is quite useful during combination. Naturally, it’s a reflex that you tend you use when throwing combos. How that works is that you come in, throw punches and as soon as you sense your opponent trying to throw a right-cross and counter-hook, you slip outside to prevent it.

Now the deal with slipping is that you don’t slip the first punch your opponent throws i.e. slipping a jab in general. Why? Because slipping to the jab is dangerous as your opponent is not committed to the punch and is just testing the waters. If you slip a jab against an advanced boxer, he/she won’t follow up since they will know your motive. So, they’ll then resort to using fake jab and catch you with an uppercut as you try to slip.

Slipping Bigger Punches

There’s no rule in boxing and simply none with slipping. But experts advise that you should focus on slipping the bigger punches. See, it’s all about commitment. Unless your opponent is throwing his/her entire energy into the punch, they aren’t committed.

When opponents aren’t entirely committed, they can recollect themselves better and thus there’s not much of an opening there. In this loop, if you end up slipping and the opponent recovers, you’ll be the one in a disadvantageous position. Thus, always try and slip against bigger and fully committed punches. For eg: Hook or Cross.

When shot’s incoming towards your head

DON’T EVEN TRY WASTING YOUR ENERGY ON SLIPPING A BODY PUNCH. Use slipping only for punches to your head. If you try slipping body punches you might accidentally present your head to the opponent by bringing it in the way of his/her punch. In fact, you should use a body punch when your opponent tries to slip constantly. Blocking body shots is better than slipping them.

How to Slip punches in boxing?

When it comes to slipping punches, you can either slip on the inside or the outside. Let us understand the basic inside and outside slip before moving towards the advanced 2-point and 3-point slip.

Slipping Inside the Jab

Step 1: Keep your weight centered with both the hands up

In order to slip your opponent’s punch inside the jab, position your hands near your face and keep your weight centered – squared over to both the legs. This will help you get in a perfect position to be able to move your body and slip a punch.

Keep your feet in line with your shoulders and move your less dominant leg slightly in the front. For instance, if you’re left-handed, your right foot should be slightly ahead. This position helps improve the overall balance when you want to slip a punch or throw one. Do not undermine the importance of defensive positioning. Maintain eye contact and be ready to move quickly.

Step 2: Move and rotate your body Counterclockwise direction

When wanting to rotate Counterclockwise, lean slightly towards the left and transfer the weight of your body on the left leg. As you’re leaning, try and rotate our body in an anticlockwise direction. Doing so will help you maintain the guard whilst slipping incoming punches. When moving Counterclockwise, pivot your back foot in the same direction. It should mimic your body movement. Use your back foot for a little lift and then turn with the rest of your body i.e. pivoting.

Step 3: Hold your rear hand slightly higher

Your head hand obviously has to be your dominant hand. That’s the basic rule that you might already know. By raising your rear hand, a little, you will be able to protect yourself better in case of an unexpected attack. For instance, if your opponent instead of measuring you with a jab tries to throw a vicious left hook. This raised hand will protect your chin whilst also allowing you to set up a counter. As soon as you are through the danger, you can step in with your lead foot and counter with a jab or a heavy punch based upon you and your opponent’s position.

Step 4: Keep the body movement compact

When you’re trying to slip inward, you can make your body movement compact. For instance, against an incoming left jab, you can pull your right shoulder towards your left knee instead of ducking the movement. At the same time, you can bend your knees slightly and move your hips in a Counterclockwise direction. Not only will these sets of movements make you compact but will help you counter with considerable force. Maintain eye contact and keep your chin tucked behind your shoulders to avoid getting caught in case of any mishaps.

Slipping Outside the Jab

Step 1: Posture is the same as slipping inside the jab

The posture for slipping outside the jab is quite similar. You stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands raised. You use your less dominant foot and place it in the front of the more dominant foot. Maintain a good defensive stance by keeping your hands near your face and your stance is perfect.

Step 2: Rotate in a clockwise direction

As opposed to counter clock movement, you must move in a clockwise direction when wanting to slip outside the jab. As your opponent pumps the jab, rotate your body in a clockwise direction and lean slightly towards the right – completely opposite than the inside slip. The major difference here is that you’ll need to keep your movements small and pivot both your feet in the clockwise direction which you rotated with your hips.

Step 3: Try to step inwards

Once you’re done with pivoting, move a bit closer to the opponent by stepping towards them as you’re throwing the punch. If you tend to throw the punch with your right hand, your left hand should come forward as well. By doing so, you’ll be able to maintain your head at a safe distance from your opponent. When you fully slip the punch, hit a crossover jab over the arm or attempt an uppercut from below. The biggest advantage of slipping inside is that you can catch your opponent while moving upwards. Since your opponent’s head in next to your head, your opponent will have a hard time protecting his/her face and body.

Step 4: Shift your head position

A major mistake committed by amateur boxers is that they play very predictably and often end up being knocked out. For instance, most of them end up moving their head to the original position – Don’t do that. It’s a huge mistake. Move your head anywhere but from where you started the movement. By doing the same motion and moving in the same position, you give out clues to your opponent who can easily predict your moves and put you to sleep.

Understanding 3-Point Slip

A 3-Point slip technique has been put forward by Johnny from ExpertBoxing. I find this system extremely impressive because of his holistic approach. Here are a few things I would like to share which I learned from Johnny and his 3-Point slip system. By using these techniques, you’ll be able to transition from one position to the next in a hassle-free manner.

3-point slip usually points to three points of movement. Basically, it talks about focusing on moving your head across the three points to slip outside the punch. We have already studied about how to slip punches to the outside. By using this technique, you’ll be able to slip left hooks, right hands, and the basic jabs. Basically, all the high and powerful punches which are targeted towards your chin. It was a brilliant read. You can visit ExpertBoxing, to learn about the 3-point slip in-detail. (I’ll leave the link at the end of this blog).

Understanding the 2-Point Slip in Boxing

The 2-Point slip is an extremely effective technique that helps to slip low punches. By bending your knees and dropping your body slightly, you aim to cut under the punches such as low left hooks and low right hand.

To pull the 2-point slip effectively, you must get under the punches at all costs by slipping towards the ground. You can use the 2-point slip to get out from tricky situations such as when your opponent has been throwing wild punches at you. Remember, when you want to slip on top, use the 3-point slip. However, if you want to slip towards the bottom, the 2-point slip is extremely effective.

Basic Slips in Boxing

Basic slips in boxing are some common slips used by boxers at all levels. It’s been tried and tested that slipping works against certain moves. Let’s learn how these basic slips work.

Slipping a jab or the left cross

  • To slip a jab or a left cross, try pivoting clockwise whilst bending your knees and dipping down your head to the right so the jab gets out of the way.
  • As soon as you’re done slipping, get right back in with a right-hand counter to the body or head
  • Another way to slip a jab or a left cross is by bending your knees and following with a jab to the body almost instantaneously.

Slipping a right hand

  • To slip an incoming right hand, try pivoting in the counter-clockwise direction to your left. Bend your knees and dip your head down in order to clear the right hand.
  • As soon as you’re done, follow it up with a powerful left hook to the head or the body
  • You can also throw a right to your opponent’s body when slipping followed by a big left hook or you can pull your head straight up and allow your opponent’s right hand to pass under your chin which will then present you with an opportunity to throw a counter over the top

Slipping a 1-2 combination

  • To slip the basic 1-2 combination, bend your knees, pivot clockwise and try shifting your upper body in the right angle to evade the incoming jab.
  • You can evade a right cross in the same manner by reversing the direction and pivoting in the counter-clockwise direction
  • Once you evade the right cross, quickly follow it up with a left-hook counter and a defining right cross

Slipping the uppercuts and hooks

  • To slip powerful punches such as hooks and uppercuts, simply pull your head back to get the punch out of the way.
  • When pulling back, make sure you don’t overpull because that may lead you off-balance
  • Additionally, when slipping an uppercut or a hook, you can throw a counter jab in an attempt to push your opponent (Works Well)
  • If you need an alternate way to deal with hooks and uppercuts, you can also bend your knees and throw a counter left hook towards your opponent’s body simultaneously. It’s all about making your opponent miss his shot and then making yours count.

 When using basic slipping techniques in boxing, you should keep the following things in mind.

  • Try shifting your heels when pivoting back and forth which allows you to prepare your counterpunch as you’re slipping.
  • Always maintain the eye contact with your opponent
  • When slipping closely, try lowering your gloves from in front of your eyes to your cheeks so to prevent your gloves from getting hit
  • Try exhaling while slipping. Do it in the same breath as punching! This will allow you to contract your stomach a little and move explosively.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Slipping Punches

Relying on the back instead of legs

One of the most common mistakes made by amateurs involves slipping using their back instead of legs. Watch any professional boxer, you’ll see them using their leg muscles to slip and not their back muscles.

When you use your back and completely rely on it, you often go off-balance and thus leave yourself in a disadvantageous position. In such a position, you can’t land a good counter and become vulnerable to uppercuts. Thus, bend your knees and utilize your legs instead of overlying on back movement. Slightly movement is okay, but not using your legs is complete madness.

Not rotating your body enough

By now, you must have already learned about rotating the body in the clockwise and Counterclockwise direction. It’s not just a theory, it has some meaning to it. By rotating your body and vice-versa, you’re able to get your body and your face out of the way and you can come back with a harder counterpunch.

Neglecting the balance

Don’t raise your feet. They should stay under you. Most amateurs often miss out on this point. Remember, if you’re going to stay in one place when slipping, do not wave your upper body. Try to maintain your shoulders behind the knees, don’t let them go beyond it. If you go off-balance right after slipping the punch, you won’t be in a state for effective counter-punching.

Not maintaining eye contact

I’ve stressed this point above; I’ll do it again. If you can’t keep your eyes on opponent, you won’t be able to slip the punch let alone throw a counter. It’s only by tracking your opponent with your eyes that you will be able to slip and throw the right counter. Remember, most amateurs often leaning over and find it difficult to see what’s around them, if you’re facing the same problem, you’re not slipping punches in the right manner.

Not making it look like a close call

Slipping your opponent’s punch is an art. You should time it so perfectly that it misses you barely. When you slip right at the end, you can counter-punching almost instantaneously without worrying about any additional movement. Thus, make your opponent miss his/her punch by an inch and not by a mile. Subtle slipping is an art but it doesn’t consume a lot of energy and helps you slip faster combinations putting you in an advantageous position.

Over-reliance on inside slipping

If I haven’t mentioned it already, I’ll do it again. Inside slipping is dangerous since punches naturally curl inwards. Yes, inside slipping does come with high reward but it’s not without risk. Too much inside slipping can put you in a very tight spot if your opponent catches you. Thus, when slipping punches, try to slip to the outside and don’t make your movement predictable. Slipping to the outside is far less risky than the inside movement and thus do it sparingly.

Trying to slip under the punch

It’s a poor technique that often goes wrong. Boxers often end up leaning too far which takes away their stability along with power. If you try and stay under your opponent’s punches, you might be barged aside by an aggressive counterpuncher. It’s always wise to stay outside the punches then staying under them.

Conclusion

Slipping isn’t a choreographed move. It’s instinctive. With that said, you can obviously work and improve it. By building slip reflexes through working the mitts and throwing punches, you’ll get sharper. Use the double-end bag and slip bag to improve your slipping skills. And last but not least, work on your slip muscles – remember I stressed on the importance of leg muscles? Yes, so work on that by doing proper squats and other leg muscle strengthening drills. You can learn about them in our flexibility drills guide.