For the uninitiated, at first sight, boxing might seem like a brutal sport where the person who hits the hardest wins. Yet it's actually a very subtle discipline.


First and foremost, boxing is about placing your punches so as to hit your opponent without being hit back. Winning a fight is all very well, but winning without getting injured is better. Ultimately, it all comes down to the art of slipping. In this article, we'll take a look at this essential boxing skill and learn how to train it.

Improving your footwork

It may seem obvious, but a moving target is much harder to hit than a static one. Yet it isn't always that simple to put into practice, particularly when faced with an opponent who is constantly coming forwards to trap you in a corner. When you look at some of the greatest boxers, their way of moving is almost like dancing. They travel around the ring with such grace that their opponents have trouble keeping up. It means the opponents' punches fall wide of their target, exposing them to potentially devastating counters.

Footwork is one of the first things to train to help you evade punches. Besides boosting your cardio, using a skipping rope reminds you not to stand still for too long. When you're skipping, have a go at moving slightly in every direction instead of staying on the spot. Similarly, you should make mobility a priority when practising shadow boxing. Imagine there's an opponent constantly attacking you and that you have to avoid them using both your footwork and slips. You can then put all of this into action when sparring.

Finding the right balance between tense and relaxed

This is no doubt one of the hardest points for any boxer to train, and even more so for beginners. If you're on edge and too tense, your movements will be less fluid, fast and reactive. On top of that, being tense uses up lots more energy. You end up moving jerkily, a bit like a robot. Ideally, your body should stay as relaxed as possible during fights, and the tension should only be felt at the moment of impact (both when attacking and defending). Again, shadow boxing is an excellent way of training yourself to be relaxed and fluid as you move. It's all a question of sensation. Try not to hold your breath, and keep up a good guard throughout the exercise.

Training on a punching bag can be a good idea as it makes you “lock” your punches at the moment of impact so that they're more efficient and you don't get injured. It gives you a chance to distinguish between your footwork (flexible) and your attacks (which require commitment and a certain tension at the moment of impact).


Focus pad training

This exercise requires the presence of a partner and gets you a bit closer to the conditions of a fight. Your partner dictates the tempo, with the aim being to adapt to any situation while trying to minimise your reaction time as much as possible. It's a good chance to repeat your combos so that they become automatic, meaning that you'll do them instinctively when sparring or in a fight. And you might also want to integrate some slip training. Ask your partner to attack you with the focus pads from time to time so that you can practise slipping their punches between two combinations. This will break up the routine and keep you constantly focused throughout the exercise, otherwise you risk getting hit (even if it isn't necessarily at full power). You can also follow your slip with a counter-punch, according to your partner's instructions.

focus pads

Speed ball

This accessory lets you train your slips by yourself. Unlike a punching bag, a speed ball will swing back towards you after being hit, meaning you have to dodge or block it. The aim is to alternate between the two so that you can make the most of your footwork. The speed ball is an excellent tool for developing your eye and your ability to adapt. Try to vary your punches as much as possible (jabs, hooks and uppercuts) so that the speed ball doesn't always do the same thing. This forces you to vary your slips and counters.  

Bobbing and weaving with a skipping rope

Another less costly way of training your dodges without a partner is to use a skipping rope. Tie it up between two walls, posts, trees or something else at chin height. The idea is to do your combos while moving forwards and backwards along the rope and bending your knees to duck underneath it in a U-shaped movement. This simulates the bob and weave that you would do to avoid a hook. Make sure to keep your back straight and keep a good guard as you bob. The rope simulates a punch at face height, forcing you to bend your knees so that you don't accidentally come into contact on the way past. Try to bob and weave with minimum effort. The width shouldn't be too exaggerated as that will tire you out more and you will lose precious time for counter-attacking. Don't forget to also move forwards and backwards to train your combos in motion.


The ultimate goal of the previous exercises is of course to put everything into practice by sparring with a partner. You don't need to try to hit hard if you want to practise slipping. Instead, try to apply everything you've learned in the form of an unexpected attack where you have to constantly adapt to the actions and reactions of your sparring partner. If necessary, make sure you're wearing the right protective equipment (helmet and mouth guard) to avoid getting pointlessly injured.

The best boxers are those who manage to hit their opponent without being hit themselves. Slipping is a key defensive skill for any boxer which requires a good eye and fluid movements. There's nothing more satisfying during a fight than slipping an attack to leave an opponent vulnerable to a perfectly timed counter that puts them on the back foot. Right? So there's no time to lose! You've got no excuses not to train and become the king or queen of slipping! :-)

Nicolas - OUTSHOCK ambassador


Combat sports enthusiast

Have fun!