Common Beginner Boxer Mistakes: The Stance

by | Oct 18, 2021

Boxing Stance

It’s common for a beginner boxer to get it wrong and make mistakes in the stance. Whenever we start something new there’s a learning curve. Whether it’s boxing, learning to drive a car or ride a surfboard we’re going to need time to grasp the fundamentals and it’s expected that mistakes will happen. At TotalFighter fit we appreciate that some people learn quickly and others progress at a slower pace. The speed of progress isn’t important. What’s important is that mistakes or errors are identified early and corrected. The longer a bad habit is living the harder it is to kill. From a boxing perspective, beginners often make mistakes when learning the stance.

NB. Please be aware that there’s more than one way to stand when boxing. But purely for simplicity we’ll focus on the heel-toe orthodox stance. 

Stance Fundamentals 

A good stance is a fundamental part of a boxer’s game. A good stance allows for stability and mobility. Standing correctly will make you a small a target as possible — without compromising speed of movement or balance — and enables hip rotation in both straight and bent arm punches. Ultimately, a proper stance should maximise your strengths without leaving you exposed and vulnerable. 

When discussing the dos and don’ts of stance, it’s important to recognise the vital role of balance. If your balance is compromised you won’t be able to strike with real power or fluency and the speed of your footwork will be affected. Even if you have no intention of stepping in the ring, to maximise the success of your training session you’ll want to pay attention to your balance. Additionally, a sound self-defence strategy starts with staying calm and remaining balanced. For that reason alone, every TotalFighter fit session is conscious of boxer balance. 

Stance Mistakes 

If a boxer is standing poorly that puts him or her at an immediate disadvantage. Common mistakes include:

  • feet too far apart or too close together 
  • body weight unevenly distributed (ie. too much weight on front or back foot)
  • feet flat or heavy footed. 
  • incorrect positioning of feet (boxer is too side-on or too front on)
  • legs too straight
  • elbows positioned at the sides and flared. This leaves the “front door” open and underside of a boxer’s ribs unprotected and susceptible to punches. Furthermore, flared elbows makes it impossible to keep the hands high 
  • dropping the hands
  • shoulders hunched and “high”
  • high chin 

Correcting the Stance: Lower Body

Start with feet together. If you’re right handed, take one step backward with your right leg. (Left handers do the opposite). Your feet should be at least shoulder width apart with the front or lead foot straight ahead and facing your opponent. Back foot should be approximately forty five degrees to opponent such that front toe of the lead foot is in line with the rear or back heel. Think heel to toe alignment. This staggered stance with hips positioned at approximately forty five degrees to opponent helps you maintain balance and allows for hip rotation which is necessary to maximise punching power. 

Next, body weight should be ideally distributed evenly between the ball on each foot, ready to quickly step, roll or pivot with maximum speed. Uneven distribution of weight will make it extremely difficult to move in an opposite direction to where the weight is heaviest. And the harder it is to move the slower the movement will be. Standing on the toes can shift your weight too far forward and throw you off balance and make it difficult to move backwards with haste. Keeping your weight centred will greatly aid your balance and maximise your movement options. 

Mid Section 

Moving upwards, knees should be ‘soft’ and slightly bent for agility, balance and strength. Standing too “tall” can compromise speed of movement. Standing “lower” optimises balance. 

Next, focus on the hands, arms and shoulders. Hands should be relaxed (not clenched tightly) and facing one another, knuckles to the sky and elbows down and in — in front of you and close to the body. This proper position helps maximise defence for the body and makes for easier torso rotation when punching. Remember, elbows in equals hands up. And keeping the shoulders “low” and loose will help relax you. Maintaining a relaxed state will help maximise punching speed. 


Finally, comfortably tuck or “hide” the chin and hold your relaxed hands at cheekbone height to protect face. A “high” and/or unprotected chin is especially vulnerable to uppercuts.


Standing correctly is the first piece of the boxing puzzle. There are many pieces. And like all puzzles, it’s vital to get the first piece in place. Once you’re in “place” ie. standing right — you’ll be in prime position to move, punch and defend. Boxing starts with the stance. 

Yours in Boxing,