Boxing Tip #6 - How to Deal with Getting Hit

Like it or not, if you box you get hit. Everyone deals with it differently and you will discover your own reaction seconds after your first one. You are kidding yourself if you think you are going to go head to head with someone and defend every punch. You are going to get hit hard – in the face, gut, and a lot of other places.

Yeah, it sucks!

But, if you plan on being a decent boxer, you have to learn to deal with the initial pain and the secondary effects – the blood, cuts, broken bones, concussions, stolen air, and your brain attacking you. It can be done though, and I’ll show you how.

Now that we’ve established that you are going to get nailed repeatedly and you are OK with that, what can you do to prepare yourself?

David Haye v Ismail Abdoul, EBU (European) Cruiserweight Title by Loura
David Haye v Ismail Abdoul
EBU (European) Cruiserweight Title (Loura)

The top three things to remember before the hit:

  1. Keep your eyes open at all times and never turn your back. Bring up your guard and do your best to avoid the onslaught, but always keep your eyes on your opponent. Never close them and hope your opponent is going to get tired and go away. They won’t. You can’t fight back if you have no idea what is going on.

  2. Move. If you do get hit don’t put your head or body back where it got slammed in the first place. If I throw a jab, I’m expecting my opponent’s head to whip back and then come straight back towards me. Bob, weave, step, duck or do something to make your opponent guess where his target is going to be and hopefully miss any follow up.

    In the army, when we come under enemy fire, we hit the ground and roll. Why? Because by rolling, the enemy doesn’t know where you will pop back up. If you come up where you went down in the first place, you are sticking your head in your enemy’s sights. All he has to do is pull the trigger.

  3. Control your instinct to flinch. It’s natural, but you must overcome it. If I walk up to you and pretend to smack you in the face, you are going to respond. You are going to shut your eyes, maybe move your head, or bring your hands up to protect you. That is your body’s natural way of defending itself and it usually works pretty good. Problem is, it is easily tricked. If you flinch for no reason, you set yourself up to actually get hit.

    How do you control your flinching? Get used to things coming at you hard and fast. Go all “matrixy” and actually see the bullets coming at you. So, to deal with the flinch:
  • Keep your eyes open. No matter what, at all costs, keep your eyes open so you can see what is going on. You can’t react to what you can’t see.

  • Allow close misses. In boxing you want to make small controlled movements that expend minimal energy. When you slip a jab you want it to just barely miss you. When you duck, you want the hook to blow air through your hair. If it is more than a millimetre away from you, it is too far.

  • Drill it. When you drill it enough, you will be unphased by punches whizzing by your head. You will remain steady and focused. That is when you know you have control of your flinch.

You are going to be surprised that over time you will notice fewer and fewer of the hits. They really don’t hurt as much as you perceive them to in the first place. It’s just such a foreign concept for most people to get hit in the face that when it happens it’s like WOW. After a while though, it’s nothing more than a nuisance (for the most part). Even better is that with enough practice, things will slow right down and you will feel like you are in the matrix.

You will have incredible reaction time as your reflexes develop.

Some boxing drills to prepare you for the eventuality of getting hit:

  1. Spar and put yourself on the receiving end. This is a defensive drill where you attempt to block and slip while your partner wails on you. You are not allowed to throw anything back so your partner knows he is good to go to unleash on you without fear of reprisal. Keep your eyes open, guard up, stay relaxed and allow the close misses. Use angles and movement to keep from getting hit. When you do get hit, move and regroup.

  2. Hang a slip bag. (See Tyson training). This is as simple as tying a small bag to a string. Hit it and let it come swinging back at your face. At the last possible second, slip allowing it to brush by. Get in position and repeat.

  3. Have a partner throw things at you (preferably soft things). Practice moving at the last possible second.

  4. Build muscle. Especially true for body shots. If you have a strong shield of abdominals, the effects of body shots are going to be diminished. With a partner, whip medicine balls at each other’s abs and allow them to hit you. Or, lay on the floor and throw a ball into the air and allow it to land on your gut. You’ll quickly learn when the best time to tense the muscles is.

  5. In a controlled manner, get hit. I’m not talking full power, but let someone with gloves on hit you in the face and in the stomach. (you may want to wear a full face headgear) You have to get used to getting hit, recovering, and getting ready for the next one. If you don’t, the first time it happens will leave you standing in the middle of the tracks waiting for the locomotive to mow you down.

  6. Double end bag training is great. That little sucker tends to want to hit you in the face all on its own and is incredibly effective for developing slipping skills and reflexes.

Getting hit is not as bad as it seems. Sometimes it hurts and is going to break things or cut you, but generally, hits are relatively harmless. The pain lets you know you are still in the game. The key is getting accustomed to your own reaction (generally fear) and dealing with it effectively. You’ll never be 100% ready for a hit, but you can condition yourself to deal with it better than turtling and crying like a baby.


This has helped me allot. Ive never got into many fights in my life, especially ones where i have someone throwing punches at my face. So my initial boxing sessions have come as a shock a bit. and i need to master not flinching and closing my eyes. Working on reaction speed is something i really need to do. I know that once i get into the swing of things i'll be doing ok, but until i get over the initial obstacles, and having the confidence to open my eyes 100 of the time even when a jab or a right hand is thrown near my head.

I'm 55.6kg on average day. making me feather weight?.. in this catagorie am i likely to experience getting broken bones (ribs) because the thought of one of my ribs going isn't something i want to contemplate. Can people in this weight catagorie throw punches this strong.??

Undoubtedly there are boxers in the featherweight category who can break ribs with their punches. However, chances of you fighting them are slim to none. They would be professionals and even though they are in your weight class, it doesn't mean they are in your skill level class.

If you are fighting amateur, you will be matched up by weight AND skill level. So, if you can't break ribs with your punches, probably not going to encounter someone that can.

That said, you shouldn't be too worried about it. If you keep your elbows tucked in, develop your core, and fight smart, you should be able to block most of what comes your way. In all my time boxing, I've only been nailed really hard in the ribs once that I can remember. It hurt, but it didn't break anything.

So yeah, keep practicing. Once you get more comfortable in the ring with punches coming at you, you'll be able to keep your eyes open. Just relax and realize that it's all part of the game. Practice your drills and your confidence will improve.

any tips on traing and stamina building for someone who has never fought in a ring befor and has a week until fight day?lol i know i am nuts but i like to good if that makes sense.

it helped me when i first got into the ring i couldnt do any of the footwork i can now and the two simple things i done was skipping(rope) and walking then jogging and after that when i built up speed i started to run

Sorry, stamina isn't built in a week, it's a long process that requires body adaptation. You can't just flip a switch and turn on the stamina engine.

You can work on technique and come up with a strategy to deal with a stamina deficiency. If you know you are going to run out of steam minutes into the fight, then adjust your gameplan accordingly. Obviously not the best thing to do, but you'll want to avoid expending any extra energy, choose your engagements, and make every shot count.

If this is an amateur match, accuracy will be key, but even then, you're going to need to dig deep to throw enough punches to win. Ensure your defensive cover is good and can withstand a barrage. You're not going to want the fight to go too many rounds as you'll lose the edge the longer it lasts, so cover up and go in hard.

Let us know how it turns out. Good luck.

i agree but the best thing you can do is train hard

I'm kind of picking up boxing from scratch at the moment, mainly as I want to be able to fight when needed. But there is one thing that i am very uncertain about. When you get into a fight and your opponent loses his composure, gets angry and goes mental, you know continously throwing wild (but strong) punches. I really dont know how to act against it. If i shield myself well, i can block a few of the shots, but eventually i'll still get hurt by the blows. And sometimes, it is difficult to find an opening when the punches come down so quickly. Any tips on what i could do?

this is rather hard if your a beginner but all you have to do is dodge and weave the hits and as soon as you see an opening hit as hard as you can and throw quick combos or duck and aim for the sternum

Hi, sparring is not a competition, for the most part you should have an objective on what you want to learn as well so should your partner. Especially if you are relatively new to sparring. And what I mean by new is anything less than 40 rounds. You can talk to your coach, before hand, tell them what you want to learn. You can ask your partner to slow down or ask the coach to have a partner still throw some good combos but ask them to take it down a notch.
Sometimes boxing sparring matches can be very unproductive you sometimes need to take responsibility for your training and voice what you want, always try to bring if up a notch on the learning curve but make sure you get a grasp on what you need to know before moving on.
Hope this helps.

Try moving around your opponent it can work or try ducking the punches get you opponent off guard and lose balence then that would enable you to through punches back with more power because you have coserved you energy.

Hey whats up like your page,

I been training with bags and footwork for many years but at age 36 just really started sparring. Being advanced in training Im sparring with good amature and newly professional fighters. Im doing good for a round or two but losing my breath and getting really tired. Im 5'8 158 pounds just a little fat around the waist and lot of muscle from lifting weights 3 times a week. I've trained biked and ran but nothing is like sparring for running me out of air. Coach says i need conditioning and breathing techniques. What do you suggest?

South Beach Diet, LSD, Long Steady Distance on a bike will get you core stamina but you will need to soon start doing 20 min. of cardio. 3 times a week. What you need to do is rate your intensity, at 20 first 3 min. 40 next 5min, 65 next 5 min, 90 4 min 3 min 65 % and then cool down 20% for a few minutes. Steadily increase what you consider each percentage ratio on your next workout. Work harder by increasing speed slightly next work out.

inhail and exhail thats how you braeth my coach says that you can not control your self until you can control your breathing

Try this routine run 200, 400 , 600 ,800 meter sprints 30 second break in between then do a mile run.then repeat it do as many times as you can.Try mixing up the sprints. If you have a big stair case.Do them up and down being one set start at 10 sets work your way up. then without stopping do sprints from above.

thats how i traind ran up the stairs then sprited and to work the mucles on the back of my legs i jumped up them

I've started boxing three months ago and weigh about 112lbs. I am not quite sure where i stand but have sparred like crazy for the past couple of weeks. Guys and girls. I took a really good beating yesturday from a guy and looked at your website with alot of tips that i haven't even heard of. Do you think i should find a personal trainer?I go to practice five days a week for two to three hours a day. I am working really hard but dont' have any kind of defense so most of the time i feel like a sitting duck. When i was sparring there were also four other people in the ring which i was tripping over and getting blocked in by. Is that normal? Just wondering...Would really appreciate a few tips. Thank-you,

The trainer or owner of the gym should be evaluating you before any sparring, to see if you are ready. Sounds to me like your just throwing your self into sparring, Here is how things should go before sparring, taught basics including defense, then do glove to glove sparring to get used to seeing your opponent move and punches come at you.
2. Then do defensive sparring where you practice defense and shadow box your partner as he throws punches at you, the idea is to practice defense and not let his punches be scoring punches.
3, Then a trainer should spar with you to make sure you are ready, if you pass then he should match you up with someone a little bit more experienced than you not just throw you in with the sharks.
Get an experienced boxing trainer who has a proven record of boxing themselves and of training boxing champions

Hi, I'm 13 and want to become quite dedicated to boxing. Only problem is that at the moment I'm quite fat and not very strong. I also have low stamina. How should I start out?
Thanks in advance.

To start out you need to slowly get started with exercises more on that later.First thing is get 2 notebooks for logs. One for what you eat daily make sure you write down everything you eat including snacks.You need to concentrate on eating proprerly plenty of green vegetables ,protein meats such as chicken,pork, very lean beef and steak.Plenty of fiber and lots of water also. No candy ,soda,junk food. You need to concentrate on eating vegetables and not fatty meats also pleant of fresh fruits. Make sure you most important keep at it. Fight the urge to eat junk food.

Now for the exercises
First put down current weight and height do this in the morning log it in.
Now for a starting work out routine. If you have weights let me know.Make columns and rows inyour notebook for theexercises and days
Monday/wednesday/friday do these - push ups as many as you can in good form when you feel form go bad stop write down the number you did
situps same as above
crunches same as above
jumping jacks same as above
obligues crunches same as above
tuesday ,thursday, saturday. take it easy first time walk fast then try sprinting upand back is one set
Run do sprints try 50 yards,100 yards 150 yards, 200 yards.for tuesday and thursday
\satutrday try to do a 1 mile run
write down how far and bow many you do try to improve every 2 weeks a bit more reps and distance
That should get you started
As for boxing follow the 12 week plan on this site first and keep in contact on this site.

I started boxing at a gym about 10 weeks ago and have been doing a decent amount of sparring. I'm not that great, but feel myself improving, but my big problem is flinching. I am 100% fine with getting hit, but my body seems to react outside of my control. Is this something that will come with time?

im having the same problem i think it will come in time

You're flinching because you're too tense. Try relaxing a bit. It's a balance though - too relaxed and your reflexes will take a little longer, but too tense, any slight movement is amplified.

You could also be trying to react rather than controlling the fight. If you're reacting, you're going to be waiting for your opponent to do something so you can then block, parry or whatever they do. If you concentrate more on being the aggressor and keeping them reacting, you'll find yourself much less likely to flinch at what they are doing, because you're too busy following your own game plan to notice.

As far as becoming more relaxed - you guessed correctly - it comes with practice and confidence in your abilities.

Body boxing? My friends do it at school and I always get matched up and pussy out because everytime i get hit hella hard in the face, I like lose my breath and nearly tear up in front of all my friends.. I REALLY don't have very much experience with fighting and I flinch alot.. idk any help?

Hello first of all thanks for the nice website really helps..
I have a fight coming up with a guy almost 40 lbs heavier than me but with the same height and arm reach.. Do you have any tips to overcome his strong punches and to win the fight?
Appreciate your reply..thanks so much

First of all, why are you fighting someone almost 40lbs heavier than you - surely there is a better matchup?

At any rate, study your opponent and know your enemy -- how do they fight, where are the weaknesses you can exploit. Then know yourself - what are the strengths you have that you can exploit. You already know one of his strengths - strong punches, so you're going to have to neutralize them somehow. Best way is likely to not get hit by them. Now if this guy is 40lbs heavier than you, you likely have speed on your side (or at least you will be marginally quicker than he is), so rely on that. Get in, hit, then get the hell out of the way. 40 extra pounds is a lot of weight to drag around - will this fight go into higher rounds? - if so, can your level of conditioning outlast his - if so, try and drag it to the later rounds then go in for the kill when he's too tired to react.

All this to say is that if you take a good look at your opponent and analyze his likely gameplan, you can probably come up with a strategy that can best him. Don't go at him head on and play to his strengths, work around them - hit at the chinks in his armour and take advantage of his weaknesses. Concentrate your efforts where they will have the greatest effect.

Thanks for ur reply mate
Yes he challenged me and I took it up as I didn't wanna feel like a pussy.
I guess I m faster than him, the fight is 3 rounds 2 minutes so not a lot. Likely he will be wanting to finish it in the first round as he knows that I am a defensive fighter. He has seen me fight but I haven't seen him so he has an advantage. He thinks my style will be defensive.
I will try to do as you said but I hope I don't get caught with a big punch. I have been training with guys as big as him en telling them to hit me on my face n body to accept the punches but I guess I have to be more offensive as I will look for chances to get him too.
Thanks.. Can you also suggest the best food to eat on the day of thhr fight . It will be round 630in the evening.
Appreciate your reply and time really.

Ive been boxing for about a month now and my trainer tells me a true boxer should be ready to fight in 3 that true? and what is a good diet plan for me my family is pretty poor and i cant get access to eat as healthy as i can, any suggestions?

how can i get a good coach with experience HELP PLEASE

i always embarase myself during fight because i always well built but the problem is my fear.any tips guys.

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