Boxers have many different fighting techniques to help them win a fight. One of them is keeping their chin down. But why do boxer keep their chin down while they fight?
Boxers keep their chin down to protect their head from opposing blows. An untucked chin leaves a fighter open in defensive and offensive positions. The protection gained from a tucked chin is essential to winning a bout.
We’ll first take a look at how exactly a tucked chin protects a boxer. Then, we’ll look at the proper form to lower a chin, plus a few drills to naturalize this form.
How Does a Lowered Chin Guard a Boxer?
A lowered chin can help protect a boxer’s head and other exposed body parts. This positioning protects a boxer whether on the retreat or attack. With this technique, too, a boxer can protect themselves from potential head trauma.
For frequent boxers, added safety is an important consideration. Read on to learn more about how a lowered chin protects a boxer during a fight.
A Lowered Chin Prepares the Hands for Attacks
A lowered chin protects a boxer’s head while their hands are in a neutral stance.
Boxers stand in neutral stance with their hands up. This positioning leaves pugilists prepared to throw a punch at a moment’s notice.
Though intended for offense, this positioning also provides direct cover for a tucked chin. To get to their face, an opponent must first get through their opponent’s hands.
With their chin untucked, a boxer leaves their head wide open for incoming shots. An opponent could easily land a hook on an unprotected face.
A direct hit to the head also poses a high risk of knockout. Boxers should thus avoid opportunities to expose their heads at all costs.
A Lowered Chin Enhances Head Protection
A boxer’s head is their most vulnerable spot inside the ring and out. If they fail to protect their head, a fighter will lose in short and long terms. By lowering their chin, a boxer can give more protection to their head.
Below are reasons why all boxers should protect their heads:
Knockouts Mean a Surefire Win
A knockout on your opponent marks a surefire win in boxing. When a boxer knocks out their opponent, they render them temporarily unconscious. They are then unable to continue the fight and immediately forfeit.
According to Popular Mechanics, repeated trauma to the head causes knockouts. Specifically, knockouts occur as the head sustains several concussions through the course of a match.
Eventually, damage sustained eclipses the body’s ability to heal. When this happens, a knockout occurs.
As head protection defends from knockouts, a solid guard is of the utmost importance to victory.
Knockouts Can Lead to Concussions and Brain Trauma
Several concussions, such as those undergone through a knockout, may also lead to significant health complications down the line.
According to Winchester Hospital, concussions may cause pain, coordination problems, memory loss, and confusion. Any one of those will seriously impact a boxer’s ability to train and fight.
Repeated concussions can also cause long-term damage. Potential ailments include long-term edema, permanent brain damage, and even death.
Beyond physical ailments, concussions may also cause psychiatric problems. Mental health issues linked to concussions include depression, dementia, and aggression.
Experts link concussion-based illness to several famous boxers. These include Aaron Pryor, Mike Tyson, and even Muhammad Ali.
Even boxing’s greats are susceptible to damage from head trauma. The men listed above have lost a total of fourteen bouts combined. With this in mind, a tucked chin is crucial to a boxer’s safety, especially if they’re new to the sport.
How Do Boxers Keep Their Chins Down?
A lowered chin is essential to a boxer’s defensive form. Boxes don’t, however, develop this form overnight. How exactly do fighters consistently keep their chins down?
Boxers combine form with skill and strength to tuck their chins with consistency. Aspiring boxers practice with a variety of drills to achieve such a form. With form and training in tandem, chin tucks become second nature.
First, we’ll learn the proper form for chin tucks. Then, we’ll dive into a few chin tuck exercises used by pros and amateurs alike.
Tilt Down the Head Slightly
We’ll use this video below from Johnny at ExpertBoxing as a visual reference:
Boxers tilt their head down just slightly to tuck their chins. Johnny recommends boxers bend as if they were looking 15 feet (4.57 m) ahead of them. The exact angle is essential.
Boxers who tilt their heads too low open themselves up for counterattacks, such as an uppercut.
Additionally, a head tilted too low gives a boxer lousy posture. Bad posture limits breathing and can hamper a boxer’s ability through the course of a match.
Amateurs also mistakenly tilt their heads so low that they can’t see their opponent. As Johnny exemplifies, these fighters will inevitably lift their heads to punch. When they do, they make themselves as vulnerable as if they never tucked their chin at all.
Use Chin Drills To Make Chin Tucking a Habit
Even as they learn the appropriate angle, many boxers won’t tuck in their chin while fighting. Fighters require both knowledge and practice to tuck their chins with consistency. Amateurs use a variety of drills to better tuck in their chins.
Below are tips on how to train your chin.
Do the Tennis Ball Drill To Train Your Chin
Amateur boxers need nothing more than a tennis ball for the most simple drill to train their chins.
Boxers place the tennis ball under their chin and hold it against their chest to start. Once the ball is in place, they proceed to do a shadowbox.
A good drill will see a boxer practice footwork, dodges, and combinations. Through all this, the ball remains nestled beneath the chin.
Should the boxer move their chin up at any point during this drill, the ball will drop to the ground. This threat of failure forces trainees to keep their chin down as they practice their moves.
As they continue to drill, a boxer’s muscle memory sets in. With consistent practice, fighters begin to tuck naturally.
As mentioned, fighters commonly use tennis balls for this drill. Learners can also use all sorts of objects that may fit beneath their chin. These include gloves, t-shirts, or hand wraps.
Check out this video below from Shane at fightTIPS to watch this drill in action:
Notice how often Shane weaves throughout the drill. Shane also gives a few more uses for tennis balls in boxing drills.
Put Sunglasses on the Tip of Your Nose
Trainer Brian Yamasaki invented a drill for boxers who are too undisciplined for the tennis ball drill. For this exercise, amateurs need a pair of cheap sunglasses and some black spray paint. In lieu of black spray paint, a sharpie will also do the trick.
Brian explains that one of his students really struggled with the chin technique. No amount of coaching or reminders seemed to solve the problem.
Her struggles led him to innovate. Brian bought a cheap pair of sunglasses and spray-painted them entirely black. The sunglasses now blinded whoever put them on.
Brian advised his student to place the sunglasses directly on the tip of their nose. Now, whenever the student would lift their chin, they would lose their vision. As they shadowboxed, the sunglasses forced the student to keep their chins low.
This drill is excellent for fighters new to the sport or those with bad habits from prior training.
Take the jump here to listen as Brian tells this story himself, plus shows the exercise in action:
Use Weights To Improve Neck Strength
The prior two drills help boxers train their form. Such a form also requires a tremendous amount of neck strength. Fighters do exercises to strengthen their necks for this very purpose.
Fighters such as Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson infamously train their necks with weights. These exercises require neck harnesses designed for this type of training. Because the knack is so fragile, proper equipment is vital. I’d recommend the DMoose Neck Harness for Weight Lifting Neck from Amazon.com. It is great for improving neck strength and has a durable and breathable steel chain.
Amateurs often aren’t strong enough to handle the significant weight on their necks. Instead, they use their body weight to grow stronger.
Check out this video below from Precision Striking for a few calisthenic exercises boxers use to train their necks:
A strong neck is helpful for boxers beyond their chin. Neck strength also helps lessen the impact of blows. Additionally, a more muscular neck allows for faster movements. Increased neck agility leads to quicker rolls against opposing punches.
As all of these benefits lessen the impact of punches, they also lead to fewer concussions.
When boxers keep their chins down, they protect their heads from the dangers of repeated trauma. Not only does this protection help them win fights, but it lessens the risk of future health complications. A lowered chin is as essential to boxing as a pair of gloves and a mouthguard.