3 Heavy Bag Drills To Improve Counter Punching

Boxing teaches us that keeping your arms close to your body helps defend it, and extending it to throw a punch opens up your defense. Now, this isn’t inherently bad. If you hit your opponent, then they won’t really be in a good position to exploit that opening. If you miss, though… you open yourself up for counter punching.

It’s the same for your opponent, too. So if they punch and you evade it, you get opportunities to drive your counterpunches in and deal some serious damage. Set yourself up for success by learning when to recognize these openings and how to exploit them.

Of course, as with any other technique, we’ll need to do drills to polish our technique. After all, repetition is the most important ingredient for a successful boxer. That said, practising the sport of boxing can be… well, repetitive. Having a whole array of heavy bag drills helps break the monotony of drilling. That way, you don’t have to do the exact same boxing drills over and over every session.

True, heavy bag drills don’t compare to having a live partner training with you. However, it does allow you to practice the technique and movement in a controlled situation. Repeating every technique so much that it becomes muscle memory means that the movements become second nature. When the time comes to use it in a high-pressure sparring situation, you won’t lose your form in the chaos.

We’ll be focusing on drills for counter punching in this article. You ideally should have a partner or a coach to simulate punches using a long object. Alternatively, put your imagination to work.

Boxing Drill 1

Roll under right hook, counter left body hook

The hook is a pretty powerful punch, with a good chance of knocking someone out if you hit just the right spot. The downside to it is that it tends to leave you open when you go full force and hit the air instead. This drill takes advantage of that opening to drive your own hook into the opponent’s body.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to do this boxing drill:

  1. Watch for the right hook towards your head. It’ll be coming from your left.
  2. Bend your knees to drop under the hook.
  3. At the same time, twist your body towards the left, loading your left hook.
  4. Since the “opponent” just threw a right hook in the air, the right side of his body will be exposed. This puts you in a good position to execute the counter punch.
  5. Drive that left hook into the body. 

This counter can be incredibly effective, especially if the recipient of the hook is still in a twisted position. It’s because aside from being open and unable to block, being twisted means being unable to brace their core against the incoming punch.

You may also do this drill from the other side.

Boxing Drill 2

Block right body hook, counter left uppercut

Throwing a right hook to the body means getting up close most of the time. Due to the mechanism of the body hook, the puncher exposes the head on the side the punch comes from. This opens them up for a counter punching boxer to strike them with an uppercut on the same side.

Simply put: If you throw a right hook, you open up the right side of your head for a left uppercut.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to do this boxing drill:

  1. Watch for the right body hook, it’ll be coming from your left.
  2. Twist and lean slightly to the left, keeping your arms close to your body, to protect the ribs with your left elbow.
  3. The blocking position also loads your punch. Once the hook lands, extend your left uppercut. Twist your hips and shoulders to generate force.
  4. Repeat the drill from the other side.

Boxing Drill 3

Block Left hook, counter Left hook

This is another boxing drill that just makes sense. The motions to defend yourself from the hook puts you in the perfect position to load your punch and put force in it. Here’s how you do this drill:

  1. Block an incoming left hook (coming from the right) by covering the face and rolling away from the hook slightly.
  2. At the same time, twist your shoulders slightly towards the left to load your punch.
  3. Finally, throw your left hook with full force.

If the opponent has fully committed to the hook, there’s a good chance he exposed his head and left it open for a counter hook. Often, even professionals let their right hand drop while throwing the left hook, leaving a clear shot for the counter to find home on the jaw.

Final thoughts

Winning a boxing match is more than just throwing punches and hoping they land. More than just punching your opponents around, boxing is a game of finding holes in your opponent’s boxing defense and exploiting it. No one can keep a perfect defense 100% of the time, and often, defenses drop when boxers go on the offensive.

Counter punching is a good skill to add to your arsenal for such instances. But as you go on the offensive, keep in mind that your opponents may counter your punches as you do theirs, so don’t get complacent!