How to Feint in Boxing: 12 Key Concepts and Drills

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In my opinion, the fastest way to​ learn how to feint in boxing is to study as many different sources as you can, even if you have a great trainer.

Why?

​Because ​studying different teaching perspectives broadens your understanding and ​eliminates blind spots in your technique. ​You'll ​get a glimpse of the different styles and ​tactics that ​exist outside your gym, and have the benefit of hearing the same concepts expressed in different terms. 

Today's resource round-up brings you 5 of the best FREE ​feinting tutorials on the web​, complete with 12 key concept breakdowns and possibly the ​best feinting drill you'll ever find​. ​​​We introduce the video and trainer, summarize key points, and point you towards as many quality learning ​resources as possible.

​So if you're looking for a lesson on how to feint in boxing, or just want some new ​trainers to follow, read on - you'll find ​it all here!

1) Feints in Boxing | 3 Situations to Gain the Advantage
by Precision Boxing

In this video, JT Van V from Precision Striking describes ​3 main types of feints, then demonstrates ​his theories and techniques in real-time. 

I’ve chosen to start with this video because it provides such a great framework to understand the 3 most common types of feinting strategy.

KEY CONCEPTS - Top 3 Feinting Strategies:

There are plenty of specific feinting tactics shared here, but JT does a great job of outlining the three major feinting strategies. These strategies each have pros and cons, and they’re generally used at different points in an exchange.

JT says the first type of feinting strategy is about starting your offense with a fake. This strategy makes it hard for your opponent to know when and where the real threat is coming, which increases your odds of landing clean. This style of feinting is referred to as a “Cloak and Dagger” feint.

The second feinting strategy is about implying offense to draw the opponent out of position before you attack. We referred to this as a “Drawing Feint” in a guest article for Muay Thai Guy, ​where you can also find some film study examples of Canelo using this technique against Cotto. Drawing feints are great for counter punchers who want to initiate offense without truly having to lead.

The third feinting strategy is about freezing or confusing the opponent for defensive purposes. We refer to this as a “Covering Fire" feint.

Here’s an excerpt from that post explaining how to use the covering-fire feint strategy:

“Covering fire feints have a number of different functions. They’re ideal for slow-footed fighters who want to hit and not get hit, as rather than having to dart away faster than your opponent can counter, your feint buys time for a smooth step back. They’re also safer and easier than punching out of range, since they leave fewer openings and require less energy. Of course, your “covering fire” can be used to reposition for follow-up offense – instead of disengaging, you use the “defensive beat” to create a new attack angle.”

​JT also shares some of his favourite feinting tactics, including the shoulder drop, slip, level change feint, and "stutter step," which also appears here:​​​

​Speaking of Boxing Fitness Factory, head trainer Charles is also giving us our next set of key feinting concepts.

​2) Advanced Boxing: Learn to FEINT and box like Mayweather and Pacquiao
by Boxing Fitness Factory

​If you want to know how to feint in boxing, Charles from Boxing Fit Factory is your man.

​Now more than 8 years old, this is one of Charles' earlier videos, but it's still one of the best in terms of bang-for-your-buck. In under two minutes, Charles drops knowledge on general feinting theory while working through a series of offensive and defensive demonstrations in real-time.

KEY CONCEPTS:

  • Feinting is fundamental for high-level boxing. Charles says that it’s a sign you’ve reached the next level. All elite pros feint. If you’re just starting now, I’m jealous - you’re about to discover an exciting new world of timing and rhythm manipulation, counter-punching, and control to play with!

  • Feinting makes basics better. You’ve probably had trainers tell you that the best fighters all focus on the basics. But then why is it so hard to land that basic 1-2 in sparring?

    The answer is usually that you’re being predictable - throwing your 1-2 with the same speed, timing, and distance they taught you on your first day is easy to see coming and takes no effort to defend.

    Feints open up endless possibilities with the same basic combination, which is why even Floyd Mayweather has been cracked by a simple 1-2:
  • Feinting saves energy in terms of punch output. Feints keep you aggressive and in control even when you’re not punching. And sometimes all you need to feint is an easy boxing rhythm.

  • Feinting is a defensive tool. Properly feinting an attack whose threat has been established can stop an attacker dead. Feints also give some control over where and when exchanges occur, keeping opponents reactive and unable to start longer set-ups - that’s what Jeff Horn did to beat Pacquiao.

  • Feint with all punches and both hands. Don’t limit yourself to a couple precious feints. Develop setup options because no two opponents are exactly alike.

3) Floyd Mayweather Sr. on the importance of feinting in boxing
by Clarence Tillman and ProTips4U

​When Roger Mayweather said "most people don't know shit about boxing," he definitely wasn't talking about his brother, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Floyd Sr. built a strong professional record of 28-6-1 and taught ​arguably the best boxer of all time ​​​​to punch when he was only a toddler. ​This man knows boxing, and he certainly knows his feints.

In the following video, Floyd Sr. talks you through feint timing and theory, all the while drawing big reactions from his partner with tiny, ​expert fakes.​

​(And did Floyd catch his partner on the chin at 2:18? Sure sounds like it!)

KEY CONCEPTS:

  • Use all of your feinting tools. There’s more to feints than pretending to punch. You should know how to fake everything you do in the ring. Incidentally, one of the keys to effective slipping is knowing how to feint head movement. You can even feint with sounds - try exhaling or “hissing” as you would when you punch or move explosively for a feinting assault on multiple senses!

  • Feint for a reason. Don’t feint just because you can’t think of anything better to do. Careless, predictable feints create openings that smart opponents can punish. If you’re feinting, you should have a specific goal in mind, whether that’s getting the opponent to reach for a parry or stop moving forward.

  • Establish real threats. Feints work better if you’ve already landed the punch you’re pretending to throw. So treat every landed punch like a new feinting option you can use.

    For example, if you rock your opponent with a left hook, they’re going to be very reactive to a left hook feint. ​This is what Floyd Sr. ​means when he says to start showing the right hand (aka feinting it) only after you’ve landed it. ​​​

    But you don't have to land punches to establish real threats. As Charles Selberg says, even if you don’t connect, you ​can show your opponent that you’re crazy enough to try. That way, they’ll feel your power even if they block, which ​teaches them to ​take your feints seriously. If you want to learn more, this topic was covered extensively on Episode #1 of the Warrior Punch Podcast: “Beating the Blade” for Better Feints.

4) Bernard Hopkins' Perfect Execution: Feinting
by TheRingDigital

Bernard Hopkins is one of the best feinters in boxing. Though he credits his career longevity mostly to clean living, his expert feinting game played a big part in age-defying wins over Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, Roy Jones Jr., and Tavoris Cloud. 

This video is part of the excellent Perfect Execution series where viewers learn blocking, countering, footwork, training secrets, and punch technique from the Executioner (or is it the Alien?) himself.

KEY CONCEPTS:

  • The better the boxer, the smaller the feint. Drawing a big reaction with a small movement is a sign of skill and control. Sometimes big feints are useful to freeze hard-charging opponents or force a reset, but small feints are usually best because they cost so little energy and keep you in position to punch.

    Since he’s fighting counter-punchers at the highest level, Hopkins’ feints are almost imperceptible to the untrained eye; amateurs will usually need a little more than what the Executioner is showing, but not by much!

  • Flood the opponent’s radar with small feints. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on which of the 3 feinting strategies you’re using. But the general idea is the same: maintain a steady stream of feints to camouflage your movements. Naturally, small feints are most practical here, as a series of hard, committed feints will burn up energy and even disrupt your balance. It’s a win-win strategy: your opponent either respects the feints and gives you space and reactions, or ignores your feints, at which point you pop them in the mouth!

​5) ​Boxing | How to Feint ft. Brandon Krause
by ​ESNews

​Brandon Krause is owner and head coach of Outlaws Boxing Gym in Tarzana, Los Angeles, CA, and a man whom I greatly respect​.

Coach Krause has been generous enough to drop knowledge on a wide range of boxing topics via Elie Seckbach's YouTube channel, and he breaks down how to feint in boxing beautifully below.

Along with two new key feinting concepts, Krause is the man responsible for today's fantastic feinting drill, all of which can be found below:

KEY CONCEPTS:

  • Feinting is the great equalizer. As Coach Krause explains, feinting allows the shorter, slower, weaker fighter to beat physically superior opponents. Size and athleticism definitely matter, but a good feinter negates these physical advantages by controlling the opponent’s guard, movement, and punch output.

  • Feinting is about knowing yourself. Fighters work hard in the gym to hide their tells, but everyone has them. As you become more aware of the subtle ways you telegraph your punches, you’ll unlock all kinds of feinting tools.

    Let me give you an example. For awhile, I was sliding my lead elbow towards my mid-line before I threw a conventional jab.

    I was doing this to shorten the shot and get the “inside track” on my opponent, but that small move from a slightly flared to tucked elbow position was giving me away. The textbook solution would be to mind my elbows so I’d always start from that tucked position.

    But once I became aware of this tell, I realized I could use it to my advantage. Out of nowhere, this tiny elbow tuck became one of my sneakier feints. As long as I established the pattern, I could get opponents to back off, reach for a parry, or even commit to a big slip just by shifting my elbow in.

    So what’s my point? Reflecting on my technical tells turned a flaw into a feinting opportunity. You can do this too, unlocking unique, low-energy feints that force your opponent to second-guess every “opening” they think they see…

​Coach Krause's Feinting Drill

Krause’s drill condenses most of today’s key feinting concepts into a fundamental exercise that can be practiced anywhere. All you need is open space, the right instructions, and a partner to play with.

Let’s break it down.

PARTNER A INSTRUCTIONS (the "feinter") - Partner A’s goal is to identify Partner B’s defensive patterns, use feints to expose openings, and pick the right punch to exploit them.

Here’s how it’s done: 

  1. Pick one punch to work with for the duration of the round. Krause is Partner A in this demonstration, which starts at 3:16 of the video above. Krause picks the left hook.  

  2. Throw the punch and observe the opponent’s defense, looking for patterns.  In this case, Krause throws the hook a few times. After a few hooks, Krause notices Partner B’s tendency to lift his right arm high to block the head - pattern detected! Be sure to move around your partner in a realistic way between punches.

  3. Feint the punch to draw the same reaction. By now, Partner B is used to defending real punches. The threat is established - now it’s your job to sell a feint. You’ll know it worked if Partner B gives you the same defensive reaction. If Krause feints the left hook and gets Partner B to lift the right hand high, repeating the same pattern he spotted earlier, he’s successful.

  4. Choose the right punch to exploit the opening. Now that you’ve created an opening, you need to know how to exploit it. Back to our demonstration, Krause’s left hook feint convinced Partner B to lift his right arm high to block, exposing the right side of the body. Krause chooses the left hook to the body, which targets the area he just exposed. If he sold the feint but throw a right hand at Partner B’s covered left side, he’s made a mistake.

    When practicing this drill, either “show” the opponent the opening (by half-throwing the punch) or touch the exposed area lightly. Resist the urge to set your partner up for a cheap shot!

PARTNER B INSTRUCTIONS (“the defender”) - Partner B’s goal is to vary their defensive techniques and minimize openings, making it harder for Partner A to spot patterns and set up punches.

Here's what Partner B should focus on:

  1. Defend Partner A’s punches without being predictable. Mix up your defensive techniques, blending head movement and footwork with parries and blocks to break up patterns. Turning back to the demonstration Krause starts at 3:16, we can spot some areas of improvement in Partner B’s defense. For example, rather than catching the hook every time with a high, right-handed block, he could have weave under, rocked back, stepped out, or pivoted out.

  2. Minimize your openings. This feinting drill illustrates how important it is to keep defensive movements small. If you lift your arm too high or reach too far for a parry, the openings become painfully obvious. Partner A will succeed in feinting you - the drill is designed for that - but try your best to minimize the openings you leave.

What makes this drill so great?

This drill is great because it accomplishes so much at once.

Partner A gets to refine their punch technique and shot selection; develop new fakes; build pattern-recognition skills; work on range and timing; and explore the process of establishing threats to exploit feints.

Meanwhile, Partner B gets to polish their defensive arsenal, work on range and timing, and reflect on patterns or technical tells they can weaponize later on.

If you need another visual, ​Krause shares another look at this drill here: 

Wrapping Up: How to Feint in Boxing

On behalf of the Warrior Punch team, I hope you’ve learned a little something about how to feint in boxing. As always, I encourage you to leave any questions or comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Once you’ve reviewed key feinting concepts and worked on the Coach Krause drill, try to spot these principles in action during your boxing film study sessions

To learn more about feinting, listen to WPP#1: ‘Beating the Blade’ for Better Feinting, where we go deeper into the concept of establishing threats and scrambling the opponent’s brain. I also explain an easy way to pour on endless, low-energy feints in WPP#2: Boxing Rhythm for Beginners.

At the very least, I encourage you to explore the archives of the trainers I’ve referenced here. BoxingFitFactory is a particularly great resource for feinting. You can find dozens of fat-free, 60-second seminars on Charles’ channel. And searching YouTube for “Brandon Krause” + [boxing technique keyword] will keep you busy with high-level study material for days.

Good luck and happy feinting!

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