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Boxing Terminology 101: Boxing Lingo for Beginners

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There’s a lot of boxing terminology going around. Shadowboxing. Cardio kicking. TKO … the list goes on and on.

But you shouldn’t be intimidated. Boxing lingo is easy to grasp. Whether you’re a beginner boxer or a new fan, you can learn boxing jargon to engage better with the sport.

In this post, we’ve gathered the most common words you’ll hear in a boxing gym, at the ringside, or during the training sessions. Have fun!

Boxing Terminology to Help You Understand the Sport 

Here’s a rundown of the most common boxing vocabulary to keep you in the loop. 

Boxing Combinations Terminology

Basic combinations in boxing include:


Throwing a jab is most likely the first move you’ll learn in boxing. The purpose of a jab is to ensure your opponent doesn’t come near you.

To throw a perfect jab:

  • Stand with your lead foot forward, maintaining a balanced stance.
  • Keep your fists at cheek height, elbows down.
  • Extend your lead arm straight out, rotating the fist.
  • Snap the punch quickly without overextending.
  • Return hand to guard position immediately.

Tip: Exhale sharply as you throw a jab to increase power and maintain rhythm.


The purpose of a cross is to counter a jab.

To perform a cross:

  • Start in a basic boxing stance with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pivot on your rear foot, turning your hip forward.
  • Simultaneously extend your rear hand straight out.
  • Rotate your fist so knuckles face down at full extension.
  • Snap the punch swiftly, keeping your lead hand guarding the face.
  • Quickly retract your hand, returning to the defensive position.

The Hook

Mastering the hook allows you to take down opponents in a single shot. The hook is one of the most powerful punches, and you can throw it with either arm.

Most beginner combinations start with a jab, a cross, and a hook, which means you’re more likely to throw a hook from your less dominant hand.

To throw a hook:

  • Start in a basic boxing stance, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Shift weight to your lead foot.
  • Rotate your lead hip and shoulder.
  • Bend your lead elbow to a 90-degree angle.
  • Swing your lead fist horizontally toward the target.
  • Keep your rear hand up, guarding your face.
  • Quickly return to your starting position.


A duck is a defensive move to avoid getting punched. You may not always want to duck a punch, but learning to avoid punches can help you avoid getting TKO’d if you turn professional. I’ll talk about TKO in a short while.

To duck a punch:

  • Start in a basic boxing stance, hands up.
  • Keep your eyes on your opponent.
  • Bend your knees swiftly, lowering your body.
  • Maintain a straight back as you duck down.
  • Move your head laterally, evading the incoming punch.
  • Rise back up quickly, ready to counter or defend again.


The movies Rocky and Million Dollar Baby popularized the “shoeshine” move. The technique involves a combination of quick punches close to your opponent.

Shoeshine is all above throwing quick punches while moving your feet fast.

To perform the shoeshine move:

  • Stand in a relaxed boxing stance, slightly crouched.
  • Start with both fists at chest level.
  • Rapidly alternate punches: lead hand, then rear hand.
  • Focus on quick, short-range uppercuts to the body or head.
  • Maintain a continuous flow, like polishing shoes.
  • Engage your core and rotate your hips slightly with each punch.
  • Return to guard quickly after the flurry.

Body Shot

A body shot aims at the opponent’s torso instead of the head.

Body shots target areas such as the ribs, liver, or solar plexus and can be highly effective in weakening an opponent or setting up combinations.

To perform a body shot:

  • Assume a proper boxing stance, hands guarding the face.
  • Step in closer to your opponent to shorten the punch range.
  • Rotate your hips and shoulders into the punch for power.
  • Drop your punching hand slightly to target the torso.
  • Drive the punch straight into the opponent’s midsection.
  • Quickly retract your hand, returning to your guard position.

Boxing Movements Terminology

Besides learning combinations, you need to master footwork to become an accomplished boxer.

Smart footwork allows you to maintain balance, control space, edge closer to your opponent, or force them into a vulnerable position.

Why do you need to perfect your footwork? …because hitting a moving target is harder, and you’d like to hear your coach or trainer yell the following boxing terminology.

Bob and Weave

To perform bob and weave:

  • Start in a solid boxing stance, hands up.
  • Bend your knees slightly, lowering your center of gravity.
  • As a punch comes, move your head laterally to one side.
  • Duck down, making a U-shaped movement under the punch.
  • Rise on the opposite side, effectively evading the blow.
  • Reset quickly to your original position, ready for the next move.

Boxer Bounce

To perform boxer bounce:

  • Begin in a standard boxing stance, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Stay on the balls of your feet for quick movements.
  • Lightly bounce from one foot to the other, maintaining rhythm.
  • Keep your hands up, guarding the face.
  • Use small, controlled hops, alternating weight between feet.
  • Maintain a relaxed posture, ready to move in any direction.

Shoulder Roll

To perform a shoulder roll:

  • Start in a defensive boxing stance, lead shoulder slightly raised.
  • Tilt your body slightly, moving your front shoulder towards your chin.
  • As a punch comes, rotate your torso, deflecting it with your raised shoulder.
  • Use the rotation to evade the punch, letting it glide past your back.
  • Counter immediately, taking advantage of the opponent’s exposed position.
  • Quickly reset to the initial stance, ready for the next defensive move.

Boxing Training Terminology 

We’ve talked about boxing terminology in the ring and the gym. Let’s switch gears a bit and mention common terms during training.

Shadowboxing: This is a solo training exercise in which a boxer moves around, throwing punches in the air, simulating the movements and techniques they would use in an actual boxing match or sparring session.

It’s a fundamental practice in boxing and martial arts, used to improve technique, footwork, and conditioning and mentally prepare fighters for competition.

Bag Work: This refers to the practice of boxing training with various types of punching bags. It helps improve power, technique, speed, and endurance.

In addition, bag work allows boxers to simulate striking an opponent, refine combinations, and develop offensive and defensive skills in a controlled environment.

Mitt Work: Often referred to as pad work, mitt work involves a trainer or training partner using padded mitts or focus pads to catch the punches the boxer throws.

Mitt work allows you to work on combinations, speed, power, timing, and accuracy while the trainer provides feedback, movement, and counter-punching simulations.

It’s a dynamic and interactive training method that replicates the feel and timing of a real bout, enhancing both offensive and defensive skills.

Sparring: This is a training exercise in boxing where two participants engage in a controlled fight, simulating actual combat.

The primary goal of sparring is to practice and refine techniques, strategies, and timing in a live setting without the full intensity or intention to harm as in an actual fight.

Boxers wear protective gear, such as headgear, mouthguards, and padded gloves, to control their power to prevent serious injuries.

Sparring helps fighters gain experience, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and prepare for competition.

Roadwork: This refers to the practice of long-distance running or jogging, often done outdoors. It’s a staple in the training regimen of boxers and many other athletes. 

For boxers, roadwork helps build cardiovascular endurance, leg strength, and mental toughness.

Typically done in the early morning, it ensures fighters have the stamina to maintain energy levels throughout a fight.

Beyond physical benefits, roadwork provides a meditative space for fighters to prepare and focus on upcoming challenges mentally.

Heavy Bag Training Boxing Terminology 

You’ll like to hear the following boxing terminology in a punching bag room.

Powercoast: This refers to a boxing training technique where a boxer maintains a slow and steady rhythm in their combinations but delivers each punch with maximum force.

The idea is to emphasize power generation while maintaining control, allowing the boxer to focus on the technique and force behind each punch without rushing the sequence.

It blends the idea of “power” in punches with “coasting” or moving at a steady, controlled pace.

Coasting: This refers to the practice of continuously repeating a boxing combination, such as a jab-cross, at a slower and steadier pace.

It serves as a form of active recovery, allowing a boxer to maintain movement and technique while taking a brief respite from high-intensity drills.

The strategy ensures that the boxer stays engaged and warm, facilitating smoother transitions between intensive training bouts and periods of relative rest.

Burnout: This refers to an intense, rapid-fire punching drill designed to exhaust the muscles and push a boxer’s endurance.

During a burnout session, a boxer might throw continuous punches at a heavy bag, focus mitts, or in the air for a set period, often at the end of a workout, to fully fatigue the arms and shoulders.

The goal is to challenge one’s stamina, build muscular endurance, and mentally push through when tired, mimicking the late rounds of a boxing match where fatigue sets in, but the fighter must continue.

Outside of this specific context, “burnout” can also refer to the general state of physical or mental exhaustion, especially due to prolonged stress or overwork.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is a 7 in Boxing?

The numbering system for punches can vary slightly based on the gym or trainer’s preference. However, traditionally, the number “7” is often associated with the jab to the body.

So, when a coach or trainer calls out “7,” they are typically instructing the boxer to throw a jab directed at the opponent’s body. 

What Is a Boxing Line Up Called?

“Card” or “fight card” refers to the lineup of matches scheduled for a particular event or evening.

The fight card will list all the bouts set to take place, starting with the preliminary matches and leading up to the main event.

The main event is the most anticipated match of the evening, often featuring the most prominent fighters.

What Is a Boxing Knockout Called?

A knockout in boxing is called a technical knockout. 

A “technical knockout,” abbreviated as “TKO,” refers to a situation in a boxing match where the referee determines that one fighter cannot safely continue, ending the fight.

This decision can be made for various reasons, including a fighter’s inability to defend themselves adequately, severe injury, or being overly dominated.

Additionally, in some jurisdictions and under specific sanctioning bodies, the fight can also be stopped by the official attending physician based on medical concerns.

Unlike a standard knockout, where a fighter is counted out due to being down and unable to continue, a TKO involves the referee’s or attending physician’s discretion regarding the fighter’s safety.

Learning Boxing Technology Brings Your Closet to the Sport

Understanding boxing terminology is key to truly appreciating the sport.

Whether you’re training, watching, or just chatting about a match, knowing these terms will enhance your experience.

With this knowledge, you’ll feel more connected and confident in the gym or watching a big fight. Dive in, learn the boxing lingo, and enjoy boxing on a whole new level.

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