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Evidence-Based Application Paper: Boxing Straight-Right Punch

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Physiology
Wordcount: 2643 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The skill which I am focusing on is a single straight right-hand punch from the point of view of a boxer. This is classified as a discrete skill do the distinct beginning and end. For the purpose of this paper, I am going to be focusing on the punch making contact with a punching bag in a closed environment. This skill is identified as a gross skill because it requires many different movements such as a step forward, hip/trunk rotation, shoulder extension, elbow extension as well as all of the flexor muscles in order to hold a tight fist. These movements need to be performed in sequential order so that the punch is thrown optimally with accuracy and power, as well as avoiding any injury from the contact of the fist.

Cognitive Skills: 

   The two most important cognitive skills required in this task are visual processing and skill transferability. Visual processing is the ability to take in the visual information around you and process it into viable information. This is an important skill to have especially from the point of view of a boxer. Being able to process the surrounding around you to determine when to throw the punch is critical. Whether it is throwing the punch at the punching bag, or being in the ring with another individual. Both environments of the skill require quick responses based off of the incoming visual stimulus in order to throw and land the punch. Another important cognitive skill which is important in boxing especially among the novice population is skill transferability. Skill transferability is the individuals’ ability to use a previously learned skill and use it to aid in the performance of a new skill. This is particularly helpful with a novice individual who is throwing a punch for the first time. It is safe to say that everyone has thrown a ball overhand before, however, not everyone has thrown a punch. This is where skill transferability becomes very helpful. Because the individual already has a motor plan developed for throwing a ball they are able to modify it and apply the same basic principles to throwing a punch. For example, the novice individual would extend their arm just like they would throw the ball, however now they are making a fist, and aiming at a punching bag.

Motor skills:

The motor skills which are required in throwing a straight right-hand punch are movement mechanics, power and accuracy.

The first motor skill involved with throwing a straight right punch is movement mechanics. Ensuring that the individual understands the movement mechanics of the skill and is able to have a solid foundation before actually throwing the punch is important. The stance is split up into three regions; foot placement, lower body, and upper body. First, feet should be squared; shoulder width apart. The leading foot (left foot) should be at about a 45-degree angle facing forward, and your rear foot (right foot) should be perpendicular to your body. The individuals’ weight will be distributed evenly over each foot. Once the foot placement is established we move on to the lower body. It is important that you are on the balls of your feet especially in the rear foot; as the heel will lift up and you will pivot slightly when the actual punch is thrown. Furthermore, the knees will be slightly bent to allow for balance, stability, and movement. Hips will be relaxed to allow for optimal rotation. Finally, the upper body. Elbows should be down and in with the arms and shoulders relaxed. Both hands are going to be at chin level, your left hand leading and slightly forward (about 12”) while the right hand is touching your chin.  Your head will be angled so it is looking towards your left shoulder (direction of stance) and your chin will be tucked into your chest.  Now that the proper stance is known it is time to focus on the aspect of actually throwing a punch. The first step to throwing the punch is to ensure feet are both planted (with the correct stance explained above), then a slight twist at the hips/trunk as you roll your right shoulder towards the target. During the rotation, the rear foot will pivot, and heel will lift slightly. Next, make sure that your fist is clenched as you extend your elbow and aim fist at the target. 

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Now that the mechanics and technique of the punch are understood, we can focus on how power and accuracy are derived and why it is critical for motor learning and performance of the task. The straight-right is considered to be the powerful punch when it comes to a boxing point of view, and this can be understood based off of the mechanics seen above. Feet are planted for optimal power transfer as the hips/truck are rotating and the right shoulder is being rolled in towards the target; then the arm extends, and the punch is thrown. Throwing a powerful punch is all about be able to transfer the force from larger muscles groups (like your quads) and transferring the force through the body and out your fist. By following the proper movement mechanics above, this can be easily achieved.

 The next motor skill is accuracy. It does not matter how hard you can throw a punch if you cannot hit the target. There are multiple factors which influence the accuracy of a straight-right punch, such as individuals initial position, individuals reach, and the target position.  It is important to be able to judge these factors immediately before they throw the punch. With time and practice, the individual will be doing this automatically and have great success at landing the punch with a high degree of accuracy.  

Practice conditions:

 Practice conditions which facilitate superior acquisition and retention differ based on the 3 stages of learning; the cognitive stage, associative stage, and the autonomous stage. For the purpose of throwing a right-handed punch, the practice conditions which best facilitate acquisition and retention during the cognitive stage is observational learning; associative stage is focus of attention; autonomous stage is random practice. 

The first stage of learning is the cognitive stage. This stage is responsible for gathering information to develop a motor plan in order to execute the desired movement pattern or skill. This phase is important in creating the appropriate framework of the skill, so it can be built upon in later learning. Throwing a straight-right punch with technique can be a difficult task to perform correctly. This is why the learner would value from observational learning the most in this stage. The practitioner must elicit observational training which allows for the individual to be able to not only understand how to perform the skill but be able to detect errors which they may make while practicing it. According to Andrieux and Proteau (2014), the learner Is able to benefit from observing both expert and novice models in different ways.  The expert model was able to show the learner the proper way to perform the task, whereas the novice model showed the learner what not to do. This would be very beneficial when teaching an individual how to throw a straight-right punch due to the fact that there is a high degree of technique involved with the movement. In order to elicit this observational learning effectively, a practice schedule would have to be created where the learner views the expert model first; then practices; views the novice model followed by the expert model again; then finishes with practice. This will demonstrate higher acquisition by allowing the learner to practice between viewing the models and they are able to detect any errors they may be performing and correcting them.

The second stage of learning is the associative learning stage. This stage is responsible for putting all of the gathered information together and performs the motor skill. At this stage the individual understands how to perform the action however, they are still not good at it. This is where the focus of attention elicits superior accusation when it comes to learning the skill. There are many ways which the practitioner can drive the learners’ focus when it comes to boxing internal and external focus can help provide a higher level of understanding and can lead to higher skill acquisition. According to Wulf (2012), there is an enhancement in motor performance and learning with an internal and external focus. It is apparent that external focus is more beneficial among novices whereas internal focus benefits experienced learners. A good external focus for a novice individual performing the right-handed punch would be to tell them to focus on a specific spot on the punching bag. An internal focus for an experienced individual would be to focus on squeezing the forearm muscles when they make the fist. Not only will having a tight fist from squeezing these muscles, but it will elicit a more powerful punch as well as reduce any injuries from hitting the bag.

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The third stage of learning is the autonomous stage. During this stage the individual had learned the skill and does not have to think about performing it anymore, it just comes naturally. Random practice during this stage would allow for the task to continue being cognitively stimulating which enables a further degree of learning. Practice can vary by beginning throwing the punch in the mirror to assess form, then throw the punch against different punching bag styles, and finally to be in a scenario where you are in the ring and your target is moving.  Having a practice schedule which combines the three different environments in random order will elicit superior acquisition for the learner.

How Motor Skills Will be Optimally Challenged Throughout the Skill:

 It is important to challenge the individual throughout the whole learning process. If the skill is not cognitively stimulating the individual will not be able to actually learn the skill and will then perform poorly. One way to cognitively stimulate the individual during the process of learning how to throw a straight-right punch is to focus on different aspects of the punch once they have learned the mechanics. The individual can focus on the twisting the hip/trunk as they drive with their quads to gain extra power in the punch. Another way to cognitively stimulate the individual is to have them punch as fast as possible at different spots on the boxing bag. This can be done by segmenting the punching bag into 4 quadrants, and then calling out which quadrant they should aim for before they punch. Doing this stimulates the individual to a higher degree and focuses on visually perceiving the different areas to punch as well as increases the speed and accuracy at which they can throw the punch.

How to dissociate performance from learning:

Just because the individual performs well during acquisition does not necessarily mean that they have learned the skill. A retention or transfer test conducted at least 24 hours after practice is a good way to determine if the individual has actually learned the skill or not.  In this case, a transfer test would be more beneficial in determining if the skill has been learned or not. A transfer that I would select would be having the individual in a situation where they still have to throw the straight-right punch, however, the target they are aiming at is moving, or they have to throw a combination of punches (ie. jab, jab, straight-right). This can be done by having them throw the punch at another individual wearing hand pads. This was the target is moving and they can instruct different combinations of punches to be thrown.

Two peer-review Articles:

 The first article I recommend is by Andrieux and Proteau titled, “Mixed observation favors motor learning through better estimation of the model’s performance.” This article looks at observational learning and discuses if observing a novice or expert model can result in a higher degree of error detection of the skill.

 The second article I recommend is by Wulf title, “Attentional focus and motor learning: a review of 15 years.” This article looks at offering a review of the current research on the focus of attention and, “show that the performance and learning advantages through instructions or feedback inducing an external focus extends across different types of tasks, skill levels, and age groups” (Wulf 2014).

 I decided to share the first paper because observational learning is an important factor when learning a new skill be associated with superior acquisition during the cognitive stage as seen above. I decided to share the second paper because knowing how internal vs eternal focus when performing a skill can benefit the practitioner in developing a superior practice condition and contribute to a higher level of acquisition and retention among the learner.


  • Andrieux, M., & Proteau, L. (2014, October). Mixed observation favors motor learning through better estimation of the model’s performance. Retrieved November 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24897947
  • Boxing Basics: How To Throw The Perfect Straight Right Cross. (2015, August 07). Retrieved from https://www.infighting.ca/blog/boxing-basics-throw-perfect-straight-right-cross/
  • Gabriele Wulf (2013) Attentional focus and motor learning: a review of 15 years, International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 6:1, 77-104, DOI: 10.1080/1750984X.2012.723728
  • Gong, Y., Ericsson, K. A., & Moxley, J. H. (2015). Recall of Briefly Presented Chess Positions and Its Relation to Chess Skill. PLoS ONE10(3), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118756
  • Gupta, A., Vig, L., & Noelle, D. C. (2012). RESEARCH ARTICLE: A neurocomputational approach to automaticity in motor skill learning. Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures2, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bica.2012.07.009
  • Hall, K. G., & Magill, R. A. (1995). Variability of practice and contextual interference in motor skill learning. Journal of Motor Behavior24(4), 299–309. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=sph&AN=SPH391551&site=eds-live&scope=site
  • Kontogiannis, T., & Linou, N. (2000). The Effect of Training Systemic Information on the Acquisition and Transfer of Fault-Finding Skills. International Journal of Cognitive Ergonomics4(3), 243–267. Retrieved from:https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=4744816&site=eds-live&scope=site
  • Magallón, S., Narbona, J., & Crespo-Eguílaz, N. (2016). Acquisition of Motor and Cognitive Skills through Repetition in Typically Developing Children. PloS one11(7), e0158684. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158684


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