The overhand punch is a mid-range punch that is thrown using the rear hand, which loops over above your head and is aimed at the head of the opponent. It’s one of my favorite punches, and you’ll often see it thrown by brawlers and punchers.
There are several advantages of throwing an overhand, which are:
- It comes from the back, so it’s out of the opponent’s line of sight, therefore, it can catch him off guard.
- When thrown with the right technique, it can generate a lot of power because your entire body will be behind the punch.
- A great counterpunch that can easily catch your opponent if he doesn’t move his head.
However, the overhand is a double-edged sword and has its disadvantages also, which are:
- Because the overhand comes from the rear, it takes longer to reach the opponent, and if he happens to be a good boxer, then he should be able to avoid it by being out of range, in close or by ducking under it.
- If you miss, it will often leave you off-balance (if your entire body is shifted into the punch) and wide open for a counter.
- Difficult to use against southpaws (if you’re an orthodox fighter) because the distance from the target is further.
If you want to learn more about the fundamentals of boxing, I highly recommend the How To Box In 10 Days course, an e-book and video guide which teaches you all the boxing basics.
Please note: The following points are made assuming you and your opponent are adopting the same stance (e.g. orthodox vs orthodox or southpaw vs southpaw).
The Fundamentals of an Overhand
- Throw Over Your Shoulder (1): The overhand should be thrown above your head and shoulder in a looping type motion so you end up punching downwards. This way, your opponent will not see it until it’s too late.
- Arch Your Elbow (2): When the punch leaves your hips, your elbow should be arched at an angle of around 90-135 degrees, depending on how far your opponent is (the higher the angle means the further the opponent is). To get the most power from the overhand, the ideal angle of your elbow should be 90-110 degrees.
- Use Your Peripheral Vision (3): Your eyes should never leave your opponent. Even when you’re leaning to one side, you use your peripheral vision to maintain the location of your target.
- Lean to Your Outside (4): As you’re throwing the overhand, you should lean to the outside of your lead foot (left side for an orthodox fighter) in order to put more weight behind the punch, and to avoid any counters that might be coming at the same time.
- Sit Down On Your Punch: Remember to bend your knees as you throw the punch. This is to gain more power and also to maintain your balance.
- Pivot Your Back Foot: If you want to increase the punching power of your overhand, then make sure that you pivot your back foot as you’re throwing the punch.
- Throw Close Range: If your opponent is in too close, it will be impossible to land the overhand. In this situation, you can take a step back to get some distance, and then throw it.
- Throw Out of Range: Make sure that your opponent is within range when throwing the overhand. If you throw from too far out, especially against a southpaw, you can end up being off balance, which will reduce the power of the punch and leave you open for counters.
- Load Up: Don’t give any indication that you’re about to throw a punch. Cocking back your arm to throw the overhand can be easily read by a good boxer.
- Lean Too Far: If you lean too far to the outside of your lead foot as you’re throwing, you risk being off balance. Don’t tilt your body too much and don’t put all your weight on your front foot.
You can practice your power overhands on heavy bags, check out the top 10 best heavy punching bags here.
Setting Up the Overhand
Just like with every other punch, it’s a good idea to use the jab to set up the overhand. You can use the jab to line up the target as well as distract your opponent.
However, you can throw the overhand as a lead punch when using it as a counter, or if you’re catching your opponent on the run.
If you’re closing the distance on your opponent and spot an opportunity to throw the overhand, you must throw it short. That means bending your elbows a bit more and don’t over-loop the punch.
At 0:12 seconds of the video above, it shows Dmitry Pirog closing the gap, throw a jab as to find his range and to distract his opponent (Daniel Jacobs), and then throw a short overhand over his opponent’s jab.
A wide overhand should be thrown when you’re in mid-long range.
Since your opponent will be slightly further out, your elbow will only be bent slightly as the overhand is being thrown, and bends to a 90 degree angle as the punch is landing.
Overhand Counter Over the Jab / Hook
One of the most common counterpunches, especially one that brawlers like to use, is the overhand over the jab (when both fighters have the same stance).
As soon as you see the shoulder move, this indicates that your opponent is going to throw either a jab or a hook. You can time this and throw your overhand when you see this body movement.
If your opponent has an opposite stance, you can also catch him on a counter overhand if he steps in with a jab or a hook.
Mastering the Overhand
You won’t see many pure boxers throw the overhand often because it’s not an easy punch to land, and a good boxer can usually read it. It also puts you in a vulnerable position if you were to miss.
However, it’s a powerful and deceiving punch that should be in the arsenal of every pressure fighter. You shoulder study the following fighters, who have effective and powerful overhands.
- Ruslan Provonikov
- Brandon Rios
- Marcos Maidana
- Lucas Matthysse
The best way in which you can practice your overhands is by using a maize bag, which is a tear shaped heavy bag. You can also practice it on conventional heavy bags, though I find that the maize bag is better for practicing overhands. Get the punch technique and your foot positioning right first before you throw with full power.
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves