One of the most common mistakes people make when sparring, when they first start out, whether it’s boxing, kickboxing, or MMA, is that they fail to keep their chin tucked. Leaving your chin up, leaves it exposed and more vulnerable to shots to the chin, which can lead to getting your bell rung, strains in your neck, damage to the brachial plexus nerves (which originate from the neck and travel down the arm), or being knocked out.
One of my students has been struggling to maintain his chin in the tucked position. He has taken several shots over the course of his sparring experiences that have rocked him. More recently, he received a shot that caused damage to his brachial plexus nerves, taking him out of training for a few weeks.
We discussed the ongoing issue and decided that he needed to take further measures to solidify this important habit. Being a trained personal trainer, he came up with an idea. He asked if maybe he should try sparring with a tennis ball under his chin. I told him, definitely not while he was sparring (I was worried that he’d be so focused on trying to keep the ball that he’d take even more shots), but instead to practice shadow boxing or doing bag work with the tennis ball under his chin. I was going to make a video of this, but then found out we were not the first people to play with this idea, and that there was already a perfectly good one on YouTube. Check it out:
Do you have any other training methods you use to help keep your chin down while sparring? Please share them in the comments.