Shadow Boxing: Snap in General

sb-snap-in-general-logo-150px-jpgWhat is punching snap in general, how to develop and train it.






1. Snapping vs. pushing vs. pulling ; 2. The principles of snap ; 3. Basic training tips



There are many misconceptions about “snapping” in boxing related to different aspects and stages of punching in general. Basically, people are calling different things with the same as we show below [1-8].

The article is split in two parts for your convenience because of multiple GIFs. Part 1 discusses snap in general and training tips. Part 2 (coming in May) will discuss specifics of snap applied to basic punches: jab, hook, uppercut and right hand.

The next subsection can be safely skipped. Please, proceed directly to the illustration of snapping if you want to save time.

What snapping is not and why

If you understood the principles of power-punching introduced by Jack Dempsey in 1940’s [9] (described in our previous entry), then you can easily distinguish between right or wrong.

“Don’t just throw it straight out in the same position, turn your wrist over the second before impact. Your hand starts out in a vertical position (your pinkie on the bottom) and leave it that way until right before the punch lands then turn your wrist and forearm so your knuckles are on top..”

Here the advice is to form a power-line, because with the fist horizontal (palm facing down), there will be a weak joint in the elbow.

“Also a lot more of it is shifting your body weight from your legs and hips and a bunch of other stuff like that… What I told you above is referred to as “snapping” a punch though. ”

A mixture of power-line and setting body-weight into explosive motion, ending in explosion to achieve follow through effect.

“”snapping” your punch is about keeping your arm loose through the punch and only tensing it on contact.”

All these “squeeze your hand just before the impact” are nothing more than the explosion stage of a power punch.

“Dont think about just moving your hand forward when throwing a punch. Think about each link in the chain moving faster than the last. Try just moving your shoulder as if you were punching without extending your arm. Think about making that movement with your entire body as quickly as you can while throwing a punch. ”

“The snap comes from the relationship of your hips, to your back, and shoulders, so when you step into your jab, it’s almost like you want to pull it back faster then you put it out. It’s hard to explain, just keep working on it, you’ll get there.”

This is related to snapping, but is not exactly it. As we show below, for instance, there is no shoulder snap without moving your the shoulder first before the arm moves.

“snapping punches are used to score “points” and set up big shots. in the amateurs you tend to see a lot of people punch like this…. ”

This speaks about so called “tap-punches” to score points or set up power shots. Again, this is not snapping.

“ The secret behind snapping your punches, is bringing your punches back to your face, faster than you put it (punches) out there !!!”

“Think of the dynamics of when you snap a towel. Loose and relaxed, flexing and snapping at the end of towel, then pulling back the towel as fast if not faster then when you sent it out.”

This speaks about general hand speed by bringing your hands backwards as fast as you throw them. This can be a result of punching with a snap correctly.

We hope these examples show you how dangerous it is to focus only on tips or do/dont’s from forums and other unreliable sources. Without fundamental knowledge, such information 1) can be misleading by bringing you to a totally wrong direction 2) may set you go “circles” from one wrong concept to another on and on without making actual progress.

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Snapping vs. Pushing vs. Pulling

Plastic ruler

Lets illustrate the difference between snapping, pushing and pulling with a wooden ruler first:


pulling vs. pushing. vs snapping illustrated with a plastic ruler. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

If you want to hit an object with the ruler there are three options. First, you may pivot at your wrist or other joint. This would pull the other side of the ruler towards the target.

Alternatively, you can hit by moving the ruler with your hand and push.

The last way is to bend the ruler with the other hand first and then let it go. This would be producing a snapping hit.


Now we show the difference between snapping, pushing, and pulling the punch with an example of the left hook. Idealized movements are used for illustration purposes only. It should not be mistaken for the actual technique of throwing the left hook:


pulling vs. pushing. vs snapping illustrated with the left hook. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Pulling is when you fix the arm firmly in your shoulder and pull the fist by twisting the torso. Sometimes it is called looping the punch.

Alternatively,pushing is when you keep your torso still and punch with the arm only by the motion of the shoulder and upper-arm.

From the visual snapping appears as if you would pull first and then push. However, the actual mechanics is different from what you can guess just from the visuals.

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The Principle of Snap

Snapping in boxing is a way to use elastic energy of muscles and tendons when you are punching [10]. You deliver the punch by using primarily the spring effect, no by pushing or pulling/looping, though they are involved in the preparation process.


When you do not do it, you are stiff and your punches just aren’t the same.

Shoulder pop

In most cases, snap is related to the little shoulder pop (but not only) that gives you extra power and speed boost. A thudding punch does not get this speed boost. This is why if you are stiff in the shoulder, you will drag the upper-arm (together with the forearm and the fist) with the shoulder, thus, looping (when throwing hooks hooks) or pulling (when throwing uppercuts) punches, instead of snapping them.


After you threw the shoulder into the punch, it has to decelerate fast enough so the upper arm will pick up the inertia of the lower body. Imagine the whip. First you extend the arm to let the cord move forward. Then, at a right moment, you would have to retract the arm so the whip handle will move to the opposite direction. This would cause mass transfer to occur that would reach sonic speed at the tip of the whip. This is how you “snap” the whip which consists of infinite amount of joints. Likewise you snap your arm, but of course, not at close to sonic speeds. This is why it is not enough just to create the tension. Studies support that it is the effective freezing of the chain links of your body that makes the effective release of the tension build-up.


The danger here is no to tighten up muscles in the shoulder, otherwise you will push, not snap. The reason is because at the end of the punch you have to explode (tighten your fist and, correspondingly, other joints.) Therefore, the key is not do it too early. This comes with the practice only.

The application of the snapping principle to basic boxing punches comes down to a question how to create the tension properly. We consider this in the second part of the article.


Here are some extreme example (because, as a beginner you will not be able punch like this) where the snap is very clear.

1. Left hook by Tommy Morrison

First is the left hook by Tommy Morrison (right in figure below). Tommy Morrison creates a great shoulder snap by twisting his torso while keeping the fist almost fixed in space near his waist. Then, when the left shoulder is almost looking at the opponent’s face, he lets the fist go and it snaps at the other guy’s chin:

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window.

2. Uppercut by Mike Tyson

Next is the uppercut by Mike Tyson (left in figure below). Notice the characteristic shoulder pop before the fist starts moving to the target:


Mike Tyson snapping uppercut (1/4 speed for black-white image). CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

You may see the GIF at our Pinterest: CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

3. Flurry  of hooks and uppercuts by Adrian Broner

Now some combination punching by Adrian Broner (right in figure below) who throws his punches like a whip in comparison to De Marco (left in figure below). Broner fists reach his opposite side of his body when he is throwing hooks. De Marco has a clear blockage in the shoulder probably because of tight guards. As a result, his punches look more sluggish. You may see the GIF at our Pinterest: CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.


Adrien Broner target practicing on Antonio De Marco (1/4 speed). CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

Notice Broner (left in figure below) throws his punches like a whip in comparison to De Marco (right in figure below). Broner fist reaches the other side of his body when he is throwing hooks. De Marco has a clear blockage in the shoulder probably because of tight guards. As a result, his punches look more sluggish.

Important to point out that this has nothing to do with the presence or absence of natural hand speed, rather it has to do with the proper execution of the punching snap. Such punches naturally snap back and that is how they get this name.

4. Uppercut by Tyson Fury

In a comic example below, Tyson Fury punches himself with his own uppercut:

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window.

However, this is a very good illustration how to throw an uppercut with the proper snap (NOT how to land it!). Fury twists his body counter-clockwise. The tension in the shoulder muscles and tendrons sends his arm forward.

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Basic Training Tips

Before you read training tips, make sure you have checked the second part of the article (available in May), discussing in details how to add more snap to jab, right hand, hook, and uppercut.


Most important exercise of all is consistent practicing of movements in front of a mirror or web-cam  for a long periods of time. There are no shortcuts. Mike Tyson practised a single punch over 20-30 min daily during his teenage years [11]. Below is an example of Mike Tyson practicing snap doing a flurry of uppercuts / shovel hooks in a mirror (1/4 speed):

Wacth on YouTube in a new window. OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window. You may see the GIF at our Pinterest: CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

It is not hard to understand what kind of exercises are needed to develop and improve the snap right from its principle:


All distinct punch snappers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather, and Adrien Broner have noticeably very well developed shoulder muscles. There is a typical shoulder exercise you can do with hand weights. Notice how Floyd Mayweather establishes the shoulder pop each time by twisting the torso:


Floyd Mayweather working on shoulder snap with hand weights (1/4 speed). CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

You may see the GIF at our Pinterest: CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

If you experience discomfort doing the exercise or hear not pleasant sound in the shoulder, we strongly recommend consulting with the doctor.


For straight punches use a barbell placed on the floor with one end and hold by the other with or without extra weights on the top side [12]. The point is that like hand weights, you can train both snapping punches (left in figure below) and thudding punches (right in figure below) with different techniques.


Working on torso/hip snap (left) and power (right) for the straight right hand. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.


At last, general torso, shoulder and chest muscles stretching should improve elasticity of the muscles [13,14].


Torso, chest and shoulder stretching. CLICK TO OPEN in a new window.

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1. Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums: How to snap a punch?

2. Expertboxing.Com: How to Throw a Snapping Punch

3. East Side Boxing Forum: I’ve been told mostpro boxers don’t snap there punches, why?

4. Saddo Boxing Forum: PULLnot PUSH your punches

5. Ross Boxing: How to add more snap to your punches?

6. Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums: Shoulders snap when boxing?

7. Saddo Boxing Forum: The hip “snap”

8. Boxing Scene Forum: Tips on snapping your punches?

9. Jack Dempsey. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey (1950). pdf

10.Triple V: Boxing – ShoulderPop or Shoulder Snap.

11. The genius of Mike Tyson -Cus D’Amato.

12. Boxing for noobs: strength training (in Russian)

13. Stretching before exercises (in Russian).

14. Manny Pacquiao – Alex Ariza Explains a bit of Manny Pacquiao’s Stretching

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10 Responses to Shadow Boxing: Snap in General

  1. robert nutty says:

    actually very detailed article. as a boxer this is some good insight. will have to come back to the site, thanks!

  2. boxfan says:

    Like the site, very informative. Plug it whenever I can.

    About the left hook snap, a few questions. When is the shoulder snapped. During the weight transfer motion or at the end. Would it be doing it too late if your weight is already on the back foot? or is it stored in your shoulder. Iv been snapping it slightly before the weight landed.

    Also for the uppercut, you more pop it out then snap it right before impact?

    • SugarBoxing says:

      thank you for your knd words

      Unfortunately, at the moment, we cannot answer the first question
      It takes time before we build the knowledge ourselves.

      You should definitely snap the uppercut before the impact, watch Tyson’s gifs (gonna update them soon)

      Kind regards
      Sugar-Boxing Team

  3. boxfan says:

    Like the site, just read the lasted article

    as far as the snap goes. Your arm isnt like a spring or rubber band, its not just going to bounce after you keep it place and move the hips. Is the correct motion to reach out with your hand as if slapping something?

    • SugarBoxing says:

      You have to change your thinking a bit. There is no such thing as a completely wrong punching technique. We list here most basic principles, but you gotta go and practice them, learn how to put them together. We cannot help you in developing the skills.

      I am not sure I understood your question well.

      You arm will bounce quite similar to “a spring or rubber band”, if your shoulders are developed enough. Compare the shoulder size of yours relative to your headsize versus shoulder size of Tyson, or Roy Jones, or Mayweather relative to their head size. Their shoulder are massive. I am gonna update gifs in this thread later, so you will see it

      If you speak about “do I have to put the fist away from the face before I throw, say, hook”, than yes, you gotta reach out or drop your hand like Danny Garcia in the example from here

  4. boxfan says:

    Damn that was a nasty left.
    thanks for the info, ill have to try out some of those exercises. Get shoulders like that.

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