Small vs. Big Hands: What’s Better In Boxing?

Are small or big hands better for boxing? - CraftofCombat.com

Ever wondered whether small or big hands have an advantage in boxing? Perhaps you are thinking of taking up boxing and you are worried whether your body will be adept at it.

Are small hands or big hands better for boxing? Based on the evidence, big hands are better than small hands for a boxer. However, the advantage is minor because there is a lot more to boxing than the size of one’s hands.

As we’ll see there are plenty of successful boxers with smaller hands. The efficiency of a boxing punch depends on many factors and hand size is only a minor one of those factors. Let’s look at the details.


Does The Size Of Your Hands Matter For Boxing?

There are many different martial arts in which hand size is quite probably irrelevant or it plays a very small role in the effectiveness of the fighter. However, boxing is different. It is a martial art without kicks, elbows, knees, grappling, etc. everything that boxing is when it comes to fighting is in the hands.

So, does the size of your hands matter? Yes, to some extent it has to, and you will see as we break down the elements of a good punch why that should be. However, it is worth noting that some of the most successful boxers of all-time including Floyd Mayweather, have smaller hands than you might expect.

That’s because the power of your punches matter in boxing too. With coaching and training and a lot of practice, almost everyone should be able to reduce the natural handicap of smaller hands to something much less relevant – that won’t make the first few months of training much easier, but it does tell you that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.


11 Factors That Influence The Strength Of A Punch

There are many factors which can influence the power of your punching and, as we’ll see, hand size is often irrelevant. Let’s take a look at each of them now.

The Structure Of Your Ligaments And Muscle Mass

Have you ever seen a smaller sized person without much muscle weight pick up something much heavier than another bigger person can? Well, that’s probably because they have much better structure to their ligaments.

Ligaments are the connective tissue between bone and muscle and other bones. When they are in the right place in your body and operating effectively, they can add a huge amount of leverage to the amount of force you can use in your arms.

Unfortunately, for our first factor – hand size is completely irrelevant. Ligament structure is something that your genetics either blessed you with or they did not. You can’t train or reposition your ligaments either, what you started with is what you’ve got.

Score: Big Hands 0 vs Small Hands 0

The Accuracy Of Your Punches

There’s no doubt about it – if your punches don’t make contact with the places you intend them to, they’re not going to do very much damage. Think about it, the two places most likely to knock an opponent out when a punch lands are the chin and just behind the ear.

If you get a cheekbone or a random bit of skull, instead, it might smart but they’re going to stay on their feet. In fact, given that many people have glass jaws or skulls… if you are consistently accurate, you might not need to punch so hard at all. Eventually, they will fall over even with lighter taps in the right place.

However, it’s fair to say that there ought to be an advantage in accuracy that goes to having bigger hands. The more fist you have, the more likely that when your blow lands it will encompass the bit you were aiming for.

Score: Big Hands 1 vs Small Hands 0

The Intention In The Punch

If you talk to some of the best boxers about their best punches, you will quickly come to understand that they aren’t just throwing a punch, they’re playing a head game too.

“Iron” Mike Tyson, for example, says that he used to imagine his punches smashing his opponent’s skull into pieces! You can imagine that this kind of focus and aggression manifests itself in your punching style. Certainly, Mike Tyson was well known for the power of his punches.

Hand size doesn’t give you any advantage in the intention stakes. So, the score remains the same.

Score: Big Hands 1 vs Small Hands 0

The Volume Of Your Punches

What’s going to do more damage, one slow heavy punch or four faster, but somewhat lighter, punches? In most cases, the lighter punches are going to have a greater level of impact.

There is a definite advantage to being able to hit your opponent many times in the space of a few seconds. As long as the lighter punches aren’t completely feeble (in which case they probably won’t register at all) you’re going to get sustained damage from this.

Here, there’s a definite advantage to having small hands. It’s less effort to move something smaller and thus, you can get more repetitive motion out of small hands than big ones.

Score: Big Hands 1 vs Small Hands 1

The Speed Of Your Punches

The faster you punch, the more force there is in the punch. We know this thanks to Isaac Newton who discovered the equation for force:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

Acceleration is how much faster the punch is going at the moment it hits the other person. The greater the acceleration, the greater the force. Simple, right?

Well, there’s no doubt that a smaller hand can move faster than a bigger one. It’s much easier to move a small hand quickly because it weighs less than a big one. In the same way that you can probably push a bicycle very quickly, indeed, but if you had to push a car, you’d find that to be much more of a challenge.

Score: Big Hands 1 vs Small Hands 2


The Weight Of Your Punches

Unfortunately, the lead that small hands just gained disappears immediately and for exactly the same reason. That equation was:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

And there’s no doubt that big hands have more mass than small hands. The heavier a hand is, the harder the punch is.

If we use the same example as before, while being hit by a bicycle might not be too painful, being hit by a car traveling at the same speed might very well kill you. This is because the car weighs a lot more than a bicycle.

Score: Big Hands 2 vs Small Hands 2

The Weight Of Your Bones, Muscles And Joints

The weight of your blows doesn’t just come from your hands, it also comes from the arms that your hands are attached to and the more density you have to put behind them, the harder your punches will land.

This is simply a further extension of Force = Mass x Acceleration of course, it’s nothing new.

Unfortunately, while it is possible to train to increase your muscle mass, it’s not possible to build up your bones or joints beyond what genetics already catered for. That means, in the vast majority of cases, that the big handed fighter gains an advantage here as bigger hands are suggestive of a large skeleton which will add weight to the big handed blow.

Score: Big Hands 3 vs Small Hands 2

Good Balance

A boxer that can stay on their feet and not get thrown off balance by their opponent is far more capable of landing a power packed punch than a boxer who is always flailing around on one leg.

The biggest punchers of all time, have had flat feet, think George Foreman for example. So, the better your balance, the harder you punch.

Hand size has nothing to do with balance. Therefore, there are no points to award for this factor.

Score: Big Hands 3 vs Small Hands 2

Big Leg Muscles

Great fighters can punch with more than their arms, they start their punches in their legs and explode outward toward their opposition. Go back and watch Mike Tyson when he was at his best, see his huge thigh muscles and how he unleashes his legs when he unleashes a punch.

Now, there is probably a bit of an advantage to big hands in the first few months of a boxer’s career here because bigger hands, probably mean bigger legs, which lead to bigger leg muscles. But, leg muscles can easily be trained to be much bigger – squats are an excellent way to do this and a determined smaller-handed boxer ought to be able to quash any advantage in leg muscle size by heavy workouts.

So, no point to give here, either.

Score: Big Hands 3 vs Small Hands 2

Technique and Timing

Possibly, the most important factor in the power of a punch is the technique you have and the timing that you deliver the punch with.

A great boxer uses their whole body to punch, it begins with their heel, then through the pelvis, into the upper body and boom! Through the arms and the blow is released. The boxer exhales as the blow lands and only tense his or her fist at this point too. Everything they do is in harmony and designed to exert maximum power in the punch.

You don’t punch like that on day one or even after 6 months of boxing, it takes years of training and practice to deliver the perfect punch. You will need coaching and support to effectively tailor the way you box to get to this level too – you can’t do it on your own at home.

Developing the proper technique and timing of your punches simply has no relationship to the size of your hands. It comes from discipline, commitment and a willingness to learn. The score stays the same.

Score: Big Hands 3 vs Small Hands 2

Longer Arms

The farther that your fist has to travel, the more time it has to accelerate (back to Force = Mass x Acceleration again) and thus, the harder it will land. Sonny Liston had an 84” reach and it showed, his ability to hit hard was among the greatest in the history of boxing.

So, there’s a definite advantage in having more reach.

Score: Big Hands 3 vs Small Hands 2

The Ability To Jump And Sprint

No, you won’t be running the 100 meters in the ring and you won’t be expected to jump like a basketball player, either. However, both of these factors influence your ability to “explode” that is to quickly summon up a large burst of energy and discharge it.

They also reflect that your muscles are made up of fast acting “twitch” style fibers that will allow you to move faster and thus, hit harder.

If you don’t feel you’re fast enough or able to jump high enough, you can train for this. You’re not stuck with a fixed amount of energy.

And there is no relationship between jumping, sprinting and hand size, so the final score remains the same.

Score: Big Hands 3 – Small Hands 2


The Pros Vs Cons Of Big Hands Vs Small Hands In Boxing

So, the advantage of having big hands is not decisive. The majority of factors in punching power simply aren’t affected by the size of your hands.

Big hands end up with 3 pros and 2 cons when compared to small hands. That’s a single advantage spread over more than a dozen factors in punching power! So, do big hands matter, yes, they do but not as much as you might have thought when you started looking into this.

The Proof That Small Hands Can Box Well

Here are two examples of small handed strikers who have built enormous professional careers, so that you can see – small hands can win the day.

Our first example is Floyd Mayweather and you can watch this YouTube clip to see his business partner discuss the issues he faced and how he overcame them:

Our second example is not a straight boxer but rather an MMA fighter – Ronda Rousey, who confessed to Vice that she had small, weak hands but she says once she learned to wrap them, they stopped being an issue for her.


Conclusion

Are small hands or big hands better for boxing? There is an advantage to having big hands but that doesn’t mean that small hands should stop you from getting into boxing, you can train to overcome the minor disadvantages of smaller hands.

As we’ve seen, both Rhonda Rousey and Floyd Mayweather have small hands but nobody would want to be punched by either of them. So, while it’s a good idea to be aware of the difference, it shouldn’t come to dominate your thoughts – people with small hands can fight extremely well, indeed.

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