How to Throw a Cross in Boxing

The cross is thrown from the backhand as opposed to the jab which is thrown from your hand nearest to the opponent.

It is also know as the ‘backhand’ and the ‘straight right’ or ‘straight left’

cross boxing punch

Conventionally a cross is thrown with a ‘twist’ at the end, whereby the thumb is rotated downwards towards the floor as the elbow extends.

If you keep the elbow tucked into the side, you can throw a quicker type of jab, however it will be much less powerful. Styles like JKD & Wing Chun my throw this type of punch, it can be effective when fighting in very close quarters (like in a crowded pub) but less so in a boxing or MMA match.

You can bring the elbow high, and close to your ear to create a slower, more powerful punch.

Force Generation in a Cross

Keep your back foot ‘on your toes’ with the heel up so you can twist your feet.

Force is (initially) generated by twisting the back foot/toes. Drive from the floor and then stay relaxed as possible to allow the force to transfer to your hips, shoulder, elbow and then fist. Only tense up when contact is made with the opponent, bag or pad.

If you throw a right cross from orthodox stance (left foot in front), twist the right foot so that the heel moves in a counter clockwise direction.

Force comes from the foot, then the hips, shoulder and finally the arm.

Keep the arm relaxed, do NOT throw the hand first, practice generating power from the feet and hips otherwise you will have a slow and stiff cross.

Punch Throw from the ‘foot-first’, then the waist, shoulder and THEN the hand
Pushing punch. Arm extends first = stiff & no power

Stay Relaxed! See Conor McGregor’s Facebook post below:

Conor Mcgregor Uppercut
Conor Should try Beta Alanine & Baking Soda for increased endurance

How to Punch Harder – With a Cross

One simple trick to allow you to punch harder is to turn the elbow of the punching arm, upwards so it skims your ear.

This effectively turns it into an overhand/cross hybrid punch, but is effective.

The other way is to stay relaxed and develop the ability to stay loose & mobile with the body, until contact is made – then drive into the bag/opponent/pad.

Make sure you follow through with the punch at a 45-degree angle, so it curves downwards somewhat after you finish the punch:

See how his right hand follows through after hitting the pad – in a downwards arc

Specific exercises can also help build power. Remember to use a weight that isn’t too heavy. If the weight is too heavy, it will interfere with technique and make you too tense and slow.

Band Crosses, done with light-weight & explosively may help develop technique & power

For more exercises to help develop punching power. Please see my boxing Strength & Conditioning blog post.

Setting Up the Cross & Cross Combinations

A good set up for a cross, is to find your range with a jab or a double jab.

Another effective way to execute the cross, is to parry a jab from your opponent and then immediately throw your own cross:

You can also use a ‘layback’ to counter a jab. Lean back and twist your shoulder away from your opponent to move out of range, then lean back-forwards & throw the cross:

In MMA, a straight cross is a great way to counter a low roundhouse kick. You can bait a low round house by leaving your stance very side-on, step into the kick and throw the cross as a counter atthe same time.

How to Cross to the body

Lower your level by stepping forwards and bending the lead leg.
Don’t just throw the punching arm towards the target (opponent’s solar plexus) as you will expose the right side of your chin if you throw a right cross.  

Drop your level first, then throw straight-forwards.

Defence to a Cross

The cross can be defended against with a parry
A slip – if opponent throws a right cross, you can slip your head outside of it by moving your head to the left.

How to Counter a Cross

The cross can be countered with a jab (which is quicker and can beat the opponent to the punch)

You can parry the cross and counter with your own cross

In Thai boxing or MMA, you can parry or block the cross, and counter with a roundhouse kick

How to Throw a (right, orthodox) Cross Step by Step

  • Stay loose & relaxed throughout the movement  – think ‘relaxed speed’ not power
  • ‘Dig & drive’ your punch into your opponent/bag on contact
  • Practice so that all steps are fluid and part of one movement
  1. Drive the toes of your rear foot (right) into the floor – so your heal is up off the floor
  2. Using the toes of your rear foot, twist your heal outwards to begin the force generation
  3. drive your right hip forwards & left hip back (stay relaxed though!)
  4. Flick/drive your right shoulder forwards – this must be relaxed for the ‘whipping action’ of the punch
  5. Extend your elbow
  6. Turn your thumb down (rotate it left/counter-clockwise)
  7. Stiffen on impact – pushing into the target & driving in for an extra few inches of penetration!


  • Keep your guard up
  • Follow up with another punch or foot-work/movement to avoid a counter


  • Throw a huge power-punch without any set-up (e.g. a jab, or a feint)
  • Throw a punch from too far away – you’ll get countered easily. Find range with a jab first.