Telegraphing Punches And Kicks: Common Mistakes And How To Fix Them

Telegraphing punches and kicks is one of the glaring differences between professionals and beginners in many striking-based combat sports like Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing. A fighter telegraphs a strike when they unintentionally give away their plans before throwing it.

Telegraphing your strikes makes it easier for opponents to anticipate your next strike and counter them with theirs.


Exploring Some Of The Common Mistakes That Lead To Telegraphed Punches And Kicks

Telegraphing a strike is often the result of a small change in your body language, stance, or movement pattern. It could be as subtle as shifting your weight to put yourself in a position to execute a technique, a change in breathing pattern, or an adjustment to your stance.

While the drawbacks of telegraphing strikes might seem minor to a newbie, it makes it almost impossible for you to perform well against quality opponents. Each tell you have when preparing to throw strikes signals to your opponent what your next move will be, putting you in danger of getting countered with a hard punch. High-quality strikers are often good at defending themselves even when strikes aren’t telegraphed, so letting them know what’s coming drastically reduces your chances of landing anything significant.

Telegraphing your punches and kicks will reduce their effectiveness, but the drawbacks don’t stop there. Some of the other problems telegraphing strikes causes include:

  • Increased Predictability: Opponents can better defend against and counter your strikes when they can effectively anticipate what’s coming next. It takes out the element of surprise that’s often needed to land clean strikes on experienced strikers.
  • Wastes Energy: Telegraphing punches or kicks often involves exaggerated or unnecessary movements, so you end up using more energy than you would if you had clean technique. This increased energy use adds up throughout a fight. Telegraphing also leaves you exposed to counters which drain your energy further.
  • Puts You At Increased Risk Of Getting Finished: Telegraphing a strike makes you more vulnerable to being countered, which puts you at increased risk of getting knocked out. Counters are often the cleanest strikes landed during fights and telegraphing your punches leaves you exposed.
  • Diminishes Your Power: Telegraphed punches and kicks are often less powerful than strikes thrown with proper technique. Telegraphing your strikes also gives opponents more time to evade the attack or brace for impact, reducing the damage it does.


Common Mistakes That Lead To Fighters Telegraphing Their Strikes

Identifying why you telegraph your strikes is the first step to fixing toward correcting these mistakes. Some of the most common reasons why fighters telegraph their punches and kicks include:


1) Overcommitting To Strikes

Overcommitting in combat sports refers to trying to put too much power into a strike, typically leading to exaggerated movements that telegraph their intention. Watch professionals from any striking-based combat sport and you’ll notice they rarely load up on their punches. Clean technique throwing with precision and speed often leads to some of the most spectacular finishes in combat sports, not trying to throw everything you have into a single strike.

Catching an opponent with an unexpected strike is always more impactful than trying to land a powerful, but telegraphed, strike.


2) Not Using Setups Or Feints

Setups and feints are crucial fighting tools that help to confuse opponents and disguise your intentions. Not making feints and setups an integral part of your offense makes it easier for opponents to read your movements and predict your next strike.


3) Being Stiff Or Tense

Stiffness in a fighter’s body can also lead to strikes being telegraphed. Fighters being tense inside the ring due to factors like anxiety leads to all of their movements being rigid and slow, making it easier for opponents to see what’s coming at them. Tools like proper breathing can help to reduce tension during matches.


4) Prioritizing Power Over Everything Else

This goes into our first point on how overcommitting leads to telegraphing. A fighter who’s more focused on landing power punches is more likely to telegraph their strikes, especially if they don’t mix things up with setups and feints.

The most effective power punches in combat sports are typically counterpunchers who only load up on their counters.


How To Stop Telegraphing Your Strikes

Now that we’ve gone over some of the common reasons you might telegraph your punches and kids, let’s go over some of the strategies you can use to correct these technical issues:


1) Prioritize Relaxation And Fluidity

Staying relaxed and moving fluidly is the key to minimizing any tells on your strikes. Learn some relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, that you can use to calm yourself down before sparring sessions and fights. You should also spend lots of time performing exercises that improve your ability to transition between techniques fluidly like hitting pads with your instructor.

How you train is how you fight so the first step toward improving your fluidity is changing how you train.


2) Improve Your Rhythm And Timing

Use tools like sparring drills, heavy bag work, and shadowboxing to practice using feints and setups to hide your intentions. You should also learn to alternate the tempo of your punches as you train to prevent yourself from falling into a predictable pattern.


3) Start Using More Feints While Training

If you don’t already use a lot of feints learn some and start using them every time you train. Feints help to create openings for your strikes and they prevent your opponent from accurately reading any telegraph strikes since they have to worry about it being a feint.

Your opponent can only afford to react to every tell you have when you don’t use any feints. The more you feint, the less your opponent trusts any signals they see as you prepare to throw strikes.


4) Focus On Good Form And Precision

The best finishers in any combat sport often aren’t the most powerful strikers. For example, MMA legend Anderson Silva is known for his memorable knockouts inside the cage despite not being a particularly powerful striker. It’s the clean technique and precision of such fighters that leads to them landing fight-ending strikes on opponents.


Clean Up Your Strikes

Learning to throw un-telegraphed strikes is essential in striking-based martial arts. Practice good, clean form, and use the tips mentioned above to refine your technique.


You may also like:

Finding Your Beat: The Importance Of Rhythm In Boxing

Ultimate Guide To Blocking Low Kicks In MMA