If you have ever watched Floyd Mayweather fight, you would of definitely seen him do his trademark move, the shoulder roll. Mayweather is one of the pound-for-pound best fighters of all time and known for having an almost bullet proof defense. It is so good everyone wants to learn the famous shoulder roll themselves.

So, is the shoulder roll really that good, or did it simply just work for Mayweather?

K1 Kickboxing Equipment

In combat sports, everyone learns the same fundamentals of the sport, but as a fighter progresses they naturally develop their own style and simply stick to what works best for them. A coach will also train their fighter to suit their style and get the most out of their skills. The shoulder roll can be used in all combat sports but it is generally better in boxing.

Dan Knight from Sidekick said:

“We practiced the shoulder roll at times in the advanced kickboxing class. It was a good technique to learn but it works better in boxing than kickboxing, especially K-1 style as you will need to watch out your opponent don’t kick your leg.”

The shoulder roll is a great move if perfected, but it is not tailored for everyone. It is probably best suited for counter attackers as it is used to block an opponents cross, to then strike back. So, depending on a fighters style it will determine if it would work for them.

If you take Mike Tyson, he didn’t use the shoulder roll because he was an aggressive fighter that always came forward. Tyson was relatively shorter compared to other heavyweights, so rather than jabbing in to break down the distance, he would get low, Bob and weave side-to-side coming in with huge hooks.

Whereas the shoulder roll king himself, Mayweather, is more of a defensive counter attacker, which is were you let your opponent come in with the attacks, block it, counter back and get out the way. Mayweather has a K.O percentage of 54% in his 50 boxing fight record, which indicates he was not a knockout artist, so it would be silly for him to stand their and trade punches looking for a knockout. Instead, he used his ring craft and boxing IQ to simply outclass his opponents.

The Shoulder Roll in Different Weight Classes

The shoulder roll is more commonly used in the lighter weight classes and that also is another reason why it It worked really well for Mayweather, as he fought in the super featherweight to light middleweight divisions, so weathering off and blocking opponents strikes wouldn’t effect him as it would for a fighter in the heavyweight division.

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to wait there for Anthony Joshua to throw a huge cross so you can shoulder roll it.

The shoulder roll is still used by some heavyweight boxers like Tyson Fury, but it is not as common and this could be for a few reasons.

  • Power – Their punches are much harder so they wouldn’t want to chance taking any shots, as they would still feel them even on the gloves.
  • Reactions – Their reactions and footwork may not be as quick as a lighter weight to time it perfectly.

It goes to show that all fighters have different styles, especially in different weight classes, so if you think by you can be the next Mayweather, let’s go and learn how to do the shoulder roll.

How hard is it to learn the shoulder roll?

The shoulder roll is relatively quite a simple technique, however It is not necessarily the shoulder roll itself which is the art, it is more of the precision timing to execute it effectively and not to leave yourself open for further strikes. The shoulder roll is a great technique if mastered, but don’t over stress if it is not for you, as it can feel quite unnatural for some people.

The lead hand needs to come down for the shoulder to be raised and for the hand to protect the body, but done correctly the shoulder will protect your chin, give your opponent less of a head target and it will deflect an opponents cross leaving them open for a counter strike back.

Even though it looks effective from the pros, the shoulder roll does have some negatives to doing it, so it is important to practice the drill lightly with a training partner before attempting to do it in a fight. If it is poorly timed you could still get hit and if you don’t counter attack back, it can make you curl up in to a shell, leaving the opponent to come in landing more overwhelming of strikes.

It also doesn’t work well against southpaw fighters and when you do a shoulder roll you are exposing your left side, open for a right hook to the ribs. The shoulder roll is generally to defend against a cross punch and it is done be raising your lead shoulder to cover your face and leaning slightly back so your head is out of target. When the cross comes it needs to be perfectly timed bringing your back hand in front of your face to catch the punch. As the punch touches and deflects, counter back with either a left hook, right cross or right uppercut.

How To Do The Shoulder Roll

From the stance position, lean back slightly to get you head out of the punching line. Raise your left shoulder and tuck the chin in tight. Keep the right arm tight in line with your body with the glove close to the face to block both the body and head shots. Your left shoulder will deflect your opponent’s overhand right or straight cross and as soon as the punch deflects, hit back instantly.

Try not to over lean back as only a slight head movement will still make you a difficult target to hit. If you do lean back to much you will be out of position and hard to throw a counter strike back. Also, you could come off balance.

Here are some tips for the shoulder roll:

  • Keep your chin tucked in and stay focused
  • Keep your eyes on your opponent at all times
  • Keep your guard tight with no wide openings
  • Don’t over lean back
  • Don’t swing too much

As with any aspect of boxing It takes years of practice to master the shoulder roll. As mentioned earlier It is quite a simple technique but very difficult to pull it off successfully.

Final Thoughts

The shoulder roll is a fantastic skill to learn and it was part of what made Mayweather so hard to hit. Remember you won’t learn it over night, so keep practicing and practicing and eventually you will master it. Lastly, make sure to enjoy it.

Watch the video below for tips on how to beat the boxers who like to shoulder roll.