Is boxing headgear safe?

The debate on boxing headgear safety looks no closer to a reprieve. On one hand, headgear will work to reduce the impact of certain hits to the head which also ensures minimal risk of cuts, bruises and lacerations. On the other, it will increase the size of the target for opponents, which means they will be more likely to land hits in this very sensitive part of your body. The effect of consistent shots to the head is too serious to ignore, with too many fighters suffering from concussions and head injuries. Is boxing headgear the solution to this problem or fuel in the flames? Does boxing headgear really offer value? Is boxing headgear safe? We explore this part of your boxing gear to help you know whether you should suit up or spar without it.

Does boxing headgear offer full protection?

Your boxing headgear will not protect you from concussions, but it can lower the risk for certain types of injuries. As a result of the reduced contact surface between your face and the opponent’s punch, you will be less likely to suffer from facial injury and superficial trauma. You can engage in training or fights without worrying about swelling, cuts or bruises to your face. Your headgear will do little for concussions, but it could be the best protection against a broken nose!


Head clashes are common in the ring and during sparring. They can be painful and potentially injurious. Even if only one fighter is wearing headgear, the risk of this type of injury will be reduced significantly. You will also be able to stay safe before a competition and maintain a fair shot at victory by wearing headgear throughout your training. Just ask Hughie Fury who lost to Kubrat Pulev when a recently stitched up cut to his eye opened up when he took his first punch. Boxing headgear will also absorb impact in the event that you are knocked onto the floor.

How to defend your head when boxing

Your opponent is always looking to land lethal hits, and may be looking to strike around your chin or behind your ear for maximum effect. You should always keep your chin down and your mouth open when in the ring to reduce the target area for a strike. It will lower your risk of a broken jaw or teeth as well.

You could defend yourself better by keeping your guard up at all times and morphing to counter the opponent’s style for minimum risk. The high guard is a great example of a defensive technique that emphasizes on protection for your head. It could leave your body open, but opponents will almost find it impossible to land high hits if executed well. The Philly shell guard employs the use of one hand and the alternate shoulder in helping protect your head. Your opponent will largely be limited to counter and body strikes, which will lower the risk of successful hits to your head significantly.

We recommend wearing headgear when sparring and fighting, because shots to your head could have just as much of an effect even when thrown in a friendly bout. If you are looking to stay safe when sparring, you still need to follow these basic guides to help you lower the risk of injury to yourself or your partner.

  • You do not have to be knocked out to sustain a concussion. If you experience headache, confusion, disorientation, vomiting, dizziness, significant fatigue or a ringing in your ears, you should stop sparring and seek immediate help.
  • Balance your sparring to allow for your body and mind to rest
  • Plan your sparring session in advance so that you and your partner face each other with the same intensity. Lighter strikes to your head and heavier shots to the body could be a great way to spar safely.

Which type of headgear should you go for?

Boxing helmets will offer valuable protection, even though they do not guarantee an injury free experience. We recommend wearing headgear when sparring or fighting even when you can defend yourself against advanced attacks. But what headgear should you go for? Headgear designs are versatile, with different options offering value for certain types of coverage. If you are looking for complete protection, a face saver headgear with a face grill will offer great value for protection against hits. It is crucial to note that headgear with more coverage, such as the face saver options featured above, will limit visibility. You could go for an open design, but this leaves a large part of your face exposed to hits and would be better suited for people with some technique and defensive training under their belt. Hybrid headgear, which offer the perks of either option, could be great for visibility with added protection to certain parts of your face.

Final word

Is boxing headgear safe? If your sole interest is preventing concussions, then boxing headgear will hardly offer any value. Concussions could occur even with headgear, and if your headgear increases the size of the target, it could also affect the risk of concussion. Depending on the design, boxing headgear may also affect visibility, which could help your opponent land more hits as well. But that is where the risks of headgear end. This equipment will prevent trauma and superficial damage, which means that you are less likely to experience cuts, bruises and swollen parts across your face. You will also be better protected against head butts, and minimizes the risk of injury before competition. The padding will also protect you in the event that you fall to the floor by absorbing a lot of the impact. So, is headgear right for you? If you are looking to keep the risk of injury low, then you need to wear headgear when boxing. You will be better able to block hits and protect yourself without it as you learn your defensive techniques and strategy, but could gain great value from your headgear until you do.