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Boxing is a competitive sport that demands focus and strong, consistent strength. Great boxers don’t just use heavy sandbags, or rely on just shadow boxing to train. They don’t even learn all those techniques in the ring. So, how do they get a grip on all the moves they seem to excel at? The answer is focus mitt drills!
Focus mitt training is the best way to improve your punching technique, fight strategies, defence, increase speed, and hand-body coordination. This is where your trainer will keep correcting you and make you learn new moves. Here are some of the best focus mitt drills that boxing gyms use these days.
1: Begin by Throwing Traditional Jab-Cross Combos
This is the most basic drill in which the mitt holder and the fighter move around the ring and loosen up. It is the best way to practice the jabs. The beginners do this drill to throw boxing’s most important punch (the jab) and to strengthen their weaker arm.
The trainer will start with verbal call-outs where they say ‘JAB’ and then flash the focus mitt. Then, they will call the next move and flash the mitts again. After the verbal call-out, the trainer will only flash the mitt and the fighter has to hit it quickly to check the auto-response.
Then the drill will move to defence and counter, where the trainer will ask you to slip and make a counter move by both; jabbing to the body (on the focus mitt) or just by blocking and jabbing. There also comes a time when verbal, auto-response, and defence will be performed together.
Here’s a video showing how you can slip a punch and come up with counters of your own:
2. Go for the 8 Count Drill
The 8-count drill is a basic drill for beginners that teaches the fundamental skills of boxing. It teaches you about how to strike and move within the boxing ring and also to stay in control while avoiding getting pinned down in one place by your opponent.
The first punch you throw in this drill is a jab. This includes punching with your left hand towards the left side of your opponent. The next step is called cross in which the trainee will throw a punch with their right hand to their opponent's right side.
This will be followed by a lead hook, a powerful punch from your dominant arm. The fourth step is a cross, just like the second step of the drill. Then the mitt holder will throw a lead, to which you must bow down and weave and throw a cross.
Right after you throw a cross, you need to follow it with another lead hook. Next is to bob and slip under the rear hook of the mitt holder. This must be done while stepping out and turning, and landing a lead hook of your own. Then you will finish the drill with a cross.
Try out blocking by learning how to do it in this video:
3. 1-2 1-2 variation combo
This drill is best to get warmed up and to learn how to fully extend straight rights and straight lefts quickly and for longer durations. This workout is also beneficial to grasp the basics of timing, rhythm, and consistency. 1-2 variations are used to provide trainees with a basic defensive technique followed by a counter-attack against their opponent.
The first step in this drill is to throw straight rights and lefts quickly and repeatedly. Each of your lefts must go toward the left side of the mitt holder, and every right towards their right. As you do the 1,2,1,2, the mitt holder will throw a hook. You need to cover in defence and then throw a punch to counter-attack.
Here’s how you can block a hook:
4. Body Shots and Counters
These drills aim to improve the reflexes of the trainee. In this drill, the mitt holder will go for body shots targeting either side of your body while you have to cover to block. Then, the trainee will answer with a punch delivered to the mitt that will be offered as a counter opportunity on the same side, probably above the shoulder to get a good high punch in.
Here’s how you can block body shots:
After the counters, the trainee will continue with 1-2 combinations and wait for the mitt holder to initiate the next counter opportunity. Remember, the mitt holder will change their sides, giving you a variety of body shots to target for your 1-2 combinations. Also, while the trainee is conducting their 1-2 combinations, the mitt holder will slap the sides of their ribs, not the midsection.
5. Target practice
This is one of the best focus mitt drills for people who want to enhance their accuracy and speed. The training routine for this drill will help trainees to develop their judgment in terms of timing, distance, and accuracy. This will also help them to look out for opportunities to attack their opponents while also identifying the best targets to aim for punches.
In this drill, rather than calling for combos, the mitt holder will let trainees hit what they see. They will punch on the mitt pad that is raised. Remember, mitt holders can also attack trainees to test defensive reflexes and reactions.
6. Pool Noodle Drills
This drill is also effective in helping trainees improve their speed, power, along with their defensive techniques. In this drill, the trainer will be holding thin pool float noodles instead of actual focus mitts.
It is a comparatively tougher drill because the target is very thin, making it hard to defend against since they whip out quickly. Also, the trainer can hold these noodles at different lengths. This changes the speed and rhythm of the trainers' attack.
In the first step, the trainee will throw a jab, followed by a block and another jab. Next, you will throw a jab using your right hand. After that, the trainer will throw a lead hook, to which you will bob and weave before throwing a cross. Here’s how you can do that:
7. Combo Call Out
This is one of the best drills to help you get some real experience of the intense environment of a boxing ring. It also helps trainees to learn defence tricks after throwing a combo, since this is when your opponent is likely to swing at you.
The trainer will call out multiple combinations to guide your moves. These may involve jab, cross, and hook as well. Jab here is represented by the number 1, and cross and hook by numbers 2 & 3 respectively. The trainer can change the order of punches they call out depending on the workout.
After every combo, the trainer will swing at you to make you block. You can throw a punch whenever you get a chance.
8. Final thoughts
These are just a few drills that a fighter has to get through in the beginning. With time, the number of drills and their intensity and speed will also increase as these skills develop over time. However, the most important thing here is to have proper punching technique and keep the counter-attack going in the defence.