How to Use the Double-End Bag for Boxing Training
You know you’re in a boxing gym if you see a double-end bag. A guy in his garage can have a speed bag or a heavy bag. A good way to tell how serious he is about his boxing is to look for the presence of a double-end bag. While not as popular as some other bags, it’s probably the most useful.
A double-end bag is similar in shape to a football–narrow ends with a more robust center. Each end of the bag is connected by cables with hooks. The end of the top cable connects to a hook, perhaps attached to a beam on the ceiling. The bottom is a little more problematic. Not everyone can install a hook in the middle of the floor. So, many people use a weighted base, usually filled with water or sand. These work fine.
You’ve probably seen guys on TV or in the gym work this bag and you may have noticed the presence of duct tape. When connecting the bag, there will be an exposed hook on each end of it. It can be easy to hit those and do damage to your hand, being that the bag is moving while you’re trying to hit it. Your accuracy won’t always be perfect. So cover those hooks and protect those hands with at least wraps, if not bag gloves or actual boxing gloves.
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Get Started with the Double End Bag
Make sure you have enough room to freely move around the bag when you install it. And keep in mind there are widely divergent qualities available for double-end bags. You definitely want to get a higher-end one. Cleto Reyes makes some excellent double-end bags, for example. They will be truer, whereas a poorly-constructed unit will be more trouble than what it’s worth. Make sure the cables make it so that the bag reacts upon getting hit–not too loose but not too tight. It should be moving pretty well and be very reactive. That’s the whole idea. Play with the tightness until it seems right and try to have the bag at about head-level.
The main feature of a double-end bag is its movement. You hit it and it starts moving. Now you have a moving target to hit. When hitting the double-end bag, you should be closely mimicking how you normally box. For this bag exercise, punches must be thrown in combination. The first punch gets the bag moving and all punches that follow will be aimed at a moving target.
The idea is that in the ring, your opponent is, in fact, moving. Therefore, we need to develop the hand-eye coordination required to squarely hit moving targets. That’s the key purpose of the double-end bag–to develop hand-eye coordination. In turn, your punching accuracy, anticipation, and punch selection will improve. Double-end bag work also develops your hand speed. You need to be quick to hit that thing once it gets moving.
It’s not all about offense. When you hit the bag straight-on, it will come back to you. This is where you practice defense–staying out of range, keeping your hands up, slipping, parrying, etc. When you see a boxer expertly working the double-end bag, he is defensively very active. This is not a bag you just tee off on. The idea is to work some of the finer points. You’re not out to look impressive on it, like how you would with a speed bag, for example. This is not a bag for showoffs.
At the same time, there are different levels of skill to be obtained on a double-end bag. You want to get good enough on it to the point where you can rip off combinations like you would in real action, yet still make solid contact on the bag. At the beginning, you will hit the bag and it will move away and then come back. Then you’ll hit it again. As you get better, you won’t need to wait for it to come back. Your hand-eye coordination will elevate to the point where you know where the bag will be almost instinctively.
It also teaches concentration. You need to be omni-focused on the bag, just like you would be in the ring. And just like in real action, you need to be relaxed. It’s a strange combination–laser focus and relaxation don’t always go together easily. Work it out on the bag. When hitting it, you’re fully concentrated, but loose enough to be effective. The more you do it, the more relaxed you will become.
The double-end bag is the only bag that moves in any kind of unpredictable way. Of all the bags, it comes the closest in simulating actual boxing action. So when we use it, we treat it accordingly. Some of the same traits we use in the ring, like working hard, staying focused, using defense, and setting up punches, are the same things we employ when working this bag.
- Get the most out of it by putting in a solid effort. Treat it like an opponent and be very active when working this piece of gym equipment. You should be bending, pivoting, sliding, blocking, jabbing–all the things you would do in the ring. It should be working the entire body. Your form should be tight. Work on your positioning. Generally, you want to catch the bag at the end of your punches. Don’t smother yourself.
- Throw combinations. This is the only way to hit the double-end bag, or we’re really giving up all the advantages of using it. The key is to hit it while it’s moving, so the easiest punch to land on this bag will be the first one. Anyone can do that. When you’re able to squarely land your second, third, and fourth punch without waiting for the bag to settle–now you’re really doing something.
If you just poke at the bag thoughtlessly and sleepwalk your way through a double-end bag workout, you’re wasting time. Simulate real fight action. That’s a more mental thing. It takes imagination. Do the things you’re trying to do in the ring with this bag. At first, you might be a little stiff. Start slow and over time, you’ll be seamlessly ripping off combinations on it like nobody’s business.
One of the cool things about all bags used in boxing training is that if you work at it–you will get better. It will happen quickly, as you improve after each time you use it. It’s a fair proposition. If you dedicate yourself to becoming proficient at this, it will happen. Use some of the above guidelines to learn how to train with the double-end bag and you’ll be on your way.