Learning How to Shadow Box
Shadow boxing is a major component of boxing training at all levels, but to people who have never stepped foot in a boxing ring before it’s probably one of the most perplexing. Why do boxers stand there throwing punches at air? What are they accomplishing by doing it, and what purpose does it truly serve? Therefore, before learning some tips for how to shadow box, it’s important to first understand why you should be doing it.
Why Shadow Boxing is Important for Boxers
Long before super-slow-motion cameras allowed golfers and baseball players to watch their swings and find every miniscule imperfection or flaw, boxers have been shadow boxing for basically the same reason.
One main principle of shadow boxing is that you get to watch yourself as you’re throwing a punch or a combination, or moving around and using defensive techniques. By working out and watching yourself in a mirror, you get to see what you actually look like as you throw, and also what you look like to your opponent.
In your head, you may have always thought that your left hook was a thing of beauty. In the mirror, you might see that it loops around and leaves your head wide open for a counter shot. If you can see it in the mirror, your opponent will see it in the ring. Therefore, shadow boxing helps you to find flaws in your games you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
Another benefit of shadow boxing is that you can walk through your game plan step-by-step. How are you going to set your opponent up for your big right hand? How will you react when your opponent charges forward throwing punches with bad intentions? Shadow boxing is a stress free, noncontact way for you to plan for all of this and ensure you know what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
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On top of everything, shadow boxing can be a great way to warm up before a workout session and get a sweat going, or cool down and stay loose after an intense training period. Plus, many professional and amateur boxers also gain a great deal of additional benefits from shadow boxing. It can be a way for them to relax while going through a game plan for a fight, envisioning how the fight will play out and what they need to do to win. It’s a way to focus on the opponent and what they bring to the table, and brace for what lies ahead.
Shadow boxing can serve many different purposes, and regardless of what each individual gains from it, it’s a crucial component to an overall training plan.
Getting Started with Shadow Boxing
Shadow boxing is exceedingly simple once you get started. As with many aspects of training in boxing, there’s no black and white, right and wrong approach. The correct approach is the one that gives you all of the benefits you see above, and every fighter will fall into a different routine for how they go about their shadow boxing.
I like to get in my shadow boxing after my initial warm-ups, but before I do any other boxing work, like heavy bag training or hitting the mitts. In this way, I’m already a little bit loose, but I have all of my energy and stamina, and can really work with pinpoint technique and mental focus.
If I’m not preparing for something specific, then I like to go through different combinations, typically starting basic and working my way up once I’m satisfied with the way I’m putting things together. So, a few 1-2s might be followed by a 1-2 finished by a double left hook.
Then, that combination will lead straight to a pivot and a few more body shots, or whatever else I’d like to do. I also like to spend some time shadow boxing and only performing defensive maneuvers, bobbing and weaving, head feints, leaning back, taking small steps and turns to get me in and out of range, and so forth.
Take time when you’re shadow boxing to look at yourself from different angles, head on and from each side of your body, to get a full view of everything you’re doing and all of your technique.
If I need to pick up the intensity to get more of a sweat going and to get my heart rate up, I’ll take a break in the middle of shadow boxing and do some stationary cardio work, such as running in place or jumping jacks, and then pick back up where I left off. You can shadow box for standard three minute rounds, or you can work straight through the buzzer and go for two or three rounds without any pause or rest in between.
Hopefully by now you should have a pretty good idea about how you can learn to shadow box, why you should be shadow boxing and the benefits it provides, so go ahead and get started for yourself.