Learn How to Use the Speed Bag for Boxing Training
Few things are more commonly associated with boxing training than the speed bag. Learning how to use the speed bag properly is a very important step as you begin your journey training in the Sweet Science. Further, whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve trained in boxing for a while but need to hone your technique and really master this technique, then you can use the following guide to learn and build from the ground up.
Why is Speed Bag Training so Important?
Before learning how to use the speed bag, it’s important to take a minute to learn why speed bag training is so important to begin with. The speed bag will help you work on a number of different aspects of your game which will translate into improved performance in the ring, improved performance in other disciplines of your training routine and will also improve your overall fitness level as well.
First, using the speed bag is a great way to train your hand-eye coordination, which is essential to boxing. You’ll be following and striking a quick-moving object and will have to have your entire body, your eyes and your mind in synch to get it done. It will become second-nature soon enough, but when you first start out, you may be surprised at how difficult it is. You’ll see major improvements in this important area in a short amount of time.
But working the speed bag does more than that. You’ll also be improving the muscle endurance in your shoulders and arms, which will help you whether you’re in round 6 of a fight or round 7 of working the heavy bag. Reaction time, along with hand-eye coordination, will also improve, and you’ll gain a better “boxing rhythm”.
It’s low intensity in terms of cardio training, but in conjunction with the rest of your workout, adds further cardio work to each session. Because you typically work the speed bag at the end of a boxing training routine, your body will already be fatigued, and you’ll be working on getting the most out of your punches, movement and coordination even with a tired body.
Getting Started with the Speed Bag
If you’ve never used a speed bag before, it can be intimidating seeing a seasoned boxer pound away at the bag with flawless rhythm and timing, booming power and seemingly endless stamina. Don’t expect to be firing away like that your first time out, it’s a process, but once you get going you can improve quickly.
You’ll find that speed bags are sold in many different sizes. Generally, avoid the extra large and elongated ones. You can learn easy enough on the small sized bags and you won’t need to buy a second bag, or readjust your technique along the way. At a boxing gym, you’ll typically only find the small bags regardless.
First, make sure the platform you’re using is the right height. You need to be able to stand underneath it, and the bag should be slightly above eye level. Also make sure you’re wearing your handwraps or speed bag gloves.
When you hit the bag, you should be making contact with the outside edge of your palm, with a closed fist. Before diving right in, do that a few times, just single strikes with one hand to get an idea about how the speed bag really works and what you’re doing.
Now, your beginners cadence will be to strike the bag with one hand, and then to have it bounce three times before striking it again with your other hand. So, you’ll hit the speed bag with your left hand, it’ll bounce off the back of the platform, off the front of the platform, and once again off the back of the platform before you hit it with your right hand. Keep working on this until you can build up a consistent rhythm.
When you mess up – and you will – simply grab the bag to stop its motion, reset yourself, and start again. You’ll learn the right combination of power, the angle and placement of your punch and more, in order to produce a workable and consistent bounce and rhythm.
Once you have that three-bounce cadence down, it’s time to progress to the rapid single-bounce cadence. Here, you hit the bag and let it bounce only one time, off the back of the platform, before you hit it again. It’s a completely different ballgame in terms of timing and difficulty, which is why you have to start with the three-bounce rhythm first.
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Advanced Speed Bag Training and Improving Technique
You can continue to alternate hands with every punch, or you can use any number of different rhythms or techniques. Many boxers stick to a basic two punches on each hand routine, left-left-right-right over and over again. You might break up the routine by switching to a single hand for 10 or 20 strikes, and then doing the same with the opposite hand.
To test how you’re improving, try simple games or activities while you’re on the speed bag. For example, count to 100 strikes without making a mistake and needing to reset yourself. Once you can do 100, go to 200.
Or, you can try a pyramid style progression, starting with one strike with each hand and working your way up to 10 with each hand. So it’s left-right, left-left-right-right, all the way up to 10 each, and then work your way back down to one each. Complete the up and down progression without making a mistake and keep on starting from the beginning when you do.
While you’re using the speed bag, you can also begin incorporating motion with your feet. You can slowly circle the speed bag as you go about your normal routine, or you can kind of bounce in rhythm with your hits while staying in one place.
You can also train timing for specific punches and combinations, and incorporate defensive head movements into your routine. But before you mess with all of that, you have to start from the beginning.
That three-bounce cadence is the training wheels program for using the speed bag. Suck it up and start at the beginning, get it down, move onto the single-bounce and then begin testing yourself in new ways and adding new wrinkles. As a part of your overall boxing training routine, add in about three rounds of using the speed bag after all of your heavy bag work and/or sparring is completed, right before cooling down with jumping rope or other exercises.
Hopefully you’ve gotten a good idea about how to learn using the speed bag. The speed bag is essential for all boxers, of all experience levels, and you have to start from the beginning in order to learn how to use the tool in the right way. Use the above guide and you’ll be on way your way to mastering the speed bag.