Being able to punch faster than your opponent is a vital part of winning boxing matches. If your speed needs improvement or your progress seems to be slowing down with your current regime, try these five ways to improve punching speed.
Quick to put into action and see results, you still need to be consistent with your training to succeed – in boxing there are no shortcuts.
IMPROVE YOUR PUNCHING SPEED BY…
1) SPEED BALL WORKOUTS
Try a range of forced hand speed exercises using a speed ball or floor to ceiling ball. These balls force you to think fast, move your hands fast and punch even when you might not want to. This is important for fights as you will need to punch proactively and reactively, whenever you can.
Even when you’re tired, push pass the fatigue and your limits. You’ll always need to react quickly with a speed ball, as well as think quickly. Combine 2 or 3 rounds on a speed ball with 2 or 3 rounds on a floor to ceiling ball, seeing how many times you can punch in set periods of time. Remember to punch through the target, not just tap it.
2) SHADOW BOXING
This training technique of punching in the air prepares you physically and mentally for fast punches. Shadow box before a workout to loosen your muscles and perfect your technique. Practise each type of punch – jab, right hook – in front of a mirror and add hand weights for even better results.
Start loose and build up your speed over a number of 2/3 min rounds, adding in long combination punches where you can practice your breathing. The process will loosen your muscles and build muscle memory, which makes punches flow more naturally without hesitation and with less errors. Learn the basics of shadow boxing here.
3) QUICK BREATHING
Focus on improving your breathing technique while punching, with a particular determination to breathe faster. If you’re tensing up and keeping in your breathe to punch, it’ll be holding you back. You need to inhale and exhale to the rhythm of your punches, and keep your shoulders loose and relaxed as you punch.
Why does this work? Breathing keeps your blood charged with oxygen, which helps keep your mind focused and your muscles fuelled. The act of breathing also tightens your core, which adds power to your punch. Understand that one big breathe in, can produce many smaller breathes out as you move and punch!
4) COMBINATION PUNCHES
Specifically training to deliver lighter combination punches makes your mind think fast, which is the basis of moving fast. To begin, punch as fast as you can in intervals of 15 to 20 seconds using a punch bag, then add in some different combinations that you’d use in the ring. Keeping the punches light is key to increasing speed.
Then, take these techniques and spar with a partner, focusing on fast hits and disrupting their rhythm. Try not to get too hung up on each individual punch, but instead work towards an easy flow of different combinations; thinking too much on one punch rather than multiple punches can slow you down. Sometimes try the preferred boxing gloves that are used in competition, so you’re training with the equipment you’ll use when it counts.
5) FASTER FOOTWORK
Short sprints, intense skipping exercises and sparring with a partner are all effective ways to increase the speed of your footwork, which will speed up your whole performance.
Interval sprinting will train your body to move faster increasing your potential speed for boxing, while skipping will build on the muscle endurance and improve agility. Combine these with a sparring session where you focus on your stance, weight distribution and movement into the punches.
By following these steps, you should be able to improve your punching speed and overall performance in bouts. As your endurance improves, your punches should also be more consistently solid, which is vital in later rounds.