Balance and coordination are essential skills to work on if you want to be successful in boxing. Being poorly balanced inside the ring makes it easier for opponents to knock you down to the canvas, while poor coordination reduces the accuracy of your punches and the effectiveness of defensive movements.
Study any boxer at the highest level of the sport, and you’ll notice they are exceptionally well-balanced and coordinated inside the ring.
Most people don’t spend much time thinking about how balanced their body is until an injury or health issue leaves them struggling to stay upright. It then becomes one of the most important things on their mind as they undergo therapy to restore the balance they once took for granted.
On the other hand, athletes spend lots of time working on their balance as it affects all the athletic movements they perform. This is especially true for boxers who must stay balanced as they look to put themselves in positions to land punches.
The lightning-fast footwork and intense punches boxers use require a sharp sense of balance that is developed by training consistently. Beginner boxers should add balance drills to their training early in their journey to develop one of the fundamental attributes necessary to be successful as a boxer.
Keeping yourself balanced inside the ring can be the difference between victory and defeat. Balance keeps you stable as you fire off punches and use defensive movements to evade punches. Professional boxers often intentionally throw their opponents off-balance to give them a momentary advantage inside the ring. It takes precious seconds to restore your balance when unbalanced, leaving you vulnerable to your opponent’s punches. Getting unbalanced also wastes energy.
Knowing your center of gravity and maintaining your balance inside the ring improves your overall performance. Some of the benefits boxers who choose to master how to keep themselves balanced at all times get to enjoy include:
- Increased Punching Power: It’s easier for boxers with good balance to put the full force of their body weight behind every punch they throw. Throwing powerful punches is about 50 percent skill and 50 percent energy generation. You need to be appropriately balanced to throw powerful punches skillfully.
- Improved Defense: Being unbalanced inside the ring makes you more vulnerable to punches and hinders your ability to perform defensive movements. Being well-balanced also allows you to recover faster after getting caught with a powerful punch.
- Increased Agility: The more balanced you are, the more swiftly you’ll be able to move around the boxing ring. Good balance also makes it easier to execute punch combinations and complex footwork patterns.
- Improved Confidence: Knowing it takes a lot to throw you off-balance inside the ring gives you a mental edge. You know you’ll be able to stay on your feet regardless of what your opponent throws at you.
Improve Your Balance And Coordination With These Ten Simple Boxing Drills
Some people are naturally more balanced and coordinated than others, but these are also things you can improve by working on them. Here are some boxing exercises that improve your balance and others that improve your coordination.
Shadowboxing is one of the most underrated exercises boxers use to sharpen their skills, including balance and coordination. Find a space that’s roughly the same size as a boxing ring and get to work against an imaginary opponent.
Fight with the intensity you would use for a real opponent and move around the space. Use defensive techniques like head movement, shoulder rolls, and ducking to avoid imaginary punches while throwing combinations. Shadowboxing can be used to work on your boxing footwork, stance, and technique, improving your balance and coordination. There are no expectations when shadowboxing, making it an effective tool for focused training.
Focus mitt drills are another helpful tool that helps to improve your balance and coordination as a boxer. Focus mitts work on all aspects of your boxing game, like footwork, head movements, offense, defense, and counters.
Focus mitts force you to react quickly to the signals of an instructor or training partner holding the mitts, which improves your hand-eye coordination.
Working with a competent instructor or training partner is the key to getting the most out of focus mitt drills. The skill of the person holding the mitts impacts how much you get out of each workout.
3) Double-Ended Bag Drills
Unlike most training bags used in boxing, the double-ended bag actually hits back as you work. These bags are secured with elastic cords on both ends, which causes the bag to bounce back with an attitude after each punch that connects.
The double-ended bag is in a constant state of motion once you start working, and the ball is rarely in the same ball twice, forcing you to work harder to land subsequent punches. This improves your punch accuracy and hand-eye coordination. It also improves your timing as you attempt to predict the ball’s movement to land punches. The double-ended bag’s movement mimics the motion of the head of an opponent who’s bobbing and weaving.
Working on a double-ended bag also improves the speed behind your punches since it forces you to throw fast punches to connect. You can get away with throwing slow punches when working on a heavy bag, but you’ll miss the target most times if you try to throw slow punches at a double-ended bag that’s already in motion.
A double-ended bag coming towards you with significant force after every punch forces you to also stay sharp with your defense while throwing punches. It forces you to constantly have to move, slip, pull back, and block as you throw punches at it.
4) Tennis Ball Drills
Tennis ball drills are popular with athletes looking to improve their reflexes and hand-eye coordination. It’s a simple exercise; you only need a tennis ball and a wall to throw it at. Ideally, you don’t want anything in the area that can break if the ball hits it.
To perform the drill, you simply throw the ball against the wall and use the same hand to catch it. Repeat the process about nine more times, varying the distance to the wall, the height the ball is thrown, and the grip you use. Repeat the exercise with your other hand once you’re done with your reps.
You can make the exercise more specific for boxing by throwing the ball upwards and catching it midflight using a similar motion to what you would use when throwing a punch. There are also many other exercises you can do with a ball that helps to improve your hand-eye coordination. For example, juggling anything improves it.
5) Balancing Beam Lunges And Squats
Gymnasts typically use the balance beam to perfect their artistic movements, but it’s an excellent tool for boxers to improve their coordination and balance. You don’t have to go to a gym to use a balance beam to get the benefits of these exercises. Just find a narrow but stable platform that is slightly elevated.
Perform lunges on the platform while moving forward and backward. This improves your feet coordination and core stability. You should also perform back squats on a balance beam. Turn your body so your face is facing perpendicular to the platform, and perform bodyweight squats without wobbling.
6) Swiss Ball Side Plank
The side plank is an excellent exercise for improving your balance, and a Swiss ball takes it to the next level. Adding a Swiss ball to most exercises forces your body to work to maintain balance as you pump out your reps. You can use Swiss balls to make many body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, and crunches engage your stabilizer and balance muscles.
The side plank primarily targets your core, particularly a relatively challenging muscle called the quadratus lumborum. If you’re new to the exercise, you can perform it with your elbow supporting your body instead of your arm being extended to the ground. Performing it on a Swiss ball also engages the lower abs.
7) Kettlebell Vertical Swings
Kettlebells help improve your balance as their center of gravity changes during different movement phases. Kettlebell exercises are viewed as one of the most practical ways to improve functional strength all over your body.
The kettlebell vertical swing, in particular, does wonders for your balance. The exercise involves standing with your feet spread apart and a kettlebell in both arms. You swing the kettlebell over your head and bring it back down between your legs. The exercise also targets many muscles in your upper body, increasing your overall strength.
8) Pistol Squats
Unilateral exercises for your legs, like pistol squats, lunges, and single-leg deadlifts, are effective ways to improve your balance while addressing any muscle imbalances in your lower body. Pistol squats are also an effective bodyweight exercise for building mass and strength in your legs since only one leg lifts your entire body weight. You can also hold on to a kettlebell or weight plate when performing the exercise to make it more challenging once you can easily get more than ten reps.
Pistol squats are one of the more challenging bodyweight exercises to learn, and you should already know how to perform bodyweight squats before attempting them. Keep a chair behind you if you’re new to the exercise to catch yourself if you lose your balance.
To perform a pistol squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend one leg and both arms in front of you. Tighten your core as you lower yourself to the ground by bending your knees and moving your hips back. Pause for a second while your glutes are a few inches from the ground before returning to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with your other leg.
9) Speed Bag Drills
Nothing improves your hand-eye coordination like performing speed bag drills regularly. It also helps to develop the timing needed to be successful inside the boxing ring. Working on a speed bag restricts your range of motion when punching, forcing your brain and hands to work together. The more practice you get on a speed bag, the better your brain becomes at telling your hands what to do, and the better your hands become at reacting to what the brain wants.
Make the speed bag a significant part of your training to develop the level of hand-eye coordination professional boxers often display.
10) Agility Ladder Drills
Boxing footwork drills help improve your balance and coordination, especially when moving around a boxing ring. An agility ladder is a valuable piece of equipment to have if you’re looking to improve your footwork and balance.
Many of the drills performed with agility drills mimic games you might have played as a child. If you don’t have one, draw one on the floor with chalk or use tape to mark out a ladder pattern on the floor where you train.
Some of the more popular drills performed on the agility ladder include:
Ins And Outs
- Start standing at one end of the ladder and facing it.
- Move your right foot into the first square, then follow with your left foot.
- Move your right foot out of the square on the right side and move your left foot to your left side. Repeat these motions until you have traveled the entire length of the ladder. Speed things up once you get the movement down.
- Start standing on one foot.
- Hop into each square while moving down the ladder on one foot.
- Return to the starting end, this time hopping on your other foot.
- Stand on the right side of the first square and crossover your right foot over your left into the square.
- Bring your left foot with it and step to the other side of the ladder.
- Remove your right foot from the square and stand on the left side of the ladder.
- Cross your left foot over your right foot to step into the second square. Repeat the process as you go down the ladder.
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