Focus mitts are integral to training striking-based martial arts like Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing. Pads are used to develop your head movement, defensive, offensive, and movement skills. They also allow you to work on your fundamentals or practice advanced combinations and drills.
Mastering The Art Of Holding Pads
The quality of the training you get from pad drills depends on how good the person holding the pad is. Like any other skill, learning how to hold pads requires practice. Here are some tips that will make you better at holding pads.
1) Keep Your Thumb On Top When Holding Pads
Don’t tuck your thumbs under the grips on the pads since that increases the risk of injuring your thumb. Instead, use a monkey grip (all five fingers going over the grips) to avoid most of the impact of strikes landing on the pad going into your thumb.
2) Maintain A Proper Fighting Stance
Stick to the proper stance of the martial art you’re training when holding pads. This puts your body in position to absorb incoming strikes and makes it easier to protect your head and body from any strikes that stray away from the pad. A proper orthodox stance for most striking-based combat styles is your left foot forward and your right foot pointing outward.
3) Keep The Pad At The Proper Level
Hold the pads at about your opponent’s height level for strikes to the head, and bring them towards your sternum for body strikes. Adjust the level of the pads based on your partner’s experience level. For example, if your partner hasn’t built up the flexibility to throw roundhouse kicks to the head, bring the pads down to a more comfortable level. That way, they can train without having to sacrifice technique.
4) Give Your Partner’s Strikes Decent Resistance
You shouldn’t be holding pads still when training. Instead, meet your opponent’s strikes by meeting their strikes as they come toward you. There should not be much give when your partner’s strikes land on the pads. Holding pads looks like the children’s game pat-a-cake when done correctly. Floyd Mayweather training with his late Uncle Roger Mayweather is an excellent example of how to meet your partner’s strikes.
5) Exhale After Each Strike Touches The Mitts
Breathing correctly while holding pads makes it easier to keep the intensity up. It also teaches you how to absorb strikes when sparring or performing glove-on-glove grills. Holding mitts is a mutually beneficial activity. You get to work on your game while your partner does the same.
6) Manage The Range
Taking it upon yourself to manage the distance between you and your partner allows them to build proper techniques like footwork, properly rotating their roundhouse kicks, or fully extending on their punches.
7) Don’t Get Careless When Kicks And Knees Are Involved
Knees and kicks land with lots of power, so you want to ensure you’re holding the pads properly when working these techniques. Stack the pads against your midsection when defending against knees, lean forward into the blow, and keep your core tight.
When holding pads for kicks, lean forward into the strike and engage your core. Exhale after every strike, as we discussed earlier.
8) Take Your Role As The Coach Seriously
As the pad holder, it is up to you to lead your partner during drills. You serve as a source of constructive feedback and set the intensity of the training session. Take your coaching role seriously, and you’ll be shocked at how much your skills improve as you train others.
9) Address Poor Technique
Giving your partner constant feedback as you hold the pad helps to improve their form. Tell them if they keep dropping their hands or forget to return to their fighting stance after each strike. Throw strikes occasionally at your partner to get them to work their defense and keep their reflexes sharp.
10) Stay Focused On The Task Ahead
You can end up eating an unexpected strike or worse if you lose focus while holding pads. You’re always in control of your opponent’s strikes, so be ready for each one. As the pad holder, it is your responsibility to ensure your partner’s strikes land on the pads and not on your head or body. Stay sharp when performing focus mitt drills, and take a break if your start losing focus.
11) Get In The Groove
Before you start throwing punches, getting into the right mindset is crucial. This means getting yourself excited and ready to go. You need to be enthusiastic about holding the pads so your partner can feed off your energy. If you’re not into it, your partner won’t be either.
12) Stay Loose
It’s important to stay loose when you’re holding the pads. This means not gripping them too tightly and not holding them too close to your body. If you’re too tense, it will be harder for your partner to punch through the pads. If you hold the pads too close to your body, then your partner won’t be able to get a full range of motion with their punches.
13) Move Around
It’s crucial to move around when you’re holding the pads. This will help you stay loose and give your partner a moving target to punch at. Additionally, it will force your partner to use their footwork to put them in position to strike the pads.
14) Use Different Angles
You should use different angles when you’re holding the pads. This will give your partner a more challenging target to hit and help them improve their accuracy. Creating angles also forces your parent to use their footwork and pivoting techniques to keep up with you.
15) Vary The Intensity
You should vary the intensity of your punches. This will help your partner work on their speed and power. More advanced partners can handle fast-paced drills, but slow things down for less experienced training partners. Remember, one of the keys to getting the most out of focus mitt drills is having your partner perform each technique with perfect form.
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