A great boxing partner can help fill in holes you didn’t even know were there. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one. The presence of a suitable sparring partner you can trust can often yield impressive results in the gym. Giving back, of course, is part of a strong relationship.
One of the best ways of maintaining a productive team effort is by adding some of the best boxing partner drills to your game. These drills will see marked improvements in your physical attributes and can be a major benefit for your mental game.
1) Essential Focus Mitt Drills
Focus mitts provide fighters with some of the easiest and most accessible boxing partner drills. The idea is to take turns punching and holding the pads, with a few minutes on each side before swapping. If you’re looking for inspiration, these essential focus mitt drills for boxing are a great place to get started.
Focus mitt drills help to sharpen multiple attributes necessary in boxing. These include but are not limited to, the following.
An essential part of any boxing gym, focus mitts have helped legendary fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr., and Mike Tyson perfect their games. Fighters studying the signature boxing techniques of Sugar Ray Leonard and other greats can also find them useful. From perfecting your jab and simple 1-2s to shining up your hooks and uppercuts, boxing partner drills with focus mitts will help.
2) Jab-Only Drill
Working with a training partner should involve some give and take. In the end, it’s the mutually advantageous boxing partner exercises that forge lasting bonds. One of the best is the jab-only drill, which involves using no other punches except the jab.
What you’ll need is adequate space and a training partner. A boxing ring is ideal, but you can also create a makeshift ring in the park or another safe and accommodating area. Again, roles will be switched – except this time, one fighter uses only their jab with the other practicing defense. This includes blocking, parrying, footwork, and head movement.
Any wise boxing enthusiast understands the importance of the jab in the sport. According to the legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato, the jab is “The bread-and-butter of boxing. It’s the first punch you learn, and the last punch you master.” But with this drill, you and your partner will benefit from lessons that can only be learned in practice.
Follow our tips for a more effective jab with your training partner and you will see your game flourish.
3) Offense Vs. Defense Drill
It is important to maintain a sense of trust between your partner and yourself. One of the easiest ways to improve this balance is by taking part in mutually beneficial boxing drills, such as the offense vs. defense routine.
The role of the attacker involves taking an aggressive but restrained attitude into the ring. The defensive fighter must try to evade the attacker’s approach and limit the number of punches landed. This exercise is one of the best boxing drills for partners, as each gets to play both the hunter and the hunted. Both fighters will be required to train in the following areas.
- Movement on the front and back foot
- Closing distance and establishing range
- Throwing and defending combinations
- Reading both offensive and defensive attitudes
You can tailor offense vs. defense drills to your liking, which is another positive. For example, you can add certain conditions, like only being able to hit when on one side of an imaginary line through the ring. Or switching between offense and defense when tagged. Ultimately, this is a mutually beneficial boxing drill for both parties and is even better if you can articulate each other’s strong and weak points after the spar.
4) Counting Combinations Drill
One of the best boxing drills for you and a partner is the counting combinations routine. There are different ways this drill can be done, but we like when there is a fighter-caller relationship that can be swapped over.
While you can add even more participants – such as two or more fighters, it’s advisable to keep the caller/trainer as one person shouting the commands. The caller’s role is to shout out specific combinations for the fighter to throw, such as the 1-2-1-2.
This drill can improve reaction times by pushing the brain to respond quickly. There are other benefits, such as perfecting technique and form when throwing difficult shots within a combination. For example, if you are struggling with how to land an uppercut after a jab or 1-2.
The added sense of focus and determination can push both you and your training partner to greater heights. Especially when constructive criticism and encouragement are shared following the drills.
5) Close-Range Tire Drill
Another boxing drill for partners to try is the close-range tire drill, also known as the tire drill. For this exercise, both participants need to step their lead legs into a wheel tire before engaging in close-range sparring. While it’s not advisable to go too hard on your opponent, both participants should look to improve their inside game in the drill.
The tire drill boxing exercise can help those uncomfortable with inside fighting while sharpening the skills of those who excel in it. Here are just some of the benefits when used.
- It builds confidence
- It improves clinch work
- It’s great for inside defense, such as blocking
- It teaches valuable lessons on short-range shots
- It can improve reactions and coordination
We recommend this drill for anyone looking to get acquainted with the art of inside punching in boxing, as it is highly suitable for that. You don’t need to unload much power or go too heavy but try to keep a steady pace throughout the exercise. Take a mental note of what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy from the exchange and compare that with your partner – doing so could expose weak areas of your game that you may need to address.
6) Corner Escape Drill
Fewer things in boxing are as frustrating as being trapped in the corner by an expert pressure fighter. Many fighters who find themselves in this position are given a baptism of fire that they never forget. This can often lead to an obsession with learning how to avoid it ever happening again.
There are five main ways to get out of the corner in boxing, and they cover the important points. Read up on those before you try this drill with your partner. Here’s what to do.
- One assumes their stance in the corner – the other approaches as an attacker
- The attacking fighter throws shots and applies pressure
- The defensive fighter must use head movement, footwork, and feints to escape
The idea here is that the attacking fighter will learn how to be better at trapping their opponent. These include the keys to becoming a better pressure fighter in boxing. The defender’s job is to bob, weave, push, and maneuver their way out of the danger zone. Both competitors swap roles, with the view to honing these methods of entrapment and escape.
7) Ring Control Drill
Similar to the corner escape boxing drill, the ring control exercise requires an attacker and a defender to work. The controller aims to cut off the ring against the retreating defender, who will focus on lateral movement and angles.
This drill is excellent for improving attack and defense, as well as ring generalship and overall fitness. It is best performed in rounds of three minutes, where possible. While those looking for beginners’ partner boxing drills can use it, it is more effective when fighters give no clues as to their movements or attacks.
Cutting off the ring in boxing is part art, part science. If you are looking to find ways of closing the distance and trapping your opponent, there are several things you can practice in this drill. In cases like this, you may ask your opponent to replicate certain styles, such as the pressure-fighting approach of Julio Cesar Chavez.
On the other end, you could ask the evasive fighter to imitate boxers not known to sit in the pocket. Or perhaps even southpaws. The great thing about a collaborative effort between you and your training partner is that you get to witness mutual progression by helping each other’s causes.
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