Focus mitt drills are an effective way to improve boxing skills like your hand-body coordination, speed, defense, fight IQ, and punching technique. It gives your trainer a chance to correct the things you do wrongly, and it allows you to refine the techniques you’re already good at.
Focus mitts are the closest thing to getting inside a ring and exchanging punches with a sparring partner or opponent. It allows you to work on all the things you can work on while sparring without having to deal with the contact. It’s the next step after shadowboxing to prepare you for sparring sessions and beyond.
Essential Focus Mitt Drills For Boxers
The key to getting the most out of focus mitt drills is to work with an experienced trainer. Sure, your buddies can hold up a pair of mitts just as easily as a trainer can, but they do not have the boxing experience needed to notice your mistakes, nor do they understand how to teach you new skills using the mitts.
A good trainer doesn’t just hold up mitts while you punch away. They constantly give you feedback and force you to play defense by throwing strikes at you. A good trainer also makes you have to use your footwork to put yourself in a position to land punches.
Some of the fundamental focus mitt drills used in boxing include:
1) Jab-Cross Combination
It doesn’t get any more fundamental than the jab-cross combination. The jab is typically the first punch new boxers are taught, followed by the cross. This combination works on your ability to throw the two punches fluidly without leaving yourself open to counters.
Also known as the one-two, the jab-cross combination is regularly used at the highest levels of boxing despite being the most basic combination. It’s a highly effective combination that can score a knockout when it lands flush.
Trainers often drill the jab, cross combination with verbal callouts. For example, the trainer might say “jab” while flashing the focus mitt. A cross might be called next, and on and on it goes, with the trainer mixing in one-two callouts. Your abilities to slip, block, and counter punches are also tested while performing this drill.
2) The Eight-Count Drill
The eight-count drill is a great way to simultaneously work on your speed, accuracy, and head movement. As the name suggests, this drill involves throwing eight punches quickly.
What’s important is that you don’t just go through the motions while throwing these punches. You must put some power behind them and focus on hitting your target. The goal is to land each punch as accurately as possible without sacrificing speed or power.
This drill also forces you to move your head while punching. It’s essential to be able to slip and dodge punches while still being able to throw your own with power and accuracy. This is one of the best ways to develop those skills.
3) Target Practice Mitt Drill
This drill is excellent for improving your speed and accuracy. It also helps improve your understanding of timing and distance inside the ring. It improves your ability to notice openings in your opponent’s defense you can take advantage of and teaches you to know the best punches to attack with instinctively.
Your trainer won’t be calling out any combinations when performing this drill. You simply try to hit what you see when the trainer raises their mitt. A good trainer will also mix in attacks to test your defensive reactions and reflexes.
4) The 1-2, 1-2 Variation Combo
This drill is a great way to warm up before intense training and improves your ability to fully extend your straight punches while throwing them in rapid succession. It’s an effective way to improve the consistency of your punching techniques, rhythm, and timing.
The drill involves throwing 1-2 combos as fast as possible while your trainer sporadically throws hooks at you to duck under. You then fire off a counter 1-2 as soon as you evade the hook.
5) Body Shots And Counters Focus Mitt Drill
These drills help to improve your reflexes and ability to defend against body shots. It involves the trainer going for body shots on both sides while you cover up and block with your elbows. You follow up each blocked body shot by delivering a punch to the same side the body shot came from.
After the counter, you go back to throwing 1-2 combinations until the trainer initiates another opportunity to counter.
6) Combo Call Out Focus Mitt Drill
This is a highly effective drill when it comes to experiencing the intensity of what it’s like to share a ring with an opponent. It also helps improve your defense after throwing combinations since these are your most vulnerable moments.
During the drill, the trainer will call out different combinations, constantly changing them up to keep you on your toes. The trainer will throw an attack at you after each combination to get you to use your defensive moves like blocking, slipping, ducking, or evading.
7) Pool Noodle Drills
This drill involves using pool noodles instead of focus mitts. It helps with your footwork and movement, specifically your lateral movement. They also help to improve your balance since you need to be able to maintain your balance while throwing punches and moving around the ring.
The pool noodles are used like focus mitts but challenge you more since they present smaller targets. Your trainer sporadically throws attacks with the noodles, forcing you to use your defensive skills. The noodles present a more complicated attack to block since they are smaller than focus mitts and move unpredictably. Your trainer can make them even more unpredictable by changing the length they are held.
Make These Drills Part Of Your Training Regimen
These are just some of the essential focus mitt drills boxers use to stay sharp and train for competition. Use these drills to improve your boxing skills and technique to perform at your best in the ring.
Feel free to attend one of Evolve’s complimentary introductory classes for more tips on how to improve your boxing game.
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