Boxing Coaching – My 7 Methods For Teaching A Group

by Fran on January 8, 2011

Boxing Skills, Boxing Drills and Coaching A Group To Success!

I know there are a number of boxing coaches who visit the site from time to time, all doing a great job working with kids in their local community (mostly on a  voluntary basis I hasten to add.)  Your average coach in a community-based boxing gym often has to work with large groups of youngsters all at once, particularly if one of the Rocky films has recently been aired on TV!  I thought that I might put together a short post that includes a bunch of tips on what’s worked for me over the years when trying to make the little monsters listen for long enough to learn something about the noble art!

Boxing coaching obviously covers a vast array of activities and methods of learning.  I’m going to be quite specific here and talk about one activity; technical sparring.  Technical sparring is a method of allowing two boxers to work together in a sparring-type situation without actually hitting each other, effectively using practical boxing skills to achieve our aims.  During technical sparring, sparring gloves are donned and I always request the boxers wear a mouth-guard just to be on the safe side.  This is a non-contact activity so there is certainly no need for a head-guard, foul-protector or even a boxing ring.  Technical sparring can accommodate any range of boxing skills and boxing drills, but a couple of examples are outlined below for illustrative purposes (they are very simple, so don’t expect quantum physics here!):

See what I mean, pretty simple stuff, but successfully demonstrating these skills to a group of boxers is absolutely vital.

My 7 Methods For Maintaining Sanity When Working With Kids

Let’s move on to cover how I get the absolute best out of a group of boxers, be they young or old.  Before we get onto to looking at how I’ve managed it over the years, it is always worth remembering that human beings love to learn, well most of them do anyway!  This seems to be especially true they are learning skills that will improve their self-esteem (i.e. skills that could lead to them overcoming the neighbourhood bully for instance); boxing is most definitely a self-esteem builder!

OK, the tips then:

  1. I tell the boxers to put on a pair of gloves and find a partner.  I then tell them to form a semi-circle on one side of me so that all can see the same thing at the same time.
  2. I introduce them to the skill/move by selling it to them.  I describe what it is, why it’s useful and when it will be used.  It’s important that I convey why it is worth their while practising the skill/move.
  3. Working with either a fellow coach or one of the boxers I demonstrate the skill at a realistic (competition) speed, 3 times each in the open (from my right) and closed (from my left) positions.  I then break the skill down making any key points (e.g. common faults.)
  4. I demonstrate one final time at competition speed in the open and closed positions and then request that the boxers try it themselves.  The boxers take turns in performing the skill and responding (A to B), either 5 each or when I shout “change.”
  5. I make individual coaching points to pairs where needed and then if I feel it appropriate I repeat the demonstration and emphasize the aspects that may be causing difficulties.
  6. I can change the pairs according to skill/experience level and develop the techniques by adding in more movement and variation.
  7. I keep the sessions short to ensure that interest is maintained rather than the boxers “switching off.”

So there you have it, how I have learned to apply boxing coaching techniques for groups whilst utilising boxing drills.  Remember, I tend to build up sequences from any number of skills and techniques, many of which are covered in the videos on the site.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, so pop them into the comments box below.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Waterman January 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

Hi Fran,

Good post, mate. The kids where I coach are mainly, if not all, ones who might be considered from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ Many are referred to us (Battersea and Caius Boxing Club) by the police or youth workers and we’re often told are ‘on the fringe of gang culture.’

One might suppose that this presents issues in discipline etc and indeed when I started there I was half expecting that. But as you’ll know yourself, boxing instills discipline and of all the boys and girls through our door I’ve not met one yet that doesn’t respond positively to patience, hard physical work and praise when appropriate.

Of course I’m preaching to the converted here but I just wanted to make comment and say thanks for the post.

Reply

Fran January 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Dave

Thanks for the comment and I’m glad that you liked the article. Yes indeed, in all of the years I’ve done this I’ve only ever asked 2 kids to leave the gym (both were just plain dangerous, turn your back for a second and they’d be trying to bench press 3 times their own body weight.) Of course we all work with some ‘rough diamonds’, but they all tend to have a very ‘team focused’ approach to us as coaches and indeed each other. It is a highly rewarding enviroment.

Clubs like the one you coach at are quite simply vital in our communities, and given the horrendous funding cuts that those communities will face in the next 2 -3 years mean that your work will be even more highly valued (even if the purse string holders don’t recognise this!) All we can do mate is keep in keepin’ on!

Thanks again mate. BTW, checked out your blog…fantastic. Particularly liked the Scouser/Debenhams analogy…it’s all good! ;-)

Reply

Bill Mitchell October 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

Hi Fran, just got onto the site last week and I have to say after looking at 100s of tutorial videos on boxing on other sites and spending 100s on cds Im not going to say the obvious to you at how refreshing your site is theirs plenty already doing this, your doing a great job the club and boys you coach are very lucky to have you, my question to you is are you thinking of having a training day for coaches to come to you I think this will be a great success and a chance to meet up and get some great training ideas.

Reply

Fran October 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Hey Bill. Thank you very much for your great comment. It’s a real honour to receive such praise, especially from someone who is clearly serious about gathering extended knowledge about our sport.

I’m very fortunate to be involved in the club I’ve always been involved with, since the age of 6. Great coaches, great young people to work with, a real community club. I’m beginning to find more time again now that my youngsters are growing so I’m looking forward to many years of happy coaching to come!

You know what, I’d like to think that in the future I could do something like you suggest. I am in this for the long haul, so we’ll see. I’ll keep on building up the site and see where it takes us.

Thanks Bill, great comment mate.

Reply

mncutman May 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Great article, Fran!
It can sometimes be rough teaching the youth. I am currently in the process of getting an x-pro boxer in the gym to help out because, as you already know, it is almost impossible to do it alone when there are so many different levels of experience. So, now we can separate the groups sometimes to get specific training according to their levels. Your site is an amazing tool for the youth just for the fact the detail of proper technique you go into for each and every move, stance, technique and everything else. Not to mention the great detail on what and how NOT to do something.

Reply

Fran May 16, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Hey John

Really good to hear from you. It’s even better to know that your endeavours with the boxing gym are bearing fruit. Sounds like full classes. You’re doing a great thing mate, your community will benefit greatly.

Thanks for your kind words too. It’s really rewarding that you are still finding lots of useful stuff on the site. I’m really happy about that.

Thanks again John, and I hope that getting another coach in helps you along, I’m sure it will.

Cheers

Reply

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