Boxing training is about achieving gradual improvements, both in terms of strength and conditioning but more importantly in terms of boxing skills.
To achieve consistent improvements in your boxing skills, a proportion of your boxing training must be devoted to improving those skills in a systematic and structured way. This is why we have boxing drills.
So, what are boxing drills and what role do they play in boxing training? In answer to the first part of that question, we can sum it up with the following statement:
“Boxing drills are systematic training of the body and mind by multiple repetitions”
Another, simpler statement would be:
“Practice makes perfect”
Boxing drills allow you to learn a boxing skill or group of skills by repeating that skill or group of skills with a critical eye. Boxing drills are about precision of execution. Speed of execution secondary to precision and technical accuracy. We train the body and mind to work in a particular way under fight conditions.
Two for flinching…
A great example of the ultimate aim of boxing drills can be made by considering your flinch reflex. The flinch reflex is our instant reaction to threat. This instant reaction might be closing your eyes and turning your head away if someone throws a ball at you. In boxing, replace that ball with a strong jab or a right cross. A boxing ring is not the place to close your eyes and turn your head.
This instant reaction happens, well, instantly. A primary purpose of boxing drills is to substitute closing the eyes and turning away with something useful, for instance a parry of the jab, slipping or a ducking or an instant attack with long range body punches.
Boxing is, in many ways, absolutely dependent upon reflexes. By harnessing the reflex action into a practical and useful defensive or offensive action you give yourself the maximum chance of 'taking care of business', which is exactly what we need to do.
Memories are made of this
Boxing drills also reinforce 'muscle memory', enabling what are initially awkward and unnatural manoeuvres to be gradually made easier, resulting in much more polished execution. To be truly comfortable and effective as a boxer, excellent co-ordination between the legs and upper-body is vitally important. The path to achieving this co-ordination is made smoother by the consistent repetition of working through boxing drills.
As if you needed any more convincing, another massive reason for building boxing drills into your boxing training is that during a given situation, let’s say for example a boxer trying to knock you out, time is of the essence. You don't think to yourself “OK, I'll move this way, throw this shot, then do this....” In a boxing ring, things happen far too fast for this to be possible. We need to be instinctive in our response.
By being disciplined about building boxing drills into your training, it will mean that during fight time your actions ‘just happen’, without thought and with maximum effect; you have predetermined sequences that work over and over again because drills have made them instinctive.
It’s not just boxing
Let's consider an observation about people who work in professions that may require, from time to time, that they face very stressful situations. Police officers, soldiers, fire fighters, medics, pilots and so on all face these situations more regularly than us civilians would care to consider. These courageous and selfless people, when recounting an act of particularly heart-stopping bravery or crushing pressure, often use the term “The training took over.”
Why did the training take over? The training took over because a proportion of their time in training was devoted to drills. The same is true of boxing training. There is no mystery here. Thomas Jefferson said “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. This was taken forward by the great golfer Gary Player with “The harder I practice the luckier I get.” Well, you get the point.
If your main aim is to develop your boxing skills, then boxing drills should take up a greater proportion of the time that you spend on your boxing training. As you become more experienced, this may tail off a little, but more likely you will just keep on developing the range of boxing drills that you use. You will become an intelligent boxer.
Great Technique = Great Results
Skills development is always a non-negotiable part of boxing training. This is why the world's best golfers and tennis players retain the services of top coaches right throughout the most productive spells in their careers. There is always a chance to improve. Boxing training is no different.
Even if you just want to use boxing training for the fitness benefits rather than fighting, you will not maximize these benefits without using boxing drills. Why is this? Because throwing a technically correct punch requires more effort and works more muscle groups than throwing an incorrect punch. Quite simply, your strength and conditioning will be improved by being a technically proficient boxer.
The Next Step
If you are looking forward to getting on with planning your boxing drills, here are 6 tips for success:
- Any of the 40 plus boxing skills videos on this site can be classed as a boxing drill. It’s a single skill that can be executed repeatedly to establish gradual improvements. After nailing the basics of the boxing stance, start with simply moving in and out. There you go, Drill #1.
- Always start slowly. Be methodical, almost robotic. In time, as you become more familiar with the movements and form, you can build up your speed.
- Think of ways of building links between skills, executing skills in a joined up way. For example you can execute skills together alongside each other, such as with a left hook to the body, or one after another, for example as shown in feinting in boxing.
- To think about punching boxing drills, check out the boxing combinations category where you’ll get some basic ideas.
- If you have a spare 10 minutes at home, not particularly during a gym session, then work through some boxing drills. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Run through 2 or 3 minutes of boxing drills. Waiting for the sink to fill with water for a wash? Get in your stance for 30 seconds and nail a few boxing drills. Practice makes perfect.
- If you haven’t already, sign up to the Mobility Boxing Drills offer on the MyBoxingCoach homepage. It’s all free and requires only an email address.
The equation is simple; the more time that you spend working on boxing drills, the faster you will reap the benefits. Remember, the more you practice, the luckier you get.
I hope that this has helped. I'd like to think that this type of article, one that pulls together existing resources on the site, is quite useful. Let me know if you agree, or if you have any other questions, by dropping a comment below.
By the way, one more link to check out is Counter Punching Power Russian Style. Lots of little boxing drills going on there.