Boxing Lessons – Turning the Tables

by Fran on October 12, 2012


This is the 4th and final video article in the series covering punch pads. There is a common theme running through the series so if you have yet to do so it is worth going back to the first video Boxing Lessons on the Punch Pads.

In this video I am working with one of our most seasoned and indeed talented boxers. Mark Cameron has amassed consderable experience against really high quality opposition. He is a crisp puncher, packs a terrific bang in each hand and is very smart to go with it.

As a coach I am adept at building boxing lessons and working through them with fighters. With certain fighters though you often feel that the tables have turned and you are in fact the one getting the boxing lessons. This is certainly true of working with Mark, he really is a tremendously committed and classy boxer.

In the previous boxing lessons on punch pads videos I have shown 6 aspects of using the pads that are in play, both from me as the coach and from the boxer I am working with. In this article I’ll point out two more. Really though, sometimes it’s just nice to watch a quality boxer at work and with Mark I certainly feel that this is true.

Here’s the video and then below are the key observations/boxing lessons that I want to point out for you.

Punch Pad Boxing Lessons #7 – Let’s Do it Again

I regularly discuss on the site, both on the free videos and certainly within the Boxing Training Foundation, the importance of repetition in learning. Learning how to box is a process of repetition, to get really good we repeat, repeat, repeat.

When using the punch pads, I always like to give the boxer the opportunity to repeat particular punches or boxing combinations. In the case of an experienced boxer like Mark, the aim of this repetition is less to do with learning the moves but more to allow him to ‘get into the groove’ of the combinations. So, he can throw the punch once, twice and by the third time has had the opportunity to experiment with his form as he thunders along.

This approach for me helps the fighter to be dynamic, that is varying the speed and power of the same shots. Usually the final element of the skills passage or combination are the post powerful and sharp. The boxer has had the opportunity to develop a cumulative improvement in the technique of the punches.

In the video, check out for example 0:41 where Mark hammer’s home a long range right hook under my jab. A further demonstration of the benefits of repetition can be seen a few seconds later at around 0:47 where after the long range right hook to the body Mark hammers home the short left hook to the head. There are further examples throughout the video, I’m sure that you get the principle.

Punch Pad Boxing Lessons #8 – Building the Combinations

When working the boxing punch pads, both the boxing trainer and the fighter can build boxing combinations based upon the flow of the shots and skills being used. The word ‘flow’ is actually very accurate as a description. All great fighters have a definite flow to their work, and certainly when we look to use skills alongside each other we need to identify and use develop that flow.

Before we get into the detail of the combinations that I am working with Mark to build here, it’s probably worth covering the subject of communication. Establishing effective communication between the boxing trainer and the boxer when using the punch pads is critical. When using pads, I like to think about using methods at opposite ends of the spectrum:

  • The Technical Punch Pad Session – this is where I will spend time with the boxer. We will not necessarily work within the confines of a round structure, that is I won’t take much notice of the 2 or 3 minute round/minute rest rule. This is because I am working at a technical level. We are discussing and developing specific skills and tactics so time is irrelevant. It’s not about putting the boxer through intense cardio, or hitting anaerobic activity as quickly as possible. For this reason I am able to talk at length to the boxer and combine this with physical demonstrations to reinforce the technical boxing lessons being given.
  • The Competitive Punch Pad Session – At the other end of the spectrum from the technical pad session is the competitive session. This is where the boxer is simply put through their paces, hammering away with a focus on intense cardio and resistance work. Boxing combinations are used, but the focus is on intensity. There is no time, or point, in me as the boxing trainer talking at length to the boxer. In need to get my point across quickly and efficiently. It’s about communicating enough let the boxer know what I expect from him or her.

The pad work that has been demonstrated through all of the previous 3 video articles in this series, and in this final one, is more toward the ‘intense work’ end of the spectrum. I need to get the message to Mark quickly and efficiently so as not to interrupt his flow and the intensity of the work with lengthy speeches. What I use is a mix of short verbal commands combined with visual clues using the padded hand. I will demonstrate this as we discuss building boxing combinations.

From the top of my head, I could call out literally hundreds of boxing combinations for the boxer to use. The variations are endless. The beauty of using the punch pads though is that I can enhance this by tailoring the combinations to the boxer and making subtle adjustments that make all the difference at fight time. In real time I can call out the first 2 shots, then add a 3rd and a 4th and combine this with body movement or footwork skills to really bring the combination to life.

The first example I’d like to point out is at around 0:25.  You’ll see that after Mark has unloaded a few one-twos, I drop my right pad down to the right side of my body.  At the same time I say to Mark “Hook there.”  Two words.  Mark knows that after his one two I want him to hammer home a left hook to the body.  He duly obliges.

An interesting one is at 1:00.  Mark lands with a jab and a right hook to the body.  After that, I put my right pad to my face and say “pivot right and right there.”  OK, that’s 5 words, but still not a proper English sentence.  Mark understands though that after the jab/right hook body I want him to pivot to his right and land a right cross.  Again, the pads and the broken English work well together.

Towards the end of the round (at 2:14), I move into short range, invert my arms and place my right pad to the right of my body and my left pad to the left.  At the same time I say “4”, or “6”  or “8”.  Mark knows to hammer away with left hooks and right hooks to the body because of the position of the pads, and he knows how many to throw because of the verbal command.

It’s important that Mark knows the number of shots to use otherwise I might drop my pad and get that unmistakable level of pain that can only accompany a well placed body shot.  When using the pads in this way, I do tense my abdominal muscles to absorb the power of the shots, but without the pad in the way I’d obviously be a quivering, whimpering wreck on the deck.  As I say, clear and simple communication is key when building combinations.

Look to the Future

I certainly hope that you have enjoyed and found useful these articles. I certainly had a great time working with the boxers as I always do. I’ve been coaching for many years now and fully expect to be coaching boxers for many years to come. I look around the Internet at some of the other boxing coaching material out there, some really good, others not so good. might not be top of the search listings on Google, but I am very proud that the site and the content of the site appeals to such a wide range of users.

I regularly exchange comments and emails with raw novices fresh into the sport as well as seasoned coaches and boxers. The latter group of people reinforce to me that the material produced is good, solid boxing training and boxing fitness advice. Experienced boxing people do not take kindly to seeing people give out advice on a sport that they know very little about. This is especially important in our sport because dumb advice gets people hurt.

There are lots of posts and articles coming in the future, and I hope that you can continue to find the time and inspiration to maintain your involvement this site. Your continued support and always interesting contributions to the comments on each article are the lifeblood of the site. Long may it continue.

Don’t hold back now, let me have your thoughts, views, rants and questions in the comments section below. All are equally well received.



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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

guy laieta November 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hi Fran, this is Guy Laieta, Steed Woodall’s trainer. I love the way you do the focus mitt training and you’re instruction is spot on!Keep up the great work and please let me know if any top amateur lads like Steed would be interested in embarking on a professional career in America.


Fran November 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Thanks Guy. I’m sure that will be a tempting offer for a host of young aspiring pros. If approached by any I’ll certainly raise your name.



Chan April 20, 2013 at 6:28 am

As a just beginner, it was so amazing and enjoyed the film.

Thanks in a million!


Fran April 20, 2013 at 8:49 am

You are welcome!


alexander December 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

OK Fran, having thought about these Pads now. And tried a few of the options being punted about. I think you have got it nailed. Neither chaotic like some, or overly choregraphed like some. Well done. Yours is my yard stick from now on, merry xmass, Alexander.


Fran December 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm

See, that’s what I like about you Alexander, a proper boxing man who is always looking to think in different ways and use different techniques. Glad that you think my approach to pads has it’s roots in logic and practicality. Thanks, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.


Fran November 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Hello John

The double-end bag is great for exactly the reasons your pal states. However, it has it’s limitations in that you really use power shots otherwise it can break fairly easily. It’s a very specific piece of kit that if I were doing 6 rounds bag work I would use maybe for 2 rounds. If I could have both set up at home then great, if I could only have one then it would be a heavy bag because of it’s versatility.

Hope this helps


John November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

Yes it does mate, thank you. So if I understand you correctly, you think the heavy bag is more versatile because you can work power punches and body shots but the double end bag is much better for defence, timing and hand speed?

Thanks Fran


Fran November 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Kind of John, yes. Remember though that the heavy bag can be used for defence, timing and handspeed, just in a different kind of way. As I said, both would be great, but the heavy bag is the staple.


BenJ November 5, 2012 at 2:16 am

Thanks Fran, it did help! Been doing brisk walks home emphasizing on using the balls of my feet most of the time and voila, I can finally do 500+ skipping in 1 go(used to be 200+) without my calves giving way. Still have stamina problems but it’s improving gradually!


Fran November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Keep working at it.


Andy October 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Hi Fran. Let me just say a great sight. Lots of interesting comments here. Following on from that comment someone made, when it comes time to quit boxing for good, which comes for everyone, do you lose all those skills you spend so many years of hard work developing?


Fran October 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Thanks Andy.

In a word, no. What you do lose are the reflexes when facing younger, faster opponents. The boxing brain and skills all work, the body just lets you down when compared against a faster opponent (even if their skills aren’t quite as good.)


Andy November 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I see. Is there any way for a retired boxer to keep those reflexes sharp after he stops boxing or will age make them deteriorate anyway even if he were to carry on?

Thank mate


Fran November 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm


I don’t believe that they are lost as such, what I think is lost is the ability to execute them at the speed and with the intensity required to stay at the top. The end of a fighter’s career is a certainty, what varies is the ability of a fighter to adapt to the ageing process and refine and adapt their style. Thin Duran and Holyfield to name but two.

Thanks Andy


Phil October 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm


I boxed as an amateur for several years and won 9 15 of 16 bouts. Due to my job I had to quit boxing 3 years ago, but I shadow boxed and did boxing specific drills with bags, reaction ball every day since.

If I got back in the ring tomorrow to fight or spar, even if I got jumped like, how effective have all those training drills been in maintaining my or any other person’s ability to box effectively?

Ta mate



Fran October 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I’m told you never lose the magic Phil. Look, you’ve had 16 fights and all the training to go with it. That’s all in the bank and whenever you need to ‘make a withdrawal’, in any circumstances, it will be there. Of that I’m sure. If it’s sparring/competitive boxing, then of course you will need to get back up to the level of fighting equally well trained and fit opponents. That’s just about hard work to brush the rust off the skills and getting the fitness right.


Yassin69 October 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Firstable nice work on the mitts and good explanation of wat the purpose is each time you work the focus mitts.

My question is how you can make use this pads work actually translated in sparring or in a bout?
sportive greeting and keep up the good work!!


Fran October 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Thanks Yassin

A boxer simply has to try to use the skills from the gym. Practice in the gym goes well for the fight.


BenJ October 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Hi Fran, great site! I’ve been reading up on your posts from the start recently. (I suck at basics even after a year) Keep up the good work!!

I have a question about right handed being in southpaw stance. For my situation, I’m a right handed (when it comes to writing) but a left hander when it comes to sports like basketball and baseball like sports that require throwing with my left.

Also, I’ve been self-training (mostly) for close to a year. My question would be that: am I one of the cases where you have mentioned above (right handed people having the “more comfortable as southpaw” illusion) or is it fine that I’m going southpaw?

An in-depth explanation for as to why you think what you will think about my situation will be much appreciated (PS : I’m a sucker for logic!)

Thanks in advance! 🙂


Fran October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hey Ben

Apologies for the delay in replying. I noticed this comment posted on another article, I did mean to respond but it ‘slipped past the guard.’

That’s quite unusual. I’ve never worked with a boxer that writes right-handed and throws and kicks a ball left-handed. Do you throw very well with your right hand as well as your left? If not, then I’d be inclined to let you go southpaw. If you’ve read the Southpaw versus Orthodox Explained report (received when signed up the the site emails) then you will know why I think being a southpaw is generally advantageous. However, a right-handed person going southpaw means that their rear-hand will not carry the power because it is their least dominant side.

So, on the logic that throwing punches is more like throwing balls than it is writing, I might be persuaded to break my ‘writing hand’ rule. Anyway, if you’ve been southpaw for a year then why change now?

Hope this helps


BenJ October 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Hi Fran, thanks for the reply :D. No problem, you can’t ‘catch all the punches in a 24/7 match’ xD

Actually, I’m training both my hands to write right now (2 weeks into writing left handed and it’s improving pretty good). Regarding ball throwing, to be honest, I have never pitched any balls (basketball or baseball or any of that sort) with my right hand accurately before. In fact, the rate I use my right hand for sports is restricted to badminton and 9ball since those were the only few types of right hand based sports i frequently play in the past.

As for the left-legged part, I only kick stuff with my left, and sprints/starts off a run with my left on the back (ie. using the left leg to push)

Regarding the southpaw part, I have been interested to try out switchboxing but have been told to just go with a stance first and that since I’m righthanded I should go orthodox.

Is it feasible for a beginner like me to master all the types of punches and footwork with both stances?


Fran October 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Beginning mate I’d go with sticking to one stance to really develop it well. Switch-hitters have a preferred stance, it’s just that they can do both.


BenJ October 27, 2012 at 2:19 am

Alright man, I’d focus on mastering all the different stances you have posted. By the way, are there any more punches other than the jab,straight, 3 ranges of left and right hooks, left and right body blow.

And with regard to movement/footwork, is slipping in/out the same as bob/weave?

Also, I’ve read from another boxing site that when moving backwards twisting your body towards the strike zone and pushing back is faster than just pushing off the lead foot straight away. Are there any defensive purpose for this as well? Because from what I can observe when I do it myself, my upper body shifts backwards slightly for a short while before I leap off my lead foot backwards, not to mention it’s easier (for my case at least) since my twisting brings my body inwards and downwards which, I THINK, makes the moving back easier.

Thanks for the guidance thus far and looking forward to ‘squeezing more juice out of you’! 😀

Paul Smith October 20, 2012 at 3:55 am

Fran, I am conflicted, because I write and do most things right-handed, but when I arm wrestle, my left hand and arm is the stronger. As such I’ve been switching up when I hit the bag and still feel comfortable going southpaw, but am undecided as to which method I should stick to. Currently I work out on the bag at home in an orthodox fashion, but I will say that I’ve been more inclined to switch up and alternate to southpaw whenever an opportunity presents itself to train with someone else.


Fran October 25, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Why not Paul, try it out. Switch-hitters have a preferred stance, but they like to switch to cause problems for the opponent. If you feel comfortable doing so, then go right ahead. Same principles apply in terms of skill execution, the difference is in tactics.


Paul Smith October 26, 2012 at 1:36 am

Great news Fran, I’ve found a suitable boxing club for myself! It’s open 6 days a week, has great hours of operation and allows sparring without the need for private lessons. Stay tuned…..Have you any tactical suggestions for me?


Terry October 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Helllo Fran,I really enjoyed that clip,and in fact the full series on the punch pads.Looks like you have spent quite a bit of time together developing that smoothness of operation.Mark seems to have good power as well.Does he stop many opponents?It is very satisifying for the coach as well when they reach a good level with the punchwork and of course it also can be a little tedious when first getting them started.On another note Fran we are working away from home at the moment and last Friday when travelling home we ran into thick snow for about a hundred miles.Really unbelievable as it has been working up to a long hot summer as usual lately.Regards Terry


John October 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Hi Fran

Great video and your comments about the site and boxing advice in general is proper sound.

I am biased but I firmly believe that boxing is the best combat sport on the planet. I was recently having an argument with a mate of mine who does MMA, he was trying to argue that on the street MMA is more effective self defence than boxing. I don’t believe that, but Im may no means an authority.

How effective do you believe boxing is in a real life situation, Fran, if a boxer was attacked and forced to defend themselves? For example, he you put your hands up to block a punch outside without the protection of gloves, wouldn’t blocking break your hand?


Fran October 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Hey John

I’ve always found that boxing certainly helped me in those situations, first and foremost by driving me to avoid scrapping in the street at all costs! Generally though, through mix of good fortune and some boxing skills, I’ve always managed to scrape through unscathed.

On the blocking thing. If an incoming punch is hard enough to break my arm (it would have to be a massively powerful punch I reckon), I would rather it do that than land on my jaw.

The one rule I always tried to stick to, stay on my feet. Not everyone can stand up and fight, but most can play football so the idea of being kicked all around the place doesn’t appeal. Call me a wimp :o)



Dave Waterman October 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

If there was a ‘like’ button here I’d click it.


Ivan October 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Some boxers lose focus during mitts work because their punches won’t be answered and get too relaxed/undisciplined, but the coach has to keep his eye on the ball. It’s nice to see a boxer so concentrated and precise with the combos, the coach’s efforts are not wasted in this case.
I’d like to comment on the “Let’s do it again” lesson. Every beginner wants to throw a smooth lead left hook or a crushing lead straight right but boxing wasn’t meant for beginners. It takes not only patience, it takes real commitment to become a decent boxer. Those who are naturally talented are not spared from the endless routine, in fact they have to work more since they could achieve better results and will face tougher opposition. So if a boxer has the motivation to get better, he’ll enjoy doing the one-two ten more times.


Fran October 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Well said Ivan, I hope people recognise the importance of your comment.


Dave Waterman October 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Excellent display of boxing, excellent demonstration of pad work and an excellent article, Fran. Thank you.


Fran October 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Cheers Mr Waterman, you’re a top man.


Rich Carne October 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Great video and supporting article Fran. As usual, no fluff, no gimmicks, just top quality information !!!


Fran October 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thanks Rich, I very much appreciate positive feedback from fellow coaches.


Matt October 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

Wow, this lad is sharp, Fran!

His handspeed is great, his combinations flow and I love the way he pivots on balance and throws combinations straight off the pivot. But I think what I like most about his style is the way he is constantly bouncing back and forth on his feet, constantly redistributing his weight from his front foot to his back foot, ready at any moment to avoid an incoming shot or fire off combinations of his own.

Great stuff



Fran October 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm

All good stuff well spotted Matt. I’ll pass on your comments to Mark.


Louie October 13, 2012 at 12:50 am

Loving the attention to deatail and emphasis on technique in these videos, showing that repetition is the mother of skill and that perfect practice makes perfect. Would love to see some more videos on creating angles for attacks involving footwork/body-language/head movement.

I have recommended your website to many of my clients as a tool for perfecting proper technique and form and hope that you continue to produce these high quality videos as its probably the next best thing to going down to the local boxing club. There are not many demonstrations of true boxing technique and form available on the Internet so this website makes a refreshing change.


Fran October 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Thanks so much Louie, it’s really good to know that you feel you can recommend the site as reference resource. Really happy about that.


Paul Smith October 13, 2012 at 12:31 am

Wow….that was fantastic Fran!
Mark looks dangerous in the ring….I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his punches and I’m a heavyweight. He demonstrates great power and speed and you are no slouch either, Coach.
This lesson has really opened my eyes to the awesome potential that can be exploited when in the role of ‘trainer’, holding the focus mitts and directing the attack; or as the ‘boxer’, combination punching with accuracy, speed and intensity on them.
‘Excellent’ is the word that comes to mind with this lesson Fran, so I’ve made it a Favourite.

Many Thanks.


Fran October 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Thanks Paul, I’ll pass on your compliments to Mark. And well spotted on those elements of using the focus mitts. I’m glad that I’ve managed to convey the importance of them as a coaching aid.


Fran October 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Hey Ben

Quite a bit there 🙂

Look at the uppercuts Ben, long, mid and short range. Very effective shots when used properly.

The point about moving backwards and twisting. I don’t believe it’s faster, after all in order to twist your body to the strike zone you have push off your back foot only then to push of the front foot to back away. Surely pushing off the front foot only has to be faster? This said, it’s effective to do that as a feint of the back hand (the twist toward the strike zone) and use the leverage of that ‘twist’ to increase the power of a jab as you push away.

Good question Ben, hope my answer helps.


BenJ November 1, 2012 at 1:17 am

Wow, never thought that the twist could be used as a leverage to power up my jab with the backward motion too… gonna try it!!

Will look at the long, mid and short range upper cuts soon.

With regards to the body shots, I seem to have reached a problem.. I could do the shots as close as possible to what you’ve showed on the videos (at least I think so!), but after a few rounds of anaerobic exercises(eg. Skipping, a few reps of practicing footwork slip in/out with movement forward/backward drills), I could not properly maintain the form or transmit any smooth flow of movement when I execute the body blows.

My questions are this
1) Does the upper body have to be straight when I bend down and twist my hips to execute the shot?
2) Is where my head/face faces when I execute my punch important?
3) Is there a trick to maintain the right posture even when my body runs out of steam?

I also have a problem that’s unrelated to the footwork/technique drills :
Whenever I run, I get this shin splint that seem to persist(was unbearable when I started, but it is manageable now when I run, and I have no idea how that happened) even after resting for up to a week++. Is there a way to run/skip with the shin splint and not aggravating it(and if possible, recover from it)?

PS : THANK YOU FOR THE ADVICE SO FAR. You have no idea how happy and grateful I am to have someone with so much knowledge guiding me through boxing at this busy phase of my life, where hitting the gym is impossible due to timing constraints(8-6 job, 7-10 sch, includes weekends too :/)


BenJ November 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Are you by any chance thinking along the lines of an orthodox boxer in this case? Because I can’t seem to synchronize the twist (since I twist to my left when I go into the strike zone).

ie. I don’t get it 🙁


BenJ November 1, 2012 at 1:24 am

And meeting a coach IRL and slotting a fixed normal operating hours training period is impossible (ie. I train early in the morning and late at night, whenever it’s possible and my mind(and sometimes body) can still take it.


Fran November 4, 2012 at 8:33 pm

You have a busy life Ben!

It sounds to me that it’s a matter of fitness. The more you work this stuff the more developed your muscle groups (and muscle memory) becomes. Fact is, it’s tough work to maintain such strict form when practising, but it all helps to develop the boxing style when facing off against a live opponent. Keep working and you’ll develop the boxer’s fitness.

As for shin splints, I couldn’t really help, sounds like the advice of a doctor is the most sensible way forward. I’d hazard a guess at making sure you have good running shoes, boxing boots will do you no favours at all.

Hope this helps Ben.


Fran November 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I am Ben thinking of orthodox Ben.


BenJ November 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

So how would you guide a southpaw with regards to this twist/slipping(outward, to the left) and moving back? Tried jabbing and long range hooking with the twist before moving back and it seemed pretty useful, but then again I never got to spar of late so I won’t know if it’s relevant in a face-off other than my punching bag…


Fran November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Hey Ben. Same thing for both southpaw and orthodox. The slip acts as a feinted back hand so as to create the opening for the jab. And you can move back, remain static or move forward as you throw the jab.


Fran October 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Good stuff Paul! Training at home is fantastic, but there’s something special about being in a thumping gym. Enjoy the sparring and give yourself plenty of time to work out your timing. And it goes without saying, remember the basics. Let me know how it goes.


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