Boxing Lessons with Punch Pads

by Fran on August 5, 2012


The Ultimate in Boxing Lessons


This is the first in a series of video articles in which I work the boxing punch pads. I suppose if we boxing coaches saw ourselves as teachers, then the punch pads are the ultimate in boxing lessons. I say this because working with the punch pads is central to the preparation of any boxer for competition.

Of course I can use pads purely for cardio improvement, but for me by far the most compelling reason to run boxing lessons on the punch pads is for the technical development of the fighter. As Floyd Mayweather says, “Skills pay the bills”, and using the pads allows me to develop the skills of the boxer more than any other activity I can run as a boxing coach.

Whilst I will not be going into the fine detail of working boxing lessons on the pads, I will be pointing out in each video the philosophies and techniques that I hold dear. On top of this I will highlight some of the issues that I am getting from the boxer (there is a different boxer working in each video) and the boxing lessons that I am trying to convey. My hope is that there is something here for everyone, be you a coach or a boxer.

One more thing. I am not saying here “This is how everyone should do pads.” That is not my style. I am simply laying down what I do and as always I will try to demonstrate the logic of why I do it in that way. Boxing is a game of logic and the best way that I feel a boxer can be educated is by giving them explanations and letting them think through the possible outcomes. After all, it’s not me getting into the ring and taking the punches, I am merely the guy who tries to run decent boxing lessons!

Here Starts the Lesson

Onto the first video. In this video I am working with a fine young man named Joe Challinor. An interesting thing about Joe is that he has been in the gym for a little over 18 months, but in that time has squeezed in 15 contests. This is a active fight schedule for any boxer. Whilst it’s great that we have managed to keep Joe so active it does have one drawback. Most young boxers who have competed in 15 fights or more are more likely to have been around the gym for maybe 3 or more years.

When making a match for a boxer, we can judge the experience of the opponent in terms of number of fights, but the amount of time spent in the gym is something we cannot know. However, for me it is a very important measure of experience. Young boxers are like sponges, they soak up knowledge at an incredible rate. So, any bouts that we make for Joe are likely to be against boxers with more ‘gym experience’ and therefore more knowledge.  Joe doesn’t let this bother him though and he continues to develop at a very impressive rate.

OK, here’s the video and afterwards I’ll make a few observations:

The Punch Pads Boxing Lessons #1 – Range

What I hope that you notice from the start of the video is that I maintain my boxing stance at all times. But why do this? Why would it matter how I stand, after all it’s about the boxer isn’t it? Well, one of the massive benefits of using the punch pads is that it replicates a contest situation but in a very controlled way.  Most importantly the pads allow the boxer to become familiar with ‘ranging’ their opponent.

You may have looked at the previously written post on Understanding Range in Boxing. Well, to expand upon that a little, a boxer learns range from a number of factors. Their judgement around their own shots (say for instance a range finding jab) is one key range factor. Another, and for me more important range factor, are the opponent’s feet. By me standing in my boxing stance, the boxer can get that feel for where my feet are in relation to him. This is something that cannot be learned using the heavy bag or by shadow boxing.

The Punch Pads Boxing Lessons #2 – Target Location

In a similar vein to the ‘range’ factor, I think it important that the position I hold the pads are relative to my stance. That is for head shots I hold the pads close to my head and for body shots my hands are in the precise position that the shots should land. This is evident at around 0:50, where Joe is ducking under my jab to fire in a straight back hand to the body. If you want to see more of this then check out the Counter Punching Power – Russian Style article.

Punch pads are effectively the next step up from the heavy bag and the step down from actual sparring. So by making sure that my stance and the position of my pads mimic as closely as possible an actual opponent is for me vital in the boxer gaining the maximum benefits from the session. A further example of this is at around 1:19 where Joe fires in a jab to the head followed by a right uppercut to the body. My left pad is spotted on my solar plexus, the exact spot where a good right uppercut to the body would land.

Any questions, comments or observations on our foray into boxing lessons on the pads will be gratefully received below.  If you want to get on to get on and find out about the next 2 lessons for the punch pads, check out the article Boxing Lessons – All in the Stance!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew February 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Hi Fran,

No worries, thanks for getting back to me, much appreciated. Those pads look pretty good and I will give them try.

Thanks for your help,



Hasan Meca August 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

Please Fran try to understand me because I can’t speak english very well . I want to be a boxier and I work hard for this but can you help me with some videos where I can learn some exercises . I know that many people want to talk to you , You can not answer everybody but if can help me I would be proud . You can contact me in facebook . My name in facebook is Hasan Meca and my profile photo is the famous boxier Vladimir Klitschko .


Peadar October 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

Fran loved the series on the punch pads. Brilliant, Thanks.


Fran October 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Thanks Pete, glad they hit the spot!


Duz October 15, 2012 at 8:17 am

Fran you make such a complicated sport appear easy. You’re the man!


Fran October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks Duz


Alexander October 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Very interesting Fran. Whether to work one mitt or two. Karl says he doesn’t like the paddycake, cross punching, 2 mitt style. Preferring straight one two., one mitt. Hmm, I am not sure, punching across the body centre line has its good points, involving body balance, twist, and punching power dynamic, and off the back heel. And you have to look for that second mitt, maybe in a nano-second, it doesnt wait. Well thats as long as it aint too wide, high, or low of course. And its not usual that the target, opponent, is going to remain stationary. I would say we naturally tend to anticipate ‘the others reflex’ action to withdraw from the first punch, so you are looking to catch them on the move really. That’s natural. So maybe the one pad, one two hit, is too wooden, or ‘widdin’, as they say in the Leith skool. As opposed to the Cuban and Russian Schools. However, as you say, it works well for Mayweather. But then does he punch one, two, no, more like a blllurrr. Who would hold the pads for him. Liked the comments on this, nor sure many of us understand the mitts that well. This will help. And look at Freddie Roach, the greatest coach on them, they say, (apart from Fran), but his last two boxers, greats, have lost their last fights. Taking too many hits possibly. Look at Khan, sucker punched! And he is now moving on from Freddie, saying that he got too much offensive, and not enough defensive. Keep Jabbing, alexander


Fran October 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Great comment Alexander, putting across some really logical points, especially the bit about punching across the body line and the reflex element. Good stuff. This is a special day, I’ve been mentioned in the same sentence as Freddie Roach. Time to pop open another beer :o)

Thanks Alexander, enjoy the rest of the weekend.


Terry August 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

Hello Fran,Thanks for the quick reply mate.I will pass on your regards to Simon tomorrow morning at the gym.Of course now that he is home and back laying bricks he is lamenting not getting to the gym,but as he said he was feeling really sick and jaded by the time he got to England after all the travelling and was only in Liverpool for the couple of days.He hopes he didn’t appear to be rude as he did appreciate you trying to catch up for a yarn.Anyway maybe next time you are out our way.He is also a bit old school and doesn’t worry about mobile phones,emails etc when travelling so I suppose that makes it a bit hard to easily contact people.
I’m not quite sure about the “failure”of the Aussie team Fran.I think the points you made are very legit with the boxing boys at least regarding top level competition.Maybe with our small population
and very large country it has become fairly difficult to keep boys very active in the game as well.The sport is struggling at the grass root level here and I don’t see many signs of that improving.Even though there are a few very good coaches about they just don’t get the numbers in the gym anymore.Kostya Tszyu’s gym is an exception and his boys are going well,especially his oldest son who is coming along very well and has won about 25 straight or thereabouts.Having said that mate,Australia has never fared very well in top level amateur boxing really with I think Jimmy Carruthers the great southpaw future world Bantamweight Champ winning his way into the quarter finals in London in 1948 one of the highlights as he beat the gold medal favourite from Agentina who had a record of 195-5.He substained a badly cut eye in this bout and was ruled out of the competiton.Jimmy was only 19 at the time and of course went on to great things as a pro. I met him a few times when he used to venture out this way as a referee and he was a lovely bloke who died fairly young unfortunately.
I look forward to seeing some clips of the Olympic bouts if you do put them up Fran as we didn’t get to see much at all of the boxing at all.
I have to admit to feeling exactly the same as Dave was saying when asking a boy which stance he prefers and feels comfortable with.I am always hoping that the answer is orthodox but I suppose that is my problem and I need to be able to cater to both without any lessening of the coaching standards which when I think about it probably isn’t true at the moment (with me half offloading southpaws to another coach in the gym in the past ) so it might be time to get my student’s cap back on at the age of 59 and see if I can improve my coaching ways with southpaws.
Thanks for making the site so interesting Fran.You are doing a great job and hopefully you don’t burn yourself out for awhile yet.
Look after yourself mate.Regards Terry


Fran August 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Absolutely no bother at all Terry, I’m just glad that Simon’s back to fighting fitness. Love that old footage. You always know when a fighter wants to really hurt another guy, they go with the uppercuts and my God there were some serious uppercuts there!

Funny you mention it, I went to watch the Commonwealth Games boxing finals in Manchester in 2002 and left being very, very impressed with the Aussies, especially Justin Kane. 3 gold medallists at that Games and whilst it’s not as strong a competition as the Olympics they certainly outperformed the Poms. But the challenges faced at grass roots level certainly sounds like a major one but maybe given time and the right resources progress will be made.

Haha on the southpaw thing, we all feel it mate. However, if the Olympics are anything to go by then southpaws are the way forward. This doesn’t stop them being pains in the arses to coach though Terry :0)

You take care buddy.


Terry August 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

G/day Fran, You’ve got the young fella going well on the pads there mate.Looks like he is starting to get balanced up and performs the pull back and counter really well.I also like the right to the heart under the incoming jab it’s a great punch,especially against the fellow who puts alot on his jab.Good to see him keeping (or should I say you keeping him) at the right range for his long punches.I find learners often want to shorten up too much for their jab,straight right etc and initially I stand at the right range they need to perform the punches correctly but gradually make them find the right distance for themselves.And just to remind you how much of a dinosaur I am Fran (and run the risk of getting laughed off the site ) I still almost always use gloves when taking anyone through the punches.I was taught this way by my coach and still find it suits me although I do like the mitts for some fitness routines we do.I just find the gloves very comfortable when I need to throw my own punches (jabs etc)for them to work off. I also agree with Karl and yourself Fran and catch the straight left and right hand with my right hand and don’t like the left hand to “cross” to the left side (for technical reasons) except ocassionally in a couple of fitness routines we do sometimes.I understand that it is hard to use proper technique with uppercutts on the heavy bag Karl but don’t really see any trouble with the left rip,left hook etc.In fact I like young boxers to practise bumping to the side of the heavy bag after hitting it with straight punches and then hooking it.On another note the coverage of the games was woefull here and I didn’t see any of the boxing at all but I did see the flashes on the news and the English team killed it Fran so you must be thrilled with that mate.Regards Terry


Fran August 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Hey Terry, lovely to hear from you.

Yeah, I often wear ‘coach/spar’ gloves. Basically gloves with a white spot in the palm and a bit of extra padding, really helps with blocking/counter punching activities. It sounds like we have very similar methods on the pads. They are such an amazingly effective coaching tool, and the boxers genuinely love to work them.

The coverage of the Olympic boxing here was amazing mate. Every night I could catch up on hours and hours of the stuff, just amazing. Really felt that the girls did themselves proud too, and certainly I thought GB did an amazing job. We had some luck early on with some of the decisions (Our Super Heavy rode his luck a little against the top Cuban), but all in all I felt we deserved what we got. The Eastern Europeans were amazing…again! So yes, I have been very fortunate over the last couple of weeks. I’m sure I’ll put together some analysis over the coming weeks, maybe picking my top 5 fighters from the Games. We’ll see.

Hope Simon got home OK mate, or alternatively that he stayed on in London and enjoyed himself. Pass on my best regards anyway.

PS – In terms of the Aussie team, I think that in (recent) years gone by I’ve been much more impressed. There were one or two lads who gave a really good account of themselves. I wonder whether the international competition down the Pacific way might not be challenging them enough. Maybe the internationals need to venture further afield? I don’t know, I think there’s a bit of an inquest into why the overall Aussie performance yielded fewer medals that in the past? Funding issue maybe?

Take care mate and thanks for the comment


Poster August 15, 2012 at 6:32 am

Hi Fran,

just a few notices conserning that you were training with guy who had already 15 bouts ….

I understand that you wanted the boxer to react your movement when you lowered you bads for calling the bodyshots, but have you ever thought using the waist belt ? Then the boxer could counter the straight punches with body shots and it would be possible for you to shoot the quicker counterpunches too. If you want the boxer to react, just slam your bad to the waistbelt for calling the bodyshot. When I tried the waist belt for first time I promised myself never to leave it off when training with the boxer. It is a great tool.

When you were calling for lead hand hook your bad was quoite much forward. I’ve seen many coaches do the same thing but I think the boxer will learn all too wrong distance for the hook when the coaches are doing that. Would it be better hold the bad right in font of your face ? Then it would be ALMOST the right distance.

When you “chased” the boxer in the corner you took a couple of steps backwards and asked the boxer to follow, instead advicing him to circle away or to come forward with straight punches.

But great jo anyway.


Fran August 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Some good points there, thanks for posting!


jay August 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thanks for all the useful tips. What’s the best way to strengthen my knucles and the skin covering the knuckles ?


Fran August 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

No need to ‘toughen’ them Jay. Just make sure your hands are well protected with wraps/bandages under your gloves.


Paul Smith August 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Thank you Fran.

I’ve just watched the final medal rounds and was very impressed with Vasyl Lomachenko’s performance. His constant defensive movements, head feints, deft footwork and use of angles to execute his attacks, were truly inspirational.



Paul Smith August 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Brilliant article Fran and great comment Karl. I couldn’t agree more, especially about the ‘fun’ aspect.

I’d must say that ‘Congratulations’ are in order to Great Britain for hosting an excellent Olympic Games and for winning an impressive number of medals. The opening ceremonies were also spectacular!

As a result, I’ve been glued to the TV lately, watching about 5 – 6 hours a day of Olympic boxing. I guess you’re partly accountable for that Fran…lol…as I have never seen so much coverage of any Olympiad in my life before. My appreciation, knowledge and awareness of skilled boxing has increased greatly thru your site though and so I must thank you instead.
More inline with this site however, I must give another shout out and congratulations to another British Great and the first female in Olympic history to win a gold medal in boxing, Nicola Adams.

She may fight as a fly-weight, but she stings like a bee!

I plan on keeping the video of that final medal match and recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it, to look for it and check it out. It showcases just about every effective strategy, nuance and skill, that is available to a well trained fighter, and imo, the fact that she is a woman, makes it even more impressive.

Cheers All


Fran August 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Thanks Paul, nice to hear from you.

Agreed, the Olympics have been a revelation. I’ve always been a big fan of the event, and the London 2012 games seem to have been a massive success on many levels, medals included. I have been very impressed with the boxing and like you have been cramming in as much time as possible. It’s great that you are able to recognise fully the elements that are presented on the site and how these are executed at the top level, that makes me very proud that you feel that the site has helped you looked inside the sport, long may your learning continue! For short range work make sure that you catch our old friend Vasyl Lomachenko tomorrow night, he continues to astound me.

As for our Nicola Adams, you can be sure that I’ll put together an analysis of here fine Gold medal winning performance in the next few weeks. She was top notch and made sure that she kept control at all times whilst putting in an aggressive performance. Really great and a brilliant ambassador for our sport and our nation. Very proud.

Thanks Paul, always great to hear from you.


Ivan August 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Punch pads are always useful in more than one aspect and the most impressive way to do them is when no commands are given and the boxer knows what to do just by the way the coach holds the mitts. When the coach says nothing and you see the boxer do combos and drills it looks like magic. It was one of the few ways for us to make the old guy happy, but it did take some time to “get the frequency”.

You are definitely doing it right but it seems you are going easy on the kid. I know these days you have to be careful not to scare them away, but you’ll do them a favor by exposing them from time to time. You have to give them their fun but they should remember everyone gets hit in boxing. Sometimes the best get hit more since they play wit the best.

Range and timing are the points of the exercise and they work both ways – if you don’t vary the range and the rhythm, you are a sitting duck. As far as “punching paper” goes, you are right on the money. Snap is what makes punches effective, the Russians and Cubans call it “accent” and it’s not just the speed of your fist to the target, it’s the speed of retracting it too (it’s different with head and body punches).

Good work as usual and the British Olympic team could be well advised to follow your series.


Fran August 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm

As usual all very really good points Ivan. I may put together some helpful posts, but the observations on those posts of knowledgable people like yourself make all the difference. I’m sure that the next few posts in this series on the pads will hold interest for you, particularly with the different boxers working. I just need to make the time to write the words, I’m just too entranced by the wondrous global event that is the Olympics. We can be sure that the boxing clubs will be full of ambitious youngsters looking to take up the sport, lets hope they can stick at it.


tj August 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm

hey i just wanted to leave you a comment thanking you for posting these videos and doing what you do. so thank you. i have always been a situational mitt holder (same type style you go for here), but i always make sure i incorrperate a lot of defensive slips, weaves, etc. into changing angles, cutting corner, pivots, etc. Example: jab jab cross hook bob n weave pivot jab jab cross. do you find this effective ? i never really understood the whole mayweather style mitt holding. it seems so unrealistic, what is your take on mayweathers mitt style?


Fran August 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Hey TJ. Yep, I like what you are suggesting there, layering skills upon skills and building up that framework of shots, footwork and body movements. SOunds really good.

I wondered when the Mayweather question would come up. Look, if a coach wants to spend time doing that type of pad work then that’s their prerogative. I want to make things realistic and that method of pads simply doesn’t do that in my opinion. Off camera, I’m sure that Roger Mayweather works solid pad routines with Floyd, that’s all I’m saying.

Thanks very much for the comment TJ


Karl August 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Fran, I’m so looking forward to this series. I think punch pads are the ultimate training tool and I want to get better at holding the mitts, so I’m eager to see what you have to say on the subject.

I feel that every gym has a cadre of fighters and a larger group of fitness boxers. I’ve seen this everywhere. Yes, even in places like Gleason’s and Wildcard. I’m finding that most people will only use the mitts for a cardio workout. To a degree, this is understandable. You need to really know your stuff if you’re going to hold mitts for a fighter.

Your points are excellent. Here are some others I’ve slowly acquired…

1) Most of the punches onto one target. Like you do in this video, make the fighter fire his 1-2 combinations into one mitt and avoid the paddycake style of punching where the fists always criss-cross on either side of the trainers head. The mitt is the size of the head and most criss-crosses encourage bad form.

2) Punch pads mimic a fight in a crucial way – the pace can be controlled by the trainer (the opponent). The down side to a heavy bag is that people tend to hit it when they feel like hitting it, and stop when they are tired. They get lulled into taking little breaks whenever they need them. The first big challenge in sparring is being able to work through the times where you would instinctively take a break on a heavy bag.

3) Good practice for hooks. It’s difficult to practice hooks on heavy bags and other training equipment. Same with uppercuts. Not so with mitts. These punches are effective when they come off the jab or back hand and they should be practiced that way. The heavy bag is good for straight punches but not perfect for hooks, the speed bag and double end bag are good for hooks but not perfect for straight punches. Mitts can be perfect for all punches, so you don’t have to compromise one strike to practice the others.

4) It’s just plain fun. Boxing is a bit of a dance between two fighters. One is feeding off the others moves. It has a rhythm/timing that is instantly pleasing when nailed down perfectly. Fighters begin to see the potential in combinations and get a feel for flowing punches one after another mixed in with a flowing defense.


Fran August 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Haha. Well said Karl. Your extra points may well feature in the next 3 videos, great minds think alike I guess!

Hope that you are managing to keep up with the wonderful Olympic boxing. I’m a happy man at the moment.


Karl August 7, 2012 at 1:49 am

I can tell you I’m hugely impressed with Irish boxer Katie Taylor performance. Love her technical style and controlled aggression. Our Canadian Mary Spencer was eliminated. I have some thoughts on her performance, but I’ll keep them to myself. I haven’t seen very many men’s matches. Sadly, we’re just not getting a lot of TV coverage for boxing at the moment. I hope that changes when we get closer to the medal rounds.

However, at the moment I can hardly focus on boxing results because I’m absolutely gutted that our valiant Canada women lost to the USA in soccer today (opps – I mean football). Bloody brilliant performance against that American powerhouse. So close to winning! So bloody close!!


Fran August 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The women’s boxing really has come of age at these Olympics. Those of us who have worked with female boxers over the years have witnessed first hand the improvements, and now it seems that the World can see it. I’m a happy man (and yes, 4-time World champion Taylor is some fighter, top class in beating my Liverpool compatriot Natasha Jonas).

As for the football, well, Team Canada’s women can keep on developing. I’ll check it out on glorious BBC catch-up.


K. S. August 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm



Fran August 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Thanks KS, there;s more to come.


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: