Training with a partner or boxing coach is one of the best ways to practice boxing techniques and target our weaknesses as boxers. Beyond the more well known practice of sparring, we have other types of equipment used during partner training to help us hone in on specific components of our training while keeping both the trainer and striker safe.
In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of four (4) pieces of popular equipment used for partner boxing training: Focus Mitts, Striking Sticks, Pool Noodles, and Paddles.
What Are Focus Mitts?
Focus mitts are small leather gloves that provide a target for striking that isn’t a partner’s face or body.
How to Wear Focus Mitts
Hold the mitts close. Hold focus mitts at the level of your shoulders, and about shoulder-width apart. Don’t hold the mitts too wide -- keep them tight to your body so your partner’s punches hit the same spot.
Allow for give. If your partner hits a little harder, give yourself just enough resistance to not hit yourself in the face.
How to Train With Focus Mitts
Have the person wearing the mitts call boxing punch combinations for the striker to throw to simulate movements they would make in a fight. Once you adapt to the timing and placement of the mitts, try incorporating head movement by mimicking counter punches, or check your striker by forcing them to block. Focus mitts are also a great way to improve agility and train footwork.
When you’re hitting mitts, it’s not about power. FightCamp Trainer Aaron Swenson says, “Save the power for the heavy bag or the punching shield. This is more about speed, accuracy, and timing.”
How To Prevent Injuries From Focus Mitt Training
It’s important to note that prolonged training with focus mitts can lead to tendonitis and other elbow injuries for the partner holding the mitts. This is caused by repeated impact on that part of the body. Minimizing resistance reduces the force hitting your elbow, and will help minimize the risk of a training-related injury.
You can also protect yourself and your partner from elbow injuries by varying up the boxing equipment you use while training.
During partner work, boxers will often have their partners use striking sticks as punch targets. Striking sticks are padded sticks that usually feature a handle on the bottom. They’re flexible, pliable, and less dense than focus mitts, offering excellent resistance. But striking sticks require extreme accuracy and can lead to injury if used incorrectly.
“With striking sticks, you have to be accurate,” says FightCamp Trainer Flo Master. “They’re very small, so your striker really has to focus and be accurate. You cannot go too hard because if you miss and hit your striker, it will hurt.”
Can You Really Train Boxing With Pool Noodles?
Yes, yes, and yes! Here’s why…
Pool noodles are a soft and cheap alternative to striking sticks that actually come with additional benefits. With pool noodles, the striker can throw hard, realistic punches without the risk of injury. Partners can also swing pool noodles like punches or kicks to train the striker’s footwork.
What Are Boxing Paddles?
On the Boxing Partner Training Equipment spectrum, paddles exist somewhere between focus mitts and pool noodles. Also referred to as “Punch Paddles,” these training tools look like leather ping pong paddles.
Why You Should Incorporate Paddles Into Your Boxing Training
Paddles are a great piece of equipment to train distance management in boxing. Paddles can also help improve a striker’s flow and range. Lightweight and easy to hit, they extend the trainer’s reach, giving trainers the range to strike from almost anywhere and help their fighters work on self defense.
With zero impact pressure, fighters and trainers can use paddles to work on faster, softer punches to develop speed and accuracy in boxing fights. You can even incorporate Kickboxing or Muay Thai elements into your partner training without introducing risk of injury.
While there are many ways to incorporate paddles into drills, FightCamp Trainers suggest using them sparingly and incorporating them into a well-rounded training routine that incorporates focus mitts and pool noodles, as well.
For more ideas on equipment to incorporate these pieces of equipment into your solo or partner training, get started with FightCamp and visit the FightCamp Blog or subscribe to the FightCamp YouTube Channel for all of the best at-home workouts and training tips.