How to Be a Training Partner
A couple of days ago I tried to convince all the wannabe boxers out there that they really should go out and find a partner to learn to box with - not to become hermit boxers. This is part two of that two part series and is a guide for all you partners that were recently recruited.
Hopefully, you want to learn to box yourself, but even if you don't you can still help train that aspiring boxer who came to you looking for someone to train with. You do need to learn a few boxing basics and be willing to go through the motions, offering advice and motivation where you can.
There are five areas a partner can really help a boxer excel. Use these techniques with your training partner and your skills, reflexes, and level of conditioning are going to improve dramatically.
Focus pad drills are extremely useful for developing accuracy, speed, and instinctive movements. Focus pads are basically targets that you present to the boxer along with some type of instruction. For instance, you can call out jab, present the target and the boxer will jab. You then hide the target or move it to a new location in preparation for the next set of instructions.
Focus pads are held in one of three basic ways:
- Target to the Front - for jabs and straights;
- Target at 90 degrees - for hooks; and
- Target flat - for uppercuts.
Focus pad progression - notice the positions of the pads and which punches are hitting them
Focus pad drills can be instinctive or planned. With instinctive focus pad training, your boxer doesn't know what he is going to be doing before the target is thrown. You call out the instruction as you present the target. For instance, hold the focus pad to the front and yell out 1-2 (Jab, straight right). Planned focus pad training is when the boxer and you are working a certain combination. The video on the left is an example of planned focus pad combination training. He knows and you know what he is trying to drill. There is no need for an audible.
When presenting the targets, it is not enough to just limply hold them out there to be hit. You should present them crisply and move slightly into the punch - kind of like you are swatting at it, but only a very little bit. That just prevents the boxer from knocking your arm backwards and allows you to get the pad in the next position quicker. Basically, you don't lose control of it.
Notice how both boxer and trainer know what is happening - no thinking, just reaction
Also to note, when showing the target, don't hold it directly in front of your own head. A good hit will send your own hand into your own face and that is never a good thing. Check the training center for additional focus pad drills.
Partner Flow Drills (aka Chain Drills)
Boxing chain drills or boxing flow drills resemble sparring but are highly controlled. Both you and the boxer are going to respond in a very choreographed fashion. They are used, much like focus pads, to drill responses to certain situations. The key to these is to start very slowly and make the boxer understand why he is blocking something or slipping a certain way. Eventually, between the two of you, these flow drills will look really awesome - something straight out of Rocky.
Technical Sparring (aka Situational Sparring)
Technical sparring is similar to flow drills, but introduces a bit of randomness into the equation. With flow drills, you and the boxer both know what the other is going to do, but with technical sparring, you keep the boxer in the dark. Not completely though. You both know which drill you are going to work on, but you initiate the drill without warning. Once it is complete, you pause and then do it again. The randomness occurs with the boxer not knowing when you are going to start the drill.
Start with one drill, but then make it even more challenging by combining different flow drills. Don't tell the boxer which one is coming, and he will have to recognize the drill and react accordingly. This is the perfect lead up to actual sparring.
Sparring seems like it is all out boxing, but in reality, both you and the boxer are there to learn. Now, if you have no interest in boxing, then you'll probably not want to do this the boxer and that is where he should now go out and find a sparring partner. It is not an all out boxing match, but rather it can be done at half speed or three quarter speed, or even full speed, but the goal is not to knockout the other person. You just want to train as if you were in a boxing match and try to prevent any injuries from occurring in the process. Obviously important to use all the right protective equipment including headgear, mouthguard, and groin protector (and chest protector for the women out there).
In addition to all the skill development we just went through as a partner, you can be tremendously beneficial in the gym. In the boxing gym or weight room itself you can:
- offer motivation and encouragement;
- hold the heavy bag, especially for punch out drills;
- time the rounds in the absence of a round timer;
- be a waterboy;
- assist with gloves on and off for various drills;
- select appropriate training music;
- coordinate equipment for circuit training;
- act as spotter; and
- prepare weights and monitor intensity and form.
Sound like you're someone's slave? Maybe, but when your boxer gets in the ring and wins, it was all suddenly worth it.
Ideally, you are training as well, in which case everything I just went through is reciprocated. You get a slave for being one yourself. You will then share the same goals - trying to become as conditioned as possible, as fast as possible, as powerful as possible, and as skilled as possible. It's funny, often you will get more enjoyment out of teaching and training other boxers than you will in training yourself.
So, there you have it, a starting point for being a world class trainer. Obviously, this puts you no where close to being able to walk into a boxing gym and seek a job as a boxing trainer, but who knows, perhaps you'll get the coaching bug and can then seek certification.