Are lightning-quick boxing hands the fortune of DNA or can we increase punching speed through repetition of intelligent and tailored training? Sure, some boxers are genetically blessed with near-enough superhuman swiftness. God’s gift you might say. Muhammad Ali had it and so too Roy Jones Jnr. Ditto Sugar Ray Leonard and Manny Pacquiao. All possessed immediate punches that seemingly accelerated with warp speed. Now, most of us will never possess the uber-quick uppercuts and hypervelocity hooks of such world class fighters but that doesn’t mean we can’t increase punching speed. We can.
Before we commence, here’s the rub. I won’t get all scientific and attempt to discuss fast and slow twitch fibres and the like. No, I don’t have the appropriate background or the authority to cover physiological influences. What I will cover, however, is simple strategies that can help you increase punching speed.
Shadow for Speed
Shadow boxing is front of a mirror is ideal for self-identifying flaws or glitches in technique. It’s also capable of improving hand speed if you add hand weights to the equation. But go light and don’t extend fully. No need to throw around the heavy stuff and risk injury to wrists, elbows or shoulders. And no need to over extend. The added resistance of small weights, only about 1kg, for a shadow boxing 3-minute round is enough to give added resistance and this can strengthen the punch muscles. After throwing those punches out fast and retracting just as fast, you simply ditch the weights. The instant effect is almost magical. Removal of the weights will give the physical impression of lighter and faster hands and arms.
Stay Loose and Relaxed
It’s not uncommon to overhear a boxing coach yell the following words to his fighter “… stay loose and relaxed!” The coach is reminding his boxer to maintain a state of calmness amidst the chaos. Calm is energy saving and speed preserving. Tense is energy draining and negates speed. Once a boxer tenses up, this can have a negative effect on punch speed. A tense muscle doesn’t react as quick as a relaxed muscle. Have you ever observed Olympic sprinters prior to the 100m dash? What do they routinely do? They stretch and shake their limbs — endeavouring to get as loose as possible. Loose limbs are fast limbs.
To help stay relaxed from a boxing perspective, keep your shoulders low and relaxed, don’t make a tight fist until just before impact and exhale as you strike. Tense is dense. Tight ain’t right. Strive to be loose, calm and controlled at all times if you want your punch velocity to become ferocity.
Jump to Attention Drill
This drill requires the assistance of another person. Start with walking in your designated training area with calm thoughts and relaxed pose, casually shaking your limbs to maximise looseness. But be ready. Randomly, your trainer or assistant will randomly shout “stance!” and you’ll immediately react and switch from relaxed pose to boxing stance. Even though you’re in fight stance, be aware you still need to be free of tension. Be ready. Without delay, your trainer will then voice a combination and you’ll shadow box or hit the trainer’s pads with full speed. Then drop the hands, lose the stance and resume your casual and loose-limbed walk — once again shaking your limbs and deep breathing to help facilitate a relaxed state of looseness. And then repeat the drill with another combination.
This drill requires access to a pool, lake or ocean. Enter the water up to your neck or shoulders and throw a punch. Feel the resistance? Water provides significant full body resistance —Unlike hand weights or bands which focus on the shoulders and forearms. Even simply turning the hip to execute the 2 (right cross for an orthodox boxer) is slowed down significantly because of the water molecules effect. Also, the slower motion helps you to focus on your technique and form. Submerged striking is excellent for adding resistance and working on form in a way that is easy on the joints. And if nothing else, it adds variety to your boxing training.
Don’t underestimate the power of mental strength. Think fast movements. In a quiet space, away from the distractions of your gym, take 10-15min a day to visualise. In a way it’s meditative. Visual mid lighting bolt jabs and machine gun combinations. See the movements. Feel the speed.
Speed, I’m talking fearsome speed is DNA. You can’t manufacture hell-for-leather punch velocity. It’s either there or it isn’t. But you can improve. You can increase punching speed through the repeated application of simple drills and good technique. Discipline and dedication will take you to where you want to go. Never give up. Improving hand speed takes time.
May the speed be with you! Train hard. Train smart.
Yours in Boxing,