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Shadow boxing is an important fundamental skill to hone and develop.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
Boxing isn't called the "Sweet Science" for nothing. According to a report published by ESPN, boxing was named the most difficult out of 60 sports ranked by the United States Olympic Committee. Developing a recipe for success in the ring starts in the gym. By training intelligently and knowing where to focus your time and energy, you can reach your full potential and avoid plateauing in training.
The key to developing a recipe for success is to manage your time wisely. Very few people have the opportunity to set aside all other responsibilities to focus on the art of punching. Split your time between strength and conditioning drills, sparring and skill training. Strength and conditioning should be limited to two or three sessions per week, while sparring shouldn't be performed on consecutive days. Ideally, work on skill development in each and every training session you attend.
In order to hit a skilled opponent and avoid being hit in turn, you need to develop your boxing-specific reflexes. A natural reflexive response to an incoming punch is to flinch, look away or run. None of these choices are viable in the world of boxing, so you must work on trained responses. Every reaction to an opponent's attack should involve a counter or a defensive maneuver. Shadow sparring with a controlled training partner, focus mitt training and working on the double-end bag are some basic, effective ways to improve your boxing reflexes. The faster and more advanced your punches on the double-end bag, the more difficult it will be to react to and strike the bag as it ricochets toward you.
Countering a punch isn't easy to do. In fact, it's an art form. Working with a coach using focus mitts or sparring with an uncooperative opponent are two of the best ways to work your counters. Essentially, there are two effective ways to counter a strike: Either you punch when your opponent is punching in an attempt to interrupt his attack or you follow your opponent's retracted punch with a counter to his exposed chin.
Speed and Technique
In the boxing ring, speed kills, which is just one of the reasons why shadow boxing, mitt work and advanced, intense rounds spent punching the bags are important, fundamental components of every boxer's training routine. When you step into the ring for sparring or a full-contact fight, you're going to rely on instinct. Working on the bags and mitts allows you to experiment with different angles, improve your punching technique and increase your speed with burnout rounds. And you can do it all without getting punched in the face.