If you ask any ten boxers what the most important rule in boxing is you’ll hear things like “wear the right protective gear,” “find a coach you can trust,” or “learn the straight punches.” And all of those are important in learning to box.
But as I work each week with the new fighters at my gym, I see one major factor dividing the up-and-coming boxers from the ones who will never make it far in boxing…
These things are important
In no way am I trying to diminish the critical nature of the boxing advice you hear online, from other coaches, or even here on The Glowing Edge. Boxing is an enormous, complex sport, and there’s just no way to accomplish much in it without years of solid training and practice. Here’s a list of some great boxing tips, and you’ll get plenty of oil to grease your boxing engine if you follow them:
- Get and use the right headgear
- Choose the best pair of gloves
- Get yourself a clean, solid jab
- Listen to your coach
- Earn your coaching
- Adapt what you need to adapt
- Set and train toward specific boxing goals
- Eat clean to fuel your sport
- Get enough rest and allow your body to recover (haha, haven’t written a post on this; what does this say about me?)
- Choose your punches
- Keep your guard tight
- Use the skills you have (it’s not so Captain Obvious, click thru)
- Know what to do when you take a hard hit
- Train “FASTER”
But THIS is the dividing line…
So day after day I’m in the boxing gym, training, coaching, and watching other boxers. And there is one factor that tells me whether or not someone is willing to do the real work of boxing. One single thing.
And that’s training to the bell.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen guys belly up to the heavy bag, fire off a handful of full-power combos, and then sit back in sheer self-appreciation and deep personal satisfaction.
Of course it feels great to blast the bag a few times. And there are plenty of days when you want to use every ounce of strength you have, play it all out to see what it feels like.
But being able to throw 15 hard punches means absolutely zero, zip, nada in boxing.
Strutting around the gym dabbling here and there is worse than useless — you’re actually in the way of serious boxers and you’re a distraction and bad example to other beginners. It would be better for everyone if you’d just go home and nurse your boxing fantasy in front of your mirror while the rest of us get the real work of boxing done.
(I so wanted to find a picture of a guy posing in front of his mirror at home, enjoying his boxing superstar fantasy. Go find one and post the link in the comments so we can have a good chortle.)
If you want to box, train to the bell
If you can’t go a single full round (2 or 3 minutes) of doing something — punching, footwork, jump rope, shadowboxing, padwork, running, agility dots, slipping, rope work, ring slides, planks, or some other fight-related action — you have not even begun to work at boxing.
There should be a round timer going in your gym most of the time. If there isn’t, get yourself a timer, or learn to set your watch/phone/music player to time your rounds. Do every single training exercise in rounds of 2 or 3 minutes, with 30 second recoveries. If your round timer has a 30-second bell (which rings to indicate there are 30 seconds left in the round before it ends), use that time to double your efforts and power your way toward the bell.
If you take a round off, be back at the bags, on the mat, or in the ring and ready to roll when the bell rings. That bell going off should not be your reminder to put down your water bottle and saunter over to the speed bag to resume your work; you should already be there ready and waiting to get the first shot in.
If you’re running or jumping rope and planning to go multiple rounds, keep going during the 30-second recovery period, but slow down to an easy coast. Then rev back up when the timer sounds the new round.
If you can’t do a single serious round out of the ring, you have no business getting in the ring.
If I have any single rule at the very top of the pile, it’s this one. Drill in rounds, practice in rounds, sprint in rounds. Do all your training in rounds, and your transition into the ring will be much faster and better.
Yes? No? Maybe? Fire away.
Your turn. What’s your top rule for boxing training? Leave me a comment below!