How to be an effective training partner


Partner work is essential in boxing training. Nothing beats the feel of a real person in front of you to practice your attack and defense. Today, let’s go over how you can be the best training partner possible, so that both of you can maximise your learning experience here at Legends.

Forget About Power, Focus On Technique

I always like to say, win with your skills, not your strength. There is no learning point to be had by punching as hard as you can during partner drills. We are practicing new things, or sharpening old things, and we are allowed to go slow and make mistakes, because that’s how you get better at anything. You experiment with the new combinations or new defensive moves that the coach is teaching, and of course you won’t get it 100% perfect the first time. Both of you WILL get hit while doing so.

But imagine your partner swinging full power punches during the drill. This puts you into survival mode which totally defeats the purpose of the training objective to begin with. You do want to have some pop in your punches when you throw at your partner, so that they can internalise the need to execute the defensive move properly. But the point is not the power, it’s learning the move.

Remember, the purpose of punching is not to beat your buddy up. It’s for him/her to practice the moves, and vice versa, when you switch over.

Don’t Throw & Hope, Aim & Fire

This applies especially to drills that involve slipping, weaving, or parrying punches. Some of you may feel apprehensive to aim for your opponent’s face, so you aim slightly to the side, where your punch won’t hit them even if they fail to defend.

This is hurting your partner more than it is helping them. It builds bad habits – how will they know how far to slip or how low to roll when being hit by a real punch? There is no incentive to defend a punch if they have the false confidence that it’s not going to land anyway. If these bad habits carry over to a sparring session, they’re going to get hit a lot and wonder why their defensive moves aren’t saving them.

This brings us back to the point above – why power is not the main objective. Your partner WILL get hit, but it’s a necessary hit to remind him to adjust and defend properly. You don’t want to hit them with 100% strength, but you also don’t want to not touch them at all and drill bad habits into them.

Revenge Hitting

When you get hit hard, there is often a natural instinct to want to hit back just as hard, or harder. Is this a good idea in the gym?

Definitely NOT. This is not a fight, and there should be no ill-intentions when training. Nobody is impressed by the guy who tries to ‘win’ every drill and every spar. You fight to win, but you train to get better.

If your training partner is hitting you a little too hard for your liking, it’s ok to let them know to take it easy. No need to get upset, usually they are just a little overexcited or eager. Similarly, you might sometimes land a punch a little too hard. It happens and it’s normal. Simply apologise and tone it down. It does not lessen the value of the drill to hit with less power. Remember the first point – skills, not strength.

Get Your Glove Game On

Gloves protect your hands first and foremost, but they also protect your partner. Use at least a 12oz pair when doing technique drills with a partner (14 or 16 if you can, it’ll also help with your own arm and shoulder conditioning). Most importantly, get gloves from a proper martial arts or boxing store. You can even get a pair of quality gloves from us! Just make sure to avoid gloves from places that you don’t see boxers frequenting.

Slow. Down.

Not all of us are Sugar Ray Leonard throwing a 22 punch shoeshine flurry, nor should you try to be when doing partner drills. If you find that the pace that you and your partner are going at is too fast, take it down a notch. How do you know if it’s too fast? When you’re blindly throwing and sacrificing balance, hip rotation, arm extension, and all that good stuff.

Remember, boxing is a thinking sport. Get your brain aware of every movement you are making. Keep your eyes on your partner and defend the punches that are coming. Look at where your punches are landing and adjust to improve your accuracy. Be aware of where your weight is distributed over your feet for the entire time.

If you can’t do all that while going fast, then do it while going slower. Slow and correct is better than fast and wrong. Speed will come naturally once you are familiar with the moves.

Hygiene

If you go for back to back classes, please be aware that your t-shirt is probably drenched with sweat from the first class. Any punch that lands on you or your t-shirt will probably send sweat flying in all directions. This is not very pleasant for anyone in the gym, but especially your training partner! Change into fresh training attire if you are sticking around after your first class. If you sweat a lot, get a towel ready. There are some things we can’t control, but let’s all take care of the things we can control, so everyone has a great time.

Remember Why You’re Here

Every time you step out of the gym, we want you to have become a better boxer. Being a good training partner is beneficial for both your partner and yourself. It makes training more effective, and way more fun!

At Legends, boxing is everything to us. Besides getting in a great workout, we want anyone who trains with us to box well. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also a ton of fun! Register for your free trial today, and perfect your punches with us.