Before I started using the speed bag, I didn’t really get what it was for. Since I started doing more boxing training, I’ve discovered that it’s a fascinating little piece of equipment with a variety of benefits. They are as follows:
1. Hand-eye coordination
2. Rhythm and timing
3. Conditioning of shoulders and arms
4. Cardio-vascular conditioning (when you get really good at it)
When using the speed bag, you have to deliver both faster and powerful repetitive punching combinations while moving your fists shorter distances than you usually use while punching. The key to this is understanding how the bag works.
First, the bag must be at the proper height. The fattest part of the bag should be level with your mouth or nose. Many people have it much too high, leading to bad form or improper/ ineffective punching technique.
When you first start punching the speed bag, it’s important to learn how to keep control over it using more efficient, short arm and fist movements and by starting slow. Most people use the bottom of their fist at first (because it’s easier) to get comfortable with the way the bag moves before moving on to specific boxing punches. Speed will come eventually come with practice. The primary goal is to keep the bag moving and in control, no matter how slowly it’s moving. Some find it helpful to count the rebounds at first. If you find that the bag swings wildly, know this: The bag is never out of control, YOU are.
You’ll eventually want to use your standard punches on the speed bag. The first ones I suggest are jabs and crosses. Don’t expect to deliver your punches the same way you do on heavy bags or focus mitts. You’ll need to maintain a circular motion to your punches. To increase your speed, start your punches closer to the bag. To get faster, you need to swing smaller. Speed is often a function of distance. With purposeful practice, not just slamming away at the bag, you’ll increase your punching power along with fist speed.
The rhythm of the speed bag is important to understand. If you hit it from the front, the next punch should arrive after an odd number of rebounds (1, 3, or 5). Most people know the hypnotic triplet rhythm of the speed bag being hit. The basis for this beat is the accents of the sound. The first rebound (off the fist) is the loudest, the second rebound (by your face) is a little softer, and the third (away from you is barely heard, and runs into the returning fist which quickly adds the next accented punch as the fist connects. 1-2-3, 1-2-3… it’s the sound you’ll come to love. It is the same sound done slower or faster. Try and hear that beat, but if three rebounds is too fast for you, or you just refuse to slow down or hit softer, then use 5 rebounds. The bag will be in the same position after 5 rebounds as it as after 3, in position to be hit from the front again.
Jab-cross combinations can be practiced with 5 rebounds as well as 3. Hooks are a little different. To practice repetitive hook combinations (i.e. left Hook, right hook), use an even number of rebounds (2 or 4). Four is best to start off with. This works because the next punch is coming from the opposite side from the last punch, and the laws of speed bag rhythm require it.
To mix hooks with other punches, the number of rebounds needed may vary, depending on the angle of the bag rebound and the angle of your fist as it connects. For example, a left hook may follow a right cross after 3 or 4 rebounds, depending on the bag angle established by the right fist and the angle your left hook enters. Practice this slowly and watch how the bag angle changes. Also, after a left hook, the left fist can return for a left jab on either 3 or 4 rebounds depending on the rebound angle. Either way, the speed bag forces you to keep you hands up for combinations.
With a patience and practice, you’ll quickly find the speed bag helps you pick off moving targets a foot or less from your face. It’s a great complement to almost any martial art.
For speed bags and a wide variety of other training tools, check out MartialArtsSupplies.com.