In most cases, speed bags are considered an important yet complementary piece of equipment to complete boxing training. As beginners don’t always fully understand their value or how to use a speed bag, they tend to dismiss it.
This type of bag has various functions. From increasing boxing pace, accuracy, hand-eye coordination or even improving power, speed bags are multi-purpose. Rotating in a 360-degree angle, they should help improve your boxing technique and challenge your reflexes.
Rather than replacing other types of boxing practices, they complement your training and can be found in most gyms. Smaller and lighter than punching bags, you should be able to install one at home effortlessly.
Getting Started with a Speed Bag
If this is your first time using this type of bag, here are a few tips before we get to the technique:
- Get the right size.
- Protect your hands.
- Assume the correct stance.
Speed Bag Size
There are, typically, three sizes for speed bags — small, medium and large. If you’re just starting with speed bags, go for the largest version. This offers a larger target area, is slower and easier to handle.
The smallest models will be more responsive as you’re punching. They’ll bounce faster, requiring better coordination. In time, you can move down in size when you feel comfortable.
When working with speed bags, drop your boxing gloves. They’ll be too bulky to hit the bag properly.
Yet, your knuckles and hands should still have some protection. Most boxers will exclusively use hand wraps.
First, the swivel of the speed bag should be at eye level, the bag’s ‘belly’ reaching your chin.
With a heavy bag, your feet are aligned one in front of one another. When using a speed bag, however, you’ll be facing it with both legs side by side in a square stance.
For a fast pace, make sure your shoulders are relaxed. Your elbows should be at a 45 to 90-degree angle from your core. The higher your elbows are, the faster you’ll get tired.
As you’ll notice in the following sections, several parts of the hand can be used to strike a speed bag: the palm, the knuckles and, more commonly, the heel of the fist.
How to Use a Speed Bag for Beginners
Without experience, it can be challenging to follow the bag’s rhythm. As your hand-eye coordination increases, your pace will improve accordingly. Focusing on these areas will aid your introduction into speed bag boxing:
- Hand positioning.
- Strike technique.
- Punching rhythm.
- Routine duration.
Start by punching the bag with the tip of your fingers, your palms open. This will create gentler strikes, making the bag move slower. Use your stronger hand first, which is generally the right hand for right-handed boxers.
Always aim to hit the bottom of the bag, and keep your hands close to it. When the bag bounces back, you’ll barely have to move your palms.
Once you’re comfortable punching with your hands open, make a fist and start hitting with the heel of your fist. You’ll soon realize that the bag moves much faster, and following the rhythm will be harder.
When looking at others using a speed bag, you might first think they’re punching it back and forth. In reality, they’re making small circles — or loops — at every strike. This is indeed more tiring but also builds your endurance.
You want the bag to hit the top platform at the same spot every time. To do so, you’ll need to hit the bag, every time, at the same angle. It makes it easier to control it as it swings back.
Want some good news? You don’t need to punch every time it comes back.
A good rhythm is to strike every three bounces. The harder your punch, the faster it’ll come back. On its fourth swing, meet the bag halfway, and hit it before it fully comes back to you.
- Start by punching twice with the same hand, then switch to the other one: right-right-left-left.
- Practice until you can complete the movement with your eyes closed.
- As you gain experience, switch arms at every strike: right-left-right-left.
Novices should take it slow. Start with a 15-second routine with 30 seconds of rest between each set.
Before increasing the set duration, start by augmenting the number of strikes produced within these 15 seconds. If you’re used to punching 50 times within this time-frame, aim for 55 during the next set. Don’t forget that the most important element is to acquire the right form, speed and endurance.
As your skills improve, slowly increase the duration of each round. Move up to 2 to 3-minute drills.
Here is the technique and rhythm to mirror:
How to Use a Speed Bag: Advanced Drills
To prevent your speed bag routines from becoming boring, increase the difficulty level with these drills:
- Fist heel punch.
- Cross-back routines.
- Fist-knuckle drills.
- Speed bag footwork.
Heel and Knuckle Punch
As you gain experience, use different parts of your fist to strike. From our previous drills, you may have already started routines using the heel of your fist.
We’ll now add strikes using the knuckles. The punch is similar to a straight punch, but with less power.
Straight – Heel of the Fist Routines
This drill consists of hitting the bag on the same side, with two different punches.
- Begin with a right straight punch, with your knuckles forward.
- When the bag comes back, rotate your right fist towards the left, and hit the ball with the heel of the fist.
- Then, swap and repeat using your left arm. If you aren’t sweating yet, increase the pace.
- Keep switching your arms: right straight-right heel-left straight-left heel.
Speed Bag Footwork
Finally, you should be ready to start using your feet. Simply step from one foot to the other, following the rhythm. Shift your body weight from one side to the other.
Boxers also use the speed bag to work on avoiding punches, which is imperative in a fight, featuring a core piece of your boxing arsenal. Give a few punches to the speed bag and let it swing. Work on right and left ‘slide’ motions, moving to each side of the bag, as if sliding out of the way of a punch.
This video is a good example of showing movement on advanced speed bag combinations:
Speed Bags Are Vital
The exact technique for how to hit a speed bag isn’t complicated. However, it does require practice and patience. Start with beginner strikes, acquire the proper form before changing drills and increasing your speed. Understand the differences between the punches and speed bag and focus on your timing and technique.
Speed will come as your coordination improves. As pace and power are two essential components of a punch, it’s critical to mix up work with speed bags and heavy bags.