10 Exercises To Improve Your Reflexes For Boxing

Exercises To Improve Your Reflexes For Boxing

Having good reflexes is an essential asset to any boxer or fighter and it’s vital that you practice this in your training.

For many beginners, reflexes can be a hard thing to master at first. However, it is something you can help improve over time with muscle memory through consistent training.

The more you do reflex exercises the better you will become. By having good reflexes, you will simply become a better fighter, especially if you are looking to improve your counterpunching or defensive movements.

If you are competing or sparring, having good reflexes will obviously help you against your opponent. Training reflexes will give you a better reaction to what punches they throw at you, which in turn could help you from being hit!

In the list below I have compiled a list of 10 exercises and methods you can try to improve your reflexes or reactions to boxing.

Or if you are someone coaching looking to change up your training methods these will also help you too!

1. Reflex Ball

Lomachenko using the reflex ball

A reflex ball can become an invaluable tool to practice and improve your reflexes for boxing. Unlike other boxing training techniques such as shadow boxing or hitting the heavy bag – they won’t hit you back. Getting used to something not hitting your back can be bad if you preparing to face someone in the ring and this is why the reflex ball is a great tool to use.

The reflex ball will help improve the following:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Counter punching timing
  • Head movement and defense techniques
  • Muscle endurance
  • Punch accuracy

I highly recommend you check out my Best Boxing Reflex Balls Review or see options on Amazon here.

2. Pad work

Pacquiao doing pad work

Pad or mitt work is an essential way for any boxer to improve your reflexes, especially when you are using them with a coach or partner who knows how to properly do drills with them.

To get the best use out of pad work, I highly recommend you head down to the boxing gym and train with a coach or fellow boxer who has experience using defensive pad drills.

If you are an inspiring coach yourself make sure to get yourself some decent pads for your fighters to train with. Also, look to add exercises that will force them to use defensive movements such as slips and rolls. Check out these options on Amazon below:

3. Double End Bag

Double end bag

Now a lot of beginners, all like to immediately go on the heavy bag and start hitting it with big heavy punches and combinations. The only issue with this is that the heavy bag doesn’t hit you back! This is where double-end bag can come in to improve your reactions.

The double-end bag is a punching bag that is attached from the floor to the ceiling with an elasticated rope that moves the ball as you punch it. This makes the double-end bag one of the most essential pieces of equipment for a boxer as it helps to improve your reflexes, speed, timing and hand-eye coordination.

This tool is especially good if you plan on competing or sparring. Since it will keep your concentration levels very high to hit the punch bag or even get out the way of it. You can check out my top double-end bag options blog here or check out the option on Amazon below to consider:

Check out former pound-for-pound star Andre Ward using the double-end bag to give you an idea of how it is used by the top professionals:


4. Reaction Lights

reaction lights boxing

This is one of the newest trends that boxers and fighters are starting to use to improve your reflexes, as it forces you to react as quickly as possible to a light flashing. Reflex exercises include:

  • Throwing a punch in the direction of the light which flashes
  • Tapping a light quickly for which one flashes

Two of the best products you can use for this type of training is the flowing

Blaze Pod, Reflex Training System – learn more on Amazon here.

SIBOASI, Reaction Training Lights learn more on Amazon here.

Check out former world champion Amir Khan putting these reaction lights into action from a boxing training perspective below:


5. Cobra Bag

Ryan Garcia cobra bag

The Cobra reflex bags have really come into the limelight in recent years mainly due to up-and-coming boxing star Ryan Garcia showing off on his social media. The cobra bag is unique in the sense that it is a reflex punch bag that mimics the movement of an actual opponent via the specifically-placed spring. Arguably creating even more movement than some double-end bags! Check out my Cobra bag vs double end bag article for more comparisons.

For training your reflexes, this is a brilliant piece of equipment that will really require a lot of concentration. Otherwise, the bag can come back and hit you easily. Therefore it will require you to slip bag on either side, shoulder roll or use footwork to get out the way.

Check out my top 10 cobra reflex bags blog here or see some options on Amazon below:

Make sure to check out this great video by Boy Sport showing the likes of Canelo, Ryan Garcia and other training their reflexes with the Cobra Bag!


6. Reaction Balls

Reaction balls

The reaction ball can be a useful way to improve reflexes and hand-eye coordination all whilst having fun! You can use this training on your own or with a partner.

You can simply drop the ball in front of you or throw it against a wall and you will need to react to where the ball bounces due to its special irregular shape of it.

These balls can also be used for massage too, so you can get double the purpose from them!

Check out options on Amazon below:

7. Tennis Ball Exercises

Tennis ball reflex exercises

Now if your budget is limited right now, a great and simple way to help improve your reflexes is to use a tennis ball. Just like with reaction balls, (above) these can be used in self exercises or if you have a coach or training partner.

The ball bounce is more predictable than the above reaction ball, but you can still practice other useful reflex drills with a tennis ball.

Here is a brilliant video from Fight Tips that demonstrates 5 drills for you to try out:


8. Sparring


Now I know not everyone who will be reading this is planning on sparring. However if you are a beginner or upcoming boxer who does plan on competing, this is one of the best ways to help improve your overall reflexes.

By sparring, you will be able to react to real punches coming towards, which obviously help your real reflexes in a fight.

You can also do partner drill sparring where you are not going at 100% intensity, but helping each other out by throwing punches with the intention help each other improve defense, movement and reflexes. (I recommend this for beginners just starting out sparring)

9. Coin Catch or Drop

Another fun way to help improve your reflexes is using either the coin catch or coin drop.

The coin catch is where you put coins on the top of your hand and arm and flip up and try to catch them! It’s best you start off with one coin with this and as your progress, you can add one or two more after you. (See video below)

The coin drop is slightly different and you will need a partner to help you out with this one. Face your partner and get them to hold out their arm toward you and when they are ready – drop the coin. All you have to do is catch the coin before it hits the ground – this partner drill and reflex drill for you to react as quickly as possible

Here is an example of Lightweight world champion Lomachenko doing the coin catch exercise with four coins! This takes a lot of practice!


10. Video Games

Video games

Now I don’t recommend this being the highest priority for you, but playing video games has been proven to increase your reactions and timing! A research study by the University of Rochester found that action games have proven to help those make quicker decisions and reactions. They stated:

“Action video game players’ brains are more efficient collectors of visual and auditory information, and therefore arrive at the necessary threshold of information they need to make a decision much faster than non-gamers, the researchers found.”

This can also be a great way for you to relax and unwind after a hard training session, but still, be able to work on yourself mentally. Just don’t entirely rely on this to help you dodge punches!

Final Thoughts

All the above exercises will really help in your training and if you do them consistently enough you will start to see a difference in your reflexes which in turn will make you a lot more relaxed with sparring or competition.

Therefore I recommend you focus on things like sparring, pad work, double end bag or the cobra bag. Things like reaction lights and tennis ball exercises help to provide something different or change up training. These will really help you see a big difference in your overall training.

I hope you found this list useful make sure to let us know in the comment below which options you would like to try out.

Thanks for reading!

For more boxing training advice visit the link here

Jamie - Boxing Life

I'm a boxing analyst, amateur boxer, and blogger looking to pass on my boxing experiences and passion to anyone looking to learn or find out more about the sport of boxing. Whether that be gear reviews, fighter analysis, news, training tips, or my own personal journey, I'll be covering it on 'Boxing Life'.

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