Those that are just starting out in boxing or even those that have been in sport for years are always looking at ways to improve their overall hand speed.
So many of the great boxers of our past and present have all had incredible hand speed including the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Manny Paquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Roy Jones Jr, Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez, Jorge Linares, Amir Khan many more.
It obviously takes many years of practice to get upto the level you desire, but there are in fact many exercises you can partake in today and start seeing improvements very quickly.
Why hand speed is important for boxing?
Having quick hands is extremely important in boxing as usually it means you can beat your opponent to the punch, giving you a slight second advantage to slip, roll or move out the way of a punch in your direction.
By having quick hand speed in your punches, it will also make you a lot harder to defend against. This is because it will naturally force your opponent into a more defensive mindset or even put them on the backfoot.
“Speed Kills” – that is what Cus D’Amato used to tell Mike Tyson at the start of his career. When Mike Tyson was upcoming heavyweight he would constantly work on his speed and combinations over his power as this what would really be the difference against most of his opponents in the ring.
Here is great short video or Mike Tyson explaining why “speed kills” in boxing.
How do you improve hand speed for boxing
One of the first things before you practice any of these exercises below is you need to have the right mentality in believing that you do have quick hand speed. By giving a self talk in your head that your punches are fastest this will really help toward all these exercises below.
You need to really feel and believe that you have quick hand if you are going to improve their speed.
Exercises to improve your hand speed
1. Form and technique drills
Now yes this a first one seems like a pretty tedious and obvious thing to consider, but really getting back to the basics and making sure you are throwing punches with correct form and technique will in turn help when you are trying to increase hand speed.
Taking 15 minutes at the end or start of the session in front of the mirror or shadow boxing really will help you focus more on throwing precisely and correctly. From here you can start to speed up and add combinations as you build up to become faster.
Another tip in this area is not over commit your punches, make sure your punches are short and flowing when practicing.
After much repetition on practicing your form and technique you will quickly see it’s a lot easier to increase your hand speed on equipment and sparring.
2. Foot Drills with Punches
Foot drills are also a great way to increase your speed as the quickness of the punch can in fact come from using forward momentum from your feet moving forward with them.
A great drill to use is with a step ladder or even tape on the ground where you can bounce in out focusing on speed of your punches but really using your feet drive and give quickness to them.
Check out these great footwork drills by former British Boxer and Olympic Medallist Tony Jeffries who shows some ladder exercises in action below:
3. Shadow Boxing with weights
The other piece of equipment to help with your hand speed is using egg weights or light dumbbells. These will help with your overall resistance and muscle endurance which in turn can improve your hand speed over time!
You will see a lot of the top boxing professionals using these when shadow boxing and you will often see them also use while doing long distance road work.
If you are unsure about where to start with shadow boxing check out my Shadow Boxing Exercises blog here.
4. Shadow Boxing with a Resistance Suit
The resistance suit is definitely a new trend and becoming a brilliant piece of training kit to help develop your shadow boxing skills and develop your hand speed thanks to the extra 100bs (25lbs each) resistance in the attached bands. The aim of this is to help improve punches and kicks (MMA) which will help you increase your overall speed and power by making your muscles work against an opposing force in the weighted bands.
5. Explosive and fast Push ups!
I highly recommend you try out plyometric (plyo) push-ups which are an advanced push up that really work on your chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders.
This type of push up is to add the element of explosiveness to your push up, which makes it much more challenging, but will in turn help with quickness of your hand when punching.
This exercise will really help increase the strength of your upper body which in turn will help not just your speed but the power when punching.
You can also practice doing fast amounts of push in certain amount of time to develop your quickness and strength.
6. Using the Reflex Ball
A reflex ball is also a great way to improve your hand speed due to the quickness of the ball bouncing back. This is not one of the most conventional ways to increase your hand speed, but with the pressure of the ball coming back at you, it will in fact force you to be quick with your hand speed or you will be left red faced literally with the ball in your face.
I personal love to use the reflex ball as a warm up or warm down tool and is quite a fun way to also improve in the following areas
- Hand speed
- Hand eye coordination
- Counter punching timing
- Head movement and defense techniques
- Muscle endurance
- Punch accuracy
7. Using the Double-End Bag
The Double End Bag is a punch bag which is attached from the floor to the ceiling with an elasticated rope which 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 and hand-eye coordination.
Due to the nature of this bag moving all over the place when you hit it, it will force you to flow with your punches which means you can really start to speed up your hand speed once you get used to movement.
It does take some practice and starting slow is a good option with this and as you build up, you can start to throw quicker punches for your liking!
Here are some great options on Amazon to consider
8. Using The Corbra Bag
The Cobra reflex bags have really come into the limelight in recent years mainly due to up and coming boxer Ryan Garcia and world boxing star Canelo Alvarez, showing us how it’s done on their social media. Check out below:
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.
For training your hand speed, this is a brilliant piece of equipment due to fast movement of the bag itself in the spring motion which will require you to be quick with your hands to hit it properly and effectively.
Here are some options on Amazon below for you to consider:
9. Using the Speed bag
The speed bag is all about rhythm, timing and speed as you hit the bag. Seeing the professional use with ease makes it look like a daunting piece of equipment to use at first, but with some repetition and getting used to the way you hit the bag along with the timing you can really improve the speed at which you hit a speed bag. Here is a simple great video by Coach Anthony for those looking to hit the bag effectively.
This is not just a great tool at forcing you to improve your hand speed, but it will also improve areas such as your hand eye coordination, muscle endurance, reflexes and timing.
Here are some options on Amazon for you to consider:
10. Reflexes exercises that use punches
A lot of the exercises on this list will already be helping with some reflexes, but there are some other unique drills you can try out which include:
Pad or mitt work with your coach or partner – focus on being quick while doing this and be fast with your combinations. You can even start slow and get faster and faster as your progress
Reaction light drills – This is definitely one of the newer trends that boxers and fighters are starting to use especially after the likes of Lomachenko and Usyk use this to improve their quickness and reaction times. This will force you to be quick mentally and with your hand which in turn will help your hand speed.
Tennis ball or reaction ball drills – this forces you to be quick with your hands depending on what direction the ball bounces while you try to catch it.
I recommend you check out my blog on exercises to improve your reflexes for boxing here for more detail on the above.
If you are to use all the exercises above over time, you will definitely start to see a big difference in your hand speed.
More importantly, as I mention just before the list or exercise, I reinforce the point you need to have the mentality that you can punch quickly and really get it in your head that your punches are faster and that will really start to help you see a difference.
Another bonus tip I recommend is to consider purchasing punch trackers a lot of these can measure the speed and velocity of your punches to help you identify if you are actually getting quicker by doing these exercises. You can check out my top punch trackers blog here.
I hope you enjoyed this article, let me know in the comments below what exercises you want to try out.
For more of my boxing training advice visit here.
Thanks for reading!