It is essential to punch faster as a martial artist than your opponent to protect yourself if there is a conflict. If your speed needs improvement or your progress seems to be slowing down with your current regime, try these five ways to improve punching speed.
Quick to put into action and see results, you still need to be consistent with your training to succeed – in striking, there are no shortcuts.
Try a range of forced hand speed exercises using a speedball or floor to ceiling ball. These balls force you to think fast, move your hands fast, and punch even when you might not want to. This is important for fights as you will need to punch proactively and reactively, whenever you can.
Even when you’re tired, push past the fatigue and your limits. You’ll always need to react quickly with a speedball, as well as think quickly. Combine 2 or 3 rounds on a speedball with 2 or 3 rounds on a floor to ceiling ball, seeing how many times you can punch in set periods of time.
Remember to punch through the target, not just tap it.
This training technique of punching in the air prepares you physically and mentally for fast punches. Shadowbox before every workout in the dojo to loosen your muscles and perfect your technique. Practice each type of punch – jab, right hook – in front of a mirror and add hand weights for even better results.
Start loose and build up your speed over two 3-minute rounds, adding in long combination punches where you can practice your breathing. The process will loosen your muscles and build muscle memory, making punches flow more naturally without hesitation and with fewer errors. Learn the basics of shadowboxing.
Focus on improving your breathing technique while punching, with a particular determination to breathe faster. If you’re tensing up and keeping in your breathe to punch, it’ll be holding you back. You need to inhale and exhale to the rhythm of your punches and keep your shoulders loose and relaxed as you punch.
Why does this work? Breathing keeps your blood charged with oxygen, which helps keep your mind focused, and your muscles fuelled. The act of breathing also tightens your core, which adds power to your punch.
Specifically, training to deliver lighter combination punches makes your mind think fast, which is the basis of moving fast. First, punch as fast as you can in intervals of 15 to 20 seconds using a punching bag, then add in some different combinations you’d use in the ring. Keeping the punches light is key to increasing speed.
Then, take these techniques and spar with a partner, focusing on fast hits and disrupting their rhythm. Try not to get too hung up on each punch, but instead work towards an easy flow of different combinations; overthinking one punch rather than multiple punches can slow you down. Sometimes put on your boxing gloves, so you’re training with the equipment you’ll use when it counts.
Short sprints, intense skipping exercises, and sparring with a partner are all effective ways to increase your footwork speed, which will speed up your whole performance.
Interval sprinting will train your body to increase your potential speed for boxing, while skipping will build muscle endurance and improve agility. Combine these with a sparring session to focus on your stance, weight distribution, and movement into the punches.
By following these martial arts and boxing drills, you should improve your punching speed and overall performance in bouts. As your endurance improves, your punches should also be more consistently solid. Now, after you improve your striking skills, then add your kicks.