Using pads is a great way to train with a partner and get closer to the real fight experience.
What is a pad?
A pad is a protective target used on the hands or arms of your training partner for high impact blows. Using them is the closest way to replicate a real fight scenario without full-contact.
Boxing and Muay Thai pads develop and refine every aspect of your fight style from punch-speed to foot coordination. They’re an incredibly versatile training component that will help you master your discipline.
Why practice on pads?
It’s realistic. Standing toe-to-toe with your training partner re-enacts the distance and movement needed to attack, defend and counter in a real fight situation. Pads encourage repetition and promote a natural fight style.
Practicing on pads also builds accuracy. People often make the mistake of using pads to improve power, but this is best left to your punch bag. The pad is a smaller target that requires a wider, more precise range of fight skills.
Using pads, or boxing mitts, allows you to clearly communicate which combinations you want to work on with your training partner. This provides you with the essential time needed to perfect your shots you may not throw naturally.
The pad holder can also throw dummy punches, which encourages counter-punching, sidestepping and blocking.
Pad work should be practiced over several one to three-minute rounds. This simulates a real fight scenario and falls in line with other training. Start with shorter rounds and work your way up over time.
Training on pads will improve:
- Hand speed
- Natural technique
- Distance awareness
- Accuracy and timing
- Throwing combinations
When punching pads, you should always wear hand wraps and a good pair of gloves. It’s highly recommended that both the puncher and pad holder wear mouthguards.
Throwing and calling combinations
Getting to know some basic combinations in your chosen discipline is essential to getting started. Becoming familiar with calling combinations is just as important, for both the pad holder and puncher.
Most combinations will start with a jab, followed by a cross. This is commonly known as a one-two combination. One being the jab, two being the cross. Along with your training partner, devise some punches that correspond with a number. Your partner should call the number combinations, adding an element of uncertainty and improving your reaction speed.
Be sure to start slowly so that your partner can calculate height and distance. This will also keep shots accurate and straight onto the pads.
Here are some simple examples that you can vary to suit your discipline.
1-2-3 (jab, cross, hook)
1-2-3-4 (jab, cross; hook, uppercut)
1-1-3-2 (jab, jab, hook, cross)
How to hold pads?
Always hold your pads with your palms facing the incoming impact. Stand in a fight stance, whether orthodox or southpaw, with your lead foot forward and your back leg slightly bent.
Remember to offer some resistance and moments of impact. This helps the hitter calculate the efficiency of their shots.
Be sure to hold the pads at your partners punch or kick height, and not too far apart. They will lose all benefits of the workout if they need to over-reach or over-step to hit their target.
Stay focused and concentrate on your partners movement, staying in range. If you’re not fully aware of everything that is happening, you stifling your partner’s shots, or worse, getting clipped!
Encourage and motivate your partner where possible. In later rounds, it’s easy to get tired and becomes harder to throw shots. Offering a few positive words can help your partner dig deeper.
What type of pads should you buy?
For boxing, you should consider a good pair of punch mitts.
For Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts, you should consider Thai pads, which accommodate for both hand and leg impact.