Agility, Balance and Coordination | A Foundation for Better Boxing
There are many things that go into the making of a great boxer, but certain skills are essential. There are a few core set of skills that, once mastered, help other abilities develop naturally. Agility, balance and coordination are three skills that complement each other and provide a solid foundation for any practice.
A complete training program will include a heavy dose of workouts that strengthen each. Similar to how compound exercises operate several muscles at one time, honing your ability in either agility, balance or coordination concurrently works the other two. Think of it as multitasking for boxing. Only, instead of being scattered, you are intensely focused on one area at a time.
Working to enhance agility will also increase our coordination efforts. Learning to balance improves coordination and agility. See how this works? Focus on one area and we progress in all. If we schedule time for each of the three, well, now we’re unstoppable. Doesn’t matter which gets the attention first, as long as we devote quality time to each.
Sudden change is frequent within the ropes, and it’s those bursts of slight movements that often change the game. This movement is agility and it’s what allows a boxer to pivot on a dime. It’s the ability to duck and weave at the right moment and change positions and tactics quickly and accurately.
Training for agility increases our ability to stop, start and change directions with ease and speed. Ladder drills are a must for seeing improvements in this area. It takes one simple piece of equipment, or even a chalk outline, and the rest is all you. Move your feet in and out of each rung’s box using one step each, side steps, crossovers and in and outs. There are numerous drills that will keep your body guessing. Consistently change the routine and up the speed for superior nimbleness and quickness.
Ladder drills can be used like a game – always striving for the next level of difficulty. It primarily improves agility but coordination and balance are very close behind. Moving our feet through the rungs in different ways also brings awareness to our lower body. It gets us out of our heads and reminds us that boxing is a full-body sport.
Anytime the entire body is in use, balance is a crucial ingredient. Boxing requires it. Balance keeps us standing after taking a hit or pivoting on the balls of our feet. It takes a stable, centered stance to land a punch and a lot of practice to get there.
Yoga is the go-to for balancing exercises. Add a consistent yoga class or two to your week and benefits will follow. More balance, increased core strength, better control, focus and mental clarity are certain. No time for an entire class? Just add a few balancing poses to your regular routine and wait for results.
Single leg deadlifts increase balance, strength and coordination within one exercise. With kettlebells or without, balance on one leg and start to hinge forward, with a flat back, chin forward, allowing your hands/weights to graze the front of your shins. Come down until your lifting leg is parallel to the floor (hips squared) and your body looks like the letter T. Now, slowly engage and come back to standing.
When single leg deadlifts are in our exercise rotation, balancing quickly becomes more natural. The mirror is your friend and will help you maintain form. It is harder than it sounds, so make sure to take your time and use proper technique until your movements are consistent.
Better balance will aid in our quest for better coordination. Boxing seems simple: hit and avoid getting hit, but there is a lot more going on in a boxer’s mind and body. Different body parts must move in different ways simultaneously with intensity and quickness at precisely the right moment.
Boxing is a complex sport that requires immense coordination. Shadow boxing is a popular way to warm up and keep your coordination abilities up to par. Sparring with an invisible opponent allows us the freedom of mind to consider each movement while mimicking how we wish to react in the ring; it is the space we need to fine tune each movement.
Our responses to live opponents are conditioned. Without a body in front of us, we can focus on technique, strategy and complex moves. Our minds slow down without the distractions and we can train our hands and feet to move together in advantageous ways. Eventually, a natural flow develops that stays with us for as long as we continue to practice. Enough repetition and the movements become second nature needing little, to no thought at all.
Ease of movement comes from having a solid foundation of skills. Agility, balance and coordination are the essentials that many other skills build on. Make these a priority to gain the edge; a quick edge, because developing one of these areas develops many.
Bringing the ABCs Together
There are so many different components to a boxer’s training that it can feel overwhelming. The results are complex and intricate, but if we start simply, focus on the basics and stay the course, it comes together with time. Take the first step by adding exercises that regularly work on agility, balance and coordination. Watch how developing each of these skills benefits the other areas of your practice.
If you feel frustrated or merely want quicker gains, an expert will save you confusion, trial and error and time. The right coach will know what your technique needs and how to improve it. Enlist a Gloveworx Coach to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and put you on the path to significant improvements with more specific exercises.