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Boxing Reflex Exercises

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.

Reactions are so important in boxing that you can sometimes predict the winner of an amateur boxing match based on who has the better reactions, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Work on your reaction time with traditional drills like the speedbag and non-traditional drills like the reaction ball.

Speed Bag

Few boxing drills are more iconic than the speed bag. It's a simple piece of equipment, a small inflatable leather bag that hangs from a platform a little higher than head-height and looks like a teardrop.

To use the speed bag, stand in front of it with your feet squared. Start with your non-dominant hand by making a fist and hitting the center of the bag with the pinky side of your hand.

Read More: How to Improve Your Reflexes

When you're first starting out, the bag should hit the platform three times before you hit it again. It hits the back, front and back again before swinging down to the center where you hit it. You can hit with your non-dominant hand only, your dominant hand only or alternate every hit.

Once you can control the bag with three hits try doing only one hit. Your fist hits the bag, the bag bounces off the back of the platform and you hit it again. This is much more rapid and difficult than three hits.

You can also hold your head close to the bag and, after you hit it once, dodge the swinging speed bag. This is a great reflex drill because the bag won't hurt if it hits you and you get a chance to dodge a fast-moving object.

Double-End Bag

Slightly less well-known than the speed bag is the double-end bag. This tricky piece of equipment is a light, round ball tethered by rubber chords from the top and bottom. When you hit it, the ball rebounds quickly and shoots back at you.

The double-end bag helps improve your punching accuracy since it moves so quickly. It also helps you improve your reflexes. Stand less than arm's length away from the bag and throw a punch. The ball will come right back at you and when it does you can dodge to the left or right.

Reaction Ball

This little ball will provide you with unlimited reflex training -- and possibly frustration -- as you chase it around. A reaction ball has six rounded sides and when it hits the ground it flies off in a random direction. Have someone drop the ball a few feet in front of you and try to catch it before it hits the ground again.

Read More: How To Increase Your Hand Reflexes

The unpredictability of the ball, which you can get at most major sporting goods stores, makes it a useful reflex drill. You'll have to move your feet fast to catch up to the ball, which will help your footwork in boxing.

Mirror Drill

Find a partner for this drill and get in your boxing stance. You'll need a space at least as big as a boxing ring, clear of any obstructions. Stand in the center of this space and designate someone to lead and someone to chase.

The leader will move side-to-side in their boxing stance, randomly switching directions. The chaser has to try to keep the leader in front of them at all times.

Be careful not to cross your feet when you move side-to-side, as that's a technical flaw in boxing. This drill is a practical reflex drill because it will get you used to moving with an unpredictable opponent.

Coin Drop

Get into your boxing stance an arm's length away from your opponent. Have them hold a coin at chest-height. When they drop the coin, try to snatch it with one of your hands before it hits the ground.

This drill simulates throwing either a jab or a cross. It also helps you develop speed in your punches because you have to be fast. Hopefully the person holding the coin doesn't telegraph when they drop it so that it will be unpredictable.

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