Shadow boxing is an important foundation of boxing training. It helps you to perfect your movements and be precise without risking injury from contact with a bag or a sparring partner.
It might look like random punches being thrown in the air, but if you are shadow boxing properly then you will be controlling your movements and using your muscles. You can use shadow boxing to improve your footwork and your overall technique.
If you want to have a go at shadow boxing but don’t know where to start, then keep reading. We are going to take you through some important advice on how to really get the most out of your workout and use it to improve your boxing performance.
Planning Your Workout
Before you start your shadow boxing workout, you should make sure that you have a plan of what you want to get out of your workout. You will need to begin with a workout to loosen up your muscles and get your body ready to move without sustaining an injury.
If you have a particular skill that you want to improve make sure you include this in your workout. Break it down into smaller steps so you can work on each individual movement and get it just right.
You should try to balance out movements so that you work various muscle groups and perfect several different kinds of punches.
Shadow boxing is great for working on certain movements, but is also good for practising strategies and tactics that you might want to implement in the ring. Work on your combinations of punches, ducking, dodging and moving around the ring.
When you have included everything that you want to practice in your workout, you should also ensure that you cool down. This allows you to reduce your heart rate down slowly, and carry out slow movements to bring down your body temperature.
You should also stretch your muscles out to prevent the build up of lactic acid. Stretching also keeps your muscles lean and flexible which will improve your overall boxing performance.
Stay Relaxed And Light On Your Feet
You don’t need to punch with the same level of force as you would if you were sparring. Keep your movements light and use your shadow boxing time to work on technique rather than power. Your movements should be precise and fast, but loose.
If you are uptight then you won’t be able to make use of your full range of movement. Staying relaxed also helps you to find a good rhythm and be more precise.
Staying loose and punching with less force also gives you a great opportunity to practice your probing punches and feints. These are movements that are designed to look real to your opponent but never make full contact.
This is to get a reaction out of your opponent, or distract them while you attack in a different place.
Never stop moving and focus on your footwork
When you are in a boxing match, you won’t spend any time standing still. If you aren’t attacking then you are defending, dodging or moving around the ring. This means that you need to have good stamina and you should practice moving lightly and dynamically on your feet.
This conditions your body for fighting and gives you an opportunity to work on your speed and technique.
Practice dodging, bobbing, stepping forward as you punch, retreating, and pivoting. Focus on your footwork- how it feels, what you want to work on – keep up the high energy, then take a rest and do it again as you would in a real match.
When you first start boxing, the footwork element can feel quite uncomfortable. It is very different to how you would move in everyday life and how you use your body in other sports.
Film Yourself Rather Than Looking In The Mirror
A lot of people are tempted to shadow box in front of a mirror for their whole session. There are some benefits to working out in front of a mirror as it allows you to check your form.
However, shadow boxing should prepare you for being in the ring and you don’t get to look at yourself during an actual fight. You need to learn how to reset and check your form without being able to see your reflection.
A good way to do this is to film your shadow boxing sessions. Watch it back and look at the shape of your body. If you notice any errors or mistakes then have another go and film it again.
Once you have found the right form, take notice of how your body feels in this position so you can recreate it without having to look at yourself.
Remember to look at the positioning of your feet, the angles of your body, your head movements, and your defensive stance. These are all things that you can practice and improve with shadow boxing.
How Long Should You Shadow Box For?
The length of your shadow boxing workout depends a lot on what other training you are doing and what you need to get out of the session.
You don’t want to overwork your body and risk sustaining an injury or muscle strain or sprain, but you want to work hard enough that you see an improvement in your fitness and your technique.
It is best to shadow box in blocks of around 15 minutes with a rest period in between. This recreates the rounds of a boxing match, but in longer stretches because you won’t be exerting as much energy as you would in a real match.
Remember that you can shadow box anywhere, all you need is a bit of space, so you can squeeze it in whenever you have time.
If you are waiting for the heavy bag at the gym to become available, or you want to do some cardio in between sets of weight training, then do 15 minutes of shadow boxing.
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