Written by Alistair Knight | 07 July 2020
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This is the ultimate guide to the boxing reflex ball.
In this guide, you’re going to find out everything you need to know about this piece of training equipment.
As an amateur boxer with hundreds of hours of experience using the boxing ball, I’m going to answer the following questions for you (jump to your area of interest):
If you’re in a hurry, check out the best boxing ball on Amazon here.
With this in mind, it’s time for me to cover the key points about the boxing fight ball so your burning questions are answered…
Let’s jump into it!
The boxing reflex ball (or reaction ball) works by hitting the tennis/rubber ball over, and over, and over again so that it keeps re-bounding off of your fists like when you hit a squash ball against the wall:
Backhand, forehand, backhand, forehand or in our case: left, right, left, right.
The majority of you probably already knew that if you’ve seen a video of someone do it before, so here’s the thing:
While nothing is more important than actually training the bag, pad, or a sparring partner, a boxing ball will improve your:
The majority of websites online will usually show you a list of 10 or more boxing balls because there are a lot of products which are very similar to one another.
But I’ve used multiple boxing balls over the past three years as an amateur boxer from tennis balls, to foam balls, and now rubber balls. And…
The best I’ve found by far is the new OOTO Upgraded Boxing Reflex Ball which you can buy on Amazon here.
Why is this the best boxing reflex ball?
This is (in my opinion and the opinion of reviewers online) the best boxing reflex ball because of how comfortable and fast it is to use.
Sure, you can get a tennis ball on a string, but a tennis ball isn’t 100% smooth like a round rubber ball is.
This means your knuckles (with lots of use) will start to feel sore, which is why I recommend getting the rubber OTOO ball.
The OTOO ball is also much lighter (and the same price) in comparison to the tennis ball.
Also, if you miss the punch, the ball can hit you in the face.
This boxing ball is safer for this reason and the manufacturers recommend children can use it from the age of five upwards.
You can do some impressive tricks with the boxing ball which will make you look the part.
Here are the best boxing ball drills you can do whether you’re a beginner or more advanced:
Drill 1. The One-Two
The one-two is the primary way to use the boxing ball, which is why you must practice it (A LOT).
The one-two basically means throwing a light jab, pausing until the ball returns, and then throwing another light right hand.
If you throw powerful punches the ball will be harder to hit.
The goal is to be able to repeat the one-two over and over and over again.
I really struggled to get this down in the beginning and so will you because it is hard!
A lot of people actually give up trying to learn how to do it – which is a good thing for you.
Why is it a good thing for people give up what you’re trying to succeed at?
Because if it was easy – everyone would be able to do it.
Try to flip the frustration from a feeling of failure (the ‘I’m not good enough attitude’) to a feeling of progress (the ‘I’m getting good at this right now’).
Also, if you’re a beginner, I recommend mixing between the one-two and the hitting and catching drill which you’ll see now:
Drill 2. Hitting & Catching
The Hitting & Catching drill is a great drill which is also very easy to do.
The movement is initiated by a quick jab (to hit the ball) followed by a right hand (where you catch the ball).
Some of the reasons why this drill is effective are:
Drill 3. Pivots
When you feel more comfortable hitting the ball you can now add in pivots in order to avoid the re-bounded boxing ball from hitting your face.
When you pull off a pivot successfully (whether you’re pivoting a boxing ball or a fist) you will experience a very satisfying, adrenaline-rushed experience.
This is because you have a greater sense of control and you are positioned in a better angle.
When you pivot, make sure to maintain proper technique.
For example, if you’re pivoting to the left:
See: Boxing Footwork, a Complete Guide to find out how to pivot like a champ.
Drill 1. Hook
Hooking the boxing ball is one of the hardest tricks to get right and it takes quite a lot of practice to do.
It is also really satisfying when you pull it off because it requires precision timing in order to hit the tiny ball from the side.
Start off by throwing your usual one-twos’ slowly and then lightly throw your front hook at the boxing ball so the ball spins to the side.
When I first tried this, I usually missed the ball and it would hit me in the face.
The same will likely happen for you too because it is tricky to get.
But as you practice and focus on hooking the ball, it’ll start to become easy to connect and you’ll feel great (and be improving your timing).
Drill 2. Block
The block is a vital way to protect yourself whether that is against a rubber ball or an opponents fist.
It is a relatively advanced trick because once again:
You need to get the timing spot-on for the boxing ball to rebound off of your elbow.
The way to block the boxing ball is to bend your arm and raise it up at the same time so your hands are covering your temple and your forearm is tight to your body.
As you become better at blocking, you will be able to continuously hit the boxing ball right after blocking it.
Drill 3. Slips With Combinations
When I use the boxing ball, I like to slip the ball and then throw a complex combination without trying to hit the ball.
This way, I turn it from a reflex drill (boxing ball) to a technique drill (shadowboxing) meaning I get the best of both worlds.
When you throw the combinations after slipping, the boxing ball will twist around your body like a dog walking around your legs when attached to a leash.
When you’re starting out with the boxing reflex ball, you’ll find it really hard to hit no matter what level of boxing experience you have.
This is because a small and fast ball is harder to hit in comparison to other reaction-based equipment at your boxing gym such as the speed bag or double-end bag. But…
The best (and fastest) way to become good at using the boxing reflex is by practising beginner drills and then advanced drills mentioned in the chapter above.
But here’s the kicker:
“To be excellent you don’t just need to practice, you need practice with 100% deliberate focus.” K. Anders Ericsson
In other words:
Whether you’re hitting the boxing ball, a heavy bag, or a sparring partner, you need to practice with a lot of concentration. Because…
If you watch elite athletes, you’ll know how much focus every champ puts into every part of their training.
This includes their:
It is known as being “in the zone”.
And when you push yourself to be in the zone deliberately – you’ll become a better athlete.
Which means the two rules of hitting a boxing ball well are:
Rule 1: Master the basics with complete focus
Rule 2: The same as rule number 1
The boxing reflex ball can be made completely from scratch or most commonly:
When you buy the boxing reflex ball you will need to assemble it.
I’m going to cover both.
Click on the right question for you:
Making a boxing ball from scratch is very easy.
Video follow along:
Step 1) Mark the centre of your tennis ball from both ends (such as marking the centre of the north and south pole on the globe) using your sharpie.
Step 2) Now make two small holes with a pair of scissors where you have already marked the tennis ball in step 1.
Step 3) Cut your elastic string (to about one and a half of your arm length) so you give yourself enough string to tie both ends.
Step 4) Now poke your skewer through centre of the tennis ball until it comes through the other side.
Step 5) Once the skewer is through, sellotape the string to the end of the skewer and pull the skewer back with the attached string coming back with it.
Step 6) Cut the piece of sellotaped string at the end and then tie two small knots at the end of your elastic string.
Step 7) Trim any remaining string which could get in your way when punching the boxing ball.
Step 8) Lastly, tie it to your hat and get out there and have fun!
The majority of boxing balls you buy out there will always come separated.
The reason for this is because we humans come in different sizes meaning the band length will not work for all people.
So how do you assemble your new boxing ball to fit you?
Video follow along:
Step 1) Measure the string – it should be the length from your shoulder to your wrist.
Step 2) Tie your string to the rubber/tennis ball as well as your hat/headband so the ball, string, and head-piece are all attached.
Step 3) Enjoy!
Note: If it breaks or you find it is too long – simply cut the string to the desired length and re-attach using a good knot.
The best time to be using a boxing reflex ball is any time you can!
Even if you’ve got five minutes at work, whip it out and start practising.
In January of 2019, I had a knee injury and I was told I couldn’t train for six months because of it.
I still wanted to show up at the gym so I brought this boxing ball (and some juggling balls) with me, sat on a chair with my leg up for an hour while I trained.
Everyone mocked me 🙂 – but I felt if I kept going, my coaches would respect me and when I wasn’t injured any more, my discipline of turning up at the gym each day would still be there.
Both of these became a reality and I was back on my feet within five months. But here’s the thing:
I wouldn’t recommend bringing the boxing ball to the boxing gym (unless you’re injured).
Because when you’re in the gym your focus should be on improving your technique, speed, and explosive power.
Sure, you can spend 10 minutes hitting the boxing ball or the speed bag, but…
While these things will improve your hand-eye coordination, actually practising your sports-specific movements will both improve your hand-eye coordination and make you a better fighter.
When I was injured, I spent six months juggling, hitting the boxing ball and then the speed bag as a way to get in extra practice. And do you know what happened?
My boxing skills didn’t improve.
I came back sparring people I used to beat, but this time: my sparring partners would beat me!
So while the boxing ball is useful for improving your timing and hand-eye coordination, it just won’t cut it when it comes to actual training in your gym.
The good thing about the boxing ball is it requires virtually no physical strain as the movement is done by a light tap on the ball (this means you don’t even have to wear boxing gloves).
Want to know the best part?
You can even use the boxing ball on your rest days.
Some people use the tennis ball version of the boxing ball whereas other people use the rubber version.
But which one is actually better to use?
Well, in 2018 I purchased my first boxing ball from Amazon.
It was a soft orange and yellow tennis boxing ball, like the tennis balls you see in young children’s playground:
I found the tennis ball version worked, but it wasn’t very comfortable to hit.
The reason it didn’t feel great is because tennis balls have grooves where the wool/nylon shell is connected.
When you connect with the groove of the tennis ball at a fast pace repetitively, it starts to break the skin of your knuckles causing them to go very dry and sore.
I kept on using it because it wasn’t so bad to the point where I had to stop using it.
After lots of use, I decided to get a new boxing ball.
Instead of going for another boxing ball made with a tennis ball, I chose one made from a rubber material which came groove free.
When it arrived, it was already assembled and when I put the headband on and started using it:
It felt much, much better.
My hands would be less sore and it tended to hit me in the face much less than the tennis ball.
For these reasons, I’d recommend getting a rubber boxing ball.
You can find the best one online here.
Short answer: Yes, if they wear protective glasses
While the boxing ball looks innocent and cute for your child, it can also cause harm to them and adults.
The reason why it can be dangerous is because the whole purpose of the boxing ball is to hit it so that it doesn’t hit you in the face.
Now, while this doesn’t hurt, if the ball accidentally catches your kid in the eye as it did for me over a dozen times when using it last year, it can hurt.
Manufactuers say children from “the age of five” can use it but they advise wearing safety glasses just in case.
Fortunately, many boxing balls already come with safety glasses, such as this one.
Even if you’re an adult reading this and you’re thinking about getting one for yourself, I’d recommend wearing safety glasses. This is because it will feel as though a fly has just pelted into your eye:
The boxing ball is a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination, timing, and overall mental performance.
It’s about connecting with a ball repetitively without missing the target or stopping – which is what boxing is all about.
But now, I’d like to turn it over to you:
What do you think about the boxing ball?
What experiences have you had using it?
Or perhaps you are looking forward to getting one?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.
I’ll make sure to respond to all of you and your questions.
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Alistair Knight is an amateur athlete in boxing and the founder of Healthy Principles. He spends most of his time practising and learning more about boxing to ensure you get the best experience-based and evidence-based insights to learn. He also loves to read non-fiction books and has recently started writing book summaries. Learn more about Alistair Knight