Written by Alistair Knight | 09 November 2019
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This is the best article on how to hit a speed bag.
When I first started boxing in 2017, I would always avoid the speed bag because of how embarrassed I felt when I kept missing the bloody thing.
But like anything in your life, the more time and focus you put into something, the better you get.
In this article, you’ll learn:
One important part to remember is that if this is your first time hitting the speed bag, it is going to suck and you’ll feel frustrated (until you won’t).
Hitting a speed bag is very different from hitting the heavy bag.
Standing square-on to the speed bag will give you balance and will prevent you from over-reaching/over-committing.
When you hit the speed bag, you need to be slightly less than an arm’s length away like you can see below in the photo of Lomachenko:
Standing square (not in your fighting stance) will give you a comfortable base for you to practice and get better over time.
Summary: Standing square-on to the speed bag will give you control over the speed of the bag as well as provide a stable, steady, and comfortable stand to begin practising.
When the speed bag is at your eye level, it is much easier to hit because it’s not as awkward for your arms to get in the right position.
This will help you keep control of the bag (especially when starting out).
But what should you do if the speed bag is too high or too low?
What to do if your speed bag is too high
You might be able to relate to me, but at my boxing gym, the speed bag is set up for somebody who is 6ft 3!
This makes it really hard to have a speed bag workout because I’m 5ft 9.
So what should you do if the speed bag is much higher than you?
Stand on a step or a stable platform because this will instantly put you at the right height, therefore making you feel more relaxed and at ease to practice.
Otherwise, if your goal is to keep your hands up, then get rid of the step because you’ll want to fatigue or tire the muscles in your upper body which will make you stronger and help keep your hands up consistently.
What to do if your speed bag is too low
If your speed bag is too low for you, the only advice I can give you is what you already know:
Summary: Making sure that your speed bag is at eye level is important because it is the most comfortable position to practice in. However, if the speed bag is too high, stand on a stool.
Alternatively, if your speed bag is positioned too low, you can either crouch down lower, ask your coach to adjust the platform, or buy a brand new one.
When I asked my boxing coach how to hit the speed bag, he said:
“Remember to open your hands like you’re about to high-five somebody, and look at the speed bag’s swivel.
Start by gently high five the bag so you can hear it bounce off the platform three times.”
He then demonstrated the motion and said:
“See, just tap it lightly like your high-fiving down to somebody and hear it quietly go ‘boom, boom boom. Boom, boom boom. Boom, boom, boom.
Just take it very slowly, you will eventually get used to the rhythm in one hand and then you can start adding in your other hand”.
Opening up your hands will give you more control because your fingers are much bigger than your knuckles.
Summary: When you are hitting the speed bag, hit it like you are high-fiving down to somebody who is smaller than you and don’t hit the bag again until you hear those three bounces off the platform.
That way, you will be able to stay in control and find your rhythm.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Hitting a speed bag like a pro takes a lot of time and deliberate practice (focused practice).
You will naturally feel frustrated when learning how to hit the speed bag, but with the tips I have provided above, you will be sure to succeed in time.
What do all professional martial arts fighters and boxers understand?
They know that in order to get good at something, they’re going to need to make a lot of mistakes.
Learning from failures are what shape and sharpen a fighter’s skills, and even though the pros can make it look easy, they too had to suck in the beginning.
Two things you NEED to know:
In order for you to hit a speed bag like a pro, you need to do this one thing every time you train at your MMA or boxing gym:
Spend at least 10 minutes (as a warm up or cool down) hitting the speed bag.
It’s a super simple rule but it can be overlooked by a lot of other fighters because as humans: when you aren’t that good at something, you generally try to avoid doing it.
Just like training your abs for 10 minutes can work wonders for your physique, so too can hitting the speed bag.
Putting in 10 minutes of practice every day can make a huge difference in your ability to hit the speed bag.
The more speed bag workouts you do the better and better you’ll become.
As you get better you can even start bouncing around like Manny Pacquiao in the video below:
This will improve your footwork because you’ll be using your arms and your legs at the same time.
If you haven’t got a coach who can watch you and help you improve, it can be difficult to know what you may be doing wrong, which means that your progress could be very static.
The solution is to set up your phone on something sturdy and film yourself.
When you come to watch the video, you can look at it in a critical way by asking yourself questions like:
Answering these questions critically and researching the answers on Google like you are doing right now, is a great way to improve because you’ll be able to find out what you’re doing wrong, and how you can get better.
If you film yourself consistently, not only will you be able to look out for your mistakes but you’ll also be able to track your progress.
This is helpful because looking at what you are like at the beginning compared to where you are now is a very motivating thing as you continue to improve.
Summary: You can hit a speed bag like a pro, but as you know: hitting one like a pro will take a lot of mental discipline, hard work, and deliberate practice.
During your normal workout routine, spend 10 minutes practising, and watch the mistakes you may have made, taking notes of what could’ve wrong. This will make a huge difference to improving your speed bag technique like it did for Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali would always spend 9 minutes every day on the speed bag
Hitting the speed bag not only looks cool but also has a lot of great benefits that you can discover below. They’re not in order of importance.
Although there are many different fighting styles, if you prefer to keep your hands up, then hitting the speed bag will work wonders for you because you’ll be able to get into the habit of keeping them up.
Because if your speed bag is set at eye-level to you or higher, you’ll be forced to keep your hands up which will strengthen your shoulders and upper body muscles.
This will make it much more comfortable for you to stay in that position when it comes to the other areas of your training.
Have you ever been injured before? Ever wondered what the best exercises are when training on your light days?
The speed bag is your best friend in terms of a low impact exercise for improving your:
Whether you’re a beginner or competing, you’ll NEVER be able to train hard every day of the week because your body needs time to recover.
Rest days and light training days (technical training sessions) are fundamental for your fighting performance.
On your light training days, hitting the speed bag is a great thing to do because there is less impact on your joints as you’re hitting a light bag of air, and it will contribute to active cardio and more calories burnt.
Your hands may feel a bit red and sore after the session however, so I’d recommend that you wear hand wraps to protect your hands.
Summary: Whether you’ve got a minor lower-body injury or you’ve got a technique session, using the speed bag is a great low impact way to train, practice, and improve as a fighter.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re hitting the speed bag, punching-bag, or your opponent; what matters is the focused practice you do consistently.
You won’t be sparring your opponent every day, but you can absolutely include speed bag training on every workout day.
With that in mind, when you consistently hit the speed bag, you’ll trigger a pattern of electrical signals through your neurons.
Over time, these electrical signals trigger the myelination of axons by your glial cell duo.
What this basically means is that when you practice your skill (such as hitting the speed bag), if you’re consistent with it, the strength of the signal (mind-body connection) grows.
This means you can become better at improving that skill as well as become a fast learner on other areas of your training such as your mitt work.
How is this possible?
Here’s an example: imagine you were a baby again, and you were learning how to walk.
At first, you would stand up and then fall back down. Again and again, you’d continue to try and fail until you could finally begin to walk a few steps.
As you continue to practice, you’d produce more myelin which ultimately builds up the mind-body connection.
After many months of practice, you’d naturally get better at walking until it becomes subconscious for you, where you wouldn’t need to think about how to do it.
This is very similar to how you can get better at hitting the speed bag. As you focus on hitting the bag with the correct technique, and put more and more time into it, you will naturally begin to make fewer mistakes and progress.
As a speed bag can be set up anywhere, you won’t miss out on being able to train and it could also save you from having to pay for a gym membership.
Summary: Through consistent deliberate practice (focused, purposeful practice), science has shown that when practising something (such as hitting the speed bag), you’re able to improve not only within that skill, but also be a rapid learner across other areas of your martial arts/boxing training, only if you don’t lose consistency or focus.
Learning how to hit the speed bag fast will vary depending on how often and how focused you train.
Getting the speed bag technique took me about 2 weeks, training 6 days per week at 10 minutes per training session.
After getting the right rhythm, it then took me a further 6 weeks of training to become faster, although I wasn’t perfect and you won’t be too in the beginning.
It’s going to suck in the beginning, but if you hit the bag slowly with the face of your hand, you’ll find that you too will become faster and more comfortable like learning how to do your shoelace.
As it won’t be the most enjoyable thing to do in the beginning, you can ON OCCASSION practice your jabs and left hooks, but focusing on getting the rhythm is the most important thing to do if you’re a beginner.
Freddie Roach GIF
If you train 6 days per week, for 10 minutes at a time like myself, you’ll be able to get the rhythm after a few weeks, to then be able to hit the speed bag quickly (but not perfectly) after 6 weeks.
Think about how good you’ll be, not how stupid you look when hitting the speed bag the next time around.
I know that what I discussed above may seem like a slow and boring way to improve your speed bag skills… But it’s the best way to learn!
The advice above is what has helped me learn how to hit the speed bag like a pro, and that’s what I want to help you do too.
The beautiful part is this: After reading the guide, you haven’t missed out on getting the top tips you need before your opponent got to them.
So make sure that you go away and take note on these points because it’ll make you a better fighter.
I want you to win and beat your competition.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced fighter, I believe you can do it and I believe anyone can use the speed bag.
What do you think about the speed bag tips above? Have you learnt anything new that you can bring to the bag the next time you train? Leave a comment below now!
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