How and why should you train with focus pads?

Focus pads are the best way of replicating a fight without actually fighting. They train the precision, speed and power of your punches while also toning your muscles and boosting your cardio.

How and why should you train with focus pads?

If you have a partner who's willing to help, focus pads are a great way of honing your punching technique. We'll show you the difference between focus pads and other types of target, as well as the benefits for your technique, physical fitness and even your sense of well-being. We've got tips for both partners on how to train with them, as well as a video with a few ideas for combinations to try.


What are focus pads?

Focus pads are one of the kinds of target you can use to train your punching technique. They fit onto your partner's hands, giving you a relatively small target area. Because they are smaller and lighter, they give you much more mobility compared with Thai pads and shields.


Focus pads are therefore best for punching. Some people also throw in combos with their elbows, but this means being really well synchronised with your partner, being at ease with all of the techniques and combos, and judging distance really well. If you're a beginner, just stick to punching for now.


Some people will also use their knees and even include kicks, but this requires excellent technical skills, good coordination and a seasoned partner. Thai pads or a shield are a considerably better choice for incorporating your legs.

Video: ideas for focus pad combos.

L'entrainement aux pattes d'ours

What are the benefits of training with focus pads?

Improve your technique and simulate fight conditions.


Focus pads are first and foremost a tool for honing your punching technique. You and your partner can replicate the conditions of a fight without actually fighting. As the targets are very mobile, they not only improve your punches but also help you better judge your distance from your partner and give you a chance to practise dodging and footwork. Like you, your partner can move around, get you to do punch combos, and simulate punches. This kind of dynamism is exactly what you need, because you'd never stand still in a real fight!


When it comes to honing your technique, focus pads train your speed, precision and power.


Speed is essential, otherwise your opponent will see your punches coming and dodge them easily. With focus pads, you train not only the speed of your punches but the speed of your reactions too as your partner constantly changes the position of their arms. This lets you string together sets of different punches: jabs, hooks and uppercuts. By repeating your combos, you'll also improve the speed at which you can do them.


Speed is all well and good, but without precision it's a waste of energy and won't do you much good during a fight. When you punch, it needs to land. Numerous focus pads, including the OUTSHOCK ones, have a dot in the middle to help you develop your hand-eye coordination.


Once you've got to grips with speed and precision, you can start to incorporate the final element: power. Again, if you throw powerful punches that are slow and inaccurate, you'll tire yourself out for no reason and leave yourself open to your opponent's punches. In a fight, you have to manage your energy reserves because they aren't unlimited. Power comes naturally once you feel at ease with your combos.


Being with a partner also helps you stay alert because you're simulating fight conditions with them and they're always asking something of you. This trains both mind and body. It's also more fun to train with a partner, particularly as it means your combos can vary infinitely, which gives you more motivation.


Improve your fitness and feel great!


Boxing in general is a physical activity that calls for good cardio fitness. Focus pad training quickly ramps this up. As you string together your combos, your heart rate soon increases. So you need to learn to pace your workout and control your breathing in order not to drain your energy reserves too quickly. It's also a kind of interval training, in other words, doing a physical activity and then taking the time to recover before doing the activity again, and so on. Alternating between activity and recovery is a good way of improving your endurance and ability to recover after a workout.


As well as training your cardio, repeated punching is also very good for toning your muscles. As you use your muscles, they need more oxygen, and this raises your heart and breathing rates. Moving around means that all of your muscles get toned, from your shoulders to your arms, chest, abs, back, glutes, thighs, and calves!


Last but not least, training with focus pads is a good way of letting off steam after a hard day. Because it rapidly gets your body working, it's an easy way of releasing endorphins, the happiness hormone. Focus pads are therefore beneficial for both mind and body!

How and why should you train with focus pads?

How do you train with focus pads?

First thing's first: to make the most of your focus pads, you need good communication with your partner. Because it's something you have to do in pairs, you need to listen, watch, and ask them to repeat the instructions if they aren't clear enough.


Safety first!


Focus pad training is intense and quickly boosts your heart rate. So you need to be confident in your physical abilities and have your doctor's approval for doing it. Start out gradually if you aren't in the habit, to improve your endurance during each session. Be sure to manage your breathing and effort by exhaling as you throw your punch. Take a break between each set of combinations to recover properly and be sure to have water or a sports drink handy to keep hydrated.


It's also important for both partners to warm up beforehand and stretch before and after. At the start of the exercise, take things slowly and gently as you do your footwork, punches and dodges so that you gradually increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles, tendons and joints. To protect your hands and wrists when you punch, always wear boxing gloves or mitts.


The person holding the focus pads needs to provide the right resistance, with their elbows bent, so that they don't get hit. When your partner throws a punch, try not to hold the pads near your face as you could get accidentally punched. Likewise, don't hold your arms too far apart as you need to protect your shoulders. When you simulate throwing a punch, try to simply touch your partner, without putting any power behind it. And obviously, only start the exercise when both partners are ready.


For the person punching.


Start slowly to make sure you're comfortable with your combos. Next, work on your speed and precision before adding power. Repeat the same combos several times so that they become natural. Then move on to another set of combos so you don't get bored. Repetition is a must for developing muscle memory and enriching the number of tricks up your sleeve. Try to control your breathing as you exercise and stay alert, incorporating punches, dodges and footwork just like in the video.


For the person holding the pads.


As we've already said, you need to provide the right resistance, both for safety and so that your partner can train their technique and combos properly. You need to let your partner land their punches with impact by going to meet them at the point of contact, but without cutting off their momentum. It's therefore vital that you find the right distance for your partner based on the combo you're working on. For example, the right distance for a jab is typically longer than for a hook or uppercut.


Also think about your footwork and varying the combos by simulating counter-punches. This will help your partner work on their dodging, footwork and counters, because you can also punch when moving backwards or pivoting on the spot. This is the best way of replicating fight conditions for your partner as closely as possible.

Have fun with your focus pads!
Finding a partner you trust is important, but once you've found them, you'll give each other a boost with fun, motivating workouts!