What Is a Speed Bag In Boxing?
A speed bag is a small punching bag that has been used by fighters for centuries to improve stamina and hand-eye coordination. You can find speed bags in gyms across the world in various shapes, sizes, materials, and hanging orientations.
Learn how you can expand on your boxing technique by incorporating a speed bag into your routine.
What Skills Do You Gain From Using a Speed Bag?
There are several skills you’ll pick up by using a speed bag. Here are six (6):
1. Hand-Eye Coordination
One of the biggest gains you will begin to see after using the speed bag is an improvement in your hand-eye coordination. In order to keep the speed bag constantly in motion, you must develop a rhythm while simultaneously striking the bag accurately and within the same area in order to not cause the bag to spin or go off-kilter.
2. Increased Punching Speed
Like its name implies, the speed bag technique requires constant motion. While you can start at a moderate pace, one of your main goals should be to build speed as you practice. You may notice your punching speed increase when shadowboxing as well as on the heavy bag (Why Shadowboxing Should Be Your Go-To Workout).
You can even track your punching speed with FightCamp’s Punch Trackers. Learn your true punching speed when these small trackers are inserted in your quick wraps. Log your progress and compete with yourself to gain punching speed.
Speed bags are much smaller and move more quickly than a heavy bag which makes them key for improving your punching speed and accuracy. Hitting the speed bag in the same place nearly every time will cause the bag to rock back and forth in a stable motion, allowing you to strike the bag for longer periods of time.
4. Shoulder & Arm Strength
Depending on the height you set your bag, you work different muscles. Keeping your bag height at eye level will feel more comfortable, but raising the bag above shoulder height will have you really feel the burn in your shoulders, adding to your shoulder and arm strength over time.
5. Improved Stamina
You have to be constantly moving to keep the bag in motion, while also keeping your hands high. When you first get started you’ll feel your muscles working in a different way. With practice and routine, you’ll be able to keep up with the bag longer and this skill will translate to other boxing aspects like the heavy bag.
6. Mental Focus
The repetitive motion of speed bag work can help you focus on the task at hand. You can find yourself in a groove once you get the hang of it. Pop your headphones in and find your speed bag rhythm.
What Height Should You Set Your Speed Bag To?
Depending on what you are working on, setting your bag to different heights can be a welcome challenge. When you are starting out, you should adjust your speed bag to face level.
If you want to get some extra burn in your shoulder muscles (traps and deltoids), raise your speed bag an inch or two higher and challenge yourself on a whole new level. This technique can also help a boxer who has a habit of dropping their hands when they start to get tired when sparring. With the extra shoulder strength from training with a higher bag, you’ll find it easier to keep your gloves at the proper height when training for long periods of time.
Do You Need To Wear Gloves When Using a Speed Bag?
You only need to wear hand wraps or speed bag gloves when using a speed bag. Hand wraps are light, cloth, pieces of fabric you can slip on or wrap around your hand to protect your knuckles, hands and wrists (How To Use Hand Wraps). Speed bag gloves are typically a light, unpadded, leather glove you can wear over hand wraps for extra protection.
You can opt to wear full gloves but you may find it more difficult to strike the speed bag successfully because of a speed bag’s small size compared to standard-sized boxing gloves.
How To Hit a Speed Bag
Most commonly a speed bag is top-mounted on a swivel and you strike the bag with your hands in a circular rolling motion. You can switch up how you alternate your punches from left to right. When striking a speed bag for the first time it is easier to double your punches on each hand.
Striking Pattern: Left, Left, Right, Right
Start with a simple double punching pattern. As your skills advance you might want to move on to the faster paced and typically more difficult single punch technique below.
Striking Pattern: Left, Right, Left, Right
A speed bag allows you to experiment with what is comfortable (and sometimes uncomfortable!) as your skill level grows.
Where To Use a Speed Bag
A proper speed bag setup can be a challenge to find. Here are some places to find a speed bag near you:
Find One At The Gym
It’s possible you can find a gym or boxing facility that has a speed bag set up. If you do, ask how their equipment is maintained, how to find a pump, and how to safely adjust the platform.
With COVID restrictions, this might be a little harder to do these days. Check out ways to get some speed bag practice at home.
Mount a Speed Bag At Home
At-home gyms are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity in today’s times. If you want to get some speed bag practice but can’t get to a local boxing gym, here are some options for getting a speed bag in your home.
Fully Mounted Speed Bag
A fully mounted speed bag is the ideal set up for anyone who is looking to have the professional feel of a speed bag. This setup is accomplished by mounting an adjustable platform that is made from metal or a mix of metal and wood into the stud of your home gym area. You will have more versatility choosing the bag you would like to use, and your setup will be the most stable compared to other at-home options.
Over-The-Door Speed Bag
Over-the-door speed bags can work well for people who have the space and a solid construction door. They are very easy to put up, and you can take them down in a matter of minutes. While you can find these types of speed bags at a bargain, they are only as sturdy as the door you mount them on and will be somewhat noisy when in use.
Double or Quad Tension Doorway Speed Bag
This type of striking bag isn’t the traditional speed bag but it can still work for someone who is looking to add a lighter and faster bag to their home gym. These bags can be set up with mounts on your floor and ceiling, or in a doorway. The benefits of these types of bags are that they are normally pretty inexpensive and they can be used for both punching and kicking.
Maintaining a Speed Bag
Speed bags are filled with air to keep them light and fast. You should get in the habit of checking the tightness of the bag before you get started. More often than not, you will want to pump up the bag a little to make sure it will bounce quickly off the platform.
To clean your speed bag, a mixture of 50/50 water and vinegar will sanitize and clean the outside of your bag from dust or dirt. The frequency that you clean your bag can be determined by its appearance and how often you use it, or how often multiple people use your bag.
Speeding Past The Competition
The speed bag is an integral aspect of boxing training. It will help you improve in many areas of striking from accuracy to stamina – plus it just looks cool when you do it!
Don’t let not having a boxing gym membership hold you back from adding speed bag training to your routine, there are many at-home options and trainers waiting to show you the ropes.
The Author: Tommy Duquette is the Co-Founder and Head of Content at FightCamp. He is a former US Boxing Team member with 136 fights under his belt and qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials as the #2 seed. He has 18 years of experience training clients in boxing and fitness.