With the growth of social media, the boxing and MMA world has removed all information sharing barriers. Fighters and boxing coaches can all share their tips on how to improve boxing skills. With a range of training tips being shared every day, some boxing practices will come and go. One boxing drill that has stuck around for a few years now is the use of boxing reaction ball. Some call it reflex ball, but it means the same thing. We look at what is special about this hand-eye coordination training tool and how you can use reflex ball to improve your boxing ability.
It has to be mentioned that the first widespread user of reaction ball is the infamous Vasyl Lomachenko. The Ukrainian born boxer, who is a three-weight world champion, is known for his unique boxing drills that seek to develop agility, accuracy and reflexes. Many of his training methods came from his father, Anatoly Lomachenko, who is training Vasyl. And these training methods are not your typical boxing drills but include practices such as tennis, juggling and skating.
One of the most interesting hand-eye coordination training exercises for boxing that Vasyl has worked on is the use of boxing reflex ball. With a string attached to his cap, the boxer has been seen many times spending time punching the tennis ball as a professional. This is one of the exercises which also has been noticed by the boxing world who have quickly caught on to this unique training method.
Why use Reflex Ball?
One of key aspects of boxing is being able to react to opponents movement and do so with precision. The opponent is an ever moving target that you have to keep your eyes on and be able to react instantaneously to and deliver a punch with accuracy. During sparring this can be practiced at will but it comes at a high cost - the boxer in front of you trying to land punches at you. You could certainly spar with others all the time but that will create damage over time and prevent you from taking blows to your head, after you've taken so many.
Boxing reaction ball is an intelligent and focused training method that allow to develop precision, timing and hand-eye coordination. The target being a tennis ball that bounces back and forward, the continuous movement requires an undivided focus from a boxer. After any punch, the reflex ball moves away in some direction, depending on the punch, and returns back in under a second. With practice, this can happen around 2-3 times in a second. With such frequency, the boxer requires great ability to react quickly and precisely deliver the punch on a small target - the reflex ball. This is a great method for training reaction, precision and timing for boxing in a safe method that does not require taking continuous blows.
Reflex Ball Training Tips
To start off, make sure you are in a place that allows you to move a few meters around. This can be your room, as long as you're comfortable to take some steps around you. Some of these tips will depend on the type of reaction ball you have. There are a few different ones out there and we have done a review on best reflex ball types out there.
1. Start with the easiest reaction ball
This will depend if your reaction ball has multiple difficulty levels. This is achieved by having different types of balls which vary in their bounce. If you have one of those reaction ball types that has even 4 types, you're set! Start off with the easiest ball, and slowly build your focus.
2. Practice changes in speed
As you start to get more comfortable with higher difficulty level reflex balls, you should start increasing the speed of punch. The quicker your punch, the faster the ball will bounce away and back. Being able to maintain rhythm and continuous striking will have great affect on your hand-eye coordination. It is certainly not easy to last more than a few seconds of punching the ball. However, if you're able to do so for 30 seconds at a decent pace, you can be certain that you will notice your precision, hand-eye coordination and focus improve overall.
3. Mix in combinations!
At first, throwing a jab and cross in a constant rhythm may be challenging. When thrown with precision, the ball is going to go in a predictable pattern and will be easier to predict the bounce. When you're comfortable with cross and a jab, mix it up! Throw in some uppercuts and hooks with those jabs and crosses. Not only you can practice some combinations this way, it will also force the ball to go in an unpredictable way. See if you can get two jabs, two crosses, a left and right hook with two uppercuts. It may be easy to get those jabs in but stacking combinations, which force new angles, will be a challenge even for the most advanced users of reflex ball!
The boxing ball is amazing for training accuracy but it can be also used to practice slips! After you land two or three shots and the ball is coming straight at you - instead of punching it, try slipping it. After slip, resume throwing punches. This requires not only great eye-hand coordination, but also perfect ability to time the slip only to come back landing another shot with precision. Mixing in combinations with slips will ensure you can continue leveling up for a very long time and can make the most out of your reflex ball!
Reaction Ball Recap
Hopefully, by know you have more information about how to use a boxing reaction ball. Considering that many professionals are adding this boxing exercise in their training, you can be confident that there are many benefits to adding it into your boxing training. Whether it is Lomachenko or Anthony Joshua, many top boxing professionals recognize the value in it and spend time perfecting this drill. If the pros are on it, you know it's not just a fad. So make sure to give it a try! If you're unsure about which one to get, check out our list of most popular reflex balls out there and how they compare!