Shadow boxing is one of the most underappreciated boxing tools that any practitioner has in their boxing toolkit. For someone who’s just starting this may seem almost a waste of time. After all, how much can punching air really help developing boxing skills? You get in a comfortable position, get your hands up and unleash the blows on a non-existing opponent. True, if you are looking at it from such a simple perspective, it may seem that this indeed is a waste of time. But why do coaches in every boxing gym make their boxers practice shadow boxing? This exercise allows boxers to become better with their footwork, punches, dodging, and reaction as well as simply getting more comfortable with boxing in general. It probably sounds too good to be true but let’s try and break it down so you can see exactly what makes shadow boxing for beginners so great.
Why is Shadow Boxing Great for Becoming a Better Boxer?
Shadow boxing is not so much about the physical practice as it is about mental practice. How can anyone get better at boxing by punching through air? Firstly, we have to mention that visualization has been proven to help sports performance (including getting stronger by simply visualizing performing the exercise) for many years. Shadow boxing is the perfect way to combine boxing movement with visualization. When you are sparring with an actual opponent, you cannot really control the opponent and predict what shots is he going to make or how he/she is going to move. The way your opponent moves will have an influence on what skills you develop during sparring session. If your opponent is someone who throws high volume of punches and is aggressive, that will be a great session for practicing defence. If your opponent is someone that doesn’t throw a lot of shots but rather moves around capitalizing on openings, you can be more tactical and can practice punching technique. So your practice is limited in the sense of, you can only practice what your opponent allows you to.
With shadow boxing, you can practice anything you want to! Think about it, if you wanted to practice a specific type of punch, like an uppercut, after a quick side step and doing it by leaning to a side – how much could you practice this with an opponent? He or she has to get in the right position and you have to position yourself correctly at the same time. Shadow boxing doesn’t have this limitation. You could practice this move over and over and over again by visualizing your opponent in a certain way where this punch is possible.
Are There Any Limits To Visualization In Shadow Boxing?
Actually, shadow boxing has no limitations. The only limitation shadow boxing will have is the limitation of your imagination. You can visualize your opponent doing absolutely anything. You could be fighting even against Floyd Mayweather himself. There is literally no limit to your imagination. So by fighting anyone, you could highly increase your boxing skills. It’s not the same as fighting actual Floyd Mayweather, but that sure won’t stop you getting better at boxing and imagining how you would have to move if you would fight him.
With the right mindset, shadow boxing is such a powerful tool to increase boxing skills. By vividly imagining your opponent that is moving around, punching and defending, your mind is becoming more familiar and experienced with boxing. If you visualize high pace shadow boxing with an opponent that is throwing many punches, you will actually be better with a real boxer that fights similarly. This will allow you to react better and quicker – because you’ve been in those situations many times! Just look at Mike Tyson shadow boxing in this video below. Can you see the intensity at which he practices shadow boxing? You can see in his movement that he pretends is boxing an actual opponent.
By being mentally engaged in shadow boxing, you become better at boxing without getting any damage. This is one of the best aspects about shadow boxing and is especially important when it comes to shadow boxing for beginners. You can practice movement, punching and defending without actually getting any damage. By visualizing vividly, you can go 20 and get better in these 20 rounds without getting any damage these rounds would give you if you were to fight against a real boxer.
Tips for Great Shadow Boxing Practice
Visualization is the key! We hope you could already get this from this article. Shadow boxing without actually visualizing your opponent is not nearly as effective as visualizing an actual opponent. With vivid visualization, you are training muscle memory that will be essential against a real opponent.
Mix up the intensity. High pace and fast shadow boxing will get you familiar and train your mind to perform at a high pace in an intense boxing match. Make sure to mix it up with slow shadow boxing! Slow movements allow you to perfect your technique. Beginners shadow boxing should always start at a slow pace. If your technique is poor at a high pace which is very likely for beginners, shadow boxing should start off slow and work your way up.
You have to practice being in various boxing situations to increase skill. It’s easy to practice only a jab. If you practice only your jab, you will only develop your jab. Mix it up and visualize being in the pocket and you have to defend high and low. Visualize your opponent moves in such a way that you can only throw hooks by going to side or backwards. Visualize that only counter attacks work on your opponent. Mix it up!
Get Inspired. Shadow boxing for beginners is always exciting. Getting inspired is what will allow you to continuously appreciate this skill. Watch boxing greats such as GGG, Tyson or Mayweather. All of these fighters practice shadow boxing differently. Take what you can from the best.
Think about coordination. To develop fluent movement you, you need to practice throwing and defending not only by standing still but also during movement. If you feel uncomfortable throwing uppercuts while moving backwards – practice that.
Record yourself. Feedback is very important with boxing. Recording shadow boxing for beginners will definitely help spot things to that need to be worked on. This will ensure your work actual session is better as you will know what techniques you need to practice by knowing your weak ares. Practicing in the mirror is super important when it comes to shadow boxing for beginners but definitely try recording yourself every now and then so you can watch it back afterwards.
The boxing greats practice shadow boxing and we hope you have gained some appreciation for this skill. It truly does elevate boxing skill if practiced correctly and with the right mindset. Remember, there are no limitations to shadow boxing, only the ones you have in your mind. If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in our article on “5 Tips For Developing A Knockout Punch”.