How to Hold Focus Mitts & Pads: Top Tips

There’s no denying that focus mitts are an essential part of any fighters training regime. 

The only issue is, they require someone else to hold them.

Not only that, the person holding the mitts needs to have a good knowledge of different combinations and where they should be holding the mitts for each combo.

A good focus mitt session is only as good as the person holding the mitts, and with that in mind, we’ve put together this guide o how to hold focus mitts.

We’re going to cover some tips you can implement into your training, go over some useful combinations and share some valuable resources as well.

Let’s get to it.

Benefits of Focus Mitts

Before we get into our top tips, let’s first analyse the benefits that using focus mitts has to offer.

Work on Distance & Timing

Focus mitt work allows the person training to work on their distance and timing, which can’t really be done on equipment such as a heavy bag.

By using focus mitts, you’re much able to somewhat simulate a fight scenario, where the person training must move around, gage the distance and react to the pad mans commands.

Train Both Offensive & Defensive Technique

One of the main benefits of focus mitt’s is how they allow the fighter to train both their offensive and defensive game. They can practice throwing a combination, slipping a counter and returning with another combination.

This can’t really be done with any other equipment, especially to this sort of level.

Practice Movement

Focus mitt work allows the person training to practice working different angles, get comfortable coming in and out of range and develop their footwork. 

With the exception of sparring, very few other training exercises provide such a well rounded practice, especially where movement is concerned.

Simulate a Fight, Round by Round

If a fighter is training for an upcoming fight, focus mitts can be a great way to keep their senses sharp, without having to spar. 

You can even set the timer to however many rounds their upcoming fight is, and work the pads for that amount of time. This way, they'll be able to develop their endurance so that they can maintain a certain level of output throughout their fight.

How to Hold Focus Mitts: Top Tips

Right, let's dive into some of our top tips for holding focus mitts.

Also, if you haven't already got yourself a decent pair, head over and check out our guide on the best focus mitts for some fantastic options.

Tip 1: Positioning

First things first, is for the pad man (or women) to have their positioning correct - both in terms of how they're stood and where they're holding the mitts. 

I've seen a lot of people in the gym holding the mitts way too far out to the side. As a general rule of thumb, keep your elbows close to your body. If you're holding the mitts out like chicken wings, bring them elbows in much, much closer. 

Tip 2: Arm & Wrist Tension

When you're holding the mitts for the person training, make sure to keep your arm and wrist somewhat tensed. You don't want your wrist to be snapping back every time the person hits the mitt. Keep your wrists and elbows firm throughout the exercise.

Tip 3: Hand Movement

In terms of hand movement, it's important to find the right balance. You don't want to keep your hands raised and still the whole time, nor do you want to be overly swinging the mitts towards the persons glove.

Lightly bring the mitt towards the persons gloves - don’t extend too far though, as you want the person training to practice finding the correct distance and find the pad themselves (move the pad around an inch or two).

Similarly, don't keep your hands raised the entire time like a tree. Instead, drop your hands to your waist in between each combination. This way, the person training has to react to your movement.

Tip 4: Remind Them to Keep Their Hands Raised

The whole point of pad work is to help keep the fighter sharp, fast and maintaining their technique. As such, it's your duty as the pad man to prevent them from picking up any bad habits and keep their technique in shape.

For example, if the person training is dropping their hands, make sure you let them know. Throw a cheeky jab to their head (lightly), just to let them know if this was a real opponent, they'd have been hit.

Tip 5: Don't Always Call Out the Combinations

You can also do something that's known as target practice. This is where you don't call out the combinations, just put the mitts up and let the fighter react to what they see.

This can help to get them used to throwing strikes and combinations out of instinct, as opposed to being told what to do. I would do this alongside regular pad work, maybe for the last round, once they've found their rhythm and have an idea what sort of combinations are going to be coming.

Tip 6: Remember to Move Around

If you've got space, use it.

A real fight isn't going to consist of two fighters planting their feet and banging it out (well it's unlikely). Remember to circle around the person training, so that they have to follow you in order to stay in front and land their combinations.

What's more, this movement will allow them to practice working different angles, and using their footwork to stay in range.

Tip 7: Increase Speed

As your training partner is starting to land the combinations comfortably, start to pick up the pace.

This in turn will help to improve their hand speed as well as their endurance.

Tip 8: Throw Your Own Strikes

In an actual boxing match, or any combat sports match for that matter, the person opposite you is going to be fighting back.

With that in mind, you as the pad holder should throw some of your own strikes into the mix, forcing the person training to slip or roll out of the way. 

You can work these nice into the combinations, for example jab, cross, hook, slip, jab, cross, hook.

Example Combinations

If you're finding it hard to know which combination to call out, the below video is a fantastic example. 

I absolutely love this video from precision boxing, as it literally shows you how to hold the pads for different combinations. 

It also starts off nice and simple, then starts to incorporate some more advanced combinations as the video progresses.

Check it out below.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read our guide on how to hold focus mitts.

If you've got any questions, or even any of your own tips, leave a comment down below.


James Davis

A fervent mixed martial artist and avid MMA fan, James combines his experience and scientific knowledge to provide you with a unique perspective on the most popular MMA products on the market. He joins the ranks of other MMA enthusiasts in creating this website to guide and educate the next generation of mixed martial artists.

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