Answers to Ask Our Coaches Part 1

By USA Boxing | April 03, 2020, 12:16 p.m. (ET)

When we released our “Ask our Coaches” poll, we received over 100 different questions pertaining to a variety of topics from training to strength and conditioning. Over the next few weeks, USA Boxing Head Coach Billy Walsh and National Strength & Conditioning Coach Jose Polanco will be answering the questions that were related to coaching and training, along with providing you where to find additional resources in the Team USA Mobile Coach App!

The Team USA Mobile Coach App is free for all current USA Boxing members, and houses numerous resources from training to nutrition. Click here to learn more about how to download the app.

Below you will find the first set of answers. If your question was not answered this week, be on the lookout in the coming days for the second part of “Ask Our Coaches, Answers.”

In today’s field of contenders, is it wise to learn to box well ambidextrously? Both orthodox and southpaw?

The mission of our Coach Education program is to train universal boxers, so they can fight at any distance, close, middle long; any style, southpaw or orthodox. If we start them when they are young, our kids are like a sponge of knowledge, that’s where we will have our biggest impact. - Billy

Mobile Coach App Resource: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Welcome>Introduction>Universal Boxer

What is a great way to train my son to keep his left hand up? He’s an orthodox fighter and has got standing 8 counts off simple jabs that’s snapped his neck because he won’t keep his left hand up!

First, I would show your son what leaving his hand down looks like. If he is being hit with a jab, you may also want him to move his head more! The mobile coach app has some resources for drills to help with movement. - Billy

Mobile Coach App Resource: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Drills & Lessons>Mechanics of Movement>Roll and Weave

What’s the best way to lose weight and get your stamina better?

A long term, incremental reduction in weight is the best means for reducing weight as opposed to a cutting weight approach. Aggressive weight loss plans that exceed 3% of your fight weight and are not attacked with aggressive refueling and rehydration strategies will be detrimental to performance, ie stamina/endurance.

Stamina increases related to boxing performance; training needs to mimic (or as close as possible) intensities that are performed during competition. - Jose

Best advice to someone going into their first amateur bout?

Keep it simple! Try to focus on what works well for you, keep your hands up, chin down, keep our punches straight and move your head. Don't forget the biggest opponent we have is ourselves. Win that battle first. - Billy

How do we coach boxers who are starting out in the sport fluidity in their basic punches?

After breaking the skill down to help the boxer understand, the best way I find is to get them to walk with their punches, backwards and forward, like how they walk down the street. Our Mobile App has examples of these drills. - Billy

Mobile Coach App Resource: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Drills & Lessons> Mechanics of Movement>Mechanics of Movement & Punching

How do you feel about switching stances during fights?

If your boxer is competent with changing stance, and it is causing problems for their opponent then it is good, but I would not change for the sake of changing. - Billy

My athlete is struggling to cut the weight, she is training hard, but cannot seem to cut the weight below 149.  She is 14 years old and has been an athlete all her life and has been boxing for 4 years.  Do you have any suggestions?

Keep in mind the athlete is still growing at 14 years of age. Do not try to inhibit your athlete’s growth, if she is beginning to grow out of the weight class, promote that growth and take advantage of getting the athlete stronger and physically prepared for the new weight class. - Jose

How can I replace training with a heavy bag without one because of no access to the gym?

This is a good time to practice your skills while shadow boxing, as well as to perfect your technique and footwork. If you have a medicine ball, with someone to hold it, you can punch that, use small weights as you shadow box. Also, you can try punching with resistance bands for help, or use focus mitts and/or a punch shield. - Billy

Mobile Coach App Resources: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Drills & Lessons>Coach Mitts>All Videos

How do you know when a fighter is ready for his first bout? How long should he prep? What skills should be a minimum? Should you worry about wins and losses early on?

This is when you earn your stripes as a coach! You know your boxer, also, I presume your boxer has been sparring, which should give you a good indication if the boxer is ready, condition and technical wise. Remember your main priority is the safety of the boxer. Make sure your boxer is ready physically, technically and most importantly, mentally. You also must make sure they are matched at an appropriate level. Finally, wins and losses are not important, it is the performance they give that counts. - Billy

What’s a good strength & conditioning workout?

One that has the intentions of developing a boxer over an extended period. There are no shortcuts or secrets to developing a boxer from a strength and conditioning aspect. CONSISTENCY IS KEY! What needs to be taken into consideration for a “good S&C workout” is a plan, understanding of the primary movements, knowledge of the energy system demands of the sport, and knowledge of the common injuries of the sport to mitigate soft tissue and non-contact injuries. A S&C session should be planned with the goal of improving the athlete in mind and not a put together last minute to fill in a slot of time. – Jose

Click here for a recent four-week at home program USA Boxing released for a guide. Also, be sure to check out the Mobile Coach App for strength and conditioning examples.

How should fighters warm up before a training session or a fight?

Warming up is an essential part of your performance. In Olympic-style boxing, 80% of the boxers that win the first round, win the bout. We need to have a good warm-up, raising your heart rate to 90%, so that as soon as the bell goes, we can reach our max heart rate. - Billy

Mobile Coach App Resource:

For Training: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Drills & Lessons>School of Boxing>Fully Dynamic Warm-up Example

For Match: Mobile App>USA Boxing>Match Day>For the Coach>Match Day Warm-up

How many times a week should a kid between 11 and 15 run per week and how many miles, if any?

Total quantity of conditioning sessions should be dependent on where you are in your training cycle, as competition approaches, conditioning sessions should be reduced, and boxing should take precedence in your preparation. Also, distances shouldn’t be the main area of focus when putting together your plan, it should be duration. At the end of the day, the goal is to become a better boxer, not a better runner. There are many ways to become a well-conditioned boxer, running isn’t the only means to achieve that goal.

The younger the athlete is, the more important it is to expose them to a variety of movements and sports. A linear approach and sticking to a script of only running x number of miles will inhibit their growth as opposed to allowing them to become proficient in the different movement and conditioning demands of a variety of sports, i.e. soccer, basketball, track, football, etc. - Jose

What’s the number one thing a fighter should be taught from the beginning of his career until the end of his career as an amateur boxer?

There are many answers to this question, but there is an old saying in boxing of “show me your footwork, and I will tell you what quality of a boxer you are.” Footwork and defense. - Billy

Do you think boxers should avoid lifting weights while training?

You can never begin resistance training too early. With proper instruction the earlier the better. The Mobile Coach App is a good source to learn proper progressions for fundamental movements that will make you a better athlete, which in turn will make you a better boxer. The younger you are, and the more exposure you get to different movements will only aid you in your physical/athletic growth.

Even in the middle of camps leading to a competition, resistance training plays a very important role in maintaining strength. I can tell you firsthand that our national teams continue to weight train through competition. - Billy

As a beginning coach, I would like to know how I may improve my knowledge to become a better coach?

Good question! We have a couple of levels of coaching education for you to start from. Also, try and gain as much experience as possible from coaches that have been around for a while. You can also head to our Mobile Coach app for many videos to help you, and find more information on coaching on our website here. - Billy