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Psychology Behind Shadow Boxing Exercises

Psychology Behind Shadow Boxing Exercises

Shadow boxing exercises are an indispensable part of a boxer's training regime. In this article, we will try to understand the psychology behind shadow boxing exercises along with the benefits of the same.
SportsAspire Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Boxing is a competitive contact sport in which the participants should not only be in great physical shape but should also have a great presence of mind. No wonder boxers have to train so hard. The training regime includes intense workouts where boxers have to work on their general fitness along with boxing-specific movements. The shadow boxing exercises are an integral part of a boxing workout. Unlike a sparring session wherein a boxer attacks or defends against an actual opponent, shadow boxing is a sparring session without an opponent. It is a kind of workout where the boxer tries to simulate a fight. The boxer attacks and defends against an imaginary opponent. The purpose of this technique is to mentally prepare boxers for events where they have to fight very aggressive boxers by the likes of Muhammad Ali. Other boxers who used this boxing technique include Mike Tyson and the late Joe Frazier. Every aspiring boxer knows how helpful this technique is when it comes to overpowering one's opponent in the boxing ring. The use of shadow boxing technique is not just restricted to boxing, it has been incorporated in various styles of martial arts. The famous Hong Kong actor Bruce Lee was also seen practicing shadow boxing in his films. He incorporated this technique in Jeet Kune Do, a form of martial arts that he founded. If you wish to understand the importance of shadow boxing exercises in boxing training, you can go through this write-up on the psychology behind the technique of shadow boxing.

How Does Shadow Boxing Help

The psychology behind shadow boxing exercises is to visualize defeating your opponent. Boxing is a sport wherein the boxer needs to be highly motivated. This is a combat sport where one must be physically fit and mentally alert. Training helps the boxers condition themselves, mentally as well as physically. Boxers not only need to have control on their body, they also need to work on their state of mind. A negative self-image can ruin their chances of winning which is why they must have control over their emotions. Under no circumstances should the boxer feel intimidated or appear to be intimidated by the opponent. Imagery is an integral part of boxing training. Boxers must incorporate the method of visualization during the workout session. Shadow boxing as well as punch bag boxing are great methods that can help a boxer improve his/her concentration. It also helps him/her get into a fighting rhythm.

Throwing punches or practicing a sequence of movements repeatedly while maintaining the fighting stance can help the fighter perfect his moves. This definitely improves one's punching speed and is also a great warm-up session for intense boxing-specific workouts. Being a competitive sport, boxers need to create opportunities and land punches that can overpower the opponent. Not only should the boxer have the ability to focus and observe his opponent's body language, he/she should also be able to make the right decisions at the right time. This can come from practice. The imagery or guided visualization during shadow boxing helps the boxer rehearse his strategic moves. To be able to win, one must first think like a winner. Visualizing yourself in the ring and defeating your opponent during these sessions is definitely the best form of motivation.

Shadow Boxing Techniques

To practice shadow boxing exercises, the fighter needs to face a light-colored wall. There is a light source behind the boxer that projects his/her shadow on the wall. The boxer then practices his/her moves and footwork by treating the shadow as his/her opponent or sparring partner. There are two methods that boxers use in the shadow boxing sessions. These are referred to as the short method and the long method. In the long method of shadow boxing, boxers practice straight punches or jabs as they shuffle their feet back and forth. On the other hand, boxers move their body from left to right while practicing short punches or close body shots while practicing the short method. There are a variety of punching techniques that boxers usually use. These include left jab, left straight, right straight, left hook, right hook, uppercut, liver shot, and other shots to the body. Combination drills where you practice a specific combination of some of these punches in a rhythm can certainly help in honing one's boxing skills. Here are some of the common combinations one could try:
  • Left Straight, Right Straight: Here you visualize throwing a punch to the left side of your opponent's head, followed by another punch to the right side.
  • Left Hook, Right Hook, Left Hook: For the Left Hook, bring your left hand near your chin and bend your hand at an angle of 90 degrees while punching your opponent's face with your fist. Follow the same action with the right hand and repeat the action with your left hand again.
One can also graduate from the simple shadow boxing exercises to an intense form of workout. Take for instance, the 10x10 shadow boxing circuit wherein boxers can practice a 10-punch combination ten times within a minute. Besides developing speed and accuracy, one also needs to develop punching power. Once one has perfected these moves, one can attempt them while fighting one's sparring partner.

Shadow boxing is definitely a great technique that prepares a boxer for a fight, mentally as well as physically. A boxer can work on his opponent's weaknesses and try to improve his concentration, speed and punch power. Shadow boxing as a technique can help boxers mentally condition themselves for defeating their opponent.