Hitting pads is one of the foundations of learning Muay Thai. But unfortunately, some people don’t use the pads effectively. It is important to use the pads correctly in order to gain the most benefit from this aspect of training, and casually punching the pads without proper technique will not help you to improve your skills in Muay Thai.
In this article, we will walk you through the complete benefits of pad exercises in Muay Thai and tips on how to do them effectively.
Benefits of Pad Work in Muay Thai
1. Improve your stamina
Training with pads can be very strenuous and can simulate the intensity of an actual fight. In the Muay Thai pad work session, a trainer may have a fighter perform 3 to 5 rounds of 3-minute pad drills or even extend the session to 8 minutes to improve their cardiovascular endurance and overall performance in the ring.
2. Simulate an actual fight
To prepare for an upcoming fight, trainers may simulate the opponent's fighting style during pad work to help the fighter develop strategies for defense and offense. This helps the fighter become more familiar with their opponent's style and better understand how to approach the fight.
3. Improve your reflex
Pad training can help you improve your reflexes by reacting to the instructions or actions of your trainer. This process is gradual and improves over time as you practice and train repeatedly. Through consistent training, you will become more reactive and quick in your responses.
4. Conditioning your muscles and shins
Contrary to popular belief, shin conditioning is not done using wooden bats or kicking banana trees, as these objects can cause serious injury, particularly for inexperienced fighters. Instead, pad work and heavy bag training can effectively condition a fighter's muscles and shins without causing unnecessary harm.
How to Do Pad Work Correctly
Anyone can learn how to smash pads and finish up a combo sequence, but it’s the skilled execution and proper striking techniques that distinguish a novice fighter from the experienced one.
Here are 3 things you should be focusing on while doing a pad work session to truly improve your Muay Thai technique.
1. Focus on your footwork
Novice fighters may be too eager to throw strikes as soon as an opportunity arises, leading them to focus heavily on the target during pad work drills.
However, this can cause them to neglect their footwork, leading to poor lateral movement, crossed legs, and unbalanced stances. Poor footwork can weaken the force of their strikes and leave them vulnerable, so it is important for fighters to pay attention to their footwork and maintain a strong base in order to generate power in their strikes.
2. Put attention to your distance control
Beginners may not prioritize control of the distance between themselves and their opponents during mitt work because they are primarily focused on landing their punches and kicks.
However, proper distance control is essential for technical training and generating power, as well as avoiding being hit in return. Therefore, it is important for you to find the optimal range for your punches and kicks, characterized by a "crack" or "thud" in the pads, in order to maximize their effectiveness. Poor distance control may result in bent arms or hyperextended punches that lack force. Proper control and maintaining distance can distinguish technical training from simply hitting the pads for points.
3. Alway keep your hands up
Pad training and drills often involve performing high-volume, chained combinations. These combinations can range from simple 1-2-3 punches to more complex sequences, depending on the trainer.
Repeating these combinations repeatedly can become tiring, especially as the rounds progress, and this can lead to the emergence of poor habits in which beginners may be prone to dropping their hands or turning their backs to the pad holder to catch their breath after each combination.
It is important to maintain a fighting stance and keep your hands up at all times, even during breaks, to build the habit of maintaining a constant guard while facing an opponent.
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