Focus pads or hand mitt, punch mitts as they can be known in parts of the world are one of, if not the most important part of coaching equipment a boxing coach need to master and a boxer needs to punch. They can be used a fitness training tool and in my younger days were a big part of my boxer’s fitness training repertoire, as you grow older and wiser you realize your shoulders and elbow do not agree with fitness training or full power punching on the pads.
Focus pad are a technique training tool and if the pad holder is good with them, they are the ultimate coaching tool, from teaching boxing basics to beginners to the most advanced skill and movements. Competition boxers needs to be coached on the focus mitts as it is the tool for fine tuning all of his skills, it is a tool where a coach is up close and can see how a boxer is punching and moving and correct the punching technique, body and head movement over many of repetitions of the movements.
You can read about and watch videos on pad work anywhere so what I am going to write about is not how to use them but how they are made and what they are made with. What is good what is not good and how you may protect you elbows and shoulders over the long term.
Boxing hand mitts or pads from a coaches point of view, it is the local boxing coach at the local boxing gym who spends hours upon hours of time taking boxers, young and old holding the pads. Slowly over the years the constant shocks from the punches can cause a lot of damage to his elbow and shoulder ligaments and tendons. Most coaches over 45 years old who may have been holding pads for 20 years, have mild to acute shoulder and elbow injury or damage. Injury that can be repaired with rest or damage that may or may not repair without surgery. Elbow injuries can start much earlier in a coach’s career.
Elbows injuries are the most common injuries, both outer and inner elbow injuries are very common, tennis and golfers elbow as they are more commonly known. In my experience golfers elbow is the most common and are predominately caused by hooks.
Below is the a more technical explanation
Tennis elbow is the generic term for lateral epicondylitis, or inflammation of the common extensor tendon, located on the outside of the forearm. Muscles that extend the fingers and bend the wrist backward come together at this tendon and attach to the humerus bone in the upper arm. Pain is usually felt at the tendon attachment and along the muscles on the back of the forearm. Over time, micro-tears can develop in the tendon causing weakness in the ex-tensor muscles.
Golfer's elbow is the generic term for medial epicondylitis, or inflammation of the common flexor tendon on the inside of the elbow. Muscles that bend the fingers and wrist forward merge at this tendon and attach to the humerus bone. Pain usually occurs at the tendon and along the muscles on the front of the forearm. Micro-tears in the tendon cause weakness in the flexor muscles, affecting a person's ability to grip.
Read more about elbow injuries here
Pads come in many different shapes, sizes, weights and materials, some are better than others, some should not be used at all if you want to protect their elbows and shoulders. There have been some great new innovations in the last 10 years and some new innovations in the pipe line that I am working on at Ringsport. Which I will link when the 2nd prototype is ready. Ringsport back strap focus pad It is finished and tested
Focus pads are mostly made of a combination of sponge and eva foam sandwiched together, to create a pad to absorb power from the punchers gloves, more recently there has been soft gel and hard gels added and even air pockets. The shape of the pad is one of the most important aspects of the pad, all pads were once flat starting back in the late 70s when pads started to become popular and in the 80s became more main stream as far as I can remember, I started boxing in 1980 and my coach had 1 pair of focus pads that were flat inside and out with a small leather strap that wrapped around you wrist, crude but effective at the time. I searched the net and this is the only pair I could find, these are in much better condition my old coach used with me.
Focus mitts or pads have changed a lot since then and improved in many ways, the biggest improvements are
You won’t find all of these improvements in every pad, the back strap and air pocket are brand new and only created in the last few months, and only at Ringsport Boxing Equipment. Many manufactures are still using basic designs and for general fitness classes it may be all that is needed, if you are a personal trainer a pro or amateur boxing coach you would know how important it is to have quality focus mitts to protect your elbows and shoulders at all costs
The curving of the pad makes the pad much more comfortable for the holder and is a big help in preventing golfers elbow. The more curved the hand position inside the pad the better as it helps to shorten and strengthens the position of the tendon and muscle that is related to the inner elbow injury which I believe has a definite impact on how the elbow soreness is acquired, the picture below is of a curved focus pad, it may not look very curved, combined with the palm dome the hand sits in the perfect position for catching punches.
Below is a Ringsport No limits focus pad
The palm dome as I named it, is a large piece of domed high-density EVA foam which fits into the palm of the hand and is what helps your hand to have a much more curved or cupped position, without the hitting surface of the pad being excessively curved. Having the hitting surface too curved can something cause the wrist to roll or twist if hit hard and not completely in the centre.
The layered sheets of the hitting surface may be might be say 50mm thick the palm dome may be up to 30 – 40 mm giving you close to 90mm of foam padding between your hand and shock of each punch which is a great help in dissipating the power of the punches which is a great help in protecting you arms.
Below is the inner foam from a Ringsport no limits focus pad.
The wrist wedge is a combination of EVA and or firm sponge foam, it is place at the back of the pad to support the inner wrist area, it makes the pad fit very comfortably around the hand and most importantly it stops the strikes at the bottom of the pad from transferring power and pain over repetitive blows to the inside of the wrist. Once you use a pad with the wedge it will seem strange without it.
Below is a picture of a wrist wedge and mesh finger cover on the new Ringsport AIR PRO Focus pad.
MESH FINGER COVER
Finger covers are a very important part of a focus mitt, to help keep a pad holders finger and hands cool and not to sweaty the ends of the finger compartments on a pad are cut off. This leaves the tips of the fingers exposed and the chance of being caught and push back by a punch. It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen and it can cause painful injury’s.
To solve this problem covers are placed over the fingers, whether it is mesh or leather material that is placed from the front of the pad to cover roughly one third of the pad to protect the fingers. I prefer mesh as it still allows air flow and heat to escape but protect the fingers.
See picture above
The new back strap is a focus mitt game changer! It is a patent pending creation by Richard Davis at Ringsport, it is a new strap that has been place over the back of the holder’s knuckles. It has two main benefits and a few others.
The air pocket is a new design feature created at Ringsport. Over the last 10 years or so air mitts have been designed to disperse power from the punches of boxer to protect the elbow and shoulders of coaches. Past designs work but have always been big, bulky and quite heavy with the soft foams that tend to break down too quickly and let’s face it smaller is better if you are a coach.
Here at Ringsport I have created a light, compact but durable design that has the same features but none of the down side of the big bulky pads. To look at it is exactly the same as a high-end focus pad but to use it feels very different.
The design is a secret, so I won’t say too much of what is inside the pad but that body is made of a very durable EVA sponge foam combination with some sections removed and replaced with ……. … and then air release holes added and sealed with high density EVA foam. Combining these features with the new back strap technology I believe the air pro focus pad is the ultimate focus pad.
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