To the uninitiated, boxing may seem like a sport that is easy to master. It is just punching and swaying, right? Well, tell that to the speed bag! Regardless of the kind, be it the affordable ones or the best speed bag in the market, the drills have quite the learning curve.
If you have seen Rocky Balboa rocking the speedball in any of his iconic movies, or Manny Pacquiao putting a pounding on the poor little bouncy ball hanging off a swivel, then you should know that it takes months or even years to be that good and that fast.
If you are interested in how a speedball bag is used, the options available on the market, and the best speed bags to get, among other things, read on!
How Should a Speed Bag Be Used?
Speed bags are an essential piece of equipment for boxers, kickboxers, and other martial artists. These small bags filled with air, anchored to a platform or wooden board directly above it, are designed to help you work on the following aspects:
Learning how to use a speed bag is difficult, but once you get the hang of it, you will feel rewarded almost instantly. Below are the steps you have to take to learn how to do speed bag drills:
Have a Feel for the Speed Bag
The first step to understanding how to do a speed bag drill is to understand how the mechanics work.
Simply hit the bag a couple of times to understand how the speed bag responds. Try different levels of speed and power to see how it would react to your strikes.
It's also recommend that you strike the bag with open hands. This would allow you greater room for error in case of inaccurate hits.
Another important tip would be to count the bounces or rebounds in your head. This will help you develop your striking rhythm later on.
Assume Your Position and Stance
Once you have hit the speed bag a couple of times, you should now be able to have a proper grasp of where you should position yourself relative to the bag.
Ideally, you should be standing directly in front of the speed bag. Check if your arms can reach the bag and if you feel comfortable extending your arms to strike it.
Practice Hitting in Small Circles
After you have understood the mechanics and positioned yourself in front of the speed bag, raise both your arms and try hitting the bag in small circles.
You do not have to do it alternately at first. You can go right-right-right-right-right-left-left-left-left-left or right-right-left-left-right-right-left-left. Do not swing your entire arm (from your shoulder).
Try making the circular motions from your elbow. These motions should be nice and easy, and once you get the repetitions, you are one step closer to mastering the exercise.
Find Your Rhythm
Once you get a few consecutive successful strikes on the bag, it is now time to experiment and find your rhythm. Remember how we mentioned counting the number of bounces or rebounds the ball makes? This is the time to use that.
When you strike the bag, it should hit the rear portion of the board (bounce 1), then move closer to you to hit the front portion of the board (bounce 2), then go one more time back to the rear of the board (bounce 3), and then start to lose speed or momentum. Try to time your next strike after the third bounce, right as the bag comes to return to you for the fourth bounce.
If you are unable to do this, just be patient with the drill and you will get the hang of it soon.
What are the Different Types of Bags?
In boxing, the boxing bag comes in all shapes and sizes. The speed bag comes in various forms as well, but it would be best if you acquaint yourself with the entire family of bags.
Get your terminologies right and understand the different types of bags in boxing and martial arts.
Speed bags are small bags filled with air that are attached via a swivel to a platform.
They are also known as rubber bladder, speedball, or speedball bag.
A heavy bag is typically a large, cylindrical bag attached to a sturdy ceiling or mounted onto a platform with heavy-duty chains or other sturdy materials.
As the name suggests, this bag is heavy and is used for heavy drills involving powerful kicks, knees, elbows, and punches.
A double-end bag shares a similar purpose with the speedball, the key difference being how it is mounted. It utilizes a dual-point or floor-to-ceiling system in which the bag (or rubber bladder) is attached from the top and from the bottom.
This piece of equipment is good for practicing footwork, hand-eye coordination, reflexes, speed, and accuracy.
Maize bags, also identified as slip bags, are used in boxing training for medium-power striking and head movement (or bobbing and weaving).
This bag is good for training that involves the practice of offensive and defensive techniques.
A wall bag is a piece of equipment attached to a wall or wall-like platform that allows for training hooks and uppercuts.
They usually take the form of a torso or upper body and have strike points to determine where and how certain shots could land.
As the name suggests, uppercut bags are used for practicing uppercuts. They come in different shapes and sizes, and can also double as a tool to improve on other strikes such as body shots or knee strikes.
An offshoot of the heavy bag, a free-standing bag is a piece of equipment that is mounted on a heavy pedestal or platform, but offers a wide range of movement and flexibility for the part of the equipment that is struck.
Although much less common in dedicated boxing gyms and martial arts facilities, these are commonly purchased by families and homeowners looking to spice up their personal gym.
Speed Bags vs Double-End Bags
Once you get to understand what the different types of bags are, you should learn about the specific differences between speed bags and double-end bags. Although these two bags offer the same benefits and have a high degree of difficulty to learn and understand, below are a few key distinctions:
Timing vs Rhythm
Although both bags work on a similar set of attributes, the speedballs are used to improve rhythm and endurance while the double-end bag is meant for practicing timing and accuracy.
Installation and Set-up
The equipment is essentially broken down into the speed bag bladder, the speed bag platform, and the speed bag swivel (to find the best speed bag bladder, the best speed bag swivel, and the best speed bag platform, check out our other articles).
The double-end bag uses a dual-point cable system, with the bladder suspended off the ground with the support of a cable directly above it and another directly below it.
Size, Material, and Weight
The shape, material, and weight of speedballs come in different varieties. The bag resembles a teardrop and can be very dense or very soft, depending on the material used.
On the other hand, the double-end bag is typically very round or circular and its exterior is made of leather while its interior is padded with lightweight material to allow for better movement and strike response.
Footwork and Head Movement
Although possible, speed bags do not typically offer the opportunity to work on footwork and head movement, since the ball is essentially affixed to a stationary platform with limited movement and range of motion.
A double-end bag is more fitting for moving around and practicing footwork, head movement, and other defensive maneuvers.
How to Determine the Right Size Speed Bag
The size of the speed bag is closely related to your level of skill and purpose.
The most common sizes in the speed bag market are either 10 inches by 13 inches or 4 inches by 7 inches. These days, companies now sell speed bags as extra small, medium, large, or extra large.
A general rule of thumb is that larger bags are heavier and not as mobile as their lighter counterparts, but are good for toning your arms and other muscles.
Smaller speed bags, on the other hand, align more with their boxing roots to develop speed, timing, hand-eye coordination, and endurance.
For beginners, we recommend purchasing a larger bag (check out the best beginner speed bags). As you begin to improve and master the drills, you can then move on to smaller, faster-moving targets, increasing the difficulty of the exercise. Smaller speed bags develop greater hand speed and require a lot more focus.
If you are simply utilizing the bag for weight loss and muscle development, you can stick with the larger, heavier speed bags. These speedball bags require more power to hit to maintain speed and momentum. It also promotes hand-eye coordination and hand speed, but not as much as the smaller speed bags.
What Should be Considered When Choosing a Speed Bag?
Size and Weight
As discussed in detail in the previous section, the size of the bag should depend on what your goal is. Just remember, the bigger the bag, the heavier it is, the easier the target is. The smaller the bag, the lighter it is, the more difficult the exercise becomes.
Material and Durability
Most speed bags are made with a leather or synthetic leather outer shell. Leather bags are more durable but are on the pricier side. If you are on a budget, then synthetic leather bags should be sufficient.
The next layer of the speed bag is the bladder. This is made with either latex or rubber. Latex is your best bet as it is relatively lightweight and more durable, while rubber is heavier and tougher. An alternative bladder material is plastic, but we do not recommend this as it is not as long-lasting as the other materials.
Stitching is also an important indicator of the quality of the best speed bags. Take a look at the seams and check if they are double-reinforced or even triple-reinforced to know if the product is sturdy and durable.
Like with any product, brands also play an essential role in the shopping and purchasing process. Title Boxing, Cleto Reyes, and Balazs Lazer are a few of the brands (and corresponding products) that have been established in the boxing industry for a long time, but there are other brands that have proven to be reliable as well.
We recommend that you do some research on the brands themselves to understand how they operate and where their manufacturing facilities are if you are particular with where and how their products are made.
Finding the best swivels are just as important as buying the best speed bags. There are a few types and brands of swivels to choose from, including U-bolt, Chain-link, and Ball-hook designs. Check out reviews online on the latest swivels or take a look at our guide to this item to get up to speed on the right piece of equipment for you.
Top Speed Bags in the Market (Bonus: Best Speed Bag Platform)
There are so many offerings in the market, but which one can truly claim that it is one of the best speed bags out there?
We have compiled a list of our five best speed bags in no particular order. At the end of this section, we also provided a bonus. Check out our list below.
First up, we have a high-quality and affordable bag from Title - the Title Boxing Gyro-balanced Speed Bag.
The outer shell of this bag is made out of genuine leather, offering years of durability.
The bladder is created with rubber that allows for a heavier feel and a reduced chance of leakage.
The gyro-balance feature of this bag allows for accurate rebounds and super fast recoiling.
Whenever the Cleto Reyes Speed Bag is mentioned, expect the pricing to be significantly higher than average but expect the quality to be top-notch. The Cleto Reyes Platform Speed Bag offers extreme durability, unmatchable quality, and notable performance.
The exterior is made out of genuine leather and each bag is hand-made, ensuring excellent quality standards.
The bag delivers a balanced and smooth response and behaves in the way you would expect a speed bag to when struck.
The bladder is made of latex, a lightweight material allowing for quicker movement and rebounds, and a spare bladder is included with the product. Cleto Reyes does not disappoint.
The Balazs Lazer Speed Bag is yet another premium-priced entry in our list, but do not worry. The quality and craftsmanship of this bag are better than most.
This bag is made of smooth-grain leather and does not present any scratchy textures that are caused by laces and welting.
The design and construction are well-balanced and has definitely been one of the better speed bags in the market for several years.
Yet another entry from Title, we have the newcomer Title Boxing Quik-tek Super Speed Bag.
Although not as famous as the other products on this list, this bag is destined for greatness, and one of the major reasons why is the ease of bladder replacement.
The shell of the bag is made of genuine cowhide leather, offering toughness and longevity. Even the most experienced of boxers would have a difficult time wearing this bag down.
The triple-reinforced loop also allows for flexibility with the partnered swivel.
Our final entry in the list is a third Title product - the Title Boxing Classic Speed Bag. The bag, like the name, is simple and straightforward.
It offers a traditional lacing system and a pear-shaped configuration, but do not let the traditional appearance fool you. This is a very durable and affordable piece of equipment.
The bag is made of quality leather and uses triple stitching for durability and toughness.
The surface is also very smooth and the shape of the bag is very forgiving, allowing for bare-handed use.
Bonus: Title Boxing Platform
The Title Boxing Platform gets the job done. It is made of heavy-duty steel meant for both light and hard workouts.
It has relatively small dimensions, allowing for installation in smaller areas or rooms. The drum itself is 24 inches in size with a depth of 0.75 inches. It is constructed from laminated walnut wood, providing quality and durability for several years.
How to Set Up Speed Bags
Setting up speed bags may be a bit tedious, but the exercises and benefits you get from this piece of equipment are very rewarding.
Speed bags can be set up in one of two ways: wall-mounted set-up or free-standing set-up. In either case, it is best to refer to the instruction manual that came with the platform or mount for a more in-depth guide.
As a general set of guidelines, use the instructions below:
Frequently Asked Questions
With the variety of brands and types in the market today, it would be necessary to answer the following frequently asked questions:
1. What's the best speed bag?
This depends on your budget and the factors mentioned above. There is no perfect speed bag in the market that can cater to all kinds of fighters, budgets, and skill levels. Invest in a bag that best fits your requirements, and always consider keeping it for a long time.
2. What size speed bag do pros use?
For general training and even in training camps, pros use medium to small-sized speed bags. Smaller speed bags require a high level of mastery and focus and will help professional boxers and fighters sharpen up their skills before their professional bout.
3. How do I choose a speed bag?
When choosing a speed bag, consider the factors we mentioned above. Different kinds of speed bags are created for different purposes or scenarios. Identify who the bag is for and how it will be used.
4. Do speed bags make you faster?
Speed bags, as the name suggests, will increase your speed in punching. The speed bag not only increases your punching speed, but it also increases your reflexes, hand-eye coordination, endurance, technique, and punching power.
5. Should I wear gloves when using the speed bag?
Using your bare hands, gloves, or hand wraps during speed bag workouts is a matter of preference. Having gloves or hand wraps on may interfere with your accuracy or rhythm, especially when the speed bag is smaller than average. However, repeated contact to the speed bag with your bare hands may also lead to injuries. Check out our guide to the best speed bag gloves if you're planning to wear gloves.
6. How high should the speed bag be?
The height of the speed bag is a matter of preference, but the majority would say that the belly of the bag should be at the mouth-level. If the speed bag is too low, you may have a hard time placing your head under the board/platform. If the speed bag is too high, you may have a hard time reaching the bag.
Conclusion (Plus Our Personal Favorite)
If you thought getting a speed bag was simple, then you better think twice. This comprehensive guide should be good enough for you to confidently pick and choose the ideal product for your needs and purpose.
Whether you shop online or visit a physical retailer, make sure to keep in mind the information we shared with you in this article.
As for our personal favorite, the award goes to none other than the Title Boxing Classic Speedbag!
Title has consistently been in the running for one of the best boxing brands in the market for several years now, and the company's products do not disappoint. The brand's Classic Speedbag just offers a distinctive feel and response that none of the other models can replicate, which is why this product will always be our choice as the best speed bag.