The Front Fist Roll is one of the fastest moving speed bag techniques. This article is a step by step guide to learning the Front Fist Roll technique on the speed bag.
Not only is this a fun technique to integrate into your speed bag routine, but it’s also a great warm-up exercise. For that reason, it is one of the first techniques we teach in our boxing classes. Personally, when using the Front Fist Roll, I noticed that it really works out my shoulders. Beyond the shoulders it is a great workout for your forearms and arms.
Muscles activated in FFR:
Throughout the rest of this instructional article, I will also use the acronym FFR, in place of Front Fist Roll. Also, let me state that there are other ways to learn this technique. This just happens to be the one I found to work best for my students.
- Rebound Board (Drum)
- Speed Bag
- Gloves or Hand Wraps
In order to hit the speed bag properly, it is important to have it set up correctly for you. Starting off with the FFR, you should adjust the height of the rebound board – or drum – so you are looking directly at midpoint of the bag, with the belly of the bag just below your nose. Please note, everyone’s body measurements are different. Using this as starting point and making little adjustments up or down to the drum height is necessary so to accommodate.
With almost any speed bag drill you should try to get into a comfortable stance. This is especially true when learning, as you might be standing for long periods of time to master the movement. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart and your knees can be slightly bent. When striking the bag, you want to keep your elbows up. “The secret is to keep the fist in close to the face so a V pocket is formed by the angle of the elbows to the fist. The elbows must be kept high, even slightly above parallel.” (Kahn, 24) (Fig 1) By keeping the elbows elevated, you will be creating a good foundation to properly hit the speed bag. Furthermore, by dropping your elbows, you will increase the distance to the bag.
Tip: Beginners may find it easier to lean in an extra step or so until they find the rhythm. Note as long as you keep your hands up the bag shouldn’t hit you in the face.
When hitting the bag, you should be facing it straight on. The strike should be delivered directly to the center of the belly of the speed bag. Contact should be made with the bottom of the fist (area show in Fig 2). Try to keep from hitting with the wrist or parts of the forearm, as this will take the bag off a strait path.
Front Fist Roll Technique
The first rule to this style as with most is, “timing is everything”. Many people who don’t use the speed bag believe it is all about speed. And yes there is a element of speed, but not at first. First you have to master the timing and rhythm. Good timing and rhythm on a speed bag produces a faster moving bag.
The FFR is a technique that you make many punches in progression. When you are set in the correct position, roll your back fist over the front fist into the bag. Start with a soft strike with the leading fist. Then the lead fist moves down and behind the opposite fist. (Fig 3) At the same time, follow with the opposite fist under and over hitting the bag for a second time. Keep repeating, as your fist are rolling over one another. Hence the name Front Fist Roll.
This technique has a count of one strike and one rebound off the back of the drum. Followed by the next fist which repeats this count of one and one. (Fig 4) “The rotating fist connecting after one rebound creates a very fast sounding machine gun effect.” (Kahn, 24) Keep in mind that you don’t have to strike the speed bag very hard. Also, try to hit the same spot on the belly of the bag with each strike. You can do this by keeping your body in the correct position as stated above. More importantly, keep your fists going continuously. By keeping your fist rolling, the bag typically comes back to center.
Keys to Improving:
- Smaller rolling, make your fist go as tight as possible. Try to shoot for one inch or so of space between fists.
- Knuckle over knuckle, try to keep your knuckles moving across one another. I find when folks move too fast they tend to widen out creating a horizontal space between their fists. Just continue the roll and pull it in tighter. (Fig 4)
- If you are struggling to get the motion, try practicing the FFR in the air without hitting the bag. This will help you get the movement down.
- Lean in to the speed bag, this shortens the distance between you and the bag. This will help you keep the bag straight. (Note as you advance you will need to get proficient, not leaning in, so you may use FFR with other combos.)
Tip: When starting out go slow, beginners tend to hit the bag hard and fast. This may sound wrong ..but, if you go slow you’ll progress faster!
To do Challenges:
- First try for goals of number of repeated strikes in a row 10, 20 etc..
- Go for a time period at 20, 30, 60 seconds.
- Work on various speeds.
- Start and stop – for example 4-6 repeated strikes, exit and then jump back in.
- Lastly try to integrate the FFR into a routine with other combinations.
Bear Hand Fist
Something to have some fun with. Within time you will see that tighter movements on the speed bag will equal to the bag moving faster. Just like in the key from above, tightening up the fist will make your movements smaller. With this principle in mind, I tried using the Bear Hand Fist (Fig 5). It shaves off about 2-3″ off your rotation, making your movement even smaller. While toying around with this, I noticed I can make the bag move even faster. Use this fist on days you just need to try something new or switch it up.
Kahn, Alan, The Speed Bag Bible Rehabilitation & Sports Consulting, 1994, pp. 24-25. http://www.speedbagcentral.com/
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