One of the most crucial things in training is to know how to reach a set goal. The organization of each training session is one that can and should not be left to fate or at a ‘let’s see how the wind blows today’ mindset.
If we look at a group training session in boxing, it will look something like this*:
- Warm-up (jumping rope, shadow boxing)
- Combinations with a training partner to loosen up
- Learning and/or refining techniques
- Learning tactics
- Coordinative drills
- Developing endurance
*This is an oversimplified description of a training session.
To optimize a training session similar to the above, a couple of things should be clear.
- All group members should be at a similar skill level.
- They all should have similar goals.
- The objective should be clear for the training session, at least to the coach.
- Ground rules of the session must be clear to every participant.
For example, if you have a boxer who lacks strength but has ‘perfect’ technique, it would be a better use of your time to make the boxer stronger instead of giving him more technique drills. It is important to remember that it does not imply that each training session should develop all a boxer’s weaknesses. It simply means that the majority of the training time shifts towards developing one or two weak areas. Focusing on one weak area will yield the most beneficial result. However, some can be combined, for example, awareness in a fatigued state can combine hand-eye coordination with an endurance drill.
What we must remember is that teaching boxing, or any martial arts, happens at a school. And to have a school that has superb performance, all the elements should be optimized. We can do this by segmenting groups by their skill level, age, sex, etc. Then, the coaches, should have their role set and know how to teach.
If we look at Cuba, it’s no secret why so many great boxers are Cuban. One of Cuba’s great boxing coaches and arguably one of the finest coaches the world has seen is Dr. Alcides Sagarra Carón. He wrote a book of which the title translates to, The Boxing Period Direct Competition in the Cuban School. Note the word school.
If the system is in place, a large piece of the puzzle is set. What is important to realize is that as with any skill, each class or in this case, each training session must be built on the last. If you have a system, all these classes and their objectives are clear. This way each step of the ladder is clearly visible, and the boxer knows exactly what he must learn. It’s the coach’s job to teach the skills, and it’s the boxer’s job to learn and master the skills.
Another thing to remember is that, as in any school, there are semesters, trimesters, graduation, and so on. So, too, in boxing. Each training is part of a bigger training cycle, and that training cycle is part of an even larger training cycle. To proceed to another cycle, the boxer must be competent with the skills from the previous cycle.
All in all, it comes down to the coach’s eye and his ability to find the athlete’s performance indicators and measure them as the training progresses. If the assessment is correct, the training can be organized in a way that increases the odds that both the coach and athlete get the result they’re after.