Why you should never start boxing without a coach and how to find the right coach for you.
If you’re planning to start boxing here is the best advice I can give to you. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, try and start to teach yourself. Over the years, I’ve had many people come to me saying they have been boxing for X amount of time only to eventually find out that what they meant was, they’ve been hitting the punch bag at a generic gym a couple of times a week. This is not how you will learn to box. Boxing is an art and it’s called the ‘Sweet Science’ for a reason.
By training alone or with your mate in his shed, I can almost guarantee you will not become a competent boxer. All you’ll be doing is teaching yourself bad habits and repping incorrect technique.
So on that note here’s a guide of what you should do, if you want to get started.
More important than the gym, the equipment, how fancy the ring is etc., find a good coach.
The coach you choose should have you working on fundamentals, not sparring, not circuits, fundamentals, i.e. your stance, how to correctly throw punches, blocking, basic footwork and basic head movement. This can take several months to understand and be able to assimilate or for some, a couple of years. Regardless of who you are the fact is nobody can learn something so complex overnight and however long you have been training, improvement is infinite; you can ALWAYS get better.
A good coach will be standing right there with you showing you correct technique. In the first few months of training you should rarely, if ever, be left on your own.
Finding a good coach is that simple. If you feel like you aren't getting enough attention, then they probably aren't the right coach for you.
You should also be wary of a coach who tells you everything you're doing is correct. This is usually the case for one of two reasons:
1. False guidance- Coaching you is their job not just a hobby and they want you to come back. I see videos of coaches all the time telling their clients how great they're doing just because it's what they want to hear.
2.- They don't know how to correct what you're doing wrong. Obviously, this is a problem and as a beginner you might not find it easy to identify whether this is the case or not.
You should also be wary of a coach without a plan, whatever your goals are, you're going to need a plan of action if you want to achieve them. It's impossible to remember all your clients’ goals and, each individual will pick things up differently so, without a plan, how could you possibly monitor progression of every client? Coaches that turn up unprepared, deliver the same lessons over and over, have limited teaching tools at their disposal and simply get you ‘bag smashing’ and working up a sweat, are not going to help you improve.
To be a good coach doesn't necessarily mean you are/were a good fighter. A good fighter must be able to do what they've been taught better than their opponents whereas as a good coach should be able teach you how to box using an array of methods. They should be able to communicate well by explaining key points but not over feeding you the information. They should be able to model good technique so you can watch and copy. They should also be able to break down techniques and design several drills that will teach you the same movement in different ways. Finally, a good coach must be able to identify errors and correct the key points you are learning at that time by giving you constructive feedback.
If you get this right, you’ll progress more quickly, get more out of each session, be able to build your fitness and perhaps enjoy learning the art form of boxing as much as I do.