Is There a Place for New Technology in Boxing Training?
By: George Storr
Most people who run boxing gyms will proudly tell you how “old school” their methods are, but in an increasingly technological world is there a place for technology in training boxers? The growing amount of companies making electronic ‘punch trackers’ seem to think so.
Punch trackers count up the amount of punches you throw per round, giving you instant feedback on your work-rate. They also claim to be able to accurately say what sort of punches you were throwing, how fast you threw them and how hard their impact was, though this works with varying degrees of success.
Currently punch trackers are available from a range of manufacturers including Hykso and Corner as well as Everlast, who have teamed up with a company called PIQ to produce their own pair.
I road-tested pair of Corner punch-trackers and my first impressions were largely positive. They slip into your hand-wraps and communicate with an app on your phone. The app is polished and it’s straight forward to step up too, as long as you know your own height, weight and email address. It also promises good depth in terms of analytics.
The app tells you how many punches you threw per round, speed and power stats, as well as calculating averages across all three. Another useful function was the apps ability to record when the user throws single shots and when they throw in combinations.
When I started working with the trackers though there were a few little niggles. I found that the trackers didn’t detect a flicking jab. Solidly plant your jab into the bag and the trackers will detect it with no problems, but if you’re moving in and out and flicking your lead hand out, many of those lighter blows go undetected. This was frustrating and also called into question the usefulness of the power measurement side of the trackers.
The other issue came in the shape of the apps round timer. If you used this at a session in your local amateur boxing gym you won’t be working to a timer on your phone, you’ll be working to a large, visible round timer on the gym wall. As a result a function that allowed the user to synch the app’s timer with a gyms round-timer would be beneficial.
That said, these are relatively small niggles and all these functions are still in Beta testing stages for the Corner trackers so they will likely become more refined and more accurate.
One thing for users of these particular trackers to look forward to is a soon-to-be-released sparring function. It costs an extra £50 on top of the £89.99 starting price and will offer an invaluable insight for coaches. Being able to offer more detailed instantaneous feedback during sparring sessions could benefit coaches, professional and amateur alike.
Joe Gallagher, trainer to multiple world champions, has already put his backing behind the Corner product. Pro fighters Stacey Copeland and Jack Massey have come out in support too, having road-tested the trackers themselves. Massey in particular described the trackers as: “essential to my future camps”.
In terms of pricing, the Hykso trackers come in at £154.99, the Corner set, as mentioned, are £89.99 though users will soon be able to pay extra for a sparring function. The Everlast trackers are the cheapest but only by a very small margin, currently available at £89.00.
Overall the proof of the punch-tracker pudding will come in the longer term. If we start seeing professional fighters using these long-term and making improvements their stock will rise. At present they do show massive potential though. They’re no replacement for a coach and offer nothing as regards correcting technique but they are a good tool for monitoring your work rate.
Trying to beat your punch-count from a previous round is a fantastically useful push for a session where you’re away from a coach and doing your own thing. That sounds simple but it’s a big positive for these trackers. Ultimately punch-trackers could help to democratise the kind of high level analysis that traditionally has only been available to top level professionals. Some of the more refined aspects are still being tweaked but as a concept they’re immensely promising and that promise outweighs the teething problems.