T Nation

Hand Speed


Echoing the punching power thread, I was curious how hand speed is developed. After watching Mayweather/Marquez, I was amazed at the discrepancy in hand speed between top level guys. Since I doubt Marquez trains less seriously than Mayweather, is it all genetic? Fighting style?

I guess my conceptualization is that everyone at the top should be roughly the same speed. Eg. Usain Bolt is the fastest sprinter ever, but is 1% faster than the previous record holder. Watching Mayweather or RJJ highlights, it looks like they're moving 25% faster than their opposition. I realize there's a lot more to fighting than just speed, but it seems amazing that there's that huge of a difference.

While I've been following martial arts for a long time, I never really got into boxing. So anything you guys tell me is a great resource.


I'm also interested in increasing hand movement speed, albeit not for fighting reasons (volleyball spike).


Genetics definitely has something to do with it, just like with power. And there is going to be a range, even at the pinnacle of the sport, in terms of attributes like speed.

It can be improved through proper training, but not everyone has the ability to become a Mayweather Jr. or RJJ.

Fighters simply have to figure out where their strengths lie and develop their fighting style around those strengths. Ali had great speed for a HW, Foreman had tons of power, Frazier had tons of endurance, Marciano was tough as nails, Lewis had reach, Tyson had explosiveness. All were HW champions of the world at one time.


Mayweather has been training under champion boxers since he was 3. He trains specifically for boxing, no hitting tires with sledge hammers, running up mountains in the cold with a horse carriage on his back. Just millions upon million upon millions of punches. While he probably has a ton more power than the average person, for someone at his natural weight(around 160 now) he hasn't thrown the most powerful punches in the ring. Unlike other that's never been his focus. It's always been speed and accuracy, and boxing.

If you want to increase your hand speed, I'm sure if you work on it for 30 years several hours a day you will be a hell of a lot faster. Problem is by then will it be as useful to you as it is to him.


Technique, relaxation through the body and working the pads for hrs and hrs and hrs. (Obviously genetics has a lot to do with it as well.)

I have pretty good handspeed for my size but the thing I really need to work on is my timing. Handspeed on its own is nothing without good timing. Good timing can make someone appear to have far better handspeed than they do as they are beating the other guy to the punch.

With Marquez and Mayweather I don't think that Mayweather particularly has higher hand speed than Marquez, just with a better reach, more power and great timing and accuracy his punches were landing and Marquez's were missing.

Marquez was having to come in from the outside, passing through Mayweather's strike zone whilst being warry of the power of someone who was 10lb heavier.


Using the startle reflex & whip principle to hit faster


Exactly. That's why the saying is "styles make fights."

Loren Christensen said in his book that a study was done between those who worked out on a heavy bag and those who shadowboxed, and after a certain time period those who were just punching air were faster but had less power than those who worked exclusively on the bag.

I have seen my own hand speed increase dramatically because of all the shadowboxing and padwork I've done- it's at the point now where, as I said in another thread, if something falls off a shelf or I knock something off a desk, I can catch it before I realize what I'm doing.

However, I'll never be able to be as fast as Floyd or Roy Jones or Sugar Ray Leanord. They're just genetically gifted individuals- especially RJJ. You'll see guys at the lighter weights with incredibly fast hands, but to see a guy fighting at middleweight and above stringing punches and hooks together like he did is incredible.... you happened to pick two of the most insanely talented guys in your comparison.

A better example might be watching the Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi fight. Paulie clearly has better hand speed, and he's got a great chin, too. However, Hatton is a swarmer who completely negated Paulie's handspeed, and as soon as he hit him, he shook him because he's got so much more power.

Most guys at the top are like that- matched very well against each other. It's rare that you have a fighter who is head-and-shoulders above everyone else as those two were. Ali and Frazier was the same way, with Ali clearly being the faster fighter but Frazier being the bobbing and weaving monster that he was, all he had to do was get in close enough to land that big left hook that could knock down walls. Hand speed was negated by strategy and styles.

As far as Mayweather/Marquez- remember that Marquez was fighting WAY out of his weight class for the first time against the pound-for-pound best. He did not carry his speed or power with him on the way up. However, if you watch the first five rounds of the Mayweather-Judah fight, you see Floyd's speed negated by Judah, or at least beaten to the punch.

Castillo in his prime was also the Frazier to May's Ali. Watch that first fight, and you'll see a fighter with enough power to hurt Floyd who cornered him and banged away. Floyd's was definitely the faster fighter, but he wasn't the better fighter. Castillo clearly didn't have the potential to be as fast as Mayweather, but he didn't need to be because of his style.

I could never have hands that fast, but I've got a hard chin and a good right hook. If I was a fighter, there's no doubt that I would fight the way Frazier did. You just have to adapt.


irish what city do you train in?


I don't train at a boxing gym. I boxed for a year informally with an MMA guy, and I learned it from him. Now I just pick up things as I go.

The closest gyms to me are in Paterson, but between the two excuses of "Not having the time" and "My shoulder will fall out" I just work on my own, or with someone else when I can.


You can move your hands fast,but the point of punching is to put some power in.Punches are just tacticaly applied throwing move ,so to speak.the key is body speed...how fast can you turn your hip...put some bodyweight in.
its combination of a little jump,twisting of your body and bodyweight shifting to take your arm for a fast move toward your target.The you have to tweak that move into tacticly effective move=not to telegraph it,not to extend yourself out of balance,to defend yourself.

Dont forget the factor of punching frequency..being able to put a lot of punches in small time fraction.
Like Bass Rutten said=Its like a video game...more you do it,the better you get at it.keep practicing sharp!!


This is a good post. This is also a simple truth that people forget.


Any specific one you can name off hand?
Is a loose shoulder create that much of a problem? I have a shoulder that used to pop out alot from sports when I was younger, I figured if I just trained and didn't get knocked out I wouldn't have to worry too much.


To get a little nerdy here, power punching and speed punching have been differentiated here. Given power = work/time = mad/time, does that mean the variable between power punching and speed punching is the amount of body mass put behind it? Since I'm assuming acceleration for speed punchers is better.

Anyway, thanks for suggestions. Have a lot of video to go through at work today.


If you mean gyms I'm by, probably Ike's is the closest. I've never been there though. There's also one in Montville I checked out, but I wasn't sure how reputable it was.

It is hard for me. It doesn't bother me when I'm doing pads or the heavy bag, but as soon as I spar it is likely to come out. I believe it's the technique of rolling your shoulder over to protect your chin that puts the joint in a really, really weak position for me, and when it pops out the pain is excruciating. I'm doing my best to avoid needing surgery, so I'm not keen on doing it over and over.

I'm effectively a one handed fighter, and it's hard not using your left when you're a southpaw.

Where do you train?


I'm frustrated with my hand speed, or rather, my focus.

My coach is always pushing me to throw "fassssttt hands" because he's seen me do it in sparring, and he knows I have above average hand speed, but I keep reverting to throwing heavy shots come fight night, it's a nasty habit that I'm growing very frustrated with it, and it cost me recently against a much more experienced opponent.


I don't I work in west caldwell and drive through paterson to get home. I was thinking about finding a gym.


Yes and no. A lot of the perception of speed is actually reactions and timing. Also, power in the way that it is used in boxing is really more about momentum than strictly mechanical power.


Oh OK.

Well, the guy who I learned from was a student of Jay Lally, who was based out of Ridgewood but appears to now have a facility in Oakland.

He teaches MMA and general fitness and has tons of experience in martial arts, but looking back at what he taught my friend (and what my friend, in turn, taught me), he had a great understanding of striking. My friend does the basics well, stresses jabbing and keeping hands up, and has a great understanding of angles and distance.

He also taught BJJ... and again, my friend is a nasty grappler. So to me, I've seen his results and I was very impressed.

I would recommend him in a second, even though I haven't met him. I've knew another one of his students in college, and the guy said glowing things about him.



And any of the boxing gyms in Paterson can be found with a quick search... as far as I can tell they've been around for a while.


There are also some slightly different mechanics (or perhaps one could say, timing of mechanics) between a pure speed punch and a real power punch.

With a speed punch, really the goal is simply to stabilize/hit the target and allow you to hit it with a harder punch. So, you need to have it be as non telegraphic as possible, you likely need fast footwork (which honestly is just as important, if not even more important than having fast hands when it comes to landing an effective lead punch), and you actually want to lead with the weapon. That means that the hand moves first, before anything else, and the body simply follows the hand in to the target. The concept comes from fencing. If you can get this down effectively you'll be surprised at how fast you "seem" to your opponent. They'll never see the punch coming until it is too late.

With a power punch on the other hand you want maximal mass at impact and distance to gain momentum. With a power punch you want to lead with the body and time the strike with the fist to land at the moment that your mass shifts, possibly your foot that you are shifting to lands (somewhat depends on the punch and the mechanics you're using), and that the hips and shoulders reach their full rotation.

Both punches require maximal acceleration in the hands to have maximum effect though.