Boxing Assessment: Techniques, Methods and Performance

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Traditional testing protocols to assess a boxer’s fitness/readiness: These are the typical tests that boxing coaches have used for years, and in some cases decades, to determine an athlete’s fitness levels, readiness and progress. Some of these methods are perfectly fine, while others can be misleading, irrelevant or potentially hazardous. Not to mention that a boxer’s anaerobic system is rarely tested. The argument that the beep test also measures anaerobic ability is inaccurate as it goes on for too long and starts with little challenge to the anaerobic system. The beep test is more a measure of the glycolytic and aerobic systems and the transition from one to the other. Aerobic Fitness Testing Protocols The Beep Test Required Equipment: Flat, non-slip surface 20 meter measuring tape Cones Beep test audio device Procedure: Place 2 cones 20 meters apart. The participants stand behind one cone, facing the second cone.

The athletes begin running when instructed The subject continues running between the two lines, turning when signaled by the recorded beeps. After about one minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, and the beeps will be closer together. This continues each minute (level). If the cone is reached before the beep sounds, the subject must wait until the beep sounds before continuing. If the cone is not reached before the beep sounds, the subject is given a warning and must continue to run to the cone, then turn and try to catch up with the pace within two more ‘beeps’. The test is stopped if the subject fails to reach the cone twice consecutively. Scoring: The athlete’s score is the level and number of shuttles (20m) reached before they were unable to keep up with the recorded beep. Record the last level completed (not necessarily the level stopped at). Comments: there are several online sites with VO2 max calculators that will easily enable a translation of beep test scores into VO2 max. To a large degree, international “normative standards” are irrelevant. The beep test is best used as a tool to record progress and identify weaknesses or problems such as overtraining and insufficient recovery. Cooper 12 Minute Run Test Required equipment: Running track Distance markers or cones Stopwatch Procedure: Participants run for 12 minutes, with the total distance covered by each athlete recorded. Walking is permitted but participants should be encouraged to push and work hard. Scoring: The score is simply the distance covered by the athlete in the 12 minute period. Conversion to VO2 max can be easily made with the following calculation: VO2max = (22.35 x kilometres covered).


If a marked running track is unavailable, this test can be reproduced on a treadmill by setting the incline to 1 degree. It works as a measure of aerobic capacity but, because of the different muscle groups used in track running versus treadmill running, the results are not comparable to one another. Results from one method should not be equated to the other. Cooper 2.4 km Run Test Required equipment: Any even running surface that can be measured Stopwatch Procedure: The participants run the distance as fast as possible. Walking is allowed but discouraged. Scoring: The time taken to complete the distance is recorded and compared to subsequent tests. Although there are normative standards, it is more accurate to use this method as a tool to measure an athlete’s progress. Agility and Balance Tests Agility Jump Test Required Equipment: A standard height hurdle Comfortable surface stopwatch Procedure: The athlete stands to the side of the hurdle and jumps side to side over the hurdle for 45 seconds. Failure to clear the hurdle does not count as a legitimate jump. Scoring: The number of jumps achieved in 45 seconds is recorded and compared in future tests. Comments: Changes in hurdle height and jumping surface make the results of this test unreliable. As do changes in the athlete’s height if he/she is still growing. Quick-feet Test Equipment required: 20 rung agility ladder Flat, non-slip surface Stopwatch Procedure: The athlete stands to the side of the ladder The stopwatch starts when the athlete’s foot touches the ground in the first rung Stopwatch stops when the athlete’s foot touches the ground outside the last rung Rest 2 minutes Repeat Scoring: The best time of the two tests is recorded and compared to subsequent tests. Comments: There are many variations of this test, but it is important to be consistent and always use the same method for accuracy. Practice will lead to improved times due to improved neuromuscular efficiency. Quadrant Jump Test Equipment required:

Tape Measure

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Sticky tape or chalk to mark out the quadrant Chalk to number the quadrants stopwatch Procedure: the quadrant is drawn out at 90 cm length and 90 cm width and numbered the athlete stands behind the line of square no. 1 on command, the stopwatch starts and the athlete jumps into square no.1 the athlete jumps from one square to the other in numerical order both feet must land in each square the stopwatch stops at 10 seconds athlete rests for 1-2 minutes and repeats the test Scoring: The number of successful jumps is recorded in each test and the average number of jumps is recorded as the athlete’s score in points (e.g., 10 jumps=10 points). Failure to land with both feet in each square or landing on the line results in a 0.5 point deduction. Comments: This test can be conducted jumping in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction but those results should not be compared to each other.

Flexibility Tests

The traditional flexibility tests used in boxing are the sit & reach test and the shoulder reach test. However, the relevance of either of these to boxing is highly debatable. The shoulder reach test tests shoulder flexibility in a position that is not natural to a boxer; it is not a position that directly translates into any position the boxer would find him/herself in in training or during a match. While the sit & reach test is generally used for the general population, hip flexor flexibility is more pertinent to a boxer. Furthermore, the traditional sit & reach test fails to identify differences in flexibility between limbs or either side of the body. Of greater importance to a boxer is incorporating stretches into his/her training regimen that address the needs of a boxer by stretching muscles and muscle groups that are found to be in a contracted or shortened position for protracted periods of time. The most obvious of these are the anterior deltoids, pectorals, quadriceps and hip flexors, glutes and the hamstrings individually.

Punching Speed, Power, Strength and Strength Endurance Tests

The devices used to measure punching speed and power can be costly and hard to come by, while the hand-grip test is not necessarily directly relevant to boxing and is not an indicator of whole-body strength. Even though 1RM testing can be dangerous or daunting to the athlete, there are many online calculators to convert a slightly higher number of reps to a 1RM. Thus bypassing the physical and psychological concerns of the athlete and training staff. While the push-up test can be a reasonable indicator of the muscular endurance of the anterior deltoids, pectorals and triceps, natural muscle fibre composition will be a limiting factor and it fails to test other upper body muscles. The sit-up test can be misleading in its results, difficult to perform consistently and arguably fails to do what it was designed for: determining abdominal strength and endurance. Performing a sit-up involves not only the muscles comprising the abdominals (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques) but also the hip flexor group of muscles (tensor fasciae latae, psoas, sartorius, rectus femoris). And without the use of electromyography, it would be impossible to determine true abdominal musculature activation as opposed to hip flexor activation. Add that sit-ups can pose a high risk to the spinal vertebrae, especially if the abdominals are not well conditioned, and this test is not only unfit for purpose, but also potentially dangerous. A power and strength training programme is imperative to a boxer, as it will directly translate into a stronger more powerful athlete. Strength testing can be a useful measure of progress but should not be performed too frequently and should not be pursued as a goal in itself but rather as a means to an end.

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