Editor's Note: The following post is an excerpt from our Fit 2 Fight Instructor Guide
Pad work is an incredible way to increase cardiovascular output and learn Kickboxing. Ancillary benefits include stress relief while building a sense of camaraderie throughout your class.
Teaching each student how to hold pads keeps them accountable to their classmates and provides an active recovery between rounds of work. Having your students hold pads for each other also frees up the instructor from holding allowing them to roam throughout class - helping students as needed and providing motivation and encouragement.
As a side note, teaching your students how to properly hold pads allows you to see which one of them has potential at being an instructor and somewhat preserves you as a coach from getting banged from holding pads all the time.
A good pad holder can make a workout. A bad pad holder can ruin one. Please understand that holding pads is a both an art and a science that takes some time to develop. Follow these tips to help teach your students how to hold pads properly.
Pad Holding Tips
Safety First: What is pad holding safety? It starts with properly paring up partners and/or expectations. First off, size matters. It is unrealistic to pair up a grown man that is 6’5, 200+ pounds with a woman that is more than half their size. Secondly, experience matters. Advanced students should be able to work with anyone. New students should work with people of their same experience level OR people with loads of experience in order to help them along the way. Lastly, manage expectations. If you are forced to put together a bigger and smaller person or a new person with a more advanced student - be sure to be very clear what you expect from them. Slow things down and be more hands on.
Pay Attention: This may seem like a given, but it should never be taken for granted. A true story from famous kickboxing/mma Coach Mike Winklejohn should be enough of a warning for anyone ever holding pads. One training session, Mike was holding pads for one of his professional level students. During this session Coach’s attention lapsed for just a second to talk with someone off of the mats and in that split second, his student’s foot came around the target - missing the pad - finishing with their toe in Coach Winklejohn’s eye, resulting in permanent damage. Remember - if it can happen to the best, it can happen to the rest. Always be attentive when holding pads for someone, for nothing else but for safety.
Play Paddy Cake: The easiest way to get in the groove of holding pads is by thinking of the old paddy cake game. For the vast majority of techniques performed in F2F - the limb catching the technique should be the same as the limb throwing the technique. For instance:
Left Punch - Left Pad Right Punch - Right Pad
Left Kick - Left Pad Right Kick - Right Pad
There are some exceptions to the rule once you get moving with advanced combinations and foot work, but for about 90% of the combinations or techniques performed in F2F - think Left to Left, Right to Right.
Your the Boss: Like so many things in life, mindset is key. Its simple - the pad holder is the boss. As the boss, you set the pace for the round, the distance at which your partner attacks, and even the heights at which the pads are being attacked. Understand when you are holding pads, your partner is at your mercy and their workout depends on your ability to perform.
Be Engaged: The way that F2F is set up, we do a lot of partner drills - don’t be a dead fish. The worst thing that you can do to your partner (even worse than holding the pads incorrectly) is not giving an effort. In partner drills, specifically pad work, your partner is depending on you to provide the “good work”. Take that responsibility seriously and be active, attentive, and encourage. There is a big difference between a person that doesn't know how to hold pads and a person that is not trying. When all else fails remember the golden rule, “treat others as you would want to be treated”.
Smooth is Fast: Once you get up and running and a general feel for how to correctly hold pads and work with a partner - the initial reaction is going to be more! faster! harder! However, technique is and always should be first priority. The better the technique, the smoother the combination. The smoother the combination, the more speed. More speed equals more power. More power equals higher output. Higher output equals more calorie burn! Which is exactly why the majority of people are there. Take your time, develop the technique, and everything else will fall into place.