Catching punches is an art form. This is a skill that takes years to master. Rhythm, cadence, accuracy and the right amount of force applied by the holder on impact when receiving a strike is not something that can be developed over night. An artist needs the correct tools in order to succeed in creating a work of art. Focus Mitts are the tools used by trainers all over the world to hone the skills of their fighters. This is a serious undertaking and the tools selected to help a trainer on this journey should not be chosen carelessly.
The brave individuals charged with this task are not fearful, for they are equipped with years of experience and two pieces of vital protective equipment. Choosing the right equipment is not always easy. There are several factors to consider when purchasing a pair of focus mitts. Brand, design and cost are the major components for selecting the proper pair of focus mitts.
What are Focus Mitts?
Think of a catcher’s mitt in baseball if you haven’t seen focus mitts before. A pitcher fires a fastball into the mitt of a catcher with sniper like precision. The combat sports athlete delivers strikes with that same precision and power into his/her coach’s focus mitts. Roughly a dinner plate sized thick pad with a target in the middle that is worn on the hands of the person catching punches. The focus mitt is usually secured by a Velcro strap or elastic band.
How to Purchase a Pair
There are a few points to consider before making a focus mitt purchase. Who are they for? The level of fighter is an important part of the focus mitt selection process. If the focus mitts are for young children who are just starting out on their martial arts journey then top quality mitts should not a be a priority. Children don’t hit hard enough to warrant spending over $100 on a pair of focus mitts. This is also true for adults who are just starting out in striking. They will not possess the skill or power that will force a trainer to go out and buy top quality mitts.
High quality focus mitts are designed for the serious trainer and fighter. A trainer who will be the only wearer of these focus mitts, training competition level fighters should invest in the proper pair. High quality material and protection will reduce wear on tear on the hands and joints of the holder and fighter. These mitts should not have multiple hands inside them, so they can conform properly and specifically to one set of hands. These focus mitts will be quality leather mitts in the range of $100 and up.
The other setting for focus mitts is in a gym or training camp setting. These are focus mitts that will be used for low to mid-level strikers on an everyday basis. These focus mitts will have multiple wearers catching different levels of punches from the inexperienced to experienced. These mitts should be selected for their quality and durability because use will be the major factor. Focus mitts ranging from $60-$100 usually serve this purpose. They are good enough to catch strikes from different levels of fighters all throughout the day and hold up over the course of several months. They also need to be adjustable because the size and shapes of hands that will be in them will vary.
Types of Focus Mitts
When talking focus mitts there are three categories of mitts. Each category of mitt is slightly different offering a specific change suited to what is being trained. The mitts can be bigger and heavier to support more powerful punches. They can be lighter and smaller which is conducive for promoting accuracy and speed. The third category is a combination of the first two, a mitt that can handle both speed and power while protecting the holder from injury.
Speed or Micro Mitts
Speed mitts are the smallest and lightest of all focus mitts. They are used to sharpen combinations and accuracy. Their small surface area makes a challenging target for the fighter to find, ensuring the striker’s punches are quick, short and clean. The holder likes using speed mitts when working combinations because the mitts are light and easy to maneuver. Speed mitts are not a good idea when catching a very heavy powerful puncher. They do not offer a lot in the realm of protection. Speed mitts and used primarily to catch only punches.
Contoured or Panther Mitts
Contoured mitts are generally used for heavier punches. They provide a curved contoured surface area for striking. This provides more support to the hands and wrists of the holder. The contoured shape absorbs punches better protecting the holder. These mitts usually have a pad that extends down to the wrist area. The protection is twofold because the contoured shape of the striking surface protects the punchers when the shots thrown are not precise. Panther mitts can also have padding that extends from inside the glove down to the wrist area of the holder which is a welcome safety feature. If one has ever held pads and gotten punched in the wrist because the striker missed the mitt is not a pleasant feeling. Panther mitts can be used to catch punches, elbows and potentially knees due to their weight and protective capabilities.
Hybrid or Combo Mitts
The hybrid mitt is the jack of all trade focus mitt one can find in most boxing and mixed martial arts gyms today. They incorporate various features of the first two types offering slight variations depending on preference. The hybrid mitts can be light weight and contoured, heavy and flat or vary in these ways based on preference of the holder. Consider them the all around focus mitt of choice for boxing and mixed martial arts gyms around the globe. Some trainers prefer blended array of attributes in their focus mitts. Hybrid mitts cater to these preferences. Combo mitts can be used to catch a variety of strikes similar to contoured mitts.
Best Focus Mitts — Our Picks
Best Speed Mitts: Hyabusa Pro Training Elevate Micro Mitts
Hyabusa is one of the most well-known equipment and apparel combat sports brands around the world. The company is especially popular with the MMA community. These micro mitts sport a vast array of modern technology that benefits both holder and striker. Their ergonomic shape brings superior comfort and maneuverability to the holder while offering up enough padding to absorb the striker’s punches. The inside of the mitt has a nonslip material and a hook and loop Velcro strap that keep even the sweatiest of hands from losing grip. Hyabusa’s proprietary technology called Optistrike™ offers the right amount of contour to this micro mitt for catching punches that do not land on the mark. The Pro Training Elevate Micro Mitt also offers exclusive air dome technology in the palm area for maximum punch absorption. These mitts will set you back $94.99 USD on the company’s website. These mitts are perfect for training high level powerful combat sports athletes. Dimensions of the striking surface are 8” in height 7” in width.
These micro mitts are designed for advanced level holders and strikers. These are not beginner focus mitts. Their small size and relative light padding are used to hone the combination skills of seasoned strikers. They provide the highest level of feel and feedback to the holder. The air dome technology does a good job of absorbing punches without dulling the feedback of the force and accuracy of the punch. Contour is minimal but acceptable for a micro mitt. Mainly for advanced combination striking these micro mitts have a considerable lifespan to them. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye, they offer a good target box for the striker to zero in on when working. Due to their size and limited amount of padding these are not ideal for beginners.
Best Contoured/Panther Mitts: Ringside Pro Panther Punch Mitts
Ringside has been in the fight game a long time and their focus mitts have a legendary reputation for fighters and coaches around the world. The Pro Panther Punch Mitts are technological update on a legendary design. The deep contour and thick padding give these focus mitts a pillow like feel when catching punches from even the biggest of bruisers. These mitts have flexible panels that can expand or contract depending on hand size to maximize fit. Ringside also has some of the best wrist protection padding in the game. Internal palm ball design keeps the holder’s hands in place at all times. Made from quality leather this will last years down the line. These focus mitts can be found on the ringside website for $129.99. Dimensions of these mitts are 6.5” wide and 9.5” tall.
Pro Panther focus mitts are an intermediate boxing specific mitt set. They are made of good strong quality leather that does require a break in period. These mitts can last if cared for properly, roughly 8-12 months of everyday use before the foam starts to compress from repeated work. The Pro Panthers are made for the serous trainer and fighter. Ringside uses a rather deep contour to their mitts which is excellent for catching punches from a skilled season hard hitting fighter. The quality of these mitts is exceptional as reflected in their price point. They range on the heavy side as far as focus mitts go because of the thick leather and foam padding chosen for them.
Best Hybrid Mitts: Everlast Mantis Mitts
Everlast mantis combines the contour of panther mitts and the light weight smaller surface area of speed mitts to give you a strong hybrid candidate. Everlast uses mesh lines anti-microbial fabrics in their products to help dissipate sweat rapidly. The name Mantis comes from the way the Praying Mantis holds its hands. Everlast is affordable and reliable. It is a safe assumption to say that if one were to walk into any boxing or MMA gym in the world there would be a pair of Everlast focus mitts being used. These hybrid mitts retail for $69.99 on the Everlast website.
These mitts are a strong choice for beginners. They offer as a good starting point for focus mitts. They are big enough to catch punches that are not the most accurate. There is enough padding in the mitts so they can absorb hard punches. Break-in time is minimal; they form to the holders hands after a couple of sessions using them. The Mantis Mitts are not top tier quality but god enough to get the job done.
Cleaning and Maintaining Focus Mitts
There are number old wives tales on how to keep your gear from smelling and breaking down. There is no magic potion for keeping your gear odor free. Disinfectant wipes or sprays can be used on the surfaces of the equipment to eliminate odors and bacteria that may build up over time. Do not use harsh cleaning products on your training gear, it may dry out the leather or material which will cause cracking or wear that cannot be fixed.
The key is to buy gear that is well made and periodically clean each piece of equipment thoroughly. Most focus mitts cannot go in the washing machine or dyer because the foam padding will warp in the extreme conditions generated by both washer and dryer. Occasionally a stitch will pop or rip, this does not mean the focus mitts or pads are useless. Take the piece of equipment to a skilled seamstress or craftsman and they may be able to save it.