There’s a pretty incredibly amount of tools and equipment that a fighter can utilise in order to develop certain areas of their game. One such tool are the focus mitts, a pair of pads that a coach or training partner can wear on their hands, allowing you to work on both your offense and defence at the same time.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the best focus mitts for boxing and other combat sports currently available at a variety of different price points. Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to look for when shopping for a decent set of mitts.
Lets’ get to it.
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What are Focus Mitts?
Focus pads are essentially well padded targets that a training partner can wear on their hands, allowing you to throw strikes in a variety of different combinations. What’s more, you can also practice slipping and avoiding strikes thrown towards you by your coach or training partner.
Focus mitts can also be used alongside a body protector. This allows you to practice throwing targeted strikes to the body, and opens up the possibility of more combinations.
One of the most vulnerable times in a boxing match, or many other combat sports is when you’ve just thrown a strike; your momentum is going towards your opponent, one hand is occupied and unable to guard your face and you could even miss your target.
Working out using focus pads allows you to practice moving whilst punching, avoiding counter strikes and falling into a sense rhythm.
What’s more, unlike a lot of other martial arts/ boxing equipment such as a heavy bag, focus matts are incredibly cheap and won’t break the bank.
The only downside is that you need a training partner that’s familiar with certain striking combinations and is comfortable using the mitts with you. For example, before a combination is thrown, your training partner will often call out a number, or series of numbers to signify that specific combination. They will then also need to know where to have the focus mitts in that particular order for you to successfully throw the combination in rapid succession.
I’ll throw in some guides and videos at the end of this article that you can show to someone if they’re unsure on how to use focus mitts.
Focus Mitts Reviews
Ok, lets' take a closer look at some of the top rated focus pads currently available.
Our #1 Rated: Ringside Panther Focus Mitts
Up first on our list of the best training mitts are the Ringside Panther Focus Mitts. Ringside are incredibly well known and reputable brand in the boxing world, with the Panther Mitts being the go to pair for many trainers and gyms around around the world.
Not only are they some of the most durable, well made mitts on the market, they’re priced in such an affordable manner that there was no other option but to rate these as our number 1 choice.
High Quality Construction
First, and foremost, these are made to last, there’s no other way to say it. As I’m sure many of you know, a lot of companies in the boxing/ martial arts world implement synthetic leather in their products to cut costs and offer their gear for less. Although this allows for an affordable product, synthetic leather is known to wear a lot quicker, eventually starting to crack and tear, especially if it’s used frequently.
Fortunately, Ringside haven’t taken this approach to their Panther Focus Pads, instead opting for genuine leather materials than ensures the longevity of the mitts. The flip side to this is that there will be a short ‘wear in’ period, where they feel a little bit stiff. However, after a few work out sessions, they’ll loosen up and feel great both for the trainer and the person striking the mitts.
Their shape is contoured in order to provide the wearers hand, arm and wrist with good alignment and posture, which in turns helps to dissipate the trauma from the strikes effectively.
What’s more, inside the Panther Focus Mitts is a ball shaped cushion in which the trainer can hold on to. This both provides extra padding to the hand, and helps the mitt to stay in place if struck with a lot of force.
In terms of size, these are very much run of the mill, measuring at around 10" x 7.5" x 3" in size. This provides a decent amount of surface area that can be hit, however won’t be particularly heavy, allowing for a longer session, as the person holding them wont tire from holding heavy pads.
I’ve been a fan of these for a long time, and to this day I’m still baffled at how Ringisde offer these for such a reasonable price. Having used a fair share of pads, both holding and striking them, very few are able to compete with the Ringside Panthers in term of comfort, durability and price. All in all, insane value for money is offered with these bad boys.
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Check out the video below for a full 360 degree view of the Ringside Panther Focus Mitts.
Fairtex Focus Punch Mitts – Best Focus Mitts for Muay Thai
Up next we’ve got the Fairtex Focus mitts, which I’ve found particularly popular with Muay Thai practitioners looking to stick with a brand they’re familiar with.
In terms of build quality, Fairtex have taken the same approach to their focus pads as they do with vast majority of their gear – hand made using genuine leather materials. The result? Some of the highest quality focus mitts for Muay Thai and boxing in the world.
As with a lot of genuine leather fight gear, there will be a small break in period, however this is to be expected. Don’t worry if they feel a bit stiff to begin with, after a bit of use they’ll loosen up and feel a lot better.
Comfort & Fit
Fairtex have made use of lightweight, shock absorbing layered foam to protect the wearers hand when they're being hit. Not only does this do a great job at reducing the impact, it also allows the trainer to wear them for a prolonged period of time due to their lightweight design.
One thing I’ve notice about the Fairtex focus mitts is their sizing, and unfortunately, this isn’t a good thing. If you’ve got big hands, you may find these a bit too tight, in which case I would recommend the Ringside mitts we discussed just now. I’m not too sure why Fairtex have designed these like this, as it’s pretty damn annoying for anyone with larger hands as the chances are the mitts will be too tight.
If, like me, you’ve got somewhat small hands, you’ll find the hand compartment to be incredibly well made and comfortable. The inside of the pads are extremely soft and feature a finger protection hood, which will stop you fingers being pulled back if the person is to accidentally graze over the mitt with their punch.
Unlike a lot of the other options to feature in our list, the Fairtex mitts come in a variety of different color options such as, black & red, red & black, red & white and white & pink. This is great for trainers/ gym owners looking to maintain a similar aesthetic across all of their equipment.
Unfortunately, these are some of the pricier mitts on our list, however as is the case with a lot of fight equipment, you get what you pay for. With these, you’ve got some of the best focus mitts for Muay Thai, hand made in Thailand, with genuine leather and are sure to last for years to come.
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There’s no school like the old school, which is exactly what Ringside were thinking when they released the Heritage version of their Panther focus mitts.
Despite being the most expensive pair on our list, the protection that they offer is second to none, making them a brilliant option for anyone frequently on the receiving end of a mitt work out.
These are constructed using 1.3mm premium dried cowhide leather, which as we discussed earlier, provide an insane amount of durability. One thing I’m not too sure about is how/ where they were constructed, admittedly it’s to a great standard, however there’s a few finishing touches that I feel these are missing.
In terms of weight, these are roughly 15oz, which is on the light side of things when compared to other gloves, which is surprising considering genuine leather tends to weight a bit more.
The Heritage Panther's are some of the most comfortable mitts around, featuring a 2.5inch impact absorbing foam alongside a foam padded finger hood that provides both your hands and fingers with a great amount of protection.
Inside the Heritage Panther focus pads is another 2inch padded arch, which not only provides extra protection, but also keeps your hand in a stable position that will help to prevent shock being felt on your elbow and shoulder joints.
The mitts themselves can be attached firmly to your hand using the double hook and loop closure system that is secured tightly using metal D-rings. This strap system provides a well customized fit, allowing for multiple people with different size hands to make use of the same pair of mitts.
Well… what can I say about their style?
They’re simply awesome, a true homage to the old school days of boxing. No bright colors, no flashy branding, just sheer ingenuity and craftsmanship on show. Easily one of the best looking focus mitts on our list!
Unfortunately, Heritage Panther Focus Mitts by Ringside don’t come cheap, and unless you’re an actual trainer using focus mitts on a regular occasion, the price tag may be a tad to hefty to warrant a purchase.
If you understandably don’t want to stretch you budget too far, perhaps instead consider the regular Ringside Panther focus mitts, which are less than half the price, but more than half as good (we discussed them first).
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While RDX don’t necessary have the most reputable name in the fight gear industry, their focus pads are actually pretty awesome and are worth considering. When you take into account their build quality and price, these are probably one of the best value for money options you’re going to come across.
Construction Quality & Durability
The RDX focus mitts are constructed using three separate layers, utilising different materials to form one, well padded focus mitt.
The first layer, closet to the hand, is what is known as a ‘Infused Shock Dispersion Sheet’. The role of this layer is to effectively disperse what shock made it through the first two layers effectively, preventing any injury being sustained to your hand. This should disperse the force equally across your hand so that one particular area doesn’t come under any more force than other.
The middle layer, is made use polygonal fusion foam which is responsible for absorbing the vast majority of impact. This thick layer of foam ensures that you’re able to continually wear them without sustaining an injury to your hand, wrist or elbow.
The first layer acts as the first line of defence for your hand, and is constructed of ‘Sponge X’ padding. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that’s just some fancy name that RDX gave it, but it certainly works.
Unlike a lot of RDX’s other products, their focus pads are made using 100% genuine cowhide leather, which will allow them to last a decent amount of time before showing any signs of wear and tear.
RDX really outdid themselves in the comfort department, utilising mesh fabric with moisture wicking properties for the hand compartment. Not only does this keep your hands cool whilst wearing the gloves, it helps to reduce the build of up sweat, which can cause them to stink.
They feature a hook and loop closure system that does a pretty decent job at keeping them in place through out the work out.
Similarly, the fabric used to construct the inside of the hand compartment is designed to allow your hand to easily maintain a grip to the mitt. RDX have dubbed this fabric ‘easy grip technology’, which again is just another fancy term, however yet again proves itself as a worth while component of the mitts.
PriceThe price is probably the best feature of the RDX focus mitts. These are extremely well made and in my opinion are under priced. You would expect to pay around $100 for pads of this quality, so getting them at this sort of price range is an absolute bargain. I suspect that RDX will increase the price in the not too distant future, but hopefully not.
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Next up on our list of the best boxing mitts are the Pro Impact Curved Pads. There’s nothing flash or fancy about these mitts, just good, solid quality with a very respectable price tag.
These are another pair that are constructed out of genuine leather material using a curved design.
The curved design both makes it easier for the person to cleanly strike the pads, and also provides a stable position for the wearers hands and wrists. The leather also offers a certain amount of scratch resistance, allowing the mitts to look fresher for longer.
They also posses a white dot on their striking surface, allowing the person working out to have a clear target of where they are meant to be throwing a strike. This is ideal for people who do not have much experience with this type of training, as it allows them to clearly see where to land the punch.
The Pro Impact mitts feature a solid amount of padding, however when new, the padding tends to be a bit on the firm side. With this in mind, it’s important to wear good gloves when using them to begin with.
Inside is a cushioned ball that the wearer can hold on to in order to keep the mitt firmly in place. The pad itself is secured to the hand using a hook and loop system that provides a stable and firm fit, preventing the mitt from sliding around.
Also located inside is a sweat resistant lining, which helps to prevent the build up of odour, which is great as I’ve had a few mitts that start to frickin stink after a few uses.
You’ve also got a choice of two color variation with the these; either all black or black & red. While the choice is somewhat limited, it’s better than having no choice at all.
The icing on the cake with these though is the price.
The affordable price tag is probably somewhat due to Pro Impact being a rather small name in the boxing gear world, however that’s better for us punters looking for a great deal. All in all, a pretty great pair of boxing work out mitts for any experience level.
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Sanabul Essential Focus Mitts – Incredible Value for Money
Admittedly, Sanabul aren’t known for producing the best gear and equipment in the world. What they are known for though, is creating budget friendly products that can still hold their own under constant use.
As you may expect from such an incredibly affordable pair of pads, Sanabul have made use of synthetic leather, which they have dubbed ‘performance engineered leather’. To be fair to them, I’ve heard nothing but good things amount their mitts, which is pretty in line with their almost 500 positive reviews dotted around online.
Just be aware though that these may not last as long as genuine leather pair, but at this price point, it’s not a a deal breaker at all.
The mitts themselves were made using a hand-shaped mould so that they would perfectly match the curvature of a hand, allowing for a tight, yet comfortable fit.
They also make use of ultra light foam, that although weighs very little, has an insane amount of shock absorbing capabilities to offer the wearer. This lightweight foam will also prevent the trainer from tiring, allowing sessions to last longer, at a higher intensity.
Mesh material has been used in the hand compartment to keep the wearers hands cool whilst using the mitts. This will help to stop the wearers hand from sweating, which in turn can cause the mitts to smell.
Similarly to some of the other models on our list, the Sanabul focus mitts feature a cushions half ball grip, which allows the wearer to maintain a secure grip throughout the work out.
You’ve also got the choice of the following color combinations: all black, black & green, black & red, black & copper, black & metallic blue and black & metallic silver.
PriceWhile these may not be built to the same standard, with the same quality materials as some of the most expensive options on our list, these definitely can hold their own and are easily affordable.
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Elite Sports Focus Mitts – Budget Friendly
Moving onto the last pair on our list, this time coming from the likes of Elite Sports, with an incredibly budget friendly option. Similarly so Sanabul, Elite Sports have implemented synthetic leather in order to offer their pads at such an affordable price.
Despite featuring synthetic leather, they have received a plethora of positive reviews on their comfort, surprising quality and stability. The mitts themselves feature a curved design, offering a solid striking surface due to the fact that they follow the curve on the wearers hand.
They do however make use of a hook and loop Velcro strap, which to be honest, I’m not too sure about. In the short term the strap works great, however after a few months I’m sure it’ll start to show some signs of wear and tear.
But to be fair, that is to be expected with such an affordable pair of mitts, so it’s not a massive deal.
In terms of design, they look very minimal, with an all black look with an Elite Sports logo being featured in the middle of the pad. You have the option to choose between 5 different color logos, allowing you to find a pair to match your color of preference.
Considering the price point of these pads and their use of synthetic leather, I would say these are definitely aimed towards someone who’s buying their first pair.
That being said, I’ve heard nothing but good things about these, so I’m sure even an experienced boxer could definitely get a solid work out from them.
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How to Determine the Best Boxing Focus Mitts?
The quality and amount of padding that focus mitts posses is incredibly important as the padding is what stands in the way between the person throwing the strike, and the trainers hand. The padding must be both thick and shock absorbing in order to protect both peoples hands from sustaining injury, especially the person wearing the pads.
Type of Material Used
As I’ve mentioned a number of times throughout this article, always try and find a pair that make use of genuine leather materials. These tend to last much longer than synthetic leather, allowing you to get more bang for your buck.
Of course, not everyone is wanting to splash out on genuine leather mitts as they tend to be more expensive.
If you are considering getting a pair made out of synthetic leather, make sure you read customer reviews and see if others are happy with them. I’ve included a couple of pairs of synthetic leather mitts in this post, so that’s a great place to start.
Most mitts will use reinforced stitching alongside the seems.
A tell tale sign of a poor quality pair is when the threading starts to come apart, which can eventually leave the wearers hand exposed. With this in mind, see if you can see if the company describes the type of stitching used and keep an eye out for the term ‘reinforced stitching’.
Hand & Wrist Support
Continually wearing mitts for your training partner can put a lot of strain on your hand, wrist elbow and even shoulder.
That’s why it is important to find a pair that provide a solid amount of support for the wearers hand. The best boxing pads will typically have a curved pad shape, with a cushion ball and a solid closure system. This will all help in providing a good amount of stability for the wearers hand and wrist.
Lastly, we’ve got price.
As you have probably noticed from the selection of mitts in our list, their price point can vary massively. We’ve tried to include options at a wide range of prices, making sure that with each pair, sufficient value for money is being offered.
There’s nothing wrong with spending a good amount on a pair of mitts, just make sure that they offer enough benefits that the price tag is warranted.
Similarly if they're are extremely cheap, as long as they can meet your specific demands, it’s not too big of a deal if they’re made out of synthetic leather and therefore are cheaper.
Ringside are behind some of the most popular and high quality boxing equipment on the market, so it’s no surprise that they’ve released some of the best punch mitts that I’ve ever tried. Typically, their gear tends to be fairly affordable, however they do offer some top end stuff that for me a lot of the time, is out of budget.
Fairtex are a reputable brand typically specialising in Muay Thai equipment. Most, if not all of their products are handmade in Thailand, the home of Muay Thai and generally are constructed out of genuine leather material. While they do focus mainly on Muay Thai equipment, they also offer a variety of different gear for MMA and boxing as well.
Focus Mitts Guides
Ok, now that we've taken a look at some of the top focus mitts, lets' check out some videos that show both how to use and how to hold a pair of focus pads.
How to Hold Focus Mitts
Having a training partner with a good grasp on how to hold the focus pads and call out specific instructions is incredibly important. The below videos will walk you through the basics and show you and your training partner how they should be used.
Here's another great video walking you through how to use and hold focus mitts.
Below is a video taking you a specific drill you can run with your training partner.
Focus Mitt FAQ’S
Do you need to wear gloves when training with focus mitts?
Generally, I would recommend wearing a fairly thick pair of gloves when using focus mitts. This is due to the fact that not only are you striking the pads, your training partner will also be bringing down the pads to your first at the same time. This could well cause some damage if you’re repeatedly using focus pads without gloves on.
Can I Wash the Focus Mitts?
It really depends on where you got the pads from, but most of the time, no. Definitely not in the washing machine anyway. You probably could hand wash them in cold water, but just check the label on the mitts and see what it says. This is why making sure that the mitts offer decent breathability to the wearers hands is important, as once they start to smell, it’s hard to make them stop.
There we have it... Hopefully you're now equipped with the knowledge to decice the best focus mitts for you and how to use them.
If you've got any questions, feel free to ask away in the comment section below.