Rebelling against my coach

Don't get me wrong, I love my punch-drunk coach, but I just don't trust his advice sometimes. He has boxed infinitely longer than me, had a world ranking, has trained numerous highly-successful boxers, but like I said, there is some advice that I don't trust.

He forbids me from drinking water while training, which I believe is not only bad advice, but also dangerous.

He wants me to drop twenty pounds. I am at six percent body fat right now. There is no way I can do this. He calls me fat.

I have made tremendous gains after spending the last few weeks working with a maize bag. He tells me that it is a worthless piece of training equipment, and that I should use a cone shaped uppercut bag instead. He says that no one's fist travel's as slow as a maize bag swings, so it is unrealistic. He tells me to practice bobbing beneath a rope instead.

The uppercut bag is a completely different piece of equipment, and I cannot practice my movement there any differently than on a heavy bag. I use the rope aready, but the maize bag gives me different angles to work from.

He also told me not to use a 60 degree stance (ala James Tooney -back almost turned toward your opponent, looking over your shoulder, rear hand guarding the face, front hand down). I have been using this stance with a lot of success lately. I get a bit more distance on my jab, and I often catch people "reaching" for me from this stance, which allows me to connect with solid counter-punches. I change to this position when I want to move around a little bit more an catch my breath. It really helps. My coach just shut me down.

Finally, NO ONE in my gym HITS the heavy bag. They just kinda stand in one place and pitter-patter it with their fists for up to an hour. My coach tells me that I need to hit it like them. I don't see how half-heartedly swinging at the bag without even straightening your arms translates into realistic practice. I don't try to kill the bag, but I do try to put some pop in my punches. Again, my coach is shutting me down.

I guess that all of this burned me up because all of this came down yesterday. I pride myself on being a coachable athlete, and I try to trust my coaches. However, I am not an amatuer style fighter, I am not built like Tommy Hearns, and I am not going to stand around bouncing from foot to foot hitting like a school girl. If the maize bag helps me, then why shouldn't I be allowed to use it? If I can hold my own + catch my breath from a 60 degree stance, then what is the problem? If I can drink water between rounds (or after practice) and still perform well, then what is the problem?

I trust my coach about a lot of things, but I also know and trust myself. I actually give my coach credit for having a lot of tolerance for my unorthodox, inside fighting style, but lately his comments seem like too much for me.

What do you guys think I should do? Any comments on his suggestions?


How old is your coach?

How long has he been involved in boxing, both as trainer/coach and fighter?

I think that often time a coach (and this is common in many sports not just boxing) do a training regiment or follow a philosophy that was hand down to them from their own coach (or coaches).

Alot the the things that may do have no root in science, fact, or truth. They (the coach) does things a certain way because that is how they've always done it.

Another thing that happens is a coach may have had a bad experience with a certain coaching practice or methology and they similar do things now as a counter reaction to how things were done in their experiences. Their coach may have stress heavy bag training and they may not have liked that and decided to do things differently when they coach.

Since alot of coaching aren't really knowledgeable about how the body works and how it responses to food and exercise they have know basis for many of their views and approach to training. It becomes essentially subjective, a matter of what they think is right instead of what really is right.

This isn't to say that all your coach's advice is completely wrong but generally it seems that any advice which directly deals with the function of the human body as it relates to food (fuel), exercise, mechanics, and the like is best given by someone who is an expert in the field of sport science, exercise science, nutrition, medical science etc.

What's wrong with drinking water while training? Not drinking water while training is asking to get dehydrated in my opinion. I can understand not drinking water in between rounds while sparring.

"You get cramps from drinking water"

Sure, if you're drinking too much of it.

odds are if he is old his training methods are old as well.

As the sport progresses people actually discover more effecient/safer ways to train. Take his advice w/ a grain of salt. Esp the water thing and heavy bag thing.

If i was you i would find a coach that you trust, not saying your coach is a bad coach but if you don't have your full faith in him you both wont be going anywhere!!!

lol @ slick!

lol @ slick!

Thanks for the advice fellas. I do trust my coach in almost all areas, but there are some things that I do a little differently. I wish that he could trust me as well.

I worry that some of our differences will drive a wedge between us, especially if I continue to use my maize bag (sounds petty, doesn't it?) I can understand how he would feel insulted that some young know-nothing wants to challenge his opinion.

I just don't know how to negotiate these issues with him. Any suggestions?

BTW: My coach turned pro in the 80's when he was thrity. He has been involved with boxing ever since.


Lose your poor stance now before it beomes ingrained.

That stance you are using will get you killed against a decent body/head combo puncher. You need to remember, just because it works in the gym sometimes to get you a breath, you dont get to always see all the bad things that can happen in that stance with the limited number of sparring partners you have; whereas your crusty coach has probably seen every thing on the block.

For water, sounds old fashioned, losing weight; what is your weight class/ height? He is probably trying to get you into a class where height wont be a disadvantage. He is possible just none too diplomatic in explaining this.

well he turned pro in the 80's he shouldnt be that old. I dunno sounds like a quack to me.

I think M.G. hit it on the head. In most sports and
"tough" sports especially there's a lot of weight
put on tradition. I don't care if you're talking
boxing, football, Traditional MA, or whatever, there's
just something about these that loan themselves to
doing things "like we always did."

He probably doesn't like the maize bag because he
didn't use one when he was coming up. Probably has
the same thoughts about water. Fact of the matter is,
most MAists/boxers never really learned the science
behind what they do. A lot of the traditional methods
are VERY sound, and work quite well, but there are
plenty that are just plain useless, and in some cases

I still cringe when I see karate schools getting kids
to do countless fingertip pushups incorrectly. Or
when I hear a coach tell someone that lifting weights
will make them muscle bound. It's really no different
than those folks who don't spar, or never have contact.

My advice is drink the water, but do the drills your
coach tells you. If you want to do extra work on the
maize bag then do so, it's your time.

Thanks for the input everyone. I would like to use the maize bag, but I think that will only create massive conflict. I imagine that my coach will take it as a insult to his knowledge and a challenge to his authority. In Corea this issue is especially sensitive.

I agree with folks about tradition. I find myself developing a very clear set of preferences and patterns after three years. I could only imagine what it would be like after another seventeen. I am just not sure about how I can appeal to his reasoning.

I had a very good coach in Hawaii who got me started with my boxing. He taught me everything I know, and my style is MUCH different than what exists in Corea. He had me moving to a 60 degree stance occasionally. I really trusted in his tutelage and the 60 degree stance works for me. There is a time and place for everything, and if I am getting caught in this stance, I will just switch back up to my regular 45 degree stance. It is not like this is the only position I can fight from.

I am an extremely short and heavy fighter (5'5" 155lbs), so I get inside and bang. The Corean style is to stand on the outside and throw long, straight punches to the head. As a result, there are a lot of conflicts between me and everyone else in the gym. (The older guys, no matter how little experience they have are always trying to pull me aside and show me how it is done right.)

Thanks for the help.


Dude, give us an email.

so are you for some reason only able to train at this one gym?

I think there are alot of different ways fighters fight and you need to find one who suits your style. My 1st coach was an Australian Champion and he was very much into the hit and no be hit style. This style suited me very well and I still use what he taught me. But there was another guy who train with me and he was in the mould of a small Tyson, this style didn't suit him at all, as he wasn't interested in getting in a side on stance and jabing, ducking and weaving, he wanted to get in there and mix it up as he was also short for his weight and strong. After my coach past away we both found another coach who was very flexiable and teach us both different as we were both very different fighters!!!
Again i say if you want to go anywhere find a coach you can trust and suits your style!!!

My first coach yelled at me like crazy when I went to drink the water. "Don't drink any water! What are you? An idiot?"

Anyway, I kep training and at the end I asked him if he didn't want me to drink water because it was bad for me and he said

"No, the pipes are so old they are full of rust and the water tastes like shit."
Moral of the story, always ask why...

Boxing's a tough enough sport to begin with. I don't envy you in this situation. It sounds to me like you have a lack of confidence in what your trainer is telling you. This is going to be crucial in your development as a fighter.

You're probably going to second guess everything he says..which is good to an extent, because everything your trainer tells you, you should analyze. Not from a point of second guessing him though. He should be able to explain to you why something will work for you.

Something else to be discussed here, is that not every fighter should be taught to fight the same way. The basics are the same for every fighter, but certain fighters have different capabilities, talents, and attributes.

There will come a time, if it hasn't already happened, when you're coming back to your corner for advice after a round, he tells you something, and you don't have confidence in what he tells you. A fighter has too many other things going on, to second guess what's going on in his corner. I hope your situation works out for you, because this doesn't sound enjoyable.

Excellent posts gentlemen. I killed some study time by reading 'em, and feel much uplifted. I can also sympathize, as I've experienced similar coaching /"studenting" conflicts. A former coach was fond of JKD's "strong side forward" philosophy (and got to be a US Olympic Boxing Team stand-in with it) and conveyed it to his students. Other coaches have NOT been as open minded. I try to not be blatant about practicing on both sides, but still get busted doing so from time to time. ;)