A speed bag set up is really three separate pieces of equipment that are joined together. Every piece is important and can affect the workout experience.
Boards, often called the “drum”, come in several sizes, determined by the circumference. Standard sizes are 24, 30 and 36 inches. Small 24 inch boards are normally found in economy home units. Larger ones are found in gyms or high use health clubs. The best boards have some type of height adjust method, so you can raise or lower it to properly position the bag for the user. Always make sure your board is fully tightened down to reduce vibration. Make sure all items are off the top of the board before hitting the bag that is attached.
- Light small boards of 24 inches, usually made of presswood, are very light and thin – and these may need some reinforcement with another piece of wood attached on top for added weight for support. This will add stability and reduce vibration. ( see photo).
- Before you attach the swivel, check the top area of your board to see if it is clear over the middle (no hanging frame parts or plates). If the center of your board is clear, it is recommended that you drill your swivel holes all the way through the board and attach your swivel with bolts. ( see swivel tips ).
Many speed baggers who are talented with wood will design their own Speed bag board, with different types of wood and each type seems to have it’s own resonant sound. Most are wanting a little thicker, heavier board which is much more resistant to vibration. Several samples are below. You will find a few more unique samples of customized boards as well as speed bag setups featured under the Topic of Unique Speed Bag Setups.
In years past the overhead “board” would often be a rebound Ring, made of circular steel, but we don’t see many of these anymore.
The swivel is the middle part of the setup and is the main part that provides bag movement. The swivel base attaches to the board and a movement portion attaches to the bag. Currently there are three main types of swivels, and several varieties of each
The Ball Hook
The oldest and simplest design. there are no swivel parts or connections to influence the bag rebound. Older styles had two parts, A base connection which attaches to the board, and an action part which holds the “ball” and connects to the bag. Most recently almost all ball-hook production has moved to a single base unit and the ball sits inside. Below are pictures of ballhooks
The Chain Link
Chain link swivels have one or more links of chain in the design. They also come in two parts, a base that attaches to the board, and the bottom part the with the link attachment that screws into the base plate. These are quieter than the ballhook, but more difficult to attach the bag since you have to separate the links.
U-Bolt swivel gets that name for having a bag attachment look that is shaped like a “U”. These come in various designs and sizes of the “U” attachment piece. They are Quiet and fast, and the changing bags is usually pretty easy. The main issue for this design is the action arm does not immediately move in every direction of a punch, and as a reaction the bag will sometimes “slide” along the bar and interfere with the rebound angle or bag speed.
- For high use areas, It is recommended to drill your swivel holes all the way through the board and use bolts to attach the swivel base to the board. This will eliminate the base of the swivel from coming lose.
- For a two piece screw type ( ball-hook and chain link) use vice-grips to tighten the bottom part of the swivel. This will give enough pressure to keep the bottom tight. Hand tight only will constantly come loose.
- For bar U-Bolt type swivels, put some tape around the bag loop to draw it tight and keep it in contact with the bar at all times. Otherwise it may “float” up, losing contact, when you slightly mishit in an upward direction. This may slow the bag down enough to screw up your routine.
- When you are having problems hitting the bag, and seem to have lost control – check the swivel. Something might be loose. Even if it isn’t, it is best to blame it on the swivel.
Swivels are one of the most diverse and “manipulated” pieces of speed bag equipment with many variations on each style. In fact most of the more modern, fastest and highest quality swivels are now being “custom produced” by engineeringly skilled speed baggers themselves, and not massed produced. These are normally found on speed bag based social media platforms and speedbagforums.com
Because the speed bag swivel is such a key item we have developed a much more intense “swivel page” dedicated to explaining the pros, cons, repairs and possible modifications for each type.
Speed bags have been around a long time and normally are made of Two parts; the other covering that is punched and the inner bladder that gets filled with air.
The outer portion can be made from a number of different materials, Leather, cowhide, kangaroo and synthetic. The inner bladder normally comes in either plastic or some type of rubber. The inner bladder has an air nipple that normally pokes through the bottom of the bag and receives the needle of an air pump.
We won’t lie. Bladders are no fun to change out, but they normally hold up for a long time. However, when they go bad it is usually due to a leaky air valve. There is no fix for that and it will have to be replaced.
Speed Bags come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. Although sizes are fairly standard, the exact shape of each “size” depends on the company making it. There is little uniformity between brands, so a size 9×6 speed bag from one company may not look like or respond like a 9×6 from another company. Although the “number size” may be the same, one may be short and teardrop shaped, the other elongated like a ‘banana” (called Mexican style) and narrower around. An 11×8 medium bag size may actually be listed as an 11×7 by another company. That is why most people find a size, shape and brand they prefer and stay with it.
Speed Bag size is also one of the greatest reasons that people fail to learn or advance. Usually they are struggling with a small bag that requires control of punching power and fist speed It may make a world of difference to simply use a larger bag!
The main point of each size is listed below.
Large size Bags
Large bags can come in sizes from 11×8, 12×9, 13×10 or 14×11. In the “old days” they were actually much bigger. Large bags the slowest bags, and are best for power punching and also beginners who cannot control the repetitive force of their punching. be aware that the large bags may extend out past the end of a smaller 24 inch board.
Medium size Speed Bags
Medium sized bags normally come in sizes from 10×7 and 9×6 although shape and size may vary by manufacturer.
Small Size Speed Bags.
Small bags a normally sized 8×5 or smaller. They are the fastest bag and not the best choice for beginners to start learning. Sizes here can vary widely by brand and manufacturer, with no particular standard for shape or size… So, you may find “small bags” listed as “small” “peanut” 8×5, 8×4.5, 7×5, 7×4.5, 7×4, 6×4.5 and 6×4. These can also vary by weight and some bags of the same size may be 2-4 ounces different in weight, depending on materials use.
Speed Bag Tips
- To determine proper inflation level, pump until all the wrinkles are out of the outer leather and the bag is smooth. Then put in one or two more. You should be able to gently squeeze the inflated bag and push the leather in slightly.
- Repairing or changing the air bladder inside the bag is a pain at best. If possible, purchase several bags at the same time so if one fails you have another ready to use.
- Keep the outer leather covering dry and use a conditioning cream if the leather cracks.
- For the Beginner, the smallest of the large bags, 11×8, is an excellent size for starting out. It is more forgiving and easier to control. It is slow enough to keep up with if you hit too hard, as beginners tend to do. It will also allow for a faster power workout when your skill level allows it.
- For beginners, if you are forced to use a medium or small bag, and you are struggling with control, it may be easier to let a little air out of the bag, but do not let the leather crease. This will make it slightly softer and easier to control. Also, SLOW DOWN.
- For Advanced users wanting to go a little faster? Put a little more air in the bag. Just a few pumps can really accelerate the rebounds. But be warned: You risk damaging the bladder or risking a blow out. Also, over-inflation will make it feel like a brick when your hand hits.
- Airing up your Bag: Every speed bag needs air to expand it and that requires a pump. Air pumps come in different styles and usually inexpensive. Most speed bags have the amount of psi listed on the bag near the air bladder valve, but we have found the most are 4 pounds of air. You can figure out how much air to put in with a guage. inflate the bag until all the creases are out of the leather, and the other leather feels smooth. The bag should be firm but have a little give to it when you hold it in both hands. press in with the thumbs, If you can do that with medium pressure, it’s just about right.
Your fists may contact the bag hundreds of times during a speed bag work out, so hand protection is very important. There are several types of protection. Hand Wraps & Gloves
Hand wraps are strips of cloth that wrap several times around the hand. These provide needed support to the small bones. Many types are available and most have a thumb attachment and adhesive strip. You do not have to wraps as severely for speed bag as you do for the heavy bag. A sample is shown, however there are many ways and theories of wrapping the hands. Do a youtube search to fine many video’s of hand wraps.
Gloves There are several varieties of gloves, from the older mitten type to the half-fingered workout gloves. Gloves protect the skin of the knuckles but do not support the small bones in the hand. Dedicated speed bag gloves are shown at right.
|Hand Protection Tips:|
- Hand wraps are more difficult to use and keep on but offer the most protection and support when used properly
- Mitten style gloves have a lot of extra material on the sides of the fist with may interfere when hitting the bag with the sides of the fist. They also tend to slip on the bag if made of a shiny or smooth material. They are not recommended.
- With half-fingered gloves, watch out for seams directly over the contact surface of the fist, particularly over the large knuckles of the index and little finger.
To see demonstrations and speed bag product evaluations of newer products, check out Speedbaglabs.com, hosted by speed bag master Tim Platt. He is a trusted source of speed bag equipment and training.