Walk into any gym and you will see a variety of bags, hung in different ways, from varying heights, at a wide range of tension levels and anchor points. Most are mounted or anchored without much thought about anything more than being sure they are secure. In actuality the height at which you hang your bag and what you use to hang it with may be playing more of a role in your training than you never realized.
It’s important to remember that each bag or work station in your gym is meant to serve as the opponent. Each real opponent your fighter will face has a personality or fighting style and whether you’ve ever really thought about it or not, so does each bag.
The heavy bag, for instance, plays a central role in most gyms. Minutes turn into hours of training on this one piece of equipment and what you’re doing on it each time you work out, is setting the tempo that you become accustomed to fighting at. It is helping establish the pace of your workout based on two characteristics, its size/weight and how it swings.
If the heavy bag is hung from a taller ceiling and has a longer chain, its movements are longer, the range of movement wider and it requires less reaction time from the fighter. This style encourages more foot movement from the fighter as he chases down and counters the bag’s movement and reinforces the style of fighting longer range, on the outside.
On the other hand, if the heavy bag is hung from a lower ceiling, the swinging motion is shorter, it requires less foot movement and adjusting to counter the bag. The shorter swinging motion allows the fighter to stand more stationary and reinforces more inside fighting.
The other bag that is greatly affected by how it is hung is the double end bag. This mostly relates to tension though and how tight your bungee cords are. The tighter the rubber cords, the shorter the movement of the bag will be. Having your double end bag tightly mounted encourages a greater level of intensity, requires greater hand speeds and faster reaction time. Use more loose cords and the bag takes on a different personality. It becomes slower, moves in wider, more sweeping motions and reduces the pace the fighter is forced to work at.
If you have a maize ball or slipping bag in your gym, even the length of the rope or chain used to hang this bag, encourages more or less movement from your fighter. If the rope is long, then the bag will take longer to swing back and forth and allows more time to react. If the rope or chain is shorter, the bag has a shorter range of motion; it becomes a faster paced exercise and is more intense.
Of course the weight and size of the bag also plays pivotal role in how much the bag moves, how far it swings and the style of fighting it reinforces. The larger the bag, the less it will move and the smaller the bag, the faster and more mobile it will be. This goes for speed bags, heavy bags, double end bags or maize balls.
The most important question in all cases is what are you trying to accomplish? Whether the fighter you are working with is more of a boxer, a puncher, an inside or outside fighter or whatever attribute(s) you want him to be working on, should factor into how you hang each bag. Of course you can adapt a specific fighting style to work with any of these scenarios. You can fight at a fast pace on the heavy bag or a slow pace on a double end bag, but there is an unmistakable natural inclination to fight a certain way when the bag in front of you has a distinct rhythm or movement.
The bags in your gym are helping you become a better fighter. They can’t tell you what you’re doing wrong or shower you with words of encouragement, but they can develop certain aspects of your game. If you use them correctly and thoughtfully, you can make each piece of equipment work to enhance very specific skills. Just hitting the bag is like using the computer to only type emails. There are a myriad of other things you can get out of it that will improve your life and make you more efficient. So, think about each bag’s personality and what fighting style you want to improve while doing it, and then hang your bags accordingly. Determine what level you want your bags to hang and you’ll be deciding what level you want to fight at.