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Demystifying Wrapping Hands

There are many tricks of the trade in the boxing industry.  Some are well-guarded secrets, while others are common knowledge within the business; one that everyone knows the importance of, is having a good hand wrapping technique.  However, this is one area that many of the ideals and beliefs of how to go about it and what role it serves is largely a myth.

The commonly held belief that certain hand wrapping techniques increase a fighters punching ability or holds some secret to having knockout power is false.  Or, at the very least, it is greatly overstated.  As long as they're legal, hand wraps do not increase punching power.

To start with, a good hand wrap is capable of doing two things.  First and foremost, it should protect the fighter’s hands and give him a certain comfort level or sense of security in knowing that he can punch with full force and not hurt his fists.  Secondly, if it is executed properly, a quality hand wrap job can also secure a fighter’s fists in a way that will allow him to punch with full force and not feel it in the bones and joints of his hand.  The amount of confidence that a fighter has in his ability to punch, injury-free, is critical.  Otherwise, he might hesitate to load-up with punches he thinks might damage to his hands.  A fighter has to feel fully confident in his ability to punch with authority, be aggressive and still have his hands protected. That, in and of itself, can improve a fighters punching ability, but the amount of gauze and tape the trainer uses in the hand wrap or the way he goes about wrapping, does not make a fighter punch harder.  All of this is assuming that the hand wrapping technique being employed is legal and doesn't go outside the bounds of the regulatory commission guidelines.

Overcompensating can also adversely affect the fighter.  Using too much tape and/or gauze to create a cast (as some fighters like to call it) can actually work AGAINST a fighter in some cases.  Both tape and gauze are porous materials and absorb water and sweat. The longer a fight continues the more sweat accumulates in the tape and gauze, making the fighter’s hands and gloves heavier. Heavier gloves mean slower punches.

Some trainers and coaches like to make more out of hand wrapping technique than there actually is to it.  Yes, you want a sensible, quality wrap, but too many fancy techniques is little more than marketing hype.  Some people in boxing create a mystique around being able to produce a magic hand wrap that will improve a fighter's chances of getting a knock out. The illusion that he is some sort of “hand wrap master” is simply an attempt to create a demand for this individual’s special services.  Yes, there are people in boxing that apply the physical science behind wrapping hands well.  They are dedicated and focused on what they do, but there is no magic and no foul-proof wrap.

Do the basics. Do them right. Use just enough tape and gauze to protect your fighter’s hands fully, but do not over-pad them.  Pay attention to the anatomical structure of the human hand.  Do some research and practice.  Know why you're doing what you're doing.  It's also important to know your fighters hands and his medical history.  Being aware of any issues he may have had with his hands in the past or in the weeks of training leading up to the fight, will allow you to address those issues specifically when you get him wrapped.

The overarching goal is to protect your fighter’s hands to the best of your ability and to give him the sense of security that he can punch and not have to worry about pain or injury. That's it.  If you're also incorporating some special techniques to make a fighter believe you're giving him an edge, that serves a purpose and that's fine too, but don't get caught up in the idea that you have to do something special in order to get your fighter the win.  That won't happen with a hand wrap job.

If you don't agree that's okay.  Maybe you should also consider hiring somebody special to carry your spit bucket too because they have a secret way of hauling spit that helps rejuvenate your fighter in-between rounds.  This is not to disrespect or disprove anybody out there who consider themselves a wrapping expert or specialist. Some things just don't require a degree in rocket science...just common sense.  A good hand wrap is comprehensive, clean and protective, but basic.  The secret to wrapping hands, is to taking your time and be confident in doing it.  If you're unsure, do some homework and practice.

The secret is out.  There is no magic formula.

If you prevent your fighter from hurting his hands, you've done your job.  If he gets a KO, he's done his. Wraps don't knock opponents out.  They protect...they don't punch.

Get your tape and gauze here.