There’s a lot of video clips out there showing snapshots of Anthony Joshua’s strength and conditioning training. I thought I’d take a quick look specifically at reaction training, and chat through some thoughts.

And if there’s another video out there that you’d like me to discuss, please get in contact and let me know! ;)


Featuring Anthony Joshua training clips from YouTube.

“If you’re practicing reactions to a movement that’s not fight specific, you’re not learning to anticipate and predict what’s going to happen – and that’s a big part of your response time.”

Now there’s loads of videos out there with how Anthony Joshua is training. And I thought we’d go through some, and just do something a bit different, and have a little look.

And I thought I’d specifically look at reaction training, because there seems to be a lot more of that being posted around at the moment as well – so I thought I’d share some ideas on that.

So over to YouTube, and let’s look for some Anthony Joshua Training.

Here we’ve got some reaction stuff going on with a tennis ball. This would be more of like a warm up drill. It’s not very sport specific, it’s all about hand-eye coordination, but it’s mainly about getting the athletes to move quickly. And it’s just good fun at the start of a warm up there.

There we’ve got a reaction drill, visual stimulus, moving around.

Now we’ve much more of an evasion drill, so still reaction, but he’s trying to get away ­– trying to lose his partner there, zig-zagging side to side. I quite like this drill. Good lateral movement as well. So it hits the adductors, and all the stuff that’s stabilising the hips there.

And then we’re going into something a bit more sport specific with the evasion now, with the footwork and the ring craft.

The same partner drill now with the evasion trying to get away, this time tethered to keep them close together. This would be more like a warm up drill to be honest, this would be something at the start of a session to get things going.

This is an interesting one. It’s hand-eye coordination rather than reaction here. He’s just following the ball. But again it doesn’t kind of mimic anything he’s going to have to practice in terms of anticipating what an opponent going to do. So it’s not got that learnt habit of being able to predict what’s happening with the techniques coming at him.

This one’s not very sport specific, reacting to a ball, it looks nothing like a punch, moving on sand as well, which is nothing like a ring surface. So none of that is going to transfer particularly well to evasion in the ring.

That’s something just to get the body moving, to get the sharpness of eye coordination if you like, but it’s not necessarily going to give you too much correspondence into fight performance in the ring.

And another (kind of), rather than a reaction… the ball moves nothing like an opponent, it’s hand-eye coordination, just trying to pick that up. Not particularly going to transfer well, it’s just a movement that’s sharpening him up.

A speed-ball, again, not particularly reaction based… you kind of know where it’s going to go once you’ve learnt the pattern ­– it’s more about a rhythm of timing rather than reaction itself.

Here we go, sparring. This is proper signalling, learning to react to what’s coming at him. This is real reaction training for fighting.

So just looking at a few things there, what is the difference between reaction training, speed training, all this kind of stuff.

Part of you reactions, is actually anticipating what’s coming and that is very sport specific. So, if you’re practicing reactions to a movement that is not fight specific, you’re not learning to anticipate and predict what’s going to happen – and that’s a big part of your response time.

If you’re throwing and catching balls, it’s all good hand-eye coordination, it’s making you nice and fast, and reactive, but it’s not necessarily going to transfer too well to what you’re trying to do in the ring. So just bear that in mind.

Some of this stuff is great for warm ups, and keeping things interesting and mixing things up. But in terms of reaction, you’re never going to beat nice, quick sparring, in a ring, against an opponent who’s actually throwing the correct shapes. So you’re learning to see the techniques coming at you, and recognising the subtleties of movement of the shoulders, of the hips, to anticipate what technique is going to come at you – whether it’s going to be a straight linear technique, whether it’s going to be one of these circular techniques, and how you are going to react and deal with that.

Further from a fight I would use a lot more of the fun, reactive stuff with balls and things like that… as you get closer to the fight you need to get more specific. And that’s where all your reaction training should be with a partner and throwing the techniques – a lot of that other stuff kind of spans the gap right through.

So just some ideas there, and I thought I’d have a little chat as I looked through some of the videos on YouTube.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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