3 Muay Thai Drills You Should be Doing

Here’s the secret to being an incredible Muay Thai Martial Artist. The greats of martial arts weren’t great because they were born great. They were great because they practiced drills. A lot. And then they practiced drills some more. If you want to reach your Muay Thai potential, read (and practice) the following 3 Muay Thai drills you should be doing right now to become great.

Note: all of these drills will be explained with the assumption you are right-handed/footed. If you are left dominant, just reverse accordingly.

fighter kicking pad during muay thai drill

Get your gear on, and lets get started!

(and if you don’t have you gear, choose your muay thai gloves and shin guards as you will definitely need them, and lets go)

1. Kicking Speed Drill – Kicking Slow Is Smooth, Kicking Smooth Is Fast

The only way you’ll ever truly be able to kick quickly and effectively like the worlds best is to make sure your technique has perfect form and efficiency. So it makes sense then that you should practice your Muay Thai kicking drills slowly and deliberately in your Muay Thai training.  

When you practice your kicking drills, almost do it in slow motion, and over and over again. While this will help strengthen the right muscles, muscle memory is actually in the brain (1).

The more you practice slowly, the more you’re training your brain to automatically remember perfect kicking technique.

Precision beats power and timing beats speed.

Conor McGregor

One good way to practice this is ‘The Handshake’ drill.

  1. Stand in front of your partner/opponent in starting stance.
  2. Reach across with your right hand and grasp your partner’s right hand.
  3. Bring your right leg up as if you are kicking their left ribs
  4. As you’re kicking, pivot on the ball of your left foot, while also rotating both of your shoulders left, and raising your left arm and fist up to guard the left side of your head.
  5. Do this 30-50 times.
  6. Switch stances and repeat.

Remember, this drill isn’t about power, it’s about technique. Be kind to your partner’s ribs!

2. Drill To Increase your Muay Thai Kicking Power

Having a Muay Thai kick that’s like a whip is all about getting the most torque and power possible out of your hips and midsection. A great way of developing and training this momentum is the ‘turning the wheel’ Muay Thai drill — it’s guaranteed to help you open up your hips, and build power for your kicking action.

  • In your starting stance, motion to throw a left hook across the right side of your body to your imaginary opponent.
  • Bring your right hand over to the left side of your body.
  • While bringing that right hand over, turn your shoulders over towards your left. Think of it as turning a steering wheel, or ‘turning the wheel’.
  • While you’re ‘turning the wheel’, bring your right leg with it, kicking the heavy bag with your shin.
  • Do this 30 – 50 times.
  • Switch stances and repeat.

You can do this drill for the low kick, body kick, and head kick for your future fights.

Remember, the only way to truly improve your power is to drill this over and over, until it becomes second nature.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee

3. Drill To Keep Your Balance and Stay Standing

You can have the quickest, most powerful Muay Thai kick possible, but it all counts for nothing in a fight if you are caught with a counter when you’re off balance. You want to make sure that you are kicking from a stable base, and able to return to that base as soon as you’ve landed your kick.

A great way to practice keeping balance in your Muay Thai stance is to use a heavy bag, and practice a push or teep kick.

  • Get in front of your heavy bag.
  • Lift your right leg and extend it fully, giving the bag a solid push kick.
  • While the heavy bag is swinging back to you, give it a short up-kick to stop it from swinging.
  • Do this 30 – 50 times.
  • Switch stances and repeat.

Related: Muay Thai Combos you should be drilling.

You need a balance. Everything too fast is no good, but too slow is also not good, you need a balance.

Jet Li

For accuracy, try and hit the same spot on the heavy bag over and over.

FAQs

How Do I Increase My Kick Speed in Muay Thai?

There is no one secret to help you increase your kicking speed in Muay Thai — rather there are several things that you can do that when combined, will turn your kicks into serious weapons. To get you started though, we’d recommend you practice volume as it’s proven to improve strength (2).

Here you want to hit the pads or heavy bag with kicks as fast as you can for 20-30 seconds. Try and do as many kicks as you can, while keeping excellent technique. From there, try and beat your record, again and again. This is one of the main Muay Thai drills used to increase kicking speed as well as endurance.

Can I Train Muay Thai at Home?

Absolutely, you can train Muay Thai at home. Not all of us live in the gym, whether it’s because of time or money.

Ideally, you’d have a heavy bag at home, but if you don’t you can improvise. Maybe you’ve got an old mattress or sofa that would make a good punch bag workout.

Even if you don’t have any equipment at all, you can still practice the fundamentals by yourself, in your own home. Stretching, cardio, shadowboxing, footwork, and strikes can all be practiced anywhere.

The most important thing is to structure your training, e.g. warm-ups, shadowboxing, strikes, strength work, cool-down. If in doubt, pay attention to the sequence you are told to train in at the gym and do the same thing at home.

How Do You Do a Muay Thai Kick?

Athletic muay thai boxer giving a forceful knee kick during a training with a boxing bag

A genuine, well trained Muay Thai roundhouse kick is powerful enough to break a baseball bat (3), but it will take years to perfect. It all starts however with flawless technique, so make sure you are practicing the following steps. Once you are confident in each aspect of the technique, you can put them all together to flow into the perfect Muay Thai kick.

  • Standing at a 45-degree angle, put weight into your lead (left) leg.
  • Whip your right hand down towards your right hip, while spinning your right hip forwards towards the pads.
  • Pivot on the ball of your lead (left) foot, swinging your right leg into the strike. All of the power is coming from your hips and midsection.
  • Impact the pads with your shin, like you are swinging a baseball bat.
  • Once you make contact, immediately return your right leg back to its starting position on the ground. This is crucial for resetting your stance and balance.

References

  1. Chodosh, S. (2019, Jan 25). Muscle memory is real, but it’s probably not what you think – Popular Science. Retrieved from https://www.popsci.com/what-is-muscle-memory/
  2. (2019, Jan 11). The Benefits of High Volume Training – Proven4. Retrieved from https://www.proven4.com/uncategorized/the-benefits-of-high-volume-training/
  3. Fight Science Hardest Kick – National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maQINqPI7S0

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