To emerge as the top blocking back in the NFL, John “The Terminator” Conner used a secret weapon during off-season training at Ignition Athletic Performance Group: boxing workouts.
Catching mitts with the Terminator.
Conner, who spent the bulk of his rookie year on special teams, is primed to take over as the New York Jets starting fullback this season, and boxing sessions helped him enhance all aspects of his performance, especially his game-ready conditioning [Read Part I of this series
to learn how Conner developed his explosiveness in the early stages of the off-season].
“Hitting the mitts continuously gets me fatigued and also works my hand-eye coordination,” Conner says. “It’s a full-body workout. You have to stay in a squat position, keep your feet moving, and follow the mitts with your eyes.”
“Catching mitts,” as it’s referred to by Ben Creamer, performance specialist at Ignition, doesn’t involve sparring, but rather learning fundamental boxing techniques that can be applied to football.
All players, regardless of position, can benefit from catching mitts, according to Creamer. “The coordination, focus, agility and reaction time all correlate directly to football.”
The blocking benefit of the boxing workout, according to Conner, is learning how to punch from the ground up, which translates to “knowing when to explode out while maintaining your base,” he says. “If you don’t have a base, you’re going to get pushed back.”
For a more fullback-specific boxing workout, Conner performed drills incorporating agility bags, in which he would finish with a six-punch combination.
The Terminator’s Boxing Agility Drill
- Set up six agility bags downfield approximately two yards apart
- Shuffle left in front of first bag
- Step toward second bag and shuffle right
- Repeat pattern through remaining bags
- At final bag, shuffle left toward partner
- React to partner’s command and execute punch combination
- Continue drill, working back toward start position and finishing with punch combination
- Perform for 60 seconds
- Rest for 60 seconds and repeat for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 3-4×60 seconds with 60 seconds rest
Coaching Points: Stay low when shuffling through bags // Use legs to generate force and rotate hips to deliver punch // Punch from chin // Snap arm and hand back to ready position
Mix and match any of the following strikes for your six-punch combo:
- Left Jab
- Right Jab
- Jab In [stepping toward partner]
- Jab Out [stepping away from partner]
- Left Uppercut
- Right Uppercut
- Left Hook
- Right Hook
Watch the video above to see an Ignition boxing workout in action as Connor Barwin, defensive end for the Houston Texans, goes through a Pad Work routine.
Photo: Courtesy of Ignition Athletic Performance Group