With combat-based sports continuing to grow in popularity, particularly when it comes to professional mixed martial arts, it’s interesting to note that there just hasn’t been much change in simulated boxing training equipment for several decades. The best preparation for real boxing, of course, comes from instruction with a trainer or guided forays into practice matches, but when working out alone, options have generally come down to the hanging punching bag for strong strikes, the speed ball for quickness, or shadowboxing to practice technique (or to work on your best Muhammad Ali impression). These pieces of equipment still make up part of the foundation of combat training, but they come with their limitations – punching bags remain more or less stationary, speed balls are more about establishing a rhythm than anything, and shadowboxing is more of a warmup in preparation for an actual fight.
They can also become tedious after a while, not providing the variation necessary to inspire a more prolonged workout. Cedric Salcedo looked to bring some unpredictability and fun to the training process (or anyone looking to mix up their workout routine) in inventing and developing the Shadowball. The concept is simple: Find a wall, punch the ball toward it and keep it bouncing with a barrage of punches for as long as possible. It’s the boxers’ version of standing up one half of a ping pong table and paddling away against the wall, Forrest Gump style.
The ball is about a pound and a half and the size of a volleyball, but creating simple dimensions like that weren’t able to create the Shadowball alone. Salcedo, a loudspeaker designer who admits to having more expertise in the physics of sound than in solid objects like his invention, says, “Fortunately, physics is physics and to be honest, the Shadowball is not that complicated. It centers on weight, density and velocity – the physics of bounce.” Keeping these things in mind, he developed a product that isn’t too light or too heavy, feels satisfying when struck, and doesn’t careen off your fist too fast or too slow.
Of course, everyone has a different experience with it – the harder you hit it, the harder it comes back, so giving the ball a series of soft uppercuts can help you get the hang of it. Salcedo is still getting the word out, saying he’s had great feedback from experienced fighting gyms in Montreal and Boston, and he’s looking to raise $40,000 on Kickstarter to get the product moving in earnest. So, we haven’t been able to actually try out the product yet, but we want to after that video – at the very least, it’s a way to switch things up in any sort of workout, and perhaps this piece of equipment will become as well known as the speed ball or punching bag someday.