| Aimee Devitt
Before you even think about landing a punch, make sure you protect your hands with well-fitting gloves that may also improve your performance.
Why should you wear quality gloves that are suited to your specific training or competition goals?
Boxing is a physically demanding and high-impact sport, which is why we love it. But there are risks with overusing your fists too: osteoarthritis, carpal bossing and fractures – to name a few. Injuries happen all of the time. New boxers, in particular, are more likely to hurt their hands with poor technique.
This risk is even higher when you don’t wrap your wrists and wear suitable gloves.
To add insult to injury, the wrong gloves may even hinder your performance (depending on what your goals for each boxing session are).
Talk about a double whammy…
How do the right boxing gloves protect your hands and reduce the risk of injury?
Boxing gloves are designed to reduce or absorb force as the glove compresses, so you can strike the bag (or your opponent) as hard as possible – without worrying so much about breaking or cutting your hands.
The right boxing gloves also protect your opponent, by distributing the force over a larger surface area to soften the impact (compared to punching with a bare fist).
How do the right boxing gloves help to improve your performance?
There’s a reason why there’s such an array of options: they each suit a different purpose and boxing style. For example, smaller gloves that are more compact are designed to deliver the most powerful blow to your opponent – making them suitable for competing professionally in the boxing ring.
However, when you’re sparring for training purposes – your intention is to practise in the safest and most comfortable manner (without sacrificing performance). Larger training gloves with more padding work best to protect you and your opponent.
Choosing the right boxing gloves – here’s what you need to consider:
- Are you a beginner?
- What is your purpose: training on a bag, sparring, or competing?
- How well do the gloves fit your hands (sizing)?
- How much should the gloves weigh in ounces?
- What material are they made out of?
- Do you need to spend a lot of money on boxing gloves?
Are you a beginner?
There are two main approaches for amateur boxers, depending on your personal preferences.
Minimalist gloves: A glove with minimum padding doesn’t provide much protection or comfort. On the plus side – this is a faster way to shine a light on improper technique, because you get a better sense of exactly how a punch is meant to feel.
Heavier training gloves: New boxers are bound to make many mistakes. Padded gloves provide comfort and minimise the risk of injury during this window of intense learning. A 12oz (ounce) training glove is a good starting point, as it also serves as a conditioning tool to boost endurance and stamina.
For the highest level of protection, it’s best to use bigger gloves when starting out, and gradually reduce the size as you progress to competition level.
What is your purpose: training on a bag, sparring, or competing?
As previously mentioned, there are many different types of boxing gloves – and for good reason. You may even use all of these gloves, at different stages of your boxing journey.
Here are some of the most common options:
Bag gloves: These are suitable for using a punching bag or boxing pads. They contain less padding than sparring gloves, so you can really feel if you’re using the wrong technique. They also tend to be lighter and smaller than boxing gloves.
You can get away with less padding because you’re hitting an inanimate object, so there’s no risk of knocking someone out! However, choose a glove with enough padding to protect your fingers - and make sure it fits snugly and comfortably while wearing a wrap inside.
If you’re doing a lot of heavy hitting, you can purchase bag gloves that come with extra padding to protect your hands (four layers of padding offers a decent amount of shock absorption, for example).
Training gloves (or boxing gloves): A versatile option for beginners, as the padding is heavy enough for safe sparring, but also lightweight enough to practice with a punching bag. In other words, the best of both worlds! Training gloves contain more padding than bag gloves, but aren’t as heavy as sparring gloves. They’re basically the Goldilocks of the glove world. Look for a glove that’s attached to a full wrist wrap, to give extra protection to your wrist, forearm, fingers and hand.
Sparring gloves: These are also used for training, however they come with thicker padding than traditional boxing gloves. The padding is slightly more cushioned, to reduce the risk of injury when sparring with a partner. Your goal is to develop the best skills and techniques when sparring, so this stops you from hitting your opponent with full force. Sparring gloves usually range from 14 to 20oz in size but the most commonly used size is 16oz.
MMA gloves: The open finger design distinguishes MMA gloves from boxing gloves. There’s also less padding. You can easily form an open palm, which helps fighters to achieve a firm and natural grip. This is good for grappling your opponent, or training in a gym environment (when you want to quickly alternate between boxing and other exercises, like push ups or weight lifting).
Competition boxing gloves: These offer less protection and padding than training or sparring gloves. They’re lighter, smaller and more compact – usually weighing around 10oz. Their purpose is to help professionals move quickly and deliver powerful punches to opponents in the ring.
How well do the gloves fit your hands (sizing)?
It’s always best to choose boxing gloves that fit your hands snugly (but not too tight!).
This is important, because there’s lower risk of injury with less room for your hands to move around.
You should always try on boxing gloves before buying them, to make sure you’re comfortable with the fit. Make sure you leave enough room to wear a hand wrap beneath the gloves (for added protection against injury).
It’s not necessary to measure your hands, but if you want to do this, follow these steps:
- Use a tape measure to measure your dominant hand around the knuckles (in inches or centimetres – depending on the seller’s chart).
- This is your glove measurement. Refer to the seller’s chart to find the corresponding size. For example, 9 inches is typically a medium glove.
- Ask the seller for more information if you need more guidance.
How much should the gloves weigh?
Your movement and agility is influenced by the weight of gloves, which can vary between 8oz (ounces) to 20oz.
The general rule is to choose a training glove that’s proportionate to your body weight. Smaller weighted gloves are suitable for individuals who are lighter, while heavier boxing gloves work well if you weigh more (but they also create a heavier workout).
To give you a rough idea: if you weigh less than 54 kilos, an 8 to 12oz glove may be suitable for training (this applies to children as well). A 12 to 18oz glove will generally serve people who are heavier than 54 kilos.
Also consider your intentions for boxing, as this helps to determine the weight you should be using. For example, 10oz gloves are typically used by professional boxers during competitions, whereas 16oz gloves are common for sparring training.
If we use sparring as an example, a general guide may look like this:
45 kg to 57 kg: 12 to 14oz gloves
57 kg to 72: 14 to 16oz gloves
Heavier than 72 kg: 16 to 18oz gloves
Please speak with your seller, if you require further guidance.
What material should the gloves be made out of?
To protect your hands and support performance; boxing gloves should be compressive, durable and resistant to forceful impacts. You need a quality material like leather for this purpose. Leather is one of the strongest, most comfortable and flexible materials available. It also provides excellent odour and moisture control – which means that gloves dry quickly and aren’t likely to stink!
Do you need to spend a lot of money on boxing gloves?
It’s not necessary to spend big on boxing gloves, especially if you’re just starting out.
In fact, we would advise against forking out hundreds of dollars on your first pair. You won’t yet know what type of glove is best for you, and you may not remain committed to the sport – so that’s money down the drain.
On the other hand, steer clear from super-cheap gloves, if you can. Vinyl is one material that you may want to avoid for long-term use, as it will wear out quickly, and won’t give you adequate support.
Tip: if you’re on a budget, keep an eye out for sales – as you can usually pick up a good bargain.