7 Tips That Will Turn You Into A Better Pad Holder

ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao holds kick pads for a Singaporean youth

Hitting pads is one of the most exhilarating activities you can do at the gym, especially after a long and stressful day at school or work.

But pad work is not only about letting those kicks and punches rip. You also need to know how to be a good pad holder for your training partner. After all, you get what you give.

If you want an enjoyable training experience, here are seven things you can practice that will make you a better pad holder the next time you strap on the leather.

# 1 Be Enthusiastic

George Hickman

If you look like you are sleepwalking when you hold pads, then you will probably run out of training partners rather quickly.

However, if you strap on the pads and hold them with vigor, your partner will feed off your energy. Not only will that person get a good workout, but he or she will be more likely to return the enthusiasm.

George Hickman, the Head Mixed Martial Arts Coach at Tiger Muay Thai who trains Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit and Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai, echoes those sentiments.

“Holding pads is about connecting with people,” he says. “You need to make sure they have a good time, but also get a great work out, too.”

#2 Communicate With Your Partner

ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy punches the pad in his Muay Thai shorts

Take a moment to ask your training partner how his or her day went.

Find out if he got enough sleep, or if she injured herself recently, or if anything is bothering your partner.

Knowing these things beforehand will help you adjust your pad work sessions according to your partner’s ability.

#3 Keep It Simple


While it is always fun to practice spinning back elbows and jumping knees, there is a time and place for everything.

Focus on challenging your partner with basic combinations.

You will be amazed by how much of a workout you can provide just by feeding your training partner simple techniques.

#4 Watch And Learn

How to be a Great Muay Thai Training Partner File5.jpg

Pad holding is a skill, so do not expect to pick up your first pair of Thai pads and know exactly how to feed combinations.

Simply put, good pad holding takes time.

For example, the best Muay Thai trainers in Thailand have decades’ worth of experience. This means you should watch the masters do it and also, do not forget to ask questions.

#5 Adapt To Your Partner’s Style

Bi Nguyen shows her Muay Thai skills at the ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH open workout in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Feeding your training partner hundreds of kicks only to burn him or her out is not the point of a pad session. Pad work is about building up cardio and conditioning over the long haul.

Find the right pace for your training partner, and then push that person just beyond his or her limits. You want the person to make it to the end of the round begging for a break, but not begging to quit.

Mixed martial arts phenom Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen believes all good pad holders share this attribute.

“To be a quality pad holder for a competitor, you need to be able to adapt to their style,” she explains. “A good pad holder for a class is one that can find a level of combinations that all levels can execute while keeping the energy up.”

#6 Keep The Pressure

Muay Thai practice at Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore

No one likes a flimsy-armed pad holder.

When your training partner throws, make sure you give back with the pads.

You do not want to push the pads too far forward, though. You have to find the sweet spot. You can tell if you are giving enough back by the sound your partner’s hits make on the pads.

#7 Stay Focused

Michelle Nicolini Loading Up On Her Kicks

This piece of training advice should not be avoided – always focus on what you are doing when you stand behind a set of pads.

After all, it is best to catch your partner’s kicks with your pads, not your head.

Do not expect your partner to have the control needed to stop a kick if your pads are not there waiting for him or her.

Read more: 10 Essential Sparring Tips For Every Martial Artist

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