Pad Holding Tips & Etiquette: Beginner to Pro

Thai pads go hand-in-hand with Muay Thai. Different to their boxing counterparts, thai pads are great for not just punches, but also knees, elbows, and kicks. They allow you to work on your strikes and combos, and provide you with a more realistic training compared to just hitting the heavy bag.

However, proper pad holding is crucial to ensure a safe and effective training session and I’ve personally seen and experienced too many beginners that do not understand how to hold the pads correctly, nor the etiquette involved.

Depending on your gym, and the quality of coaching and attention you receive – I find that a lot of beginners are almost expected to know how to hold pads.

Yes it’s quite simple to do, but you have to at least know the basics. I get it. We’ve all been there at one point. It can be a daunting task at first. Especially if you’re holding the pads for that really pro guy at the gym. The last thing you want to do is let them down and ruin their training session, simply due to your lack of know-how.

Below are a few universal tips and ‘unwritten’ etiquette that I’ve learned over my 7-8+ years training Muay Thai and boxing across Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, and Thailand..

Add Resistance

You don’t want to be just a stiff statue when going over the combos with the pads. Not only are you making it harder for yourself but also your training partner. With the pads, you want to almost meet your partner halfway, by providing just enough resistance upon impact of the strike. This video below details the right technique a bit further:

This helps your partner find the target better, but also especially for kicks, helps you lessen the force so that you’re not flying back or being hurt.


This is a mistake most beginners make. Forgetting to breathe!

Often people’s natural instinct is to stiffen up and in some way that will make them punch harder. This could not be further away from the truth. You want to be loose. Relaxed. Breathing.

You should be breathing with every movement, just as you would when you’re the one hitting the pads. This helps you build the rhythm of the combos and keeps your stamina going for the entire session. And trust me.. You’re gonna need it. Make sure you’re maintaining a tight core with your breath, and as you progress through the ranks, you’ll find out that EVERYTHING is BREATHING.


For the love of all that is holy – please concentrate! When it’s your turn on the pads, it’s not just a simple ‘Sweet, time to relax and catch my breath’. No, you should be just as invested in the combos and be going over the motions of the combo, as if you yourself were throwing them. And you should be twisting your hips, pivoting your feet, as you’re turning from one strike into the next. The more invested and concentrated you are, the better you will begin to learn the art of Muay Thai.

Over time, you will also build rhythm and chemistry with a select few training partners. When doing freestyle padwork with your favourite training partners, you will even get to a level where you don’t even need to verbally communicate. You’ll both be able to ‘feel’ and know the next strikes coming up, based upon the flow of the combination.

Give Effort

Muay Thai classes are open and accepting of all skill levels and most experienced people are happy to train with whichever skill level. But all we ask.. is EFFORT. Please GIVE YOUR EFFORT into holding the pads.

Making mistakes on combos is fine.. Once, twice, three times even - no worries. The main thing is as long as you’re actively making an effort, no one will have any issues with you. When you’re being lazy, not wanting to be here, acting like a spoiled brat – this is a huuuuge pet peeve for most. Not just on a Muay Thai level, but even a simple common courtesy level. If you’re training as if you don’t want to be there.. Then why are you even here?!

Everyone’s got their own problems and egos. Leave it outside the gym door. Not only are you giving yourself a low quality session but more selfishly, you’re also making it worse for the person who you’re partnered with.

This leads into my next point..

Don't Move Pads Mid-Combo

This one is often overlooked and I find it usually comes from the same archetype that is not concentrating nor putting in a ‘good effort’. Moving the target away from your partner mid-combo can very easily lead to hyperextension and can lead to injury of your partner.

I’ve been there and it sucks being injured like this. All because of your pad partner’s negligence. (Lucky for most – I’m a usually-forgiving soul) This can be easily avoided. Wait to move the pads only after a strike or combo has been completed.


This last tip is perhaps the most simplest. Communication is key when holding pads. It has never hurt anyone to say the combos out loud to your partner i.e. ‘1-1-2’ and repeating that so that both you and your partner can get into a good rhythm and eventually even pick up the pace!

Quick note: If you’re holding pads with someone shorter or taller than you, it’s also recommended you two communicate to ensure you’re holding the pads at the right height for your partner.

Apologies if this article has come across like a rant piece, but there’s just a few simple tips & etiquette that everyone should know to ensure that everyone can get in a great session.

Thai pads are used in all classes, but if you want a real leg up with your training – you should cop your own pair so that you can train with, and even teach some of your mates. Not only is it heaps of fun and good exercise, but you advance your game by turning from the student to the teacher. Check out our thai pads collection today and thank me later!