So, you have punched heavy bag more than enough and now you want to get more “real” and punch a “real person”. You want to test everything, which you have learnt so far, in sparring. When you know more about how to spar in boxing, implementing all movements will get easier and it will surely give you an incredible satisfaction. Below you will find very useful boxing sparring tips for your training session.
Be Ready, be Comfortable
Right now, you have done enough training, practiced shadowboxing, jump rope and all other painful boxing trainings. But, you did not do the MOST basic things like throwing a punch to “real person “ or even defending a jab.
In my first sparring training, I felt excited a lot. “How will I throw punch?” “How will I defend myself?” Honestly I was feeling overwhelmed and it is totally normal if you feel that. However, I was aware that I show up in ring to learn something “real” and improve myself. But you are not going to learn and focus on anything if you are not comfortable enough. So get ready and be comfortable before you get in the ring.
Also don’t ever forget that it is okay to get beat up. You are in the ring to experience everything about boxing. Being comfortable is the way to accomplish it.
Here are the main factors – Will you get good sparring training or not?
There are lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight… classes in boxing and also there are boxers who are experienced and some people are not. These are basic factors when you choose boxing sparring partner. If your sparring partner is much bigger or smaller than you, it is not fair and it leads to basically zero experience. Because one of the sides always try decreasing the impact of the punches in training. It can also jeopardize your health. Classes exist in boxing sparring training as well as in real matches.
Another risk for health can be your pair. Choosing the wrong one can jeopardize your sparring partner’s health and choosing right one can improve your skills better, protect your opponents at the same time. You can check the thorough sparring boxing gloves guideline for more info.
After choosing the right gloves and right size partner, experience is the other huge factor. If one of the opponents is significantly more experienced than the other, it benefits only one side. Because experienced opponents exactly know when to punch and how to defend. They may already have found their own best boxing technique long before they face a rookie opponent. So rookie opponents won’t offer much for them.
Even if you are the experienced side, most of you will get bored after a while. Well I know I will 😉
So How to Choose Boxing Sparring Partners?
Firstly, they should be close to your size, so there will be no advantage regarding power. Secondly your partner should have slightly more experienced or slightly less experienced than you. In this way you will both have something to offer for each other.
One thing people tend to forget is that they train with same sparring partner over and over again. It goes on maybe for months. After a while they exactly know what to do against each other’s punches, jabs… They already predict how their partner will react , and this training won’t improve any skills.
So, changing boxing sparring partner time to time gives you a new experience. New partners will move, punch and react differently than your previous sparring partners. Other than their boxing sparring technique; their weight, length of arm… shortly everything is different. I think you are already seeing the pattern here.
While changing your partner time to time, being careful about their size and experience level will benefit everyone.
Your Feet Have not Worked Like This Before
Heavy bag session is a good place to train your footwork. While you are moving around the bag, you look for a right time to strike. However it is not ideal, because it is not a “real” person. When you train with sparring partners, they react like a real fighter in a real match. So, you have a good chance to improve and learn the “actual” footwork in sparring sessions.
Best Energy Saver
Always try to control and pace your breathing: Right now you are probably asking “how I am going to do that?” When your opponent is punching furiously, you try defending yourself, throw punches and jabs here and there, you may even forget breathing let alone pacing the breath. I know it sounds impossible. But just try it, because if you are able to control your breathing even for a certain degree, significant energy is saved when you spar. If you feel exhaustion, focus on controlling the breathing.
When you throw punches, mean it. When you move your head to protect yourself, mean it… One of the most important lesson ,which I have learnt in boxing, is not to do it if I don’t aim for success. There is no room for using energy without purpose. Actually, it is exactly same for life. I don’t do it if I don’t aim for success.
When you use your precious energy for basically nothing instead of defending yourself well and throwing good punches, gaining any real experience is not possible.
Be in the Moment
Being in the moment, giving split second decisions are going to benefit you all around. Learning how to defend yourself and attacking actual opponents with your own technique is everything in boxing. Some people ask and search for “what is best sparring technique?” . Actually there is not such a technique which works for everybody. You create best sparring technique yourself after a lot of practice.
Eyes on Opponent
First rule of being in the moment is to keep an eye on your opponent and nowhere else. If you don’t look heavy bag once in a while, it doesn’t hit back. But unlike the punching bag, real opponents can even knock you out.
Try, try and try
Maybe even Mike Tyson might have failed to throw good punches in his first sparring session. We don’t know that. When you have your first training, don’t be surprised if you have not landed good punches. However, just try.
Your sparring partner may come to you hard and fast. Because of this, I have witnessed lots and lots of people forget punching and just focus on defending themselves. They don’t fight back. One of the most important boxing sparring tips is to just try attacking. When you try, you will figure out what works better.
I sometimes find myself waiting for punching the heavy bag. With that, you have maybe 1/10 time of that to throw a punch in sparring training and it gives lots of rush. This is the ONLY training type which offers fast decision making in real environment. Personally, it makes me feel alive and leads to getting better at auto brain controlled movements. In sparring session, take action no matter what. So, you can counter attack and defend yourself better.
Torso Positioning for Stronger and Faster Punches
Lots of training have made you stronger and now it is time to show it. When you punch your opponent, aiming your torso to the target make the real difference. In that way, you can use all your necessary muscles including back, chest, shoulder to strike. However, you may not always have the chance to do that, but it is a necessary skill to work on.
Strength is nothing without…
Having lots of strength is really a cool thing. I mean who wouldn’t want that? But, having it can knock you out if you have not balance. When you miss the punch without balance, lots of body parts will be wide open and these will be waiting for your sparring partner to punch. Even your partner can’t hit you, you try to save yourself from pucnhes and it is energy consuming. I highly suggest you to have balance with every punch and don’t use all the strength, if you won’t be having the balance after the punch.
Work Your Head
Well your head is wide open when you work on heavy bag, but is it the same when you do sparring? I don’t think so. Boxing sparring is the best way to learn strike, defense, positioning of your feet and also positioning of your head. It is vital to keep your head above chest level and protected.
All these will lead to..
You will get the real experience in real environment to implement all you have practiced so far. This is simply priceless. After a sparring session, you will have at least an idea for how to do counter punch, how to move your feet against a real opponent.
Take The Quiz Before and Know What You Haven’t Studied Well
When I was at high school, I thought that I studied well for math. I thought that I know all about the derivation, integration and so on. After that, I got in very difficult exam and found out what I know and what I don’t know. Boxing sparring training is the good all around quiz for boxing and lucky for you it is not real. So you see everything and have a good chance to see weak sides. So, you can adjust your boxing training exclusively for your weak sides.
Focus on Gaining Experiment not Winning
I am a competitive guy and generally want to win everything if I am in any kind of competition. It does not matter whether it is table tennis match or playstation game with my little brother 😉 And I know how cool can be if you beat your gym body in sparring, you will feel better and maybe even brag about it. I hear you. Even if you are in this category, you can still get pretty good sparring experience but not the BEST.
Instead of winning, you can focus on finding opponent’s weak-sides. This can help you to learn how to spar in boxing better and you can find your best sparring technique relatively sooner.
Well folks, these were all boxing sparring tips I have. I hope you enjoyed the content and if I you want to ask questions or give personal experience, tips about sparring, please leave a comment below.