A lot of the beginners who are getting ready for their first ever boxing sparring experience have worries and that is normal. You do not know how it’s going to be, you are not sure what to do or you are not sure if you will be able to put together everything you learned so far in the gym. Whatever the problem is, we are going to review it in this article.
Top 10 tips for your first sparring session
Tip 1: Don’t judge yourself
If you go home tonight and tell yourself “I want to do that again” then your first sparring session was a success. Most of all remember – your first sparring session is an experience. It’s going to be new and exciting. Don’t judge yourself. You are not here to judge yourself, you are not here to be judged. You are here to go through the process and get motivated for your second sparring session.
Tip 2: Listen to your couch
Your coach knows what is the most important thing at the moment. You are not throwing your jab enough or you are just not letting your hands go. Your coach will know that and will tell you – listen to him.
Tip 3: Try simple combos
Try simple combos of two or three punches. Don’t pressure yourself too much. Throw some punches and some basic combos like jab, cross or jab, jab, cross. You just got to get used to the new experience and make it to your second sparring session.
Tip 4: Don’t look down
Keep your eyes on your opponent. In the heat of the action, you are probably going to look down. It’s okay for your first sparring session but you can’t make it a habit. Where you look is where you are going to go so don’t look down.
Tip 5: Breathing
Exhaling on your punches. When you exhale your body naturally knows to inhale. If you are not exhaling and holding your breath that is when you are going to get in trouble. Remind yourself to push that air out on your punches.
Tip 6: Go to the body
It’s very common for beginners to head hunt. What happens is, when you head hunt, your opponent sees that and every punch you throw gets blocked. If you are against someone experience they will be slipping and moving all day long, making you miss all of your punches. Go to the head, go to the body, move around then go back to the head.
Tip 7: Defend the jab
You are throwing most of your combos off the jab. Your opponent is probably going to do the same. Therefore expect the jab to come and defend it the way you were taught. Fighting is not just offense. You need to defend yourself. Think of blocking the jab, catching it, parrying it. If you shut down the jab you will shut down the rest of your opponents attack easier.
Tip 8: Focus on one thing to improve
After your sparring session think about one clear problem that you can fix and work on. If you can do that every boxing sparring you are setting yourself up for developing yourself to a high-level fighter. Conditioning is always going to be a problem. You can always be faster, you can always have more endurance, better reaction, better speed. Choose one clear technical or tactical problem to work on after every sparring session and you will keep building yourself.
Tip 9: Move after you hit
After you attack and hit your opponent, they will most likely want to come and get it back to you. Often immediately. Make yourself a habit – after your offense, move. Get out of the danger zone as soon as you are done with your combo. Get the habit – I’m in, I’m working, I’m out.
Tip 10: Simulate sparring rate in training
For you conditioning. If you had a hard sparring session remember the level of exhaustion you went through and how challenging and difficult was to your body. Sparring is often the most intense experience you can go through because you are not fully in control, you are being forced and pressed. Remember the intensity so that you can recreate that level of intensity in your training and adapt to it. If you are sparring on 90-95% intensity and you are training at 70-80% intensity – you got 15-20% gap for which you won’t be ready.
These are the top 10 tips for your first sparring session. It’s a lot to think about, a lot to go through so try not to overwhelm yourself. Pick two or three tips – the most important ones like breathing and looking to your opponent. You can always practice in your next boxing sparring.
The main goal is to be motivated and safe. In conclusion, 90% of the people in the gym are not there to kill their sparring partners so if you pick a high-level guy to spar with don’t worry and keep him safe too.