Sparring Done Right

Sparring is as close as you can get to competition and is an essential part of a boxer’s training and development.

Most sparring sessions however are basically ‘anything goes’ and boxers either sink or swim under pressure. This form of sparring is usually known as “Open Sparring”. While it is good preparation for competition and a must, it should not be done daily. This only wears the body down fast and leads to injury.

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It is important to understand that there are various forms of sparring. We often get calls and e-mails from thrill seekers who are more interested with fight like sparring sessions rather than learning. Because we don’t have specific sparring slots stated in our class schedule, we are sometimes seen as not a “real boxing gym”. This is of course very wrong.

“Research into skill acquisition – particularly fine motor skills performed under pressure – indicates that a skill is easier to learn and execute if it is developed in a low stress environment. Two boxers engaging in anything goes sparring is a high stress environment and is counter-productive to skill acquisition.” – Boxing.org.nz

So, I am going to explain the other 2 different forms of sparring that we practice at Legends besides “Open Sparring”.

  1. Technique Sparring
    Only specific one or two punches or basic punch combinations (not more than 3 punches) can be used, usually from a static position, in order to develop a fixed response in the form of a defensive move (with hands, feet or body).
  2. Conditional Sparring
    This form of sparring sets parameters around what can be thrown. For example, the attacking boxer is only allowed to throw straight punches while the defending boxer will have to apply appropriate and effective defence. Specific counters may be included, depending what is set by the coach. This is a more flexible form of sparring, but has constraints so that boxers practicing their attack is forced to think on how to land the allowed punches and boxers practicing their defence are not overwhelmed by having to deal with an all-out attack.

    This form of sparring narrows down the focus and goal for the specific round for both boxers. Boxers are advised to throw punches with realistic speed and controlled power.

If you are already training with us at Legends, you will be familiar with Technique and Conditional sparring as we do this a lot in every class. The great thing about Technique and Conditional forms of sparring is that they can be used with beginners right through to elite level boxers. Remember that the goal of sparring is not to beat each other up. There is no such thing as winning or losing in sparring.

Train hard and train smart people!

Keep punching!
TCW