Sparring is a drill where you and your opponent help each other to practice real moves in a proper ring. The intention isn’t to beat your opponent but rather learn from each other. Noticing subtle nuances such as movements, punches, positioning, defence and other aspects of fighting which sharpens your overall boxing skills.
At some point of time during your training, your coach will get you to spar. Whether full on or technical sparring. Both kinds of sparring can take your training to the next level.
However, there may be things about sparring that you might not know yet. These things are not publicised and aren’t commonly discussed; but is widely practiced and understood.
So…what are the rules?
1: Not a Death Match
Focus on learning, not on winning, or finishing the sparring session quickly. Those who are new tend to go into sparring with the thinking they need to make an impression quickly before they get tired or before they get manhandled by their sparring partners. This shouldn’t be the case. Firstly, you need to be fit before sparring and spar at your level with the right partners who are responsible and not looking to give you a beatdown.
Do not use sparring as an outlet for anger or to release frustration. You or your opponent might get hurt unnecessarily.
You shouldn’t go in with the intention of injuring your partner. Sure, it can happen accidentally but that’s about it.
Sparring isn’t like sprinting. It’s like a long race and you need to stay composed. Sparring should be used in the spirit to understand the science of movement and application of different techniques.
2: Don’t use 100% power
You shouldn’t go in with 100% power. Don’t get carried away in the moment and be a Mike Tyson. Even after getting hit by a good shot, you shouldn’t be thinking that you need to get back at your partner with a devastating punch. Focus on techniques and execution instead of power. Not going at 100% power does not mean you don’t go hard when sparring. Going hard when sparring means increasing the pace and intensity as the round goes. Increase your power based upon your partner’s intensity.
3: Be aware of the space
If your gym has got a boxing ring, then it’s great. You will just need to be aware of the space in the ring especially when there are others in the ring sparring at the same time.
If there is no ring and you can only spar in an open space, mutually agree on the space you both can move in. Mark with cones to help. Do not move from one end of the gym to the other as this is not beneficial for your sparring partner and can also disrupt other gym users.
4: Respect your sparring partner
Leave your ego at the door. You can be the best boxer in the gym but ego will do nothing positive to your reputation. Refrain from being self-obsessed and carrying ego in your mind. Sparring is not a real match. Don’t go around bragging if you did so much better than your partner during sparring. If you wish to record the sparring session for learning purposes, get your partner’s permission. Lack of respect makes the environment in the gym really negative.
5: Safety first…always
It’s very important to have the right gears on when sparring. Hand wraps, proper 14oz or 16oz gloves, mouth guard, head gear, groin guard are the must have gears when sparring.
Aside from the gears, you need to be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel well, don’t spar. If in the midst of sparring you start to feel weird and know that something is off especially if your head hurts too much, sound off and stop if you know that’s best. This is not the time to be a warrior and push leading to a long term injury
As a martial artist or boxer in our case, it’s a sin to consider ourselves as perfect. We can’t be perfect at anything. We might be great or even outstanding, but we can’t be perfect. Thus, spar regularly and do it while keeping all the aforementioned points in your head. These are unspoken rules, your trainer might tell you or might not, but these are the points that you must know. Consider them to be no brainer sparring rules in boxing.