A sparring session is a crucial and important part of training and learning how to play a combat sport. The first time your trainer will take out the mitts and pads is when you will realize how serious the game is going to get! And sure at first, you might even feel intimidated and scared but that’s all-natural and almost everyone gets that feeling as a beginner.
However, you need to overlook such feelings and get a grip on your emotions! Remember that a sparring session will break and rebuild you, and that’s very important if you want to excel. Allow yourself to get hurt and learn from your mistakes. Below are a few guidelines we have provided that will help you prioritize your goals and make the most of a boxing sparring session.
1. Take it easy in the ring
There is no doubt that sparring can be quite intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner. Sometimes however many young players will think that it is a good idea if you pour out all your energy and hit as hard as you possibly can; we discourage that technique and approach because this will exhaust you very quickly and tamper with your performance. Also, your opponent, provided they are a seasoned player, will immediately be able to figure out that you’re new at the sport and will try to go harder as well on you and you might end getting defeated.
Secondly, make sure your aim is not to knock out your opponent rather observe your form and your deliverance so you know what your game looks like. The aim of a sparring session should be to perfect your form and polish your game as much as possible rather than defeating your opponent. So take it easy in the ring when it comes to overpowering your opponent and focus more on the skill and technique.
2. Accept your defeat
Remember that a sparring session is all about learning, so leave your ego and pride outside the ring. Your aim is not to defeat the opponent but to explore your possibilities. We encourage getting defeated and hit as many times as possible because it will help you realize your potential as well as what your weaknesses are. If you get held at the first punch or hit that you receive then you’re not leaving enough flexibility to learn and progress.
Getting hit from different angles especially when you least expect will allow you to grow a lot more in this sport than you could ever imagine. The first few times you will get attacked will allow you to polish your reflexes and train your mind to become more alert before you start defending and blocking unexpected hits. A sparring session will help you learn so much only if you allow yourself to be taught by experienced and defeat. An actual match is a wrong place to make mistakes, but a practice session should be a haven where every defeat should mean a lesson you can overcome.
3. Be observant
As you learn to polish and improve your reflexes also lookout for opportunities where you can easily attack your opponent. Small opportunities will always arise by themselves but your job is to predict them, identify them, and then deliver on time. Use your time in the sessions wisely and just concentrate on the game observing your opponent’s every move and listening attentively to what your trainer is telling you. Allow yourself to be guided with experience as well as what your seniors are trying to tell you.
4. Learn new techniques
There is no doubt that as a beginner it might take longer for you to learn and acquire new skills; however, if you keep on practicing eventually you will get a hang of the game and you will learn new techniques. Use these techniques to your advantage and see what works best for you. Try to make combinations of the techniques you learn and keep practicing until they begin to come naturally to you. You want to feel like a character from the mortal combat games who deliver hits with different combinations so smoothly that their opponent is left baffled and confused!
If you want to have an advantage over your opponent then practicing in the ring with a combination of hits one after the other will help you out!
5. Have a goal in mind before going into the ring
Winning and defeating your opponent should be the last thing in your mind when you go into a sparring session, make it bigger and more meaningful. Think about what you want to achieve from this practice session. Do you want to improve a weakness, learn a new technique, improve your form, and build your stamina, it could be anything but go into the ring with a purpose. This will help you remain focused, you will have an aim, and you will walk out with achieving something concrete.
Remember always that such sessions are designed for you to learn new things and improve your game as much as you can.
6. Spar with new people
Now don’t get me wrong, practicing with a trainer is a very good technique to follow because the trainer will identify immediately what your weaknesses are and will try to target them so you keep improving. However, also try and learn to spar with new opponents because you need to learn different techniques and different ways of combating.
Sparring with new people not only means learning about new weaknesses but also learning new techniques. Every new partner that you will spar with will have their way of approaching the game and this could teach you immensely and open new opportunities for you. You will get to observe your technique and judge whether it even is the best for you, or maybe if something else works better.
Sparring sessions are a great way of constantly learning and improving, make the most out of them.
7. Observe strengths and weaknesses
When you learn about your partner’s strengths and weaknesses then when you go into an actual match your reflexes and intuition will be able to immediately tell you a lot about your opponent, because you will get so trained. This will help you change and alter your game plan according to what you think your opponent’s weaknesses and strengths are.
This readiness and sharpness at your game only come with time and immense practice; so don’t get disheartened if you don’t think you polished enough as yet; it will come to you and you will pioneer at your game eventually.
8. Try to keep calm
Do not let your emotions get the best of you; you want to remain as calm and cool during sparring sessions as possible. The reason is that if you get too emotional and too invested in winning or losing the game then you stop being observant and you stop thinking practically. Your job is to make the most out of your practice session and that will only happen if you keep your head in the game and realize what is most important; to learn from your mistakes and not take any defeat to heart.
Keep your mind focused on the game as much as possible so you sharpen your skills and you sharpen your reflexes. Take a deep breath whenever the session becomes too overwhelming and try to get your head back in the game as soon as possible without feeling demotivated or discouraged.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Especially if you’re new to the game do not be afraid to ask questions because remember there is no such thing as a stupid or irrelevant question. If there is a query that is bothering you then there is a serious chance that you have a genuine concern that should be catered to immediately. Allow yourself to be as curious about the game as much as possible, whether it’s about the rules of the game, the deliverance of hits, or even about the sports gear that you are wearing. For example, if you think that a new pair of boxing gloves will help you perform better then approach and share this concern with your trainer. Do not hold back!
10. Try to enjoy yourself
Do not make a sparring session a matter of life and death! That will probably be the worst thing that you can do! When you start to take a game too seriously then you go into the ring too stressed and anxious; this can compromise your game, your form, and also your deliverance. You want to go in the ring light-hearted and carefree so you can enjoy the sport you invested in, get a good workout, learn new skills, improve your form and maybe even win a few punches and hits! So remember to smile and go into the session with a positive vibe!