We’ve been receiving several questions in our inbox about sparring, so we’ve decided to answer them in an article to share them to you!
In this article, the oldest member of the Boxingholic Team—Jerry—will write about the importance of well-conducted boxing sparring as well as speak about different sparring workouts and strategies. Without further ado, let’s get to the point!
Sparring is arguably one of the most crucial parts of boxing training.
It is actual boxing. Everything else we do in the gym or on a treadmill is indeed significant, but sparring is the boxing in itself. For many fighters, sparring is the most attractive part of boxing, whereas for others, it is the most hated and stressful one.
This article will be divided into three sub-articles—we will answer the most common questions sent to us by other readers. We chose 9 of the most often asked questions, which will be answered in the form of a Q & A discussion by Jerry—a boxing coach with more than 21 years of experience.
Q: How often should a boxer Spar? – Send by: James from Dundee.
Jerry: Well, I cannot give a universal or general answer to this question as it depends on the age and experience of the boxer, as well as demandingness of the sparring session. But based on my experience, fighters should not spar more than twice a week. I believe that the most optimal amount of sparring for a boxer is to have one regular sparring session per week and one light sparring session.
The common misperception about sparring session is that if you fight more, then you are going to be a better fighter.
This is not true. In fact, sparring too much might actually make you a worse fighter. Getting too much damage to your body might both weaken you physically and make you prone to injury. Also, it will weaken you mentally, particularly when your sparring partners dominate you.
Remember: your hands and knuckles need to rest, and your head needs to be fresh and not damaged—that’s the key. When one thinks about a serious boxing career, caring about your body is essential. At the end of the day, the sport we do is the sport of damage, so if you do not take care of yourself, you won’t last long in the game of boxing. Hence why, sparring too often is certainly a bad idea.
Q: How should the sparring session look like? How many rounds should one fight and with how many opponents? – Send by: Francis from Paris.
Jerry: Again, it is very difficult to answer this question as it depends on the level and the age of the boxer. I will try to answer this question through the lenses of amateur and semi- professional boxing. Fighters in these ranks usually fight 3 x 3 minute rounds or in some cases 3 x 2 minute rounds. The key to a good preparation to a fight, is training in a way that imitates your fight.
For anyone who wants to step into the ring and be prepared for the 9 minutes, he/she must actually be able to fight for around 12/14 minutes. When you fight in the bout, you need to add up additional stress, potential dizziness or paralyzing feeling that accompanies many people who step into the ring. Those feelings do make a difference, hence why you need to always have one additional round in your tank.
When I coach amateurs, we usually do hard sparring session which are divided into two sub-sessions. Training started with two warm up rounds during which fighters are not supposed hit hard, but rather move, look for angles, openings and get into the zone of fighting.
Then the main course comes, which consist of 4 x 3 minute or 3 x 4 minutes of hard rounds. I am rather a fan of these rounds structure, as the intensity does not go down since fighters can rest between the rounds. After those rounds, my fighters usually had few minutes of rest and again went for 3 x 4 or 4 x 3 hard rounds. This training makes boxers do 3 x 3 minute rounds and an additional round that they must be prepared for.
Q: How to overcome fear during sparring session? – Send by: Janusz from Warsaw.
Jerry: I usually do not agree with people who claim that there are sports who are not for everyone, because I believe everyone can do everything if one truly wants to. But in case of boxing, well… I think in case of that sport, one must answer certain questions before forcing oneself into training and fighting, but especially competing.
In my opinion, if you do not like it, you cannot do it. I understand the philosophy of overcoming the fear and getting out of the comfort zone. It is okay. It is cool. But if you think about competing and actually being a boxer, you absolutely cannot fight with yourself every time you fight. One needs to like the slight fear, adrenaline, and feeling that accompanies you when you step into the ring. If you don’t like it, you cannot be a boxer. So before answering how to overcome the fear you need to understand what fear it is, whether it is possible to overcome it and whether you like the fighting itself.
Besides that, I also do not think there are some ‘special strategies’ that will make you fearless and turn you into a boxing animal. My biggest advice is to train as hard as you can. The better your strength, cardio, and technique, the more confident and calmer you will feel. If you know you have a gas in your tank to go and fight, it will give you mental strength to go out there and fight.
Another way of overcoming the fear of fighting is having open sparring. Try to spar when others are watching, do judged sparring with your coach as your referee, fight when the public is around, etc. The feelings one faces during such trainings imitate the fight itself. When you understand and get used to fighting when a lot of people are watching, then you will have the courage and confidence to do it in the ring.
Enjoyed our article?
Get ready for part 2, which will be published next week. For now, let us know what you think about the Jerry’s answers and send more questions via our contact form.
Note: we have asked individual readers for their permission to allow us to post their names and country of origin in this article. If you would like to ask questions but remain anonymous, please do not hesitate to mention about this.