If the thought of getting the ring for some boxing sparring sends chills down your spine, then keep on reading because we’re going to help you get over your fear.
You may not know this yet, but everyone’s afraid before their first sparring match. Heck, even professional fighters are afraid before their matches. Mike Tyson, known as one of the most ferocious boxers ever, wouldgothrough horrible emotions of fear on his way to the ring.
This fear stems from two reasons:
1.The fear of getting physically hurt
2.The fear of embarrassment
Yeah, no one likes getting hurt or losing. Yet, sparring isn’t really a fight because there’s no winners or losers. In fact, sparring is a form of training that prepares you for your real fight. You use sparring to find your weak points so that you know what you need to work on.
If you’re reading this, then chances are you have a sparring session coming up. Here’s four ways to get over those pre-sparring jitters.
Spar Someone More Experienced
Sounds crazy, right? Why would a complete novice boxer spar an experienced one? Well, experienced boxers have great control over their power. Which means, the chances of you getting hurt by them are pretty slim. The experienced boxer is usually picked by your trainer. He picks a guy he trusts not to hurt you but will still make you work.
You have absolutely nothing to fear about sparring someone that’s more experienced. Expect them to throw jabs and some very, very light 1-2s. You probably won’t land that many punches and will get tired out (this is 100% normal). Experienced boxers aren’t in the ring to kill you. They’re either warming-up or using you for defense training (and there’s nothing wrong with that).
Plus, you’re not going to “win” a sparring match against someone that’s more experienced. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about if the experienced guy lands a couple jabs on you and you miss all your punches. Remember, sparring isn’t about winning, it’s about testing your skills and figuring out what you need to work on.
Spar Using Only Jabs
Have your trainer let your opponent know that you’re only going to use jabs for the first couple sparring sessions. This does two things:
1.By throwing only jabs, you’ll see the same punch coming. Which means you’ll have an easier time blocking or slipping the punch.
2.Jabs are the lightest punch in boxing and you’re not going to get hurt with just jabs.
There’s nothing to fear about jabs. A really good one will probably hurt your nose if it lands clean, but that’s it.
You do jabs-only sparring sessions against someone that’s on the same skill set as you. This is because when someone is on the same skill level as you, they have little control over their power. When you can’t control power, that’s when things can get out of hand and can lead to some heavy-hand punches (albeit unintentional).
Jabs-only will allow you to familiarize yourself with the ring and the pace of a sparring match. Once you have a couple jabs-only sparring matches, you should be able to handle a full sparring match with no fear.
Wear Proper Safety Equipment
Safety equipment is meant to keep you safe and prevent injuries. Watch any professional boxer spar on YouTube, they all use the same equipment:
- Headgear Mouth Guard
Headgears are great for preventing cuts and absorbing the impact from power punches. The cups protect you downstairs in case your opponent hits you low. Mouth Guards protect your teeth from chipping and falling out.
You and your opponent should both use 16-ounce gloves. These gloves are on the bigger side, which means you’ll have more glove to block punches with. Plus, 16-ounce gloves are on the heavier side, which means your opponent’s punches wouldn’t be as powerful and fast compared to gloves you’ll use in a real fight (12 ounce).
Just Do It
The more you spar, the more confident you get. Which means, the fear of sparring only goes away as you spar. It’s normal to feel afraid at first and with experience you’ll be able to control that fear.
After your first sparring match, you’ll realize you had nothing to fear all along. You just needed to jump in the ring and figure that out on your own. You got punched, and you punched back. You survived and nothing bad happened.
Just stepping into the ring is the way most boxers get over their fear. Just make sure you have your trainer supervise your sparring match. He’ll stop things if they get out of hand or tell your opponent to tone their power down. Just remember, you use sparring to find your weak points so that you know what you need to work on the days you don't spar.
Focus on Doing Just A Little Bit Better Than Last Time
As in any sport, tracking your performance has it benefits. If you’re an avid runner, there will be days that you do not want to run but the motivation that you get when you check your Fitbit or apple watch might give you that little push.
The same goes for sparring. The Smart Headgear is pretty much a Fitbit but for fighters, you can track, monitor, and compare your sparring sessions. Trust me when I say this, there will be days where you do not want to spar but setting a goal like
- Minimize the times I was hit compared to the last time I sparred
- Land more punches than last time in the first 3 rounds
- Throw fewer punches but make sure they are accurate
All of those goals and more can be tracked when you bring The Smart Headgear in the gym with you.