In this article we are going to give you 7 tips to help you take full advantage of your sparring sessions.
Instead of jumping in the ring and start sparring, follow these guidelines and your skills as a fighter would skyroket.
1. Wear high quality protective gear. Make sure that is not deteriorate and feels comfortable.
Protections will keep you injury free and they will give you peace of mind. You can concentrate on the task at hand, without having to worry about loosing a tooth, a broken nose or a cut as consequence of a headbutt.
They are a must, no protections in good condition, no sparring for you. It’s not worth the risk!
2. Practice sparring at the beginning of your training sessions while you are fresh. Sparring is very demanding. We must not spar when we are exhausted. Warm up, get the blood pumping, couple of shadow boxing rounds to loosen up a bit and your are ready. Leave the heavy bag, the hand mitts and the heavy workouts for later. Skills are best learned when our minds are fresh!
3. Give your competitive mind a rest. We all like to win, but leave that wining desire for competition. The gym is the place to learn. Why do I say that? Well, when we worry about winning and looking good, we go for safety, we don’t go out of our comfortable zone, and therefore there is no growth as a fighter. We stagnate.
To progress we have to try new things. Sure we will get nailed while we learn them, but it’s just the way this game is. To master new skills you have to try them while sparring.
If you are not able to do them while sparring, no way in hell you’ll do them in the ring. So, get out of your comfortable zone, expand your horizons, try new things, look bad while you do and grow as a fighter. Ego stays at home!
4. Spar with as many people as you can. Right handed, left handed, tall, shorts, bulky, strong, fast, offensive, defensive…I hope you get the idea. The more people you spar the more versatile you will get.
Everybody is different, if you always spar with same people, you will get use to the same old, after a while there is no challenge, and without challenge there is no progress.
5. Make a conscious effort to work all fighting distances. We all feel more comfortable fighting out of one distance, but is advisable to be proficient in all of them, otherwise we can get into deep shit when our opponent is the one controlling the distance. Learn to transition from one distance to another with ease.
6. Preconditioned sparring. Program your sparring session, talk with your sparring partner and agree before hand with techniques, strategy or tactics each of you will use during each round. This is ideal to work on weak spots.
This single tip will make you progress like no other. This is probably the secret behind Cubans success in boxing. They call it “Escuela de boxeo”. Lets see their reasoning. All fighters tend to rely on their favorite techniques, we all like to feel comfortable, right?
Now lets say, we practice our jab in one round, our front kick in another, our defense against a middle kick in other… I hope you get the idea. Preprogrammed sparring sessions are the most effective way to turn anybody into a well rounded fighter. I wonder why almost nobody use it…
7. Give special attention to defense. I know everybody likes offensive fighters, but defensive fighters are the ones wining fights.
In Hollywood movies we see the Rambos killing masses of soldiers protected behind trenches. We all now that doesn’t happen in real life. And rarely happens in combat sports.
Defense win fights!
Strategically, defensive fighting is way superior to offensive fighting. Mayweather in boxing, Petrosyan in kick…. And the list goes on an on. The soldier in the bunker will always kill the one in the open. Learn to avoid getting hit, if there is a skill that will pay off big time, this is the one!
There you have, 7 tips that will help you get out all the juice from your sparring sessions. Use them and see your progress skyrocketing, or keep doing the same boring sparring sessions and my fighters will take advantage. Just kidding! Or… maybe not!