You have spent months in the gym learning the fundamentals of boxing and are now ready to put your skill to the test. By this time, you have developed the basics of offense and defense. You have spent what seemed like endless hours of keeping your hands up, chin tucked and practicing the mechanics of proper foot work. It is now time to step into the ring and apply what you have learned.
During sparring, the novice boxer will quickly learn the hard way what specific fighting skills need to be worked on. After all, boxing is a “hurting business.” It is important to have a game plan before you spar. Sparring is not fighting with reckless abandon. Every sparring session should be used as a learning tool. There are several things to apply to your training regimen prior to sparring:
- While wrapping your hands, mentally rehearse the offensive and defensive moves that you want to practice for the day
- Accept the fact that you are going to get hit. Don’t get mad or panic. An essential part of boxing is learning how to react under fire. Always try to control your emotions in the ring.
- Adrenaline may cause you to forget the fundamentals. Try to stick to the basics. Keep your hands up and remember to breathe.
- In most boxing gyms, novice boxers will be paired up with more experienced fighters for safety reasons. In this case, your opponent will be better than you. Don’t get discouraged if you feel clumsy or outclassed. The boxer you are sparring started the same way you did.
- Always remember to treat your sparring session as a learning experience.
Box Like a Pro
Every novice boxer will be nervous and excited before they spar for the first time. This is completely normal, and even the top professional fighters have wrestled with those same emotions. Experienced fighters have learned how to control their emotions, and more importantly have learned how to relax in the ring.
Nervous energy will result in complete exhaustion very quickly. After you learn how to relax, sparring skills will start to improve immensely. You will be able to see the punches coming and react faster. This is the point when sparring becomes invaluable to the development of the fighter.
Ready to Fight
After you learn to deal with the pre-fight nerves and experience the exhilaration of sparring, you may become addicted to the fight game. You will find yourself constantly rehearsing your moves throughout the day. You may catch yourself shadowboxing in the corner when you think nobody is looking. You will probably even dream about sparring.
This is usually about the time that most trainers hear the inevitable question, “Hey coach, am I ready for my first fight?”