Drills For Sparring
The old saying goes ‘repetition is the mother of all learning’ and for any sport you play, this is very true. In boxing, whilst we may work on the mitts or on the bag, nothing is better than sparring for getting you ready for your fight, it is the closest thing to it, the only real thing which is missing is the pressure, the pressure of fighting infront of a crowd, or the pressure of knowing there is a scorecard and you are being judged.
To build fight readiness you need drills you can use in sparring, I am going to go over just a few of my favourites which I use with my guys when training them and having them spar each other.
I love this drill, because it helps build composure in a fighter. By only being allowed to use the jabs, it forces you to think and control your punches. If you get hit, it forces you to keep cool because you can’t get angry and try to throw bombs or land a big punch, you have to keep your cool, regain your focus and find a way in to your opponent behind the jab.
The jab is also the most oft thrown punch so it makes perfect sense to focus on jabbing rounds only if you are going to be throwing so many in a fight. It is also the most commonly countered punch, so again it is good practice to use your jab counters in this drill. You won’t get far in boxing without a good jab, so make it a priority to drill the jab in when sparring.
LEAD HAND ONLY
So for orthodox fighters this would be the left hand only and for southpaws it would be the right hand, basically you can throw any punch with your jabbing hand. I like this drill for sparring because it forces you to get creative with your non dominant hand. You can learn how to jab and how to hook off the jab for example, you can learn how to throw multiple hooks in succession or learn how to switch levels with your hooks, going low then high. You can also use it to feint your cross and then throw the lead hook, or you can throw the jab, feint(or slip inside) and throw the screw jab. Often fighters have weaker non dominant hands, especially when starting out, this is a good drill to get both hands up to par and equally as effective as eachother. You can also practice countering the hook with your own hook.
This is great for those new to sparring. With tag sparring you are not throwing shots to the head, you can only aim to target your opponents thigh or shoulder. This drill primarily helps to improve footwork, get your guys throwing jabs only to the shoulder and thigh but make sure they get used to moving whilst punching and moving to avoid shots. This is a simple introduction to people new to boxing and I often have guys starting tag sparring just a few sessions in to mix things up from doing the usual footwork drills, it just makes things more interesting for them before they go back to doing what many refer to the essential but ‘boring’ drills. I say boring, but without those boring drills you are not going to reach your potential, they need to be done.
Remember, sparring should never be a war, it should be used to build habits and perfect your technique, the sparring partners must work together to improve each others game, if the sparring it descending into a war, you are doing it wrong and not helping anyone really, not least yourself. I understand it can easily happen, you can easily lose your cool and want to trade punches or fight toe to toe but you must keep your composure and fight relaxed, go in there with a plan on what you want to work on. If you make it in to a war, not only will you get tired far quicker, you will end up building bad habits and these bad habits will carry over in to your fights. Sparring is great way to practice, it helps improve your timing and helps you understand your distance, don’t waste that opportunity to improve your game!
(Always wear the correct equipment for sparring, this means larger gloves ie 16oz gloves, head guards and gum shields)