Sparring can be quite overwhelming when you first start out. Many times the adrenaline of being in your first few sparring sessions leaves you flapping around like a fish out of water. There are 7 common mistakes newbie’s make when sparring. To get the most out of your sparring sessions work on avoiding these mistakes.
1) From A to B
Newbie’s tend to be too far away when throwing strikes. Judging distance is very important in boxing or any martial arts. Having a good idea of distance allows you to effectively strike your opponent and also understand at what distance your ‘safe’ from strikes.
Your judgment for striking distance will get better mainly through sparring practice (as a moving human can be a lot harder to judge than a swinging heavy bag).
One of the main and most effective ways to be able to judge striking distance effectively is by using your jab. When you can effectively land a jab you know you are in punching range. The use of the jab can also distract your opponent and allow you to set up combinations. When starting out sparring don’t forget the jab, the basic fundamentals like the jab will aid you extremely well when perfected.
2) No One Home
A lot of newbie’s tend to not look at the opponent from behind their guard especially when being attacked. When you have your guard up, it’s like being in your ‘house’ and looking out of your windows.
It is very important to look at the opponent through your guard so you can see the shots being thrown at you. This will allow to anticipate and counter certain strikes.
By not looking, you expose yourself to shots in areas that you don’t see coming, and these are the most devastating kind of shots. Many newbie’s forget to counter strike when sparring. If you successfully make your opponent miss a shot or over commit make sure you follow it up with a counter strike. This will help you improve your reaction times speed and fighting effectiveness.
3) Hear no evil, see no evil…
Another common mistake newbie’s make is flinching when a punch is thrown at them. Training yourself to not flinch is a skill that will come over time with practice. It’s like the 3 monkey statues hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, the body and mind seem to think that if it doesn’t see the punches coming it will be better off.
Well maybe during a horror movie closing your eyes is okay, but if that murderous masked crazy dude was there in real life, you would want your eyes glued on that sucker 24/7. You would want to see every little thing he does.
It is fundamental not to flinch when in a real fight because if you take your eyes off your opponent for just one moment; you could be down and out. There are certain drills that will help with the flinching but nothing will beat good old fashioned sparring. If you do flinch, always be aware when you do it and work on eliminating it when sparring.
4) Out the Window
When newbie’s first start to spar there striking form goes ‘out the window’. You do not want to neglect your form. Form is one of the most vital parts of fighting.
It will enable you to protect yourself and throw the most effective strikes. A lot of boxing and martial arts training is based on developing form, you then need to apply this form in your sparring to be an effective fighter. So if you find your form going out the window, relax, calm down and go back to using correct form.
Even if you have to slow your strikes down to perfect your form then that is what you have to do. Correct form is essential to developing your fighting skills. Always practice using perfect form.
5) Stuck in the Mud
Newbie’s tend to get ‘stuck in the mud’ especially when being attacked. One of the best forms of defense is movement. If you can move out of the way of strikes, they obviously will not land. Moving around makes it harder for your opponent to strike you and correct movement should be practiced when sparring. Always practice moving your feet.
6) Neglect the Trunk
When newbie’s start to spar they turn into head-hunters. Many of them forget the use of body punches to attack the ‘trunk’. Body punches are excellent to practice and should be practiced also when sparring. Body punches have the ability to set up multiple combinations and can also end the fight by themselves, so don’t sell yourself short, use all the tools in your arsenal.
7) Out of the Zone
Many newbie’s hold their breath when sparring. This is very common and may occur when starting out. Your aim is to be a relaxed, calm fighter; with controlled breathing. When you fight you need to be ‘in the zone’.
Controlling your breathing will not only let you spar longer without getting gassed out, but it will also make you calm and cause your strikes to be more powerful. Proper breathing is a MUST when boxing and should be practiced all the time when sparring.
If you find that you don’t breathe properly, next time you spar make a conscious decision to be aware and adjust your breathing. Work on it all the time to get it perfect and natural.
If you make any of these 7 newbie mistakes when sparring, then make sure you work on correcting them. As the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’. So keep practicing and improving constantly. Don’t forget that being aware of what you are doing wrong, is the first step to changing it!
If you need any advice or tips feel free to email me.
Do you know of any other newbie mistakes? leave your thoughts, comments in the section below!