Anyone who has trained in a boxing gym over a long period, or coached or competed knows there are various opinions on training practices. One such practice is sparring. I know a lot of people who go with the motto, “Go hard or go home.”
The idea of “going hard” in sparring has its merits. Sparring itself is an intense workout. Many calories can be burned, but it is the closest thing to an actual boxing match, as such, going hard can toughen you up for the rigors of an actual boxing match. My problem with this should be obvious; it can lead to injury.
To be clear, I disagree with the “go hard or go home” crowd. Sparring, to me, is your opportunity to practice what you learned from your coach. It’s your opportunity to try actual technique such as range finding, throwing combinations, footwork, manipulating distance, slipping punches, counter-punching, etc.. Instead of giving one hundred percent intensity, take it down to about seventy percent. Of course, this means BOTH participants.
Something to consider when easing someone into sparring (or even experienced fighters looking to warm up) is to start the first round of sparring by only throwing the jab. That’s a great time to practice catching the jab, slipping the jab, catching and returning a jab, etc. without fear of getting caught with some other punch. The following round you can add the straight right and again, trying to slip the jab, roll with the cross, countering with a cross of your own to your body, etc.. Listen to what your coach is telling you. Again, by bringing down the intensity, you have a clearer head to hear your coach’s commands and advice.