COME TO MY GYM AND SPAR: SPARRING ETIQUETTE 101
In boxing, there are many things to consider when you first put on the gloves and get ready to swap punches. Things to consider are skill level, adequate supervision, and safety equipment. Over time you start to get comfortable with sparring the same people over and over again at your gym. You start to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and vice versa. In order to break up the monotony, you have to venture out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. You do that by sparring other people from different gyms. But what are the “rules” when you go to someone else’s gym and spar? Here are some recommendations I came up with over the years...
WEAR THE PROPER EQUIPMENT
As an athlete make sure you bring the proper gear. Always bring your head gear, sixteen to eighteen ounce gloves, cup, vaseline, and mouthpiece. Do not ever depend on someone else’s gym to have the gear on hand for you. Do not expect to spar with bag gloves and do not expect to borrow a cup. Be professional and accountable for your equipment. A sparring session could end before it even starts if you don’t.
HAVE A TOWEL AND TAPE ON HAND
There’s nothing more irritating for a sparring session to get interrupted. You are getting some good rounds and all of a sudden, your shoe laces get untied. Your coach has to stop the action so you won’t trip and fall. Or you clip with your opponent with a right hand to the nose and blood starts to pour. His coaches are now scrambling for paper towels to stop the bleeding. The excess blood also has to get cleaned up from the canvas. All of this ruins the tempo and momentum of the sparring session. It cheats both boxers out of the training and experience they are seeking. Bloody noses and cuts happen. It’s boxing. Although do your best to lessen the inconvenience.
DO NOT FINISH YOUR OPPONENT
It gets really competitive and intense when two boxers are going at it in the ring, especially when the do not know one another. When both boxers are mixing it up, a good shot will eventually land, hurting the fighter, knocking him off balance from the blow. When this occurs, DO NOT go for the knockout. Typically when two fighters from different gyms spar, both are getting ready for competition in the near future. The last thing a boxer wants to do is get injured right before a fight. Treat sparring sessions like sparring sessions and not a fight. Save going for the knockout for the actual fight.
A coach and a fighter are taking time out of their day to travel from one gym to the other in order for both parties to benefit. Show good sportsmanship and respect for one another. Sparring partners may eventually become opponents in the distant or near future. But that’s not the case today. Show your sparring partners and his coach respect. Don’t talk trash before, during, or after you spar. Touch gloves in the ring before you engage. Shake the coach’s hand at the end of the sparring session. Encourage one another and support him by showing up to his fight. You may need one another to get ready for the next fight.