Sparring is a crucial aspect of training for any boxer looking to improve in the ring.
However, how frequently you spar – or even whether you do decide to spar – comes down to what your goals are in the sport.
This article will cover the key points you should consider before making any decision.
What are your goals?
First things first, you’ve got to understand the risks involved.
Believe it or not, getting hit in the head isn’t good for your brain – and, the more times you spar, the more times you will get hit in the head.
Head trauma is a valid concern for any boxer, so it’s worth assessing your long-term objectives.
For example, are you looking to compete as a fighter or are you just a hobbyist looking to get your heart rate up?
Are you in fight camp, training for an upcoming fight or is it your offseason?
If you’re looking to compete, generally, the more, the better – assuming you’re not hurting yourself. 2-3 times per week is recommended.
If instead, you’re approaching boxing as a hobbyist, it’s best to start out with just 1 light sparring session per week.
Light sparring vs hard sparring?
How frequently you can spar will depend on the level of intensity.
There’s a difference between hard sparring, where you’re throwing haymakers, and light sparring, with a more technical focus.
Hard sparring is only necessary if you’re looking to compete in fights and, even then, it should only really happen in fight camp (in the lead-up to a fight).
The purpose of sparring is to improve your technical ability in the ring, not to beat each other up.
This is why the focus should be on lighter, more technical sparring – say, without fully-clenched fists – as you can do it more frequently.
Also, there’s no need to go for more than 5 rounds, as the focus of sparring is to put your training into practice and to experience different styles of fighting, not to be working on your cardio.
In the end, getting hit in the head will always come with negative consequences.
When it comes to sparring, these consequences can never be fully eliminated but they can be mitigated by training with the right coach and partner and focusing on lighter, more technical work.
How frequently you spar will depend on your age, your skill level, your fitness level, how long it takes you to recover, and your goals in the sport.
The key is that you listen to your body and assess your long-term objectives.
As a boxer, you’ve got to decide what level of risk you’re comfortable with.