A quick little guide to help prepare beginning boxers or backyard boxers as they step into the ring for their very first time.
1. FEEL OUT YOUR OPPONENT
The rowdy and aggressive boxers will look to strike first. The smart and sneaky ones will look to counter. If he wants to punch first, duck or backstep and hit him right back. If he’s looking to counter, fake a punch, slip and then smack him. If he’s playing the passive role (common for big guys that think they’re stronger or faster than you), hit him hard against the gloves to hit him with his own gloves, and while he’s pre-occupied aim for the body.
2. JAB HIGH, HIT THE BODY
This one is self-explanatory – jab at the head and then go to the body. Most beginner boxers that are all pumped up don’t think about the body attack especially from the beginning. Step straight in with an authoritative jab, quickly change your head level and duck down to hit your opponent with a hard right hand to the stomach. Hitting just above the stomach (solar plexus) hurts the most. A great alternative is to duck low, bend to your side, jab his body and as he lowers his guard to block, quickly come up and throw a right hand to his head!
3. FEET ON THE GROUND
Too many beginners get over-excited and throw 10-punch combos while lifting their feet all over the place. Not having your feet planted means your punch will be much less powerful (because you’re not grounded), and you will also be more off-balanced meaning you can get knocked around easily or left vulnerable against your opponent’s punches. Keep your feet planted and you’ll hit harder.
Don’t get intimidated or caught up in the moment. Let your opponent do all the work. If the other guy wants to waste his energy, keep your calm and let him tire himself out. Most other beginners won’t last 2 minutes in the ring bouncing around like a rabbit and throwing endless punches. Be patient and take advantage when he tires out!
Don’t ever forget to breathe. Always breathe even when you’re on offense or defense. A good drill every beginner should practice is moving around the ring breathing in a steady rhythm while getting punched by a much smaller opponent. It’s an excellent drill for all beginners to stay calm and conserve energy in the ring. Most beginning boxers tire out too quickly because they stop breathing and start holding their breath especially when they’re punching or defending.
6. LOOK AT YOUR OPPONENT
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen beginning boxers make the mistake of looking away from an opponent during a boxing sparring session. It’s boxing; not 5-year-old peek-a-boo. Looking away while your opponent is punching you will not make the punches disappear. While on defense, you must keep your opponent in full view of you at all times so that you can block most of his punches if not all. The same goes for offense; you must be looking at your opponent when you punch so that you know your punch will land accurately. Don’t just close your eyes and swing blindly hoping you’ll hit something. Don’t look at the ground or ceiling either. Just look directly at your opponent when you punch him, this makes the punches harder and more accurate.
7. USE THE JAB
Always use your jab! When in doubt, throw it anyway. A jab can be used to hurt your opponent, set up bigger punches, keep him at bay, intercept a hard right hand or right hook, keep his mind occupied, or create space while you spin out of the corner. Throw this punch many times in practice and throw it many times in the ring! Not all jabs are the same. Practice hard jabs, or soft jabs, or extend your arm halfway out and throw a quick jab from there. Double up and triple up your jabs and mix it in with clever head movement. All great boxers have great jabs, never forget this!
8. LIMIT YOUR PUNCHES
Don’t throw 10 punch combos. Be cautious and strong. Throw 3-5 punch combinations at the max. Make sure you have solid footing. Not every punch has to be a knockout punch.
9. DON’T WAIT
Don’t wait for your opponent to finish punching you before you fire back. If he starts to tee off on you, unload your hands quickly and break up his combo right away and move out. Don’t just sit there in a defensive position. If your opponent has already hit you with 2 punches and plans on throwing more, start throwing back right away. Throw quick punches to break up his focus and move away or fire back. Don’t wait!
Fight hard, but also fight smart!
Very koo information.
I’m 16 and i just started sparring recently. I think these are very good tips.
always remember sparring is practice use it as time to learn to not be phased at being in a fight situation, always concentrate on breathing through the nose stay relaxed and always rember every boxer has to go through the same feelin of mixed emotions at some point in there career, those who can rise to the occasion are those who succeed but training and conditioning are the biggest aspect of all, if your not at a suitable level of fitness before going in the ring you can never progress while you are in the ring and you will only beat youself!
this is good advise ! 🙂
heyal…this was really helpful…started boxin a few month ago…body fit, all i needd was the touch of mastering th techniques, this was real good…cnt wait for th TBA university championships in october…
hey, thanks man.dn’t knw wer 2 start..
U hav given me a gud start
Sir , how can i ever repay you. these are fabulous tips . thanks alot
i just had my first spar yesterday and i wish i had read this before going in..i gotta admit i was all over the place…my guard was down most of the time,i was breathn dramatically and i got many punches to the head,but thankfully a left-power-hook had him tripping on himself..thanks alot to you,il know wat 2do when the next spar is on..which is tommorrow!
first time sparring tips
Left hooks will always help against guys who throw the right hand too much. Let me know how you do. I’m curious to see which tips helped you the most.
am i going too far?
i had a couple spars lately and i must admit that after the first spar,i kinda got the hang of it and when i spard yesterday,i tried out one of your combinations which was the a jab to the body and a quick cross the the head…and since i am a southpaw,it was a pretty damaging punch which actually tore the skin under his right eye..and another thing is i evaded most of his punches by retreating backwards without it looking like im running away(like u added)..my coach also scolded me from ”dancing”in the ring..which im not,i just feel more alert when m on my toes and not when im standing still..please give me your advice.
Holy smokes! You tore his skin? Good job! As long as you’re winning by using your boxing skills and not your brute strength, you’re not going too far.
I’m a moving type boxer, too so I can’t help but agree with your style. Perhaps what your coach wants you to do is not bounce around so much. It’s ok to move, but don’t waste your energy with too much unnecessary movement.
thankyou,..il definately take your advice and try to apply it the best possible way…i never tire 4rm reading your tipz coz they’ve helped me take my game and fitness 2another level.
thanks for the compliment!
I’ll help as much as I can
I am an educated, 5.8 140lbs fighter. If anybody wants to spar please email me at [email protected]. By the way, I currently train at Eddie Herredia Boxing Club at East Los Angeles.
Ive been reading your stuff, really good write up.
Can you offer any advice to a novice thats WAY to shy/affraid/kind to throw the first punch?
I find that I’ll wait, and wait, and wait for the right moment to counter. I never initiate contact. Some think it’s a good thing as I’m pretty good at countering but I think it’s my largest weakness and something I WANT to change.
I’m actually a kickboxer with 8 years of taekwondo under my belt so I’m really good with my feet but distance and the waiting game has been force fed to me for years, it needs to change, the boxers I’m fighting are learning my tricks ;-).
I need to be the first into the fray but when I think ‘GO’ I just stand there, I don’t move. Help.
throwing the first punch
Thanks for the comments. I think I should make a whole article out of this. But for now… it seems to me like you’re gun-shy because you don’t like getting hurt. A boxing match is fought in combinations whereas a tae kwon do match is fought on single strikes at a time. Of course TKD throws combinations but the fight is usually momentarily stopped after one lands.
To get use to throwing the first punch, spar with someone much better than you or much worse than you. Tell the better guy you want to practice being more aggressive and have him simply block only and counter you LIGHTLY. Sparring with a beginner guy will also give you the confidence to be more aggressive without fear of being retaliated against. Give that a shot and let me know.
Thanks a bunch, I’m back into it tonigh and will give it a shot. You’re right about TKD being fought in a flurry followed by a break and it’s often better to wait for that sweet kick than to charge in an eat a hook kick. Plenty to lean, thanks again.
Last night I had a few rounds with both a very experienced guy and beginner. In both cases it became apparent that my distance was a big problem. Because I was able to trust the guys I was fighting I was able to take a half a step in, that really closed the gap and put me in range. I was also able to try some different guard styles mainly because I knew these guys either couldn’t or wouldn’t take my head off. Good tips, a light session with a lot of in tight combinations and the confidence to experiment was a good first step.
I’m happy to hear it worked out for you
Distance is always a problem with beginners. They punch too early because they don’t want to get any closer. They also have a habit of running away too far when they go on defense. When you move back to avoid a punch, only move back like 3 inches. Don’t jump back a whole 3 feet and lose your counter-punching opportunity.
62 2nd week
Im 6’2 204 and i need to get down to lightheavy how should i?
I need to Drop 26 pounds to get into light heavy weight i think i can do it but it just seems like it would be hard to do since losing weight is harder to do when your trying to im 16 years old so i think my body burns fat easy just leave your opinions please
dropping weight fast
Lots of running with a sauna suit (or trash bag) on. Drink tons of water. A lot of guys rub sweating cream all over their bodies when they work out so they can cut water weight fast. Cutting fat will take good eating habits!
If you can, open a question in the forums and I’ll follow your progress there.
first boxing match
Hi mr.Johnny N. great article I will have my first fight next saturday with guys from different gyms, but it will just be for 2 rounds 2 minutes. what is the best strategy? if I corner him or have him in my range I will not stop?since the time is just for a few minutes.
I spar a lot at the gym with my trainer, but in a real boxing fight do i have to stick with 3 to 5 hits before I get out or just finish him and look for a knock out punch when i got him with in my combos?
Im a female beginner boxer. I’m the only female other than 2 other pros who would not spar with me since they are too strong so I train with all guys but they are really easy on me since i get tired so fast and im small in size. usually while doin pad work, i do well but get frustrated when i do the wrong combination. Any tips or techniques or work outs that I should do to get better. I really want to get better and let them spar with me!
“Im a female beginner boxer” says it all. Relax, train hard and have fun. The best tip I can give for a beginner is not to fall in love with punching and not to spend all your energy and focus on punches. Save your attention span and endurance for other skills like footwork and defense. Relax and don’t overdo it! Pay attention but don’t over-focus on things. With time, you will get better.
It’s funny, but I’ve been boxing for around three years, and I still find myself reading this article. At times, I just want to try so hard to be perfect in the ring it almost drives me crazy. I get to preoccupied with thinking about it, I psyche myself out of even wanting to do it. I just need to remember to relax and just go with the fight. Settle into it almost. “Let the other guy do all the work.” Thats a genius line man. Just let the other guy make all the mistakes. It’s a simple, but probably one of the most important, mental aspects of the game to remember. This online website is almost like boxing therapy, Dr. Phil style. Great article RADO.
This is one of my favorite articles. This, and the body punching one. Hell, I like them all. Keep up the good work!
“Hell, I like them all.” … 😉
You said to use twelve to sixteen ounce gloves on the double end bag does that apply to those that are 1?0 plus all muscle such as myself or can i use 20oz gloves?
Using 20oz gloves might be too heavy and slow you down. It might feel like a better workout but the problem is you don’t get a chance to punch at high speed.
My mistake Johnny i meant to post this on the “top five boxing workouts” article i apologize if i threw you off
so whats the point to 20 oz gloves then?
They’re more for bigger guys, or pro’s that need them.
even if i weigh 175? i walk around closer to 178-180 but im just beginning
You’re a beginner, so I wouldn’t recommend using heavier gloves. Almost nobody uses 20oz unless you’re a heavy weight or pro.
if im 175 am i going to compete with 16oz gloves?
No, I wouldn’t recommend it still but if you can still try it if that’s what you really want to do.
ok cool, thanks for your feedback i appreciate the patients you have for me, im just curious are there some tournaments that are going to require a certain weight gloves? or should i just ask my coach when it comes to competing?
There are official weights depending on what weight class you come in at. Rules may vary with different orgs and different events. You’ll find out the day of the match. It’s probably somewhere around 10-14oz depending where you go.
Great stuff on this site. I am a low level (inexperienced) mixed martial artist and found this page whilst googling for some boxing sparring tips, found all the advice on this page including the comments very informative and this is all good stuff I will be taking on board. Also m8 I think its good that you take the time responding to people asking questions in the comments section, most webmasters really dont give a rats ass so good on you buddy. Keep up the good work, im off to check out the rest of this site now its got me curious.
I just had my first sparring match today and even though i thought i knew the techniques i didn’t use them in the sparring effectively. I find these tips will help me for instance tip 9 was what i kept doing and then i would strike back. clearly bad idea.
I just turned 33 and got back into boxing about 3 months ago, I used to do some Amatuer fighting when I was younger and find it weird that I feel stronger now then I did when I was fighting at 19. Problem is I am 5’8″ 190. What are your thoughts of guys my age taking a few more amateur bouts just for the competition. Hell, I don’t think I am gonna make a career out of it, im just looking to stay in shape and have some fun.
There are a lot of guys in your same position, Mikey. Older but still strong. Just wanna stay in shape and have fun. You should do it.
what to do against guys that don’t use the Jab much and apply pressure? are they looking to brawl? there are times that i get beat up in sparring but afterwards i realize i wasn’t using feints moving like i should and using the jab properly, but it’s ok to get beat in sparring that’s why it’s sparring better to get out worked in sparring rather then competition right? sparring is about learning competition is another deal great article what are your thoughts on my questions? i been following you since 2010 so i been reading alot now that I’m more comfortable sparring I’m going to be able to use your strategies and techniques more effectively when i lacked experience i didn’t see how these techniques worked but now i have more experience your techniques make complete sense 🙂
You have 2 choices against the pressure fighters. You can try to keep a distance by using the jab and footwork, or you can play into their game and come forward yourself. Although coming forward would take you into the danger zone, it would allow for many other options. You can smother them, push them around, and even land your own big punches. Or you can use a combination of the two to keep them off balance. You will get better with time, that is for sure.
Haha! I thought you were going to make a list of things you need to own before you sparred – stuff like head gear, 16 oz gloves, etc. Great article anyway.
Haha…yeah, the title does make it sound like it’d be a pre-fight equipment check.
I just started boxing a few months ago and I am so glad I read this article! I actually have my first sparring match tomorrow and I’m really excited I feel as though my trainer has prepared me pretty well for it but reading this has also helped. I will make sure to do my best to follow these tips , thanks for posting!!
How many punch pounds that can break a jaw