10 tips to help you improve your sparring skills.
Training done, kicked pads, clinched a few rounds, strength and conditioning in the bag for today. Time for a little sparring…
You have probably heard it a thousand times over but unfortunately, you’re gonna hear it here again: Muay Thai sparring is not a competition, nor is it a coaching session! It’s a time to try out, test and work on your technical skills, your timing, reaction, endurance etc., under realistic competitive conditions with a training partner of a similar level. That’s it.
What it most definitely is not: A competition, a fight, a class with a student or the beating up of a weaker competitor! In good sparring sessions, both of you come out as a winner!
So here are our top-10 tips to help you improve your Muay Thai sparring skills faster and to ensure that you get the most out of your sessions. In no particular order, but all of equal importance!
- Muay Thai sparring is practice and good practice makes perfect! Time to try out a few ideas, your feints and fakes, your catches, combinations and defensive skills for example. Also remember your partner should be doing the same, making it more of a cat and mouse game than a fight! Stay realistic but keep it to learning level – always.
- Power control. Practice your power control, it’s not about who can hit hardest but who can hit smartest! If you go too hard, your partner will go harder and before you know it, all hell breaks loose. This is not what sparring is useful for, so maintain power control at all times. Also, if you make a name for yourself as “that guy”, nobody will want to spar with you …
- Take and give time. Your sparring session can last as long as you wish, so take your time and allow yourself and your partner time too. If you or your partner get tagged, take a quick break, recover, make a mental note and continue.
- Put in the rounds. A pro Muay Thai fight is scheduled for 5 rounds of 3 minutes, with two minutes break between rounds. This should be your minimum schedule for a specific session, always.
- Mix it up. Make a quick mental plan of what you are preparing to practice today and use the rounds to try and drill different techniques, skills or combinations. Learn from each round and build your session to test all the things you set out to practice. Do the same every session, but mix it up.
- No ego. (See Nr. 1!)
- Try things you may not even consider during a fight or training. Maybe you have watched a few videos of this or that fighter, seen something interesting and wish to try it out. Go for it!
- Use your sparring sessions to help you reduce your fear of getting hit or to improve your general confidence level. This is very important in Muay Thai, especially if you are a fighter. Referees and judges also make mental note of a fighters confidence when judging fights, not showing fear or anger or pain is a strong judging point and often sways a close fight. Use your sparring sessions to work on these skills too. If you and your partner follow the process then you can train without fear and improve your skills faster.
- Regularly rotate your sparring partners. Everyone is different, the puncher, the kicker, the clincher etc. Rotate your Muay Thai sparring partners regularly to include them all! To become a better Muay Thai student, you need to be able to deal with them all. And if you are a fighter, even more so!
- Enjoy your sparring! As mentioned in previous points, sparring should be part of your training and your training should be fun. Look at every sparring session as an opportunity to practice, choose your sparring partners accordingly and make a point of trying to win for both parties. Your partner should be appreciated as a fellow trainee and respected from round one. This is Muay Thai!
A final thing still left to mention, even though it didn’t make it to our top 10 list: Try to spar through the full 3 minutes of each round! We often see students sparring hard for a minute or two, then run out of gas and take a break. Avoid this mistake, bite down on your mouth guard and complete the full round. In a real Muay Thai fight, you can’t just call a time out in the middle of a round if you feel you’re running low. Sparring is fight preparation, so stick to the rules and keep it real!
At Punch it Gym we follow these guidelines for all – whether you are an absolute beginner, an intermediate level student or an experienced fighter or trainer.
Safety first, for all our team, our trainers, customers and fighters is also high on our list. Everyone gets to spar under these guidelines, also at their own discretion. If you visit and train at our camp, you are always welcome to join sparring sessions voluntarily. “Nobody has to spar, but everyone should” is our message.
If you have any questions before booking your Muay Thai holiday with us, please contact us by email, you can find all the information you need at www.punchitgym.com.
We look forward to seeing you on Koh Samui soon!