11 Beginner Sparring Tips – MMA/Boxing/Kickboxing


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Sparring Tips For Beginners

When I was reading one of the many mixed martial arts forums today I came across a question regarding striking sparring. The person asking was completely new to sparring and like many beginners found his first rounds versus a moving, striking opponent extremely challenging.

Off the top of my head I quickly came up with a few things that I thought might help him in his quest to get hit less while doing more hitting himself inside the ring.

I’ll share them, and a few more, to help you make your sparring experience more enjoyable and…less painful. Here we go!:

1. Throw your punches with speed, relaxation and technique, never try for power.

2. You don’t have to always see the opening for a specific punch. Just throw you combo sharply and quick and often the opening comes in the middle of your combo.

3. After your done punching, move away to either side. Your even better to stand your ground than backing straight up.

4. When you think you’re jabbing a lot, jab twice as much.

5. If you get into trouble, place both gloves on your temples, covering your face and jaw with the forearms and move, move, move.

6. When blocking strikes try not to tense your arms. Simply raise your arms up to protect yourself. This is easier said then done.

7. Keep you chin down at all times.

8. Mix up your attacks, try to be as unpredictable as you can with your combinations.

9. Pace yourself.  Use your defensive and offensive techniques instead of just attacking the entire time.

10. Focus on keeping yourself in a good balanced  stance before attacking, while attacking, and after your attack. This is very important!

11. Never give up. Taking a bit of a beating in the beginning is all part of the learning process. Stick with it and you will slowly become more like a hammer instead of the nail.

Bonus Tip:

Forum poster Zedlepln on reminded me of this important one that beginners often forget to do.


Never hold your breath during your sparring round. Breathe regularly through your nose –with your mouth closed- while making short but not overly strong exhalations through the mouth when you throw each punch. The more well conditioned you are, the better you will be able to control your breath.

These should be a good start.

Let me know how it goes…

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  1. Rob B says:

    Great tips! I’ve only sparred a few times, and last time I took a major beating. Easy to get dejected, but yeah just keep at it and sooner or later (hopefully sooner) I’ll start walking away without a black eye lol! I’ll be sure to apply these next time! Cheers!

  2. GHands says:

    Great article. All beginners should read it.

  3. MMA Auckland says:

    Great tips on sparring that i shall be passing on to our beginner kickboxers

  4. MixedArtist says:

    Awesome stuff man. Nobody ever told me this before and it will help me so much in sparring now. Thank you and God bless you for helping other fighters get better.

  5. Brad Sloanes says:

    Thanks those sparring tips were great, im doing much better now 😀

  6. james masterson says:


    • Jeff Joslin says:

      To land your right cross, you’ll need to first move in close enough. Fire your jab hard and fast as you step inwards towards your opponent. This could take multiple stepping jab to get close enough. As soon as your jab is able to reach the opponent’s head, immediately throw your cross at it’s target.

      Keep the jab,jab,cross combo fast and remember to use as many jabs as it takes to get close enough to reach the opponents face with your punches.

      Hope this helps.

  7. Robert E. says:

    Thanks for the tips man. one question, whats the best way to prevent getting put into a triangle choke?

    • mma/juijitsu speciality trainner says:

      well listen bro, triangle choke is strong, at the same time, so hard to be done, to avoid being choked by the triangle u must not let your hand be captured by his, always make sure that he doesnt get ur hands cuz once he does, its his 1st stip in doint the triangle, 2nd, dont let him close the triangle, once he lets off the guard to get his legs around ur neck, fastly push it away or hold his legs, just dont let him close the triangle

  8. BJ says:

    Hi Jeff
    I joined kick boxing last year,(I’m 30 now)
    Anyway,only started sparring now.

    I’m getting beat up a lot by higher belts,without me getting a single punch in.
    I know these tips are going to help me a hell of a lot!!(With practice)

    Thanks for the tips.

  9. Dave B says:


    I’m 25 and am seriously considering kickboxing. Having played football foro 14 years i have hamstrings like steel rods so will have to work on flexibility a hell of a lot! Am a little apprehensive and sparrings a long way off but having surfed the net quite a bit your blog is one of the better ones. Am a big fan by the way!

    Many Thanks

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hey Dave. Thanks for the feedback man. Where ya from? I suggest finding a reputable gym with a good vibe and nice people training in it and just jump right in. It’ll be a great workout and a lot of fun. All the best bro and be sure to let me know how it goes!

  10. nidhi says:

    helped a lot by these tips.

  11. Jasta says:

    Hey Jeff, thanks for your tips, i’ve been in mixed martial arts for 10 years now and sparring is something I really had to work on in the past, having applied and incorporated your tips as well as my regular training i’ve found it far easier to control and pace my sparring, thank you sincerely, these tips are excellent for beginners, any more advice for preparing for a sparring session? I’ve my own preparations but i’d like to hear yours!

    Thank you for your time, Jeff.

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hey Jasta, thanks for the feedback. As far as other advice, I’d just say have fun, don’t stress too much about the end result of sparring and try to work on two or three different things during a sparring session. Going in with a bit of a gameplan can make sparring a very productive thing. It will allow you to develop your new techniques into some of your bests ones.

      Good luck with all your training!

  12. Nick says:

    Great Sparring tips, I’ve been training for over 30 years and this good advice, and worth re-visiting even by us old hands!
    Cheers, Nick

  13. Austin says:

    Hey Jeff I’m 18 years old and been doing BJJ for 2 years now at a local gym near my house. I am off to university now so I will be switching gyms and looking to find one near my university. I also did 6 months of kickboxing. I really want to jump into MMA competition and I am not sure when the right time is so I figured I would ask someone like you with lots of experience in the MMA world. I have been following your YouTube channel, they have some awesome stuff! When do you think the time is right for me to start? Do you think I am too young? How long do you have your fighters train before starting MMA competition? You seem like a real humble guy! Thanks Jeff!

    • Jarod says:

      dude u don’t have enough experience! It depend on the level amateur bjj tourneys fine but like so high profile ones. You have no chance! and mma u need to kickboxing a hell of a lot will get eaten alive with only a ground game!

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hi Austin, thanks for your comment. It sounds like your training is going well, that’s great. I suggest competing as much as you can in grappling tournaments (if you haven’t already) to build some more experience. As far as starting MMA fighting it really depends on how you are doing in your sparring with those that already have fights. If you can spar with others that already have fight experience it will help you prepare in the right ways and will let you know if you are ready. Talk with your coaches as well and when you and they both feel you are ready that’s the perfect time to try it out.

      Since your still young I suggest not rushing into it. Build your skills and learn as much as you can about submissions, striking and wrestling. Also be sure to get yourself strong and in top shape. With the time is right you will fight and win consistently.

      Good luck and keep me updated on how things are going.

  14. Anders says:

    Hey Jeff

    Just started training myself, 34 years old and no previous Martial arts experience, so I wont be out there competing, just doing it for the fun and getting into shape. I want to ad my gratitude to that of others – its a great site and im sure your tips will be handy in time.

    – Anders

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hey Anders, thanks for the comment. Have fun with your training and if you have any questions along the way shoot me an email. All the best!

  15. Baily says:

    hey jeff.
    I am a girl and trying to get into the mixed martial arts, but no one takes me seriously. what’s the best way to start training?



    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hi Baily, just start training as much as you can in striking or grappling arts. Take notes, work hard, try not to miss class and you will earn their respect. Try to get into top shape as well. Let me know how it goes. Good luck, you can do it!

  16. andrew says:

    hello im 32 always been a bit of a scrapper, so thought id join a mma club found a decent local one with good fight record but have quickly found outthat it isnt as easy as i thought (ha) have you got any tips on training fitness and any other advice, my instructer is free with his advice but would love some feedback from yourself. also do you think im to old to be starting this? im gona go for it anyway because i like it but your opinion would be appreciated

  17. James says:

    Hi, I do ninjutsu and I have a fight early next year against a taekwondo black belt who is also a international junior bronze medalist at sparring. It’s only a demo fight (sort of showcase really), but I would obviously prefer to win. We do relatively little sparring in ninjutsu, so…………Do you have any tips that would help against taekwondo?
    Any help appreciated.

  18. thank you ill try to use this in my first kick boxing match my fight is june 22 2013.

  19. Spar says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Nice article! I’ll keep the tips in mind.
    One of my biggest problems while sparring is reach… as most guys are taller than me. This means I have to fake/use head movement to get inside. In boxing this can be very usefull.. but when I “duck” under in kickboxing, I can get knee’d very easily. Any tips on that?

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Make sure you use slips (by bending both knees slightly) of your head to avoid punches. Only move your head enough to make them miss and you won’t be so low and open for a knee strike. Always attack with punches after moving your head to make it count. Also close the distance by jabbing your way (one,two,or even three jabs) in close enough to land your power punches. Jab high so that your arm protects the side of your face/jaw/temple as you’re moving in. Let me know who it goes.

  20. […] 11 Beginner Sparring Tips Article […]

  21. John says:

    I am wanting to get into MMA, but my dad wont let me until I am 18(I am 17 now) Does any one have any tips on how I can start doing at home training now?

  22. kaushik says:

    hi Jeff sir ,

    your tips would help me in my sparring , i am from India and mma is kinda new art here , i have just started the training, iam 26 years old and 5.5ft being in short height its easy to get banished and i have never tried this before , at the weekend it would be my sparring would take place , so would please advice me some more tips to become a good fighter …please………

    • Jeff Joslin says:

      Hey, thanks for the feedback! If you are shorter than your opponent move your head a lot and try to get in close. Once inside hit the body with shots to slow your opponent down and then begin throwing punches to the head. Takedowns can also work very well for you against taller thinner opponent’s if you can get inside and lock in a double leg or single leg attack. Good luck!

  23. […] 11 Beginner Sparring Tips – MMA/Boxing/Kickboxing … – Sparring Tips For Beginners. When I was reading one of the many mixed martial arts forums today I came across a question regarding striking sparring…. […]

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