Sunday, April 03, 2016
Open Sparring Session
Justen and Suave have a conversation on the other side of the equipment table in the photo above.
I invited several coaches to bring their fighters over for an open sparring session at LaFollette. Only Marlen, the coach at Portage Park, was able to make it. He brought three kids over.
Unfortunately, Cordell and his brother Davon forgot to tell family members they were sticking around for the session. Their grandmother wanted them to come by her, so they had to leave. Brenan couldn't stay either, and TJ and Earl didn't show up. That left Suave, Justen, Julian, and Xavier. There was no one among the kids Marlen had whom Xavier could spar with, so he just did his normal workout.
Justen surprised me while he was in the ring with Eddie (on the right in the picture above, working the pads with Marlen). Now there were some things we have to work on. Justen kept dropping his hands, and he turned his back on Eddie a few times. But Justen had no fear, and basically kept his composure the entire time. A hit to the ribs caused Justen not to continue after the second round, but he did fine.
Julian allowed the other boy from Marlen's gym to get the drop on him. Julian's hands and head were down a majority of the time. Every time the other boy would back Julian against the ropes, Julian would just lay there and take the punches. Their three rounds ended with Julian in tears.
Suave sparred with Eddie, and he did okay. But I have to break Suave out of the habit of hopping towards an opponent. No sense in hopping into an incoming punch. Suave always practices his footwork when he's in the gym, but we're going to need some more work on that.
In this photo (from left to right), Suave, Justen, and Julian are suited up for sparring.
I learned some other things about having an open sparring match:
1) No matter how early in advance I let people know about it, there's always going to be coaches and fighters who are not going to be able to attend. I have to just be thankful for the ones that do show up.
2) I have to allow time for the visiting fighters to warm up. That didn't even occur to me until Marlen mentioned his kids would have to have at least a half-hour to get ready for sparring.
3) It would be a good idea for me to provide something other than water for the visiting coaches and fighters, as well as their relatives and friends who may attend. It doesn't have to be a full meal, but some light snacks would be nice.
4) I should treat the open sparring session somewhat like it's a regular boxing match, even though it isn't. For some of the participants, this may be their first time sparring anybody. That was the case with the three kids at my gym. I have to be prepared to sooth nerves before the sparring begins.
I don't know when I'll schedule another open sparring session. But the door at my gym is open to any of the coaches who want to bring their kids over to get extra practice in.