100 rounds of sparring rule

The 100 Rounds of Sparring Rule


How many rounds of sparring should you have before you enter your first amateur boxing competition?

I love this question, and coaches enjoy arguing about it. We’re naturally argumentative. We’ll punch you, if needed.

Seriously. If you make the transition from boxing fitness to sparring, you’re almost always going to be asking yourself the question “Should I compete?” And if you decide to compete, how do you know when you’re ready? Is there a physical bar? Is it about conditioning, or skills? Or is it primarily mental? A mix of both?

One view: Get in quickly (6 weeks)

In fact, one of my fellow officials and a boxing trainer for many years is putting his guys in the competition ring a bare 6 weeks after they begin working in the gym. For him, it’s all about mindset and having an attitude of learning; he expects his boys (who are mostly military, and definitely already in condition) to bank competition experience by going to and getting matches at as many sanctioned events as possible.

That seems nuts to me.

But I’m just a girl. However, I will punch you, if needed. 🙂

Actually, I think it’s legit, in his case. Here’s why.

1. His boxers are already in great condition.

Boot camp will do that for you, jack.

2. His boxers have a strong “do what your leader tells you” mentality.

Do the ThingJim never listens to Spock. Fortunately for Jim, Spock will still pull his ass outta the fire when necessary. I wish Spock would punch Jim once in a while. It would make him feel better.

These military guys are listening hard to their coach’s voice, and carrying out the commands they’re given. Very valuable skill in boxing.

They may also already have a good idea that boxing will be rough, and are okay with that.

It takes a while to get used to being punched in the face, and it’s possible that military dudes have an edge here.

3. His boxers have the best chance of getting matches.

All his boxers are guys. It’s much harder for women to get matches because there is a smaller pool to draw from. You may travel to five or ten events before you finally luck into a match, which is why it’s so much better to try and find pre-matches.

My view: Get 100 rounds of sparring (4-5 months)

Let’s say you spar once a week at your gym. You probably get at least 5 rounds each time you spar, even if they aren’t all in a row at first. At that rate, you should have a pretty good idea of a) what it’s going to be like in an actual bout, and b) what kind of shape you need to be in by the time you get 100 rounds.

In 5 months at the most — but probably closer to 3 or 4 months, since you’ll do more rounds each week, you’re going to be ready to Do The Thing.

post sparring glow

“Are you ready to compete?” checklist

Your coach will actually help you figure out whether you’re ready, but here’s my basic checklist. It’s not complicated.

1. Do you know the basics of technique? Can you protect yourself even if you’re dead tired?

2. Do you have the stamina to box 3 to 5 rounds in a row?

3. Are you reasonably used to hitting someone hard, and being punched in the face?

4. Do you have a coach you trust to take care of you and act in your best interest?

Mini-rant about the rules

I would say something about “know the damn rules” since I’m a ref and all, but honestly, your COACH should know the damn rules and teach you. I have some crazy stories, dude. Buy me a vodka tonic and I’ll share them, with names and photos. Okay not the photos.

But you can take matters into your own hands and learn the actual rules of boxing (guess what? You’re judged on a LOT more than punches) by downloading the two USA Boxing rulebooks: Technical and Competition.

Your turn, badasses

So, what do you think? Is 100 rounds of sparring enough to get you ready? Let’s argue and punch each other in the face. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

Both sparring photos by destinationdiy on Flickr

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8 Responses to The 100 Rounds of Sparring Rule

  1. Dee December 3, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    I started boxing lessons 2 months ago and just had my first “test” spar with the coach. My biggest unknown in boxing is what it feels like to actually get hit and to hit. And I found out that it’s not very natural to hit someone (well someone who hasn’t pissed you off yet) as I couldn’t get myself to land a punch on the coach’s face (not that he was ducking, he wanted me to throw a punch and was giving me an oprning, but I just couldn’t get myself to actually hurt someone!). So yeah definitely I think for a new first time boxer, especially women who may not have rough played in the school yard like boys, it will take some hours of sparring to just get comfortable with hitting and being hit before you can move on to practicing defense and offense for a real fight. I’m curious to see how long before my coach puts me in a match.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 3, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      Actually, Dee, that may be the single biggest question in boxing. Nobody knows what it’s like to be repeatedly punched in the face OR what it’s like to punch someone. Super strange, but there it is. I can remember my first coach telling me to stop apologizing every time I hit someone. In fact, she got pretty mean-ass about it, lol. Started making me drop and do 25 push-ups every time I let the words slip out. Makes me laugh, now.

      If you’re willing to be a lab rat (but a very badass lab rat), keep a record of how many rounds you spar before your coach feels you are ready to compete. It will be interesting to see how that plays out…

      Here’s a couple of posts that may be useful to you:


      Congrats on rolling under those ropes and giving it a try! Keep swinging.

  2. Lynette Kelly December 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Great guidelines. One recommendation I’ve heard is that you should be comfortable sparring with someone who has had at least 5 fights. I think it’s a good guideline as well. Depending on the person, it could take more or less than 100 rounds to get that proficient. Either way though, the more you sparr the more you learn.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      Amen to that, Lynette. You definitely want an experienced sparring partner if you are INexperienced. My first sparring partner was my coach, and my very first time in the ring, she was defense only. I actually hyperextended my elbow trying to land a punch on her! 🙂

  3. Beth March 1, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    I first read this when I was just a month or two into boxing training (after a few months of just doing the workouts), so I was able to keep a log of all my sparring rounds to see how I progressed toward the 100 rounds rule. Well, I had my first fight last night with about 70 rounds of sparring under my belt. I didn’t win, but I held my own through a pretty even match and was happy with how I performed – especially since my opponent had 2 fights and had been training for several years. I don’t think anyone can truly feel 100% ready to step into the ring and compete for the first time – no matter what, it’s a big step to take. But my trainer had confidence in me and I felt I could check off everything in the checklist above – especially #4 – so I went with it. And I’m glad I did! Now I’m just more motivated to learn more and get better and hopefully experience the feeling of having my arm raised at decision time.

    Thanks for the great blog – I love your take on some of the more mental aspects of boxing especially from a female perspective. I discovered it just when my obsession with the sport was mounting and binge read every post!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe March 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      Wow, Beth CONGRATS on your first match!! That’s such a huge step (like you said) and in some ways you’re just never, ever really perfectly ready. But getting that first one out of the way is so helpful, win or lose. You just hafta get started at some point in order to understand how best to grow in the sport. This is just so awesome for you, and I’m thrilled to hear your story. Thanks SO much for the kind words, and for taking the time to read and comment… Big hard fist bumps with a twist and a high five, badass.

  4. Riki May 25, 2016 at 2:08 am #

    I really like your site Lisa. I find your articles informative and inspirational. Thank you so much. If I ever get to train again, I will keep this in mind and track my rounds and progress too! I was thinking in the meantime taking a women’s self defense class and seriously working my upper body because my foot is injured. I am undergoing physical therapy. I see a podiatrist in August. I hope my foot heals up strong so I can go train and fight strong! :-}

  5. william ryan March 2, 2021 at 1:27 pm #

    Lisa, great articles, interesting and informative reading.Keep up the good work.

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