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Bag Gloves Vs Sparring Gloves: What Are The Differences?

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Written By: Richard Magallanes
Last Updated: March 3, 2021

One of the most contentious choice amongst boxers is that of bag gloves vs sparring gloves.

Invented in the 19th century as 'mufflers' by Jack Broughton, boxing gloves exist in various forms.

Each type of a boxing glove is designed for a specific purpose.

Bag gloves and sparring gloves are no different as each of them serve an important purpose in a boxer's training and career.

This begs the question; can you use your bag gloves for sparring? And vice versa?

In reality, casual boxers who train may just have 1 pair of gloves, and call it a day.

But for those who take their boxing serious, there is a discrepancy between bag gloves vs. sparring gloves.

And in this article, we dive into what the best practice is for hitting the bag, and sparring with the right gloves.

Let's dive in!

Bag Gloves Vs Sparring Gloves: Breaking Down The Differences

Mixed Martial Arts is an amazing and diverse sport.

Every piece of equipment used in the sport has its own purpose.

Whether it be your pads, hand wraps, gloves, or guards - each piece of boxing equipment has its own specific use to guard the fighter and prepare him properly for the ring.

As the names suggest, one glove is designed to be used against punching bags while the other is made to spar with live opponents.

When it comes to martial arts, whether it be muay Thai or boxing, sparring equipment always differs from other pieces of equipment.

For training on punching bags or boxing pads, fighters use bag gloves.

They can even be used when at home for training.

It would be best if you are extremely careful when training with sandbags and boxing pads as they are tough.

These pads' tensile strength allows boxers to punch more forcefully when they are in the ring after training.

Bag gloves offer protection to the boxer's hands when they punch at the hard surfaces of a boxing bag or pad.

They allow the force of the punch being thrown to dissipate.

The padding on the Bag gloves also acts as a barrier between the friction caused by the punch between your hand and the boxing bag.

However, these gloves are lighter as compared to the ones utilized to spar.

This is because punching on boxing bags and pads allows the fighter to improve their agility, speed, strength, and range without worrying about hurting a live opponent.

You do not want to be punching at a sandbag with your usual training gloves or sparring gloves if you want to become a better fighter and harden your knuckles.

As compared to Bag gloves, Sparring gloves are much different.

Sparring gloves have the purpose of protecting both your hand and the opponent you are fighting with.

This piece of equipment is necessary to maintain a safety level between you and your opponent when you are in the ring.

Using bag gloves for sparring and vice versa can be pretty fatal for your practice and technique.

The Main Difference Between Bag Gloves And Sparring Gloves - The Padding

The purpose of Bag gloves and Sparring gloves are different.

While one is employed for sparring, the other finds use in strengthening your punches on a boxing bag or pad.

However, there are differences between the pieces of gear.

The major feature that distinguishes both types of boxing gloves from each other is the padding present.

The padding in your boxing gloves is vital.

It allows your punch's surface area to increase, which ultimately works to dissipate the force of your punch.

Even with proper protection and headgear, MMA and Muay Thai fighters tend to undergo injuries if the opponent's boxing gloves have not been properly padded.

It is also illegal to step into the ring without properly padded boxing gloves.

The right pair of Sparring gloves will always have more padding than your Bag gloves.

The gloves you use to spar will always feel heavy compared to the Bag gloves because of the padding present in them.

This heavy padding allows your opponent to stay safe and not sustain any heavy injury.

The extra pads and hand wraps also help to keep your knuckles safe from any soreness or injury during the fight.

The less amount of padding on your sparring gloves is also to help you train better.

This piece of equipment is lighter to focus your punches on your target. It allows your knuckles to become firmer and harder.

This factor keeps your hands from getting injured during a tiresome fight.

Your stamina will also increase greatly when you practice rigorously on a boxing bag without abandon.

You do not need to hold back when it comes to your punching bag, do you?

Determining The Best Size For Bag Gloves Vs. Sparring Gloves

Since the purpose of both boxing gloves is different, naturally, their design will also be distinct from one another.

Whether it be boxing, Muay Thai, or any other martial arts, there will always be different types of equipment designed for different purposes.

In this case, a Bag Glove is designed for practice against a bag while Sparring Gloves are designed for practicing against another partner.

One of the key distinctions between a sparring glove and a bag glove is of their weight.

Bag gloves are used to increase your punches' speed and strength when practicing with a punching bag.

On the other hand, sparring gloves are used to practice against a live opponent to hone your reflexes and in-ring fighting capabilities.

Consequently, the weight of bag gloves usually ranges from 8 ounces to 14 ounces depending on the weight of the fighter.

Alternatively, sparring gloves weigh more than bag gloves in general with a minimum weight of at least 12 to 16 ounces and are smaller in size.

This weight would increase as the fighter's weight increases; for instance, a 175-pound boxer would be recommended to wear gloves for sparring, which weigh at least 18 oz.

Sparring gloves weigh more than bag gloves is to make sure that the partner is not injured.

Since sparring sessions are designed for practice and aren't real bouts, you wouldn't want a boxer to hit the partner with 100% of his/her strength.

Having personal experience of being a trained boxer's training opponent, I would definitely not want him to use a lighter glove for sparring with me.

So, Which One Should You Get?

When it comes to the question of boxing gloves vs. sparring gloves - you really need to focus on the purpose you need to buy the gloves for.

Both the gloves have different functions that need to be taken into account before making a purchase.

It is always recommended for professional boxers and muay thai fighters to have more than one pair of boxing gloves to suit all your needs.

If you wish to buy the gloves for training in your gym or MMA center with a live opponent, you need a good pair of sparring gloves to suit your needs.

Boxers are recommended to buy good and well-sitting gloves to maximize their performance capacity and range.

However, if the reason behind you buying a new pair of gloves is to train your blows on a boxing pad or glove bag, you require a good pair of bag gloves.

Usually, these gloves are easily available at various online MMA stores, and the popular size for these gloves is 10 oz.

Buy the glove that best suits your needs, but ensure that you get gloves of good quality.

Also, ensure that you are wearing protective hand wraps under your gloves. I am sure no boxer is a fan of bruised or swollen knuckles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between bag gloves and sparring gloves?

Apart from the major difference of sparring gloves having a major use in sparring with an actual opponent and bag gloves being utilized for your boxing bag, there are differences in the weight and size of these gloves.

Usually, sparring gloves are heavier as compared to bag gloves. Sparring gloves also offer more protection to you and your opponent during muay Thai or boxing.

Can I use sparring gloves on a heavy bag?

You can use your sparring gloves to work on a heavy boxing bag. However, this is not recommended.

Sparring gloves are not made for the hard surface of a heavy bag.

Using your sparring gloves for bag work will make them wear out faster, and the extra padding of the gloves will disintegrate as well.

Should I get 14 or 16 oz gloves?

Deciding what type of glove you should get for your training and fighting is very important.

I recommend a 16 oz glove over a 14 oz one because it has more padding and therefore is both easy on your hands and your opponent during the fight.

Picking the 16 oz boxing gloves over the lighter gloves is always a good idea.

What gloves should I use for sparring?

During sparring, you need to be on your feet for a long time.

Throwing the right punch matters more than throwing a strong punch.

This type of gloves are usually available in 14 oz, 16 oz, 18 oz, and 20 oz sizes.

To make your punches hit home without causing too much damage to your rival, I would recommend using well-fitting snug gloves that are well-padded and above 16 oz.

Some of my favorite sparring gloves from the many options available online can be found on our guide on the 12 best boxing gloves for sparring.

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