Unlike many other sports, fencing is not mainstream. Most likely the newbie fencer – be it an adult fencer, a child fencer, or the parent of a fencer, has no clue about it. They can often be intimidated by the sheer volume of information.
As a result, there are many things that a fencing aficionado can help them with to make the newbie fencer have an easier time getting into the swing of things. Here are some ideas for becoming a fencing mentor:
1. Start with fencing basics
If a person has no clue what fencing is, explain some basic rules. For parents, explain what lights mean, whose touch it was, how score is counted. Simple things that make observer’s life easier.
2. Explain equipment acquisition
Equipment is a big thing. Many new fencers and parents think that equipment purchase would be their biggest bill.
Explain what equipment they would need to start with. Talk to them about how much it should cost, whether they can go with partial purchases or must do a whole order, whether there is a second hand equipment from somebody in the club that left fencing or a child that grew up and changed his or her old stuff. Also, if they want to purchase everything new, explain where to buy the right equipment, and even suggest your help with ordering the right sizes, brands and types of the fencing gear. We learned that this is probably among the most difficult things for newcomers – understanding all the ins and outs of equipment!
3. Guide them on equipment care
Still on the equipment subject – explain how to take care of fencing equipment, because it is definitely totally different from other stuff. How often to wash to avoid a stinking tail that follows some fencers.
4. Explain tape & screws
How often have you seen a new foil fencer fencing with a completely bare foil without any tape, or tape that wore off ages ago? Teach them how and help them to retape while you explain the importance of tape. Show what kind of tape you use, and share if you have it. If your friend is an epee fencer, check their tip screws. New fencers have no idea that the screws can get loose and the tip, springs and screws will fly yards away, to never be found again. How often have you seen this before or even experienced yourselves? Help them to prevent these issues.
5. Talk levels
Explain about progression in fencing – what does it take to move from level to level. This is really important information for new fencers, even though it might be old hat to you! Understanding the levels of progression within your club is one of the first things a new fencer needs to learn, and it’s a great place for a mentor to step in.
6. Talk competition
Explain what competitions there are out there, what their level is and what it all means. Talk about what your new friend can try and when to try it. Be sure to tell them about why you love competition! How it’s more than just podiums and points. You might invite them along to a local competition with you so that they can see what it’s all about, or watch some video of competitions on YouTube.
7. Introduce them to Fred
If you do talk about competitions, teach them how to use askFred and help register for one. This is a big part of the competition process, and it’s a great way for you to help them learn the ropes.
8. Get involved
In competition, take the total ownership of the process. Explain the proceedings, where to go, when to go, what to expect. You know – those things that seem natural to you and that you stopped paying attention to. For a new fencer that same experience might be really frightening! Being a mentor means stepping up and doing more for someone who needs your help, and these folks really do!
9. Share the goodness of private instruction
Explain about private lessons, what their benefit is and why they’re important. Let them know when it might be a good idea for your fellow fencer to start taking them, and share who might be an ideal coach for them. Talk to them about how private lessons in fencing work, as they tend to be different than in other sports.
10. Join the community!
Help your friend become part of the fencing community, whatever that might mean. From volunteering in the club to spreading the word to joining in special club events. The fencing community is a fantastic one, it’s a place that’s great to belong. Invite your friend to participate in the community, and you’ll be able to share it with them!
Keep growing as a fencing mentor!
These are just a few basic ideas how you can be a fencing mentor. Of course there are many more things that happen in your club or your division or class, so look out for great opportunities to step in and share your knowledge! Mentoring is all about going above and beyond to give someone the resources that they need to be their best.
Sharing is a great pleasure, and serving someone else helps you as much as it help s them. By helping your new fencing friend to get accustomed with fencing world, you help to everyone – them, your club, the whole fencing community, and of course yourself.
There are so many aspects to fencing that every bit of information, every little help and advice will go miles towards providing for your new teammate. You can create a totally different experience that might change their perception of fencing altogether!