Making sense of fencing age classification is important for all fencers, and it can be a bit of a mind bend initially.
The fencing season runs from August to July, so it runs over two years like a school year. There are both minimum ages for fencing and also maximum ages in fencing categories, so fencers can compete in different categories depending on what a fencer choses to do. A youth fencer can fence in both their age category and in the age category directly above them. There are lots of reasons that you would choose one category over another, but that’s something that you should discuss with your fencing coach as it’s dependent upon your goals.
We want to note here that USA Fencing does sometimes change their rules, but age classification has been a constant for a very long time.
Now, on to the meat and potatoes of fencing birthday and classification!
I was feeling good. I had spent three years working towards this day, two weeks at camp preparing, (and then taken some time away from fencing to clear my head) and just the day before my teammates and I had won the team event. There was no one in the room I couldn’t beat if I fenced my best, and I knew I could win this competition. I knew I could lose it too — I had to be careful, to walk that balance between confidence and overconfidence — but, well, I was confident I could do that.
It certainly seemed that way in pools, where I won all my bouts comfortably. Moving into DEs I kept that same energy, and while there were a couple of challenging bouts near the beginning, I held it together and won each of them. As I progressed through the tournament, I could feel the energy in every part of my body with the intensity of my belief — what my therapist would call a ‘deeper knowing’ — that I could do this. A feeling of supreme confidence.
My bout in the top 8 was tough, but I won comfortably. The semifinal was also against a good fencer, but somehow I was fencing better than I had all day and I won 15-6 or so. Going in to the final I felt everything I had been feeling all day — but more so. The intensity, the anxiety, but also the knowledge that I was prepared, the feeling of my body being more ready than it had ever been, and my mind being totally focused. I knew that if I kept my cool, I could win this tournament. As I got on guard, I was supremely confident.
The event was junior national championships 2008, and if you read the first post in this series I’ve written for the Academy of Fencing Masters blog, (about setting goals) you know what happened next.
It felt amazing — and as I referenced in that
previous post, I had set that as a goal years before, and this was the payoff
from those years of hard work. But what happened that let me be so incredibly
confident going into that tournament, all the way to the final? And why was
that confidence so important?
In this post I’m going to outline some of the
reasons confidence is important for athletes, (fencers especially) some of the
factors that go into feeling confident, and how you can build your own