Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: For Parents (Page 1 of 43)

Don’t Cruise the Pools in Fencing Competitions: A Fencing Life Lesson

Don’t Cruise the Pools in Fencing Competitions: A Fencing Life LessonAt what point is it ok to just get by? You know, do the least amount of effort to get the biggest reward. It’s a strategy that we offer our fencers quite often on the strip. Conserve your energy, get that point with the least expenditure of movement as possible. That’s effective in the context of a match, but taken out of context it’s a recipe for overconfidence and eventual decline.

Taking the easy way

Sometimes we see fencers, particularly relatively new fencers, try to make it through a fencing competition with the least amount of effort. They figure out that they are the best fencer in their pool, so they don’t try their best. “The idea is to make it through to the Direct Elimination (DE) round anyway right? It doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you get there, and it’s better to be seeded high” they think.

To do this, these fencers will use the same advance again and again. They’ll score the same type of touches over and over, phoning in scores and cruising their way to the DE’s. It’s an easy ego boost, a puffed up way to progress through the rounds of fencing competition.

It’s the same thing that we see sometimes in very smart children, which to be fair our fencers are often very bright students in school. They go to class and get through the work without being challenged. Rather than ask their teacher for harder work that pushes them to grow, they just do the work that comes easily to them and get those grades.

In fact you can go through your whole life like this right? Do the easy thing, get the easy praise, never push yourself to your full potential. It doesn’t matter anyway as long as you are better than someone else, even if that someone else is much less developed than you are. Better to be a confident big fish in a little pond. Or in this case a little “pool”.

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Turn Fencing Competition Pre-Match Anxiety into a Positive

Turn Fencing Competition Pre-Match Anxiety into a PositiveWe’ve all had the experience of being nervous before an event that we needed to perform well in, whether in school or in sports. That feeling of butterflies in the stomach, a soup of jitters and self doubt, it can feel overwhelming and stressful, especially for young fencers.

Many fencing parents come to us with these kinds of concerns, and they’re completely normal. They have things to say like this:

  • “It seems like my son psyches himself out before he even steps onto the strip! What can I do to help him?”
  • “My daughter gets so nervous on competition day that I have to force her to eat something for breakfast. How can I help her calm down so she can stay healthy?”
  • “This season my child seems even more nervous than he did last season, isn’t this supposed to get better with experience?”

It’s not just parents though, older fencers come in and speak up for themselves as well. Nerves are a factor for athletes at any age and of any experience level. The good news is that there are ways to combat the issues that fencers have with anxiety before a competition. Though they may manifest in different ways, from a lack of appetite to a sudden spike in anxiety after a couple of years of confident fencing. Every fencer is different, but pre-match jitters are pretty well universal.

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Why fencers must warm up before private lessons

Why fencers must warm up before private lessonsI’ve seen it myself too many times to count. A beginner fencer (sometimes even a seasoned fencer) comes in for a private lesson in a rush two minutes before the start time, throws on their gear and jumps in.

This is totally incorrect! Before a private fencing lesson it’s so, so important that a fencer get properly warmed up. This isn’t a recommendation, it’s absolutely a requirement. Though it’s easy to get busy and skip the warm up, this is one of those instances in life where the easy thing to do is not the right thing to do.

Before you engage in any physical activity, not just fencing, you should do a short warm up. It’s one of those small things that has a big impact, and that you’ll instantly regret skipping when that injury inevitably comes around. All sport experts consistently recommend that athletes engage in warm up activities prior to training. Private fencing lessons are an integral part of fencing training!

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Put Down Your Weapon – A Parent’s Guide to Helping Young Fencers in Competition

Put Down Your Weapon - A Parent’s Guide to Helping Young Fencers in CompetitionNew fencers often struggle with knowing what to do in competition, and naturally so. Y8, Y10, and Y12 fencing competitors are on the whole new to all of this, new to big deal that competition is. And a fencing competition is a big deal. Remember though that these kids are still learning how to navigate life all the way round, from putting their clothes away properly to checking out a book at the library. We can’t expect them to just know how to do this in the best way.

Meanwhile parents want to help, especially when their fencers are on the younger side as you are of course used to shepherding your child to learn all kinds of new things. The world of fencing is often a new one for parents too though, so you might not even know how to help your child. That’s frustrating!

After watching many new fencing parents in competition, I’ve noticed some of the same things again and again. You don’t have to feel lost! Here is a guide to help you know how to support your young fencer in competition so that they can do their absolute best. And the best thing – it is not in the area of fencing rules or calls!

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Competition Brain vs. Training Brain in Fencing

competition brain vs training brainTraining is simply not the same as competing. The mindset that an athlete immerses themselves in during competition is nothing like the way they need to think in the day-to-day training in the sport. When you compete, you’ve got a need to focus and concentrate in a way that isn’t necessary in training. That being said, during training there is still a need to have another kind of focus, but one that is more malleable and less intense.

The difference in how athletes must think during training versus on the day of competition is a subject that has been widely studied by psychologists, including those who work for the International Olympic Committee. Learning to manage the anxiety that comes on the day of competition is a major hurdle to overcome.

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