Speed and accuracy are notoriously tough things to mix. It’s something that we experience with our fencing, and it’s a thing that can push us far behind. No one wants to get caught on the wrong side of making a mistake, but it happens all the time. In particular it can happen with equipment checks at fencing tournaments.
We saw this first hand with many of our fencers at the recent November NAC in Milwaukee and this experience prompted me to write this blog.
Timing is Tough
Many of our fencers arrived late at night before the following day’s competition. They didn’t want to miss an extra day of school, because of course they were concerned with their academic performance as well as their fencing performance. That’s understandable. However, this meant that they could not participate in the equipment check the night before as armorers already left. They had nothing left to do but to come in the morning, just an hour before the event registration was done and the venue was open.
The line was huge, wrapping around and moving slowly. Some of them waited themselves, and some of them had parents who waited for them. Either way, the whole process took the entire hour. That hour is time without the ability to do anything else that’s really productive, even with parents waiting in line. All of this is just to get the equipment – mask, body cords, and glove, back just a few moments before the pools got started.
The result is that they didn’t get to fence in the warm up bouts before the pools. Some of the fencers were barely even able to warm up and stretch. This means that when they went into the pools, their warm up was literally the first few pool bouts.
This is a brutal way to go about fencing. Forget about precision or mastery of the actions, forget about timing or distance control. Their fingers were hardly able to follow the target. This left many of the initial bouts just doomed to failure. At best, they were unnecessarily difficult and ineffective. Points that should have been scored were not scored, and many points were scored against these fencers.
Of course it’s painful to see it go down this way. These fencers got all the way to the NAC, only to perform in this mediocre way. Once you do a poor job in the pools, you then have an unnecessarily difficult time in the Direct Elimination rounds. That seeding follows through the tournament. Not to mention the mental push down that also follows these fencers. It makes things very tough, for no really good reason.