Training bouts are fundamentally different from competitive bouts in fencing, and we know that both are important for improving performance. All training bouts are not the same, with some challenging our thinking skills, some challenging our physical skills, and some challenging our. . . well, what happens when a training bout isn’t challenging at all?
Right now, a lot of fencers aren’t training in group lessons or in open fencing because of restrictions due to the pandemic. This often is pushing some fencers to be paired with opponents in training that are not on their level, either very far above or very far below. It’s a reality of what we are working with, and it is a problem that we are likely to see continue for the long haul as the pandemic progresses through the next few months or longer. Even in normal times, fencers can find themselves in training bouts that are not challenging, depending on their level and what kinds of fencers live nearby and can train with them regularly.
Training partners are important, especially as we progress in fencing. For many elite athletes it is often a norm to go back to their native clubs and train there. They aren’t always training in national camps or with their teams. Most of the time they go back home, where they don’t have the same level of training partners and are with younger fencers. Nick Itkin told us about this experience and also Mara Navarria shared her experience, and it was eye opening. There are ways to learn to do this effectively!
It is always important to challenge ourselves to grow, no matter the situation. How can we maximize our ability to train effectively with partners of different levels?