Art of Fencing, Art of Life

What Parents Should do when their Child is Fencing a Teammate

What parents should do when their kid is fencing teammateIf your child is fencing a teammate, what should you do?

This is a tough situation, and it’s one that isn’t all that uncommon. Depending on the level that your child is fencing at and how big your fencing club is, it’s quite possible for your child to end up fencing one of their teammates during a competition.

Tournament organizers work hard to keep fencers from the same club from fencing against each other in the pool, but it’s not always possible. But in the Direct Elimination round, when the opponents are defined based on the previous pool round, fencers are very likely to face their own teammates. This can happen in any competition, small local ones or big national and even international tournaments.

Coach protocol when teammates fence

You’ll notice that when two teammates fence one another in competition, the coaches step out and don’t support either fencer. Instead, they often go to another bout or step out during that match. Many coaches don’t even watch the bout when two teammates are fencing against one another, not even learning the final score until the bout is over.

The reason for this is that fencing coaches know that if they get into the middle of the bout, it’s going to be unfair one way or the other. Impartiality is incredibly important in sports, and someone is always going to feel like they got the short end of the stick if a coach steps in at an inappropriate time. Fencing coaches are incredibly concerned with the outcome of all of their fencers, and want to provide the best support that they can. That means stepping out when they need to.

Do note that every fencing club is different and will have slightly different protocols, particularly when it comes to coaching. But the heart of the matter is that all clubs are going to do their best to present an impartial face for their fencers.

Parent protocol when teammates fence

Though a coach might not be up and doing strip coaching when a fencer is fencing a teammate, what we do sometimes see is that parents hop up and assume the role of coach and start strip coaching very vocally in support of their child.

This is absolutely the WRONG thing to do!

For the same reason that coaches shouldn’t be strip coaching during a teammates’ bout, parents shouldn’t be doing the same thing either. Fencers are much better served in having their parents sit and watch the match with good composure than they are having their parent jump up and shout things during the match.

Cheering against your teammates, whether you’re a parent or a sibling, is a bad idea! No matter how you’re involved in the club, cheering against those people who are your teammates bothers both them and you.

Why cheering against teammates is bad news

It’s one thing for a fencer to hear people that they don’t know cheering for their opponent, but hear familiar voices cheering and encouraging your opponent is incredibly distracting. When you’re on the strip, you’re trying to focus on winning by pushing your mind and your body to as sharp a place as possible. It absolutely dulls a fencer’s focus to hear the sounds of people they know cheering on their opponent!

The other reason that you shouldn’t cheer against your child’s teammates is that it’s simply bad sportsmanship. We want to be fair and good to each other – it’s one of the things that sport teaches us! If you wouldn’t like someone cheering for your child to fail, then don’t cheer for someone else’s child to fail. It’s just that simple.

Finally, we want to point out that your child is probably already feeling a little divisive about having to fence their friends and teammates. It’s a stressful situation for your child, and you cheering against their opponent is only going to make them feel even more stressed. This is one of those situations in which you should allow your child to just experience their match on their own. Let their training take over!

The bottom line is that preparation and skill are going to set the stage for who wins. You can’t influence the bout by shouting out things during it! No matter how passionate you are about your child (and of course you’re passionate about your child!), you’re best served to just keep quiet during their bout with a teammate. You’ll be teaching them valuable skills about how to treat other people, and you’ll also be allowing them to shine their brightest.


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  1. Anonymous

    Is it acceptable for a parent to offer any suggestions when bringing their fencer water at a break?

    • Igor Chirashnya

      I would recommend avoiding any suggestion. If you cannot resist it maybe just leave the strip altogether and let your child take their water themselves. Think how would you or your child feel if a knowledgeable in fencing parent gives suggestion to their child who fences against yours. So in my opinion taking a completely neutral position is the best approach.

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