Glasses are here to help us to see, but just having something on your face when you’re fencing can pose a challenge. Glasses can move around, fall down, become uncomfortable,get foggy and in general be a distraction to fencers. What you’ll hear a lot of people say right out of the gate is that you should just get contacts. But the truth is that’s not always an option for a wide variety of reasons. First off, kids are often not able to wear contacts if they’re too young to take care of them. Then there’s the issue of people who find them terribly uncomfortable, or who in fact are not comfortable with the whole notion of sticking a foreign object into the eye. Either way, it’s completely reasonable and ok to wear glasses during fencing – lots of people do it with much success!
There are some great ways to get what you need out of glasses during fencing, keep reading to learn some tips!
1. Keep Glasses Snug
Keeping the glasses firmly in place without being too tight is an essential part of making fencing with glasses work. One thing that you can do is to get something to hold them on firmly, think a glasses strap (available at most sporting goods stores) or a thick, stretchy fabric headband (an option that a lot of people go for). The other thing to do is to ensure that the mask is fitting tightly, though not so tightly as to be uncomfortable.
2. Get the Right Glasses
Some people have found that if they have particularly thick lenses that nothing will work to make the glasses fit properly. Speak to your optometrist about getting glasses that are slimmer, or even sport glasses that are worn during fencing. Thinner frames with fewer sharp edges can make a difference. *note – Most people don’t need to get new glasses in order to make them work for fencing, so please try everything else first! However, in our club we’ve noticed that once fencers progress and start competing, more often than not they will want to start using sport goggles instead of regular ones (something like these).
3. Get the Right Mask
Lots of people with glasses swear by Leon Paul masks, mainly because these masks tend to have more room inside than other brands. That being said, many others are adamant that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Leon Paul or another brand, that the fit is much more determined by adjustments that can be made to any mask and whether glasses fit snugly to begin with. In our club most of the fencers wear Absolute Fencing Gear masks, and some wear glasses, and they feel just right! Inner padding of the mask can also contribute to comfort or discomfort. You might also try any brand of mask one size up in order to see if it fits better with the glasses.
4. Seek advice of your glasses-wearing peers
Fencers love to give advice and share their opinions! You might find a few fencers wearing glasses in your own club or in almost any fencing competition (especially the big ones, such as regional tournaments). Go up to them and just ask them how they manage their glasses, or observe them to see what brands of masks they use as well what kind of glasses they wear. You might get some ideas for yourself.
5. Experiment with Putting On and Taking Off
There are as several ways to put on a mask. Sometimes the way that the fencer is putting the mask on can be the biggest difference in whether glasses fit well or not! Always use two hands when putting on a fencing mask while wearing glasses – it really makes a difference!
One word of caution: when you use both hands to out on the mask, always disconnect your weapon first – especially when you are relatively new to the sport! This is for the sake of safety as well as the correct maintaining of your equipment. While there is a common way to wear the mask – from top to bottom, like knights wearing and closing their helmets, you can try to change the sequence to become comfortable with wearing your glasses under it.
Very important note: sometimes glasses might shift or become foggy during the fencing bout and the first temptation would be to reach up with your unarmed hand under the mask to fix them. NEVER EVER do this! Not only it’s illegal, but also can present a safety hazard!
If the glasses have indeed shifted, wave your hand to get your referee’s or opponent’s attention, and then only fix your glasses when the bout is stopped.
Trouble with glasses during fencing doesn’t have to be discouraging! Try these tips, and be sure to ask teachers and other club members for their advice if you’re still struggling.