Everyone who has ever participated in competitive sports knows that starting a new season is a lot of hard work. It’s normal to feel a little nervous about getting started. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed with everything that has to be done and the big goals you’ve got in mind. That can be true whether this is your first year of competitive fencing or your tenth.
How you kick off the season can have a big impact on how you perform all season long. Getting off on the right foot in August can lead to a success in June! Momentum is something that has to be built up from the start, propelling fencers forward towards more success with less stress. Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to gravitate towards our comfort zones, to lean in to what’s familiar. You can establish this comfort zone consciously and so shape how you manage the entire fencing season from the outset.
Setting yourself up for success is easy and a skill that every fencer should learn how to do. But how can you set yourself up for success? It’s not only about your training, there are some additional things you can do. Here are five ways that fencers can set themselves up for great competitive fencing season from day one.
1. Get in shape.
Many competitive fencers cross train through the season to maximize their physicality on the strip. While it’s not necessary to do weightlifting or to swim to win, physical fitness matters for fencers. During the season, much of that fitness comes naturally through training. However if you’ve spent the summer being less active then coming into the season is going to feel like a shock to your system. Even if it’s just a matter of going for a jog every morning or doing some daily yoga, getting back into the swing of physical fitness prior to the start of the season will mean less of a physical curve in those first few weeks.
It doesn’t take long either. Even just getting a week’s jump on the fitness side will have a big impact.
2. Get your physical
Everyone needs an annual physical anyway, and this time of year is a great time to do it. Your doctor, or your child’s doctor if you’re a fencing parent, will be able to tell you if there are any concerns prior to the fencing season so that there are no surprises. While fencing is one of the safest sports to participate in, common injuries like sprains are still part of the equation for fencers. Knowing that you’re healthy and ready to go is a good feeling, and it’s smart too!
If you wear glasses, consider getting your annual eye appointment to check your vision prior to the start of the fencing season as well. Eyeglass prescriptions often need minor tweaks, and seeing well is essential to any sport. Plus you’ll be busy once the season does start!
3. Check your schedule
What are your commitments this fencing season? Whatever other activities you or your child has going on are wonderful, but balance is important. However much emphasis you decide to put on your fencing is up to you, just go into it with eyes open. Make a conscious decision about how much you’re going to take on this season. If you’ve got a child, they might have to make some big choices about what they participate in in school or outside of school. It’s better to know that now then to get involved and get overwhelmed.
For adults, realizing and communicating your training needs and goals with your family before you jump in will make everyone more understanding and relaxed. The fewer surprises you have, the better.
4. Set goals.
Goal setting is a central part of success in every part of life. Before the fencing season even begins, sit down and create a vision for how you want it to end. Do you want to earn a letter this season? Compete in a regional level competition? Qualify for Fencing Summer Nationals? Sit down and think about what you want to look back on this season when it’s over. You cannot get to where you want to go if you don’t even know where that is!
Once you have big goals set, then work backwards to figure out how to get there. You might realize that you need more training or to take on private lessons. You might find out that making it to Summer Nationals will necessitate going to more regional competitions this year. Plan your competitive training schedule now, before the season starts if you want to reach those goals more easily.
5. Check the fencing gear
The mechanics of fencing rely heavily on accurate scoring and a weapon that you can rely on. Don’t wait until the season has already started to pay attention to your fencing weapon and all of its component parts. Fiddling with equipment unnecessarily is distracting during times when fencers should be focused on their training.
Prior to the start of the competitive fencing season, it’s a great idea to pull out all of that fencing gear from last season. Lay it out, check it out. See what still fits and what’s in good shape. Is that fencing glove too far gone to use this season? Are the shoes too small? Does the lame need to be cleaned? Has moisture gotten to the blade while it was put away all summer?
You likely don’t need to replace much of your equipment if you’re a veteran fencer, but pulling it out, cleaning it, and organizing it is a massive boost to starting off the season right. Plus it’s fun to do.
Starting off the season well feels great to everyone. Whether you’re a veteran fencer or completely new to the sport, make sure you’re ready for the thrust of the season ahead! You’ll be more likely to reach your goals and to do so with less stress and more fun. Fencing competitively should be fun!