If you think that the only thing that would impress your fencing coach is your medals, you will be disappointed. The greatest fencing coaches are not impressed by fencers who win medals and show their power on the strip. The greatest fencing coaches are impressed by fencers who know how to use their minds and their focus effectively to improve their fencing.
The physicality of the body is always driven by the mastery of the mind and the emotions. You could be the fastest, most flexible, strongest fencer in the world, but you could still lose. If you are undisciplined in your mind then you will never be disciplined in your body.
A fencing coach sees fencers of all shapes and sizes come and go week in and week out. An experienced coach knows that the best fencers are the fencers who show their passion through their training.
How do you do that? Here are eight ways to impress your fencing coach with your mental attitude.
1. Get to training & competition early
There’s that old saying – “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” It’s a cliche, but it’s a true cliche. You don’t want to miss a moment of your fencing training, and being late is a waste of everyone’s time. When you’re early, just by five minutes, you show your coach that you’re excited to be there and that you value their time and yours.
This is also a good practice because it gives you a little bit to switch gears from whatever you were doing before to fencing. You’ll be more focused during the training or the competition if you’ve given your mind a chance to catch up.
It’s a little thing, but it’s a little thing that your coach will notice. Of course we all run late here and there, but you can make a decision to get to practice early.
2. Minimize socializing during training
Of course, your coach wants you to be close with your teammates, but they also want you to focus on your training. During short breaks in training or when you have a few minutes, always make sure that you’re letting off steam rather than getting distracted. There’s a big difference between the two!
Your coach isn’t spying on you, but they are naturally going to notice the level of focus that you have coming out of a break. Try to keep your eye on what you’re doing, totally investing yourself in the experience of training. This will impress your coach, but it will also help you.
Note that this includes social media or checking your phone on breaks. That kind of distraction pulls your mind out of what you’re doing.
3. Work on fencing at home
There is no high-level athlete in the history of the world who got to the top by only training during their classes and coaching sessions. That’s simply not the way any of this works.
If you want to impress your fencing coach, show them that you’re engaged with your fencing outside of the class and private lesson times. You might set up a target at home on your back deck, or you might do some cross-training. Whatever it is you’re doing, it’ll show very clearly with your progress if you are engaged with your work outside of the club.
Your coach can tell. Believe us on this one. With the busy lives that we all lead, it can take some focus and mental fortitude to make time for fencing training. It’s well worth it.
4. Ask questions
This is such a big one that is so easy to overlook! Questions are a sign that you’re paying attention to what’s going on in the training and that you are invested in what you’re doing.
You might ask about their experience with a certain piece of footwork or whether you could improve on some positioning. Your question doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do want to make sure it’s relevant. Follow what’s on your mind and don’t be afraid to ask!
This can be challenging at first because it’s intimidating to put yourself out there. Try not to think about it and just do it at first. There are no stupid questions! Once you start asking your coach informed questions, then they’ll start to flow.
5. Watch fencing
When you watch fencers who are at a higher level than you, you glean information and insight from what they’re doing. You can then come back to your coach with questions and ideas.
You could check out the bouts from Cyrus of Chaos or go to the YouTube channel for the Olympics and look at past competitors. Then you can come back to your coach and ask them about what you saw to get clarification. Bring your cell phone to practice and you can even show your coach what you’re talking about.
It doesn’t stop here. Stay at competitions until the final bouts, both to support your teammates and also to watch the best fencers in your event. Try to understand and analyze their technique and tactics and watch the referees to better understand the rules and the corresponding calls.
This kind of mental engagement with fencing at your current level and beyond is exciting for a coach. It shows that you see a way forward in fencing and that you’re engaged outside of just your time in the club.
6. Come prepared
This goes without saying, but it’s also worth saying. When you come to a fencing competition or even just to class, be prepared with everything you need.
For fencers, you want to make sure that all of your equipment is ready to go from the start. Check your fencing gear at home and keep it clean. If you’re unsure about how to clean your fencing gear, you can find some instructions here on the AFM blog.
Working equipment means that you can get more out of your fencing lessons and fencing classes. Double check your equipment when you go to competitions. Always, always keep your equipment maintained. This really shows your coach that you are thorough and that you are constantly prepared.
7. Create & share goals
Goal setting is one of the most important mental attitude things you can commit to as fencer. It does not matter if that goal is to participate in your first local competition or to make it all the way to the Olympics, having a goal gives your training focus and helps you grow much better.
You can sit down with your coach and ask them to create goals with you, or you can do it on your own. Either way, you want to make sure that you set goals for the future. Your coach will be excited to help you reach them and you will really impress your fencing coach! Guaranteed.
8. Engage with confidence
Coaches love it when fencers volunteer to demonstrate or raise their hand to answer questions. Making a positive impression on your fencing coach can often come from being confident about it in practice.
Being confident in your skills doesn’t have to mean you’re being showy or boastful. True confidence derives from consistency in training and work that you’ve done outside of classes and private lessons.
If you’re struggling with confidence in your fencing, ask your coach what their advice is. Most likely, they will have gone through something similar and can help guide you through the valley of insecurity. Again, asking questions is the best thing!
As with anything, you only get out of it what you put into it. When you come to your fencing training with a positive and engaged mental attitude, your coach can feel confident that you’re in it. The more you meet them where they need you to be, the higher and harder they’ll be able to push you.
If you follow these tips using your mental attitude to impress your fencing coach! Though it’s really a lot of common sense, it’s also easy to let good habits fall by the wayside. Think about what your coach needs from you, and try to give it to them. You’ll find yourself rewarded with better training and the ability to reach the big goals you’ve set out for yourself!