Fencing Competition Season Starts at October NAC in DetroitIt’s that time of year, the one where the competitive fencing world starts to race again in a new competition season. As we get immersed in tournaments more and more, it can be easy to find ourselves frayed around the edges and feeling a bit out of control. You don’t have to feel this way!

Keeping your sanity as fencing competition season heats up means taking control of your reaction to the natural stress and challenges that you’re facing. Here are five ways to really make it work.

1. Get a calendar

Get a calendar – the kind that you can write on to keep track to everything that’s on your plate (electronic or pen and paper). This really is a case where knowing is half the battle, because it’s almost always not as bad as it seems to be! You’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’re missing something or late on something, which is a huge weight off your shoulders. Be sure to note entry deadlines and travel booking deadlines.

2. Take time off

Build time off into your schedule. If at all possible, juggle things around so that you can occasionally have an entire day with nothing at all to do (a hard task but well worth it!). Your sanity is important, and taking nice long blocks for you is an essential part of staying sane. A great way to do that is to take advantage of travel and stay over an extra day after competition to sightsee or relax.

3. Let go of control

You must keep in mind that you cannot control everything. What you can control is what you put into practice, skill development, and learning. What you cannot fully control is the final score of the bout. Fencers who train well do well, and they enjoy fencing for the fun that it is! Everyone loses sometimes, and it’s not only okay to lose, it’s actually very constructive in our long term development as people. When the stress is ratcheting up and you start to feel overwhelmed, let go of your need to be in complete control and remember that you’ll be ok, no matter what happens during competition season.

4. Build in rewards

These rewards don’t have to be big. It might be something as simple as going out for ice cream after every competition or something as complex as scheduling a family vacation after the season is over. Catch a movie, go for a hike, buy a new book, whatever. Time is the best reward that you can give yourself, which goes back into that whole time off thing! Fencing is challenging for fencers and their families, and when the stress is over you deserve to take care of you!

5. Share your stress

Talking to other fencing families and sharing your struggles is hands down one of the best ways to keep your sanity as the season starts to go crazy. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Whatever your problem is, there are ears to listen and hands to help you with support. Reach out to coaches and friends before you start to get really out of control. It’s so much better to let it out in little puffs than for it to explode in a giant burst later! An even bigger bonus: the people that you share with will feel good for having been there for someone. You mean something to the fencing community, and we’re here for you.

Competition season is a beautiful time of year, even with the craziness that can sometimes come with it. We wish you all luck! These days are golden.