This is the moment you’ve been waiting for—you’ve joined a fencing club, bought the fencing equipment, driven your child to practice sessions, and found a coach. Now the big day has finally arrived—tournament day!
A new fencing season is upon us and many of you will be competing for the first time. Competitions are exciting. You’ll get to witness your child implementing what they have learned and cheer them on as they compete. Whether it is a large national event for rankings or an intimate in-club affair for tournament practice, tournament day can be the best of days or the worst of days. It’s up to you to ensure that your fencer has the best possible experience on the day of their first tournament. How? By being prepared!
We recently published a post on what to expect at your first competition, but now let’s talk about what to bring. To ensure the best possible experience for you and your family, we’ve compiled a handy checklist of everything you might need on the big day.
- Bring full fencing gear and equipment. Although this is not an exhaustive list, be sure you have the following:
- Two weapons in “fighting” condition
- Underarm protector
- Chest protector (mandatory for ladies)
- Athletic shoes
- Two body cords (and two mask cords for sabre)
- Fencing jacket (handy tip: this must overlay the knickers by 10 cm)
- Tall socks (tall enough to touch the bottom of the pants)
- Glove (for sabre, a metallic over-glove or a glove with this built-in)
- Lame, if competing in foil and sabre
- Equipment maintenance kit:
- Screwdriver (especially if competing in epee)
- Wrench alley (if your athlete uses a pistol grip)
- Foil tape
- First aid kit: Ibuprofen, Band-Aids, ice pack, etc.
- Carbs. No low-carb diets on tournament day! You want your fencer to be full of energy but not weighed down by a heavy meal (fast food and meat are the enemy on tournament day). Bagels, pretzels, cereal, granola bars, etc.
- Water bottles. Notice that I say bottles, plural! You are bound to lose one, so always have a spare. The goal for your child is to drink frequently, but not heavily. A good measure would be for him to have ½ cup of water after every bout. This will keep him well hydrated, but feeling light.
- Sports drink (like Gatorade). It’s always good to have a mix of sports drinks and waters.
- Food for you! I know you won’t be fencing, but chances are you’ll be working just as hard as your kid. Make sure you have good food for yourself, too. Some venues have vendors, but you don’t want to count on it and the options are sometimes expensive or unhealthy.
- T-shirts—at least three. Nothing will help your child get into the mindset for a new match quicker than a t-shirt change. Bring at least three—one for warming up, one for the competition (more if your child is competing in multiple events), and one for leaving the building. Even if it’s not cold outside, it’s not healthy for your fencer to go from one temperature to another quickly, and it gets hot fast in full fencing gear.
- A warm-up jacket. Make sure your fencer wears this while warming up and when leaving the building at the end of the day. Their muscles will thank you the next day!
- A towel. Just in case your athlete needs some mopping up in between bouts.
- Directions to the event and a contact sheet. You never know when your phone battery might die—print out directions to the venue, a contact list for the tournament hosts, and the parents of other fencers in your club.
- Entertainment for breaks between bouts. You never know how long your child might have between bouts, so it’s always a good idea to bring something to keep them occupied during longer breaks. Sudoku, games like Catch Phrase, and even (gasp!) homework will keep them entertained and perhaps even prevent them from dwelling on a bout that didn’t go well or stressing about his next one. (Don’t forget to bring a good book for yourself, too!)
- The entrance fee. What payment is accepted? Don’t get caught with just a credit card if the club doesn’t have a card reader. Know what kind of payment is accepted, and make sure you have it on hand for registration.
- USFA membership card. It’s always a handy thing to have around.
- A jacket for yourself and a folding chair. You don’t want to be uncomfortable while watching your child compete!
- Spare change. Your fencer might want to buy and snack or a tournament shirt, especially if it is his/her first competition.
- A notebook. This is helpful if you plan to keep score on behalf of your child. Every now and then, the referee can make a mistake, and it can be helpful if a parent has kept score and respectfully alerts the referee.
Although the majority of your preparation involves making sure your child has what he/she needs to compete, another important aspect of tournament day is your own attitude and expectations. Remember, your child has never competed before either and may look to you for guidance.
You can support your child in a number of ways—helping them know where to be and when, encouraging them as they warm up, carrying extra equipment, cheering them on between touches, and helping them stay focused during breaks between bouts. If you approach the day with a positive, encouraging attitude, your child is much more likely to have a good day. Although it is possible for a first-time competitor to place well or even win a tournament, it is not probable that your fencer will take home the gold on his/her first day competing. Make sure your fencer knows that you are proud of their effort on the day and their continued resolution to embrace a new sport.
With your preparation and positive attitude and your child’s excitement about his first tournament, you’re bound to have a great day! Enjoy it!