Summer Nationals has begun! Excitement is in the air! Knowing that the youth events start soon, we thought this would be a good time to post some tips and advice for our newer fencers, for this and all competitions. Specifically, today’s post is about cheering on your teammates, particularly after you’ve finished for the day.
Fencing is an individual sport from a competition standpoint, but being part of a club means that you are part of a team. When you’re in between or after bouts and have the time, find one of your fellow fencers and cheer for him or her during the bout! If you’re participating in Summer Nationals, it’s even more important to cheer for your teammates during this big competition with higher stakes. It’s a great chance to build camaraderie.
What about at smaller competitions throughout the year? We usually have a group of AFM fencers participate in a competition, and this is always a great chance to cheer on your club mates and friends, or to watch some higher level fencing to better your game.
So whether we’re talking about Summer Nationals or any other competition, invariably pools will finish at different times and certain events will be on a different schedule. We often see fencers who are eliminated from Direct Elimination (DE) immediately pack up and head home. We understand that it’s tempting to leave if you’re tired, perhaps disappointed from being eliminated, or just have a busy schedule like we all do!—but it’s important to stay and watch if you can. Especially at a big competition like Summer Nationals.
Why? Well, for starters, if you’re tired and disappointed, watching your teammates continue in the competition may be just the remedy you need. Cheering can create a sense of belonging and help you to value the team’s performance as well as your own. You can start forgetting about your rough day and focus on how well your friend is doing in Direct Elimination. Then when you do better next time, that friend just might be in the stands cheering for you!
I’ve actually witnessed this a few times when children HAD to stay to wait for their carpool rides. They may have wished their mom or dad were there to take them home, but in the end, they enjoyed watching the rest of the competition and left with higher spirits. Both the fencer who had to stay and the one who was still fencing learned a valuable lesson in supporting each other!
Going beyond supporting your teammates and lifting your spirits, staying to watch can also do wonders for your fencing skills. The fencers who are still winning are likely to be good role models. You can watch them to learn technique, behavior, tactics, and strategy. In fact, if you find more experienced fencers to watch and cheer on, you can create a bond between you and the better fencers. This too can do wonders for your own fencing skills because we learn from those we surround ourselves with!
Also, I believe in visualization. If you never stay through the end of DE, you’ll never get to watch the awards ceremony. When you witness the awards ceremony for your age and skill level, you now know what you’re aiming for. You can imagine yourself on that podium and visualize your future victories.
A few other points. If you stay, your coach will notice and appreciate it. Serious fencers want to learn from watching others and to support their club mates. When you stay, you send a strong message to your coach that you are invested and ready to work hard. Also, your friends will appreciate it. You can share in their wins—or in their losses if they get knocked out shortly after you do. Either way, you are creating a bonding opportunity and building a team mentality that will serve you both in life and in fencing.