US Fencing Olympic Team for Rio 2016 - credit: USFAJust recently the USFA published selection criteria for the US team for Cadet, Junior and Senior worlds as well as for Zonal Championships (i.e., Pan American Fencing Championship).

For many people the rolling points system is confusing, and the team selection is even more so. Parents often ask us about the difference between these two systems.

National Points, Rolling Points, Team Points – What Does It All Mean??

In our previous post we explained what are national points, how they are used and how they are calculated. Be sure to check that post out to get some detailed information about that process.

Here we’ll dig deeper into what rolling points and team points are and how to proceed with them.

#1 – Period of time and purpose.

A.  Rolling points

The main purpose of rolling points is to rank fencers at various levels of tournaments, to qualify them for national level tournaments such as championships and the July Challenge and to allow non-eligible fencers in the younger age groups to fence in older categories.

NRPS (national rolling points standing) are rolling points – meaning there is a sliding window of approximately 1 year that points are calculated

B.  Team points

The main purpose of team points is to select a team that will represent USA at various international competitions. This is a completely different entry point for fencers into international competition that is wholly different from individual qualification. Team points ONLY count towards international competition and don’t have anything to do with qualification for domestic competitions.

Since the various international competitions have known schedule, the team points are counted towards these competitions and have a clear cutoff date, which is based on the international schedule. These team points are not rolling.

#2 – Nationality

Since team points are used to determine a fencing squad that will represent the USA at the international level, all members on this list MUST be eligible to represent the USA at the international level.

What does that mean? This one is simple, with only two criteria.

  1. be either US citizen or permanent resident of the USA
  2. not have represented any other country in the last 3 years.

On the other side, fencers of any nationality can be on the rolling point list. Since at the national level tournaments, such as NAC’s and July Challenge, any eligible fencer can fence regardless of their nationality, the rolling points are applied to all to establish their eligibility for these tournaments and also for the seeding at them. So ANYONE can be added to the rolling points registry, but only citizens who haven’t competed for other countries for the last three years can be added to the team points system.

#3 Not all points are created equal

With the NRPS, all points earned at NACs, July Challenges, designated international competitions and respective championships count towards earning rolling points (see the points 101 guide to learn how points are calculated). On the other side team points are more selective. USFA had chosen some subset of the competitions which will count for the team selection.

The same ranking at a competition can earn BOTH rolling points and team points, but they might not earn them in quite the same way.

For example, for the senior team points earned at Division 1 July Challenge do not count.  Also, at some big national events with more than 160 fencers, those who finish in top 64 will earn national points. However these points count for the team selection only for the places 1 thru 32, while 33 thru 64 are not counted for the team but for the rolling points only. This is done in order to include more high quality results since at the end of the day, these are the fencers among whom the national team would be selected.

#4 Cut off day

Since the team is selected for a specific world championship, there is a cutoff date when the team members are specified. And so that’s why after every Junior Olympics you can see happy coaches posting on their social media exciting news about confirming that their fencers qualified for the world’s.

On the other side rolling points are just that – rolling. There is no cutoff date for them – as long as you are on the respective list you are qualified for the next respective national competition, whatever it is. They keep going and going, on and on forever.


By now you have perhaps learned not only how a team is selected but also what the difference is  between team points and rolling points and why that difference exists. I hope you, your child or your teammate will earn this high honor to represent the country at the international events. It’s truly an incredible experience that is well worth the diligent hard work and sacrifice that’s required to get there.

One final word of caution. Chasing points is usually a bad idea. A person should go to the competition with one goal – to perform his or her best. If that pursuit of performing to your best results in an improved rating or ranking, that’s great. If not, then knowing that you put in your maximum effort, enjoyed the event, had fun improved and learned what to do to improve, then the real achievement has been met. With the right focus, all of the rest like team points and national rolling points will naturally fall into place.

Have fun fencing!