One day I was driving home from a fencing competition with an extremely disappointed son crying in the backseat over something that had happened that day at the competition.
“It wasn’t my fault!”, he cried. “It’s not fair. I didn’t lose the bout, it was all the referee! He awarded him the attack, but he was wrong!”
He went on and on like this through his tears and anger. I told him how I loved watching him fence and that he fenced really well, but in that last call the referee was right, he was really counter-attacking.
I always try to focus on telling my children that I love watching them fence rather than critiquing their performance. I may know a lot about fencing, but with them my first job is to parent—and that’s the number one thing kids want to hear from their parents.
But I was also not going to lie to him. I felt the referee was right and that he needed to hear that. So I told him.
And then he asked, “Did you record it?”
“Yes”, I replied, and gave him my phone.
For the next 20 minutes of driving I heard the clash of metal and the beeping of the scoring machines coming from the back seat. My son immersed himself into reliving the moments of his last DE bout again and again—and the more he watched, the more his tears subsided.
Finally he returned my phone and said in a compromised way: “It was almost a counter-attack, so I almost beat him”.
With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, it’s natural to have videotaping capabilities at our fingertips. More and more often we see parents taking a video of their children fencing in competitions. Here is my take on it, given my experience with my own kids as well as from observing others in the club.
In a nutshell, I am a big proponent of taking videos of your kids. There are many pluses to that, some technical and some emotional.
6 Reasons to Videotape your Child’s Fencing Competitions:
- Self-analysis and self-improvement: A great way to review your fencing at different stages of competition with different opponents. Kids can watch these videos and reflect on their own fencing, see their own tactical and technical successes or mistakes, and analyze their fencing on a deeper level.
- Coach’s help in analysis of mistakes and victories: Also, if the coach is not present at the competition, seeing the video gives the coach great insight into what is working and what is not, which elements of technique and tactics work for your child and which do not. Coach can then adjust their lessons and classes if needed.
- Recall of controversial refereeing: Sometimes calls cause disagreement or even an argument on the strip. The referee may make a mistake in awarding a touch or giving out a penalty card. The mistake may be in favor of your fencer … or not. It is good to review these moments later on—to learn why the call was made. Your child can learn a lot from reviewing a tape from this perspective. For example, for my son it was difficult to comprehend why the referee awarded an attack to his opponent and read my son’s action as a counter-attack. For a long period of time (and still it is now for some actions), my son thought the referee was wrong. Showing a video record of the controversial moment helps explaining why a specific call was made.
- Learning from the best: It is very valuable to watch videos of Imboden or Chamley-Watson and aspire to be them, but in reality it will take some time until your child will fence against them. A good idea might be learning how their better and more accessible opponents fence in their tournament circuit.
- Professional attitude toward training: We already wrote why it is a good thing to keep a fencing journal. Complementing it with videos is a great step forward and together they lay another brick in building a foundation to a serious (or even professional) attitude towards training. And good habits in one area of life are easily transferred to another.
- Family memorabilia (or maybe a part of national history– you never know!): It is a lot of fun to later return to these videos and see what a huge amount of progress your child has made! Compare it to the pictures or videos of any other activity your child did early on and how much you loved watching them. It is a family treasure, like any other thing connected to your kids.
But as with anything sport related, videotaping fencing bouts can unexpectedly turn into something you want to avoid, pushing your child beyond what is reasonable.
The most dreaded time for kids after losing in competition is the drive home. They do not want to talk about the competition; they do not want to hear your post-game analysis. Do not volunteer the videos at this time. They know you took them and they will ask you to show them when they are ready—when their current post-competition emotions are in the past.
If you make a habit of taking videos of your child’s fencing, using it correctly and wisely can help your child develop as a fencer and will leave you with an invaluable library of lifelong memories of your child’s growth as an athlete and a person.