Some fencers choose to compete because they feel pulled to better themselves and their skill. They love the thrill of the fencing competition. They enjoy the excitement of traveling and being a part of their fencing club team. They feel supported by their parents and encouraged to move to the next level.
Others may feel that competition is an obligation, or an unattainable experience. Their parents may even look at their child’s fencing lessons as being recreational, and have no intention of pushing them to compete as that seems to be far too elite, time consuming, expensive, or many other reasons.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
There are many ways that having your child participate in fencing competition can be beneficial to all areas of their life, on and off the strip. And it’s worth considering as you decide to enroll your child in competitions.
Checks and Balances
I believe that without competition, there is no drive to better yourself or your ability. There’s no bar for you to break. No goal for you to achieve.
We all have friends who set New Year’s resolutions, or goals throughout the year to be healthier or stronger. Unless there is a competitive element, the goal is largely unmet.
This is because there is no system of checks and balances. When competition is added, it creates a check and balance. The competition is the check. The goal to succeed is the balance. And as each athlete trains to compete they push themselves to be better and better. They feel invigorated to challenge themselves to do better at the next competition.
A Feeling of Purpose and Perspective
Studies show that students who participate in a competitive sport perform up to 40% better academically than their non-athletic peers. They’re less likely to engage in risky behavior, and they’re also less likely to smoke or do drugs.
Having watched my own children and their peers compete, I believe that the reason for all of this is actually quite simple. Competition provides children a sense of belonging to a group, to something bigger that helps them feel an elevated sense of self.
They get to represent their club, which provides a huge burst of self esteem and self importance to a child that cannot be taught or provided in the home.
Education Beyond the Home Turf
At a competition, your coach can really see what you’re made of. They can evaluate how you’ve taken the lessons and improved. They can figure out the best way to make your goals happen based on your bouts with fencers they’ve never seen you fight before.
Having watched your child evolve in both group and private lessons, they can further see what areas still need improvement and can make a new plan to work on these areas for the next competition.
This is an element that cannot be experienced unless your child does compete. Fencing against known fencers can only provide so much. The fencers begin to anticipate each other’s moves, and style. When a fencer is put up against an unknown, they’re forced to improvise and utilize their toolbox of skills to do the best they can. And this is where fast, true, real growth and learning can be achieved.
Bouts Are Life Lessons In Disguise
Speaking of adjusting and adapting, being able to adjust and adapt to a different fighting style, cadence, or a referees interpretations, as well as an opponent and their coach’s behavior can be one of those life lessons that your child will take with them in many other areas of their lives.
They may not always like their teachers, or their professors in college and even beyond: their future employers. But they’ll need to learn how to work with them, to understand what’s expected of them and to deliver. They’ll need to be able to see past their own ego, and what they thought they knew, to adjust and adapt to a different style of fencing that can ultimately make them better, stronger, faster.
Fencing competitions provide a rare opportunity to do just that. Your child will learn how to handle different situations such as nerves, timing and pacing of a day, coming up from behind in the scoring, holding a lead and an advanced position, dealing with adversity, dealing with a variety of skill levels and experience, dealing with the unknown, overcoming tiredness and stress, pushing beyond personal capabilities, and so many more other things that happen only in competitions.
Competition is Serious Fun
The camaraderie that you build with your fencing club teammates through laughter, and bonding at practice is important and serves a purpose. But when it’s time to compete, there’s no room for silliness. It’s time to get focused and serious. And it’s important for your child to recognize the difference between the club atmosphere and the competition atmosphere.
In competition every bout matters – for your child’s potential to advance throughout the tournament, for their final placement, and perhaps most importantly for their self esteem.
Participating in competition is a great way to instill this sense of respect and being able to read a situation and act appropriately to that situation.
Consult With Your Coach
Ultimately your fencing coach will be able to best assess and decide when it’s time for your child to attend a competition, at what level, and where.
It is our responsibility as parents to ensure that our kids get proper and adequate development in all areas of their life. We focus so much on education – which is extremely important – but there are many other ways they can learn and grow as well.
Involving your child in fencing competitions is a great way to add to an overall lifestyle and encourage discipline for your child that also feels like a lot of fun. Being involved in fencing competitions will prepare your child for life beyond the strip.