What the new fencing student needs to know
Information for fencers (and their parents):
The Anchorage Fencing Club regularly teaches students as young as 10 years old and has no upper age limit. Our focus is on making the classes suitable and enjoyable for both kids and adults. We have occasionally trained students younger than 10 – however these very young kids typically have short attention spans and find it difficult to wield a sword for an entire hour of fencing drills. If you have questions on this issue, we'd be glad to discuss your specific interests.
Fencing is a sport! Dress for it. If you don't have a fencing uniform, wear sweat pants. Please do not wear shorts or street clothes. To protect our gym floor, please bring court or gym shoes to wear.
Fencing is a sport! Bring plenty of water to drink.
Fencing is a sport! If you have any medical conditions or problems, let the coaches know.
Fencing is a sport! Fencing can be strenuous, which makes it an excellent way to stay in shape throughout the year. Conversely, being in good shape will make you a better fencer, so it is an ideal conditioning and cross-training activity.
Your First Lesson
When you come for your first fencing lesson, be sure to have the following items with you:
Long sweat pants or warm-up suit pants: Jeans can restrict your movement, and shorts can trap a blade against your bare skin. They also do not provide adequate protection. If you come in shorts, you will not be allowed to fence. The club does not provide fencing knickers.
T-shirt: You'll want something lightweight and short-sleeved. It is extremely common for fencers to sweat through their shirts while fencing, so you may want to bring a second shirt to change into before leaving.
For males: Protective hard cup. Although this is not mandated by USA Fencing, it is highly recommended at AFC as the groin area is included in the target area in both foil and epee.
For females: Chest protectors. AFC will provide these if you don't have your own.
Gym shoes: Please ensure your shoes are non-marking. If you don't have fencing shoes, there are several other options available. Some people are quite comfortable with court shoes (tennis, racquetball, volleyball, wrestling, etc.) Some find that light-weight cheerleading shoes or skimmers work well. Heavy or thick-soled shoes like those made for trail running will not work.
Towel: Since fencing frequently results in significant amounts of sweat, you may want to bring a towel or two.
Drinks: Large bottles of water or sports drink are encouraged.
Lesson Book: When you take lessons, you'll receive a Lesson Plans booklet. Please keep this and bring it with you to every lesson.
The youth program of the US Fencing Association (USFA) is designed to provide an introduction for your child to one of the most fascinating, exciting and safest sports. Fencing develops discipline, balance, coordination, and sportsmanship. Fencing helps the youth develop quicker reflexes and an ability to make lighting fast analyses of tactical situations.
There are many benefits to participating in youth fencing. Children learn good sportsmanship and self-discipline. They learn to compete independently as well as for a team; they learn to enjoy winning and profit from defeats, while becoming physically fit and healthy; and, most importantly, they learn to make complex decisions, analyze problems, and think fast. These ideals help children reach their potential in many areas other than fencing.
Children develop at different mental, emotional and physical rates and their goals change accordingly. They should not be discouraged if it takes time to see results. There are those who exhibit no talent during their first four or five years of fencing and then become dynamite competitors, while others may show the competitive spark from the first day.
Remember that the primary motivating factor for entering sports, particularly among adolescents, is the desire to have fun. Don't forget, Olympic Champions have fun too.
Bill of Rights for Young Athletes
We believe youth have the right to:
- be treated with dignity by all involved
- fence as a child and not as an adult
- fence regardless of skill level
- fence at a level that is commensurate with each child's development
- fence in a safe and healthy environment
- have proper preparation for fencing
- have qualified adult leadership
- share in leadership of fencing
- have equal opportunity to strive for success
- have fun fencing
The Role of the Parent
As a parent, your primary purpose is to support and encourage your child. Parents greatly contribute to the success experienced by their children as well as other children in the youth program. The attitudes of parents are often adopted by their children, who consult them for advice and approval; be aware of this and strive to become positive role models. Most importantly, this includes showing good sportsmanship at all times and respecting coaches, officials, and opponents.
Get your child to the club to train regularly. School obligations come first, so utilize school holidays for maximizing training opportunities. Training two months a year at a camp will yield very limited results. A consistent training curriculum is strongly encouraged.
Ensure that your child has a small snack before training and competitions and brings a water bottle to the club and tournament.
Be careful about weight training before it's appropriate age-wise. Consult with your child's doctor before starting any rigorous training program. Over-training for short periods of time followed by long periods of less or no training is certain to result in injury.
Have realistic expectations of your child's ability. Don't rush into competition until training is well under way; then start fencing locally. Until your child is consistently finishing well in local and regional competitions, the time is not right for national tournaments.
Independence and Support
It is important to let your child establish individual goals and play the game based on personal motivation. Help your child establish and achieve those personal goals. Avoid imposing your own goals or the coach's goals on your child. "Success," sometimes interpreted as "winning," comes at different ages for each fencer. Success in youth fencing is reached if the program helps the child love fencing. Great achievement will occur when the child loves the sport.
The best way to help your child achieve personal goals and reduce the fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. No one likes to make mistakes. When your child makes one, remember that it is still a learning process. Encourage their efforts and highlight the successes and the things your child did well. Your child will have good days and bad ones. Help with the bad days and celebrate the good days each child is fortunate to have. Fencing is a continuous struggle to improve from first-day beginner to Olympic Champion.
Be careful not to emphasize winning to the exclusion of your child's having fun and learning about themselves while enjoying the exciting sport of fencing. Encouraging a healthy environment that emphasizes learning and fun can develop a more positive self-image, an invaluable asset throughout your child's life.
At fencing tournaments, take time to meet new people, visit different cities and see what they have to offer. Many lasting friendships have been formed between fierce competitors. Enjoy the full experience of competition by taking advantage of all the opportunities for growth.