The parents’ guide to competitions

When should you start competing?

It does help to know which end of a sword to hold, and which to poke with! At least 6 months of regular attendance at a club is probably about right. After that the best time is when you feel ready – if you wait until you think you can win, you will probably wait forever – while you are practising and perfecting your skills, there are other fencers out there doing the same thing, and getting competition experience at the same time. They might not be winning, but they will be improving faster than by club training alone!


  • To register for a fencing competition, first of all, you need to get an Irish licence. You can get it online at, it is free of charge for children.
  • Then check competitions in Youth Calendar:
  • Pembroke holds 3 children`s competitions in Dublin and there are 6 competitions in NI,  Junior Foil Series.
  • To register your child for competition in Dublin please contact Pembroke Fencing Club by email
  • Registration for NIJS:
  • To compete in NI need to have a full fencing kit with you (mask, jacket, under plastron, glove, 2 foils, 2 body wires, lame), if you compete in Dublin, you can rent the gear from Pembroke FC for 10 euros.
  • Check the age categories carefully. Fencing age groups are based on ages from 1 January in the current year which means that a child who is eleven on 2 January can continue to compete as a U11 for the rest of that year.
  • Take plenty of drinks. In all the kits, fencers get hot and children dehydrate quickly. Avoid fizzy drinks.
  • Some fencers eat lots at a competition, others feel too nervous. Lots of chocolate and sweets are best avoided, but bananas, dried fruit and cereal bars provide energy and are not too messy.
  • The time shown on the application form is for start. Check-in starts 30 minutes earlier, but if you are not there for the check – your entry will probably be scratched Take a good book. You will spend lots of time sitting around! Folding chairs are also popular.
  • If your child fences foil or sabre, and you are new to fencing, ask someone to explain the Right of Way rule. Inexperienced parents can get upset when their child’s light comes up before their opponent’s but the hit is given against them!
  • Wear trainers or similar. Many venues don’t allow outdoor shoes in the sports hall.
  • Keep younger children away from the action.
  • Whilst the organisers of each event make every effort to ensure that the competitions are safe and secure, the responsibility for the welfare of the child remains with the parent or nominated responsible adult (acting in loco parentis). If, as a parent or coach, you decide to leave children in your care at an event for the day please ensure that the organisers are aware of the responsible adult that is looking after your care.
  • Enjoy!
  •  Warm up thoroughly before your first bout and again if there is a gap of more than about 15 minutes between bouts.
  • Remember “Fencing Etiquette”. Salute your opponent and the referee at the beginning of the fight and shake hands at the end.
  • When you are not fighting, stay near your pool. Fights can finish very quickly, and referees get annoyed when fencers vanish!
  • If you don’t understand a decision, ask politely for the referee to explain it, but don’t argue.
  • At the end of the pools, check the pool sheet to ensure that your results are recorded correctly. It’s much easier to sort out mistakes if they are picked up immediately.
  • Try not to show excessive pleasure in winning a hit or bout, or bad temper on losing one. Throwing down masks or swords is considered very bad sportsmanship.

The format of a tournament is broken down into two main sections of bouting. The preliminary round (also called the ‘pools’) divides fencers up into different groups. All fencers in each group fence against each other (also called ‘round robin’ format) and based on their results, the tournament organizer can determine how to rank (also called ‘seeding’) those fencers for the direct elimination round.

The direct elimination round (also called the ‘DEs’), consists of a bracket of fencers competing against each other. A standard DE bout lasts for 3 periods of 3 minutes each, or a maximum of 15 touches*. The reason this round is referred to as the ‘direct elimination’ round is that after only one loss, a fencer is out of the tournament, and their final placement is determined by the round in which they were defeated. The last fencer standing wins the entire tournament.

Round of Pools

The purpose of the preliminary rounds is to rank (aka ‘seed’) fencers for the DEs. The total number of starting fencers in the competition is broken down into smaller groups, usually, 7 people, called ‘pools.’ Each athlete fences everyone in their pool for a total of 6 bouts. How well a fencer does in their pool is then compared to how everyone else in the tournament did in their respective pools. Note that pools do not have to contain 7 people, and due to the fact that tournaments often do not have an exact multiple of 7 participants, many tournaments will run pools of both 7 and 6* fencers at the same tournament. In the pools of 6 fencers, each fencer would then fence only 5 total bouts.

After all of the pools are completed the results are sent to the bout committee to determine the overall ranking (aka ‘seeding’) of all fencers in the competition.
That seeding is determined by four criteria, ranked in order of priority
  1. Fencers are first grouped by their win percentage (This is equal to the fencer’s number of bouts won divided by the fencer’s total number of bouts)
  2. Any ties in ranking based on win percentage are broken by each fencer’s indicator
  3. And remaining ties in the ranking are broken by the total number of touches scored (i.e. the same number used in part to calculate the indicator)
  4. If all of the above are tied, then fencers tie out of the pools and seeding for the DEs is determined randomly.
Direct Elimination Round
Bout length

Epee and Foil bouts are fenced in a set of three periods. Each period lasts for three minutes of fencing time. Fencing time is the time between when the referee says ‘fence!’ and when a light on the machine is turned on. The timer is paused between touches. After each period, fencers get a 1-minute break, during which they can rest, drink water, and speak with their coach. The score is not reset between periods. Fencing concludes after the 3rd period, or when a fencer scores 15 touches, whichever comes first.


The direct elimination rounds are composed of a single bracket of all the fencers that were promoted from the round of pools (in many cases, all fencers that participated in pools). These fencers then compete head-to-head to determine their final ranking. The bracket is often referred to in the fencing community as the ‘tableau.’ Each time a bout occurs, the winning fencer advances to the next round, and the losing fencer is eliminated*. For this reason, the rounds are composed of a number of fencers equal to exponents of two: there is a round of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256 (most tournaments will not be larger than this).

Within each round, the format is set so that the lowest-ranking fencer competes with the highest-ranking fencer in that round. For example, in the round of 128, the fencer ranked 1st will be matched up against the fencer ranked 128th. The fencer 2nd will be matched up against the fencer ranked 127th, and so on all the way up to the fencer ranked 64th facing off against the fencer ranked 65th.

This format ensures that, given no upsets (where a lower-ranked fencer defeats a higher-ranked fencer), each person will finish the tournament according to their rank. If there are not enough fencers to fill up a round, then the highest-ranking fencers will receive free passes into the next round (known as ‘byes’).

After a full round is completed, and one fencer advances from each match, the next round will have half as many competitors as the previous (because one fencer was knocked out of each match of two fencers). So if a fencer consistently wins several matches in a row after beginning in the round of 128, they will enter (respectively) the top 64, then the top 32, then the top 16, then the top 8, etc. Note that when an ‘upset’ occurs (a lower-ranked fencer defeating a higher-ranked fencer), the winner ‘takes over’ that spot on the tableau and continues fencing along that path.

Final placement in a competition

After a fencer loses a DE bout, their final ranking will be somewhere within the range of the round. For example, if Levy loses his next bout in the round of 8, his placement will be somewhere between 5th and 8th (because he made it into the round of 8, but didn’t quite make the round of 4). Final rankings of fencers within the same round are determined by their seeding after the round of pools. The one exception to this rule is in the round of 4. At most tournaments, fencers will simply tie for 3rd place.

Direct Elimination

Group              Hits            Time Limit

Youth A             8               6 minutes

Youth B            8               6 minutes

Youth C            10                6 minutes

Intermediate   15                9 minutes

Cadets              15                9 minutes


Deciding how much a young fencer should compete can be a challenge for parents and kids to figure out. There are lots of variables that factor into how often young fencers step onto the strip for competition – the desire of the kids, the desire of the parents, fencer level, readiness, region (and therefore accessibility to fencing tournaments), and so many more factors that are individual to a family.

Parental considerations

Kids, though they’re the ones doing the actual fencing, are only one of the driving forces behind how much time they spend in competition. Parents are another important driving force in this, and sometimes the most important one. Some parents are all over the place in terms of how they interact with their young fencers and fencing competitions.

On one side of the spectrum, some parents think that competition in and itself will be too much of a discouraging experience for their child, so they intentionally keep them away from fencing competitions as much as possible. They either never sign their kids up for a competition or they rarely sign them up. What they’re really afraid of is that their child will lose and so their self-esteem will take a hit.

On the other side of the spectrum are parents who push their kids to attend tons of competitions, both big and small, both local and far away, weekly. These kids are out every week during the season, constantly competing all over the place.

Both of these are wrong.

Competition in fencing, just as everything else in life, demands balance. Parents who give their kids the best experience and maximize their young fencer’s growth through the sport are those who allow them to balance learning how to cope with loss and boosting self-esteem through hard-earned victory. That means competing enough to learn all of those lessons.

There are a great many hefty considerations for parents that we recognize when it comes to how many competitions their children participate in each year. Here we want to be clear – families must make decisions based on their values, their time commitments, and financial realities. What’s important is that parents look with a critical eye at how they’re deciding for their young fencers to participate in the competition, and then be open to finding the right balance for their needs.

Why all kids should compete

We firmly believe that all kids should compete, even if it’s only rarely. Here’s why:

  • Check themselves
  • Understand why they train
  • Identify and work toward goals
  • Challenge themselves
  • Learn how to lose and how to win
  • Meet other fencers
  • Show their skills for family and friends

ALL fencers benefit from competing. That’s just an across-the-board truth. The feeling of competing in fencing is fundamentally different from what happens for fencers when they are only training in the club. Even kids who say that they are “recreational” only as fencers should participate in competitions from time to time. It could be an in-house club competition, a school meet, or a small local tournament. It might only be twice a year!

The point here is that every child should experience fencing competition as part of their fencing experience, no matter what their larger goals are for fencing in general. Even if they only compete twice a year, they’re still able to test their skills and calibrate their training. With the right preparation, fencers who compete very rarely will have a lot of fun and will fuel their passion for the sport.

Why too much competing is too much

Though we want to see every child fencing in competition at least a couple of times each year, on the other side there are those young fencers who compete too much. Spending an overly ambitious amount of time competing can hurt kids, for so many reasons.

Here are the main reasons that too much fencing competition is a bad idea.

  • Burn out
  • Loss of perspective
  • Inability to recover physically or mentally
  • Inability to maintain training balance
  • Diluting the value of competition
  • Chasing the wrong goal – ie medals or rank
  • Blowing budget
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Losing the thrill of competition – it becomes routine

Even if your child is chasing the dream of becoming a fencer with a national or international title, more competition is not necessarily better. The reality is that fencers who just go to every competition available to them without thinking about a plan for why they’re attending those competitions are not going to reach their goals.

Remember, fencing is just as much of a mental game as a physical one. Not only do we want to be smart about the way that we approach our opponent on the strip, but we also want to be smart about the way that we approach finding those opponents in the realm of competition!

So what’s the right balance?

Now we get to the good stuff – what is the right balance for fencers to compete?

Let’s look at the best fencers in the world, the most successful fencers. How do they compete? How do they train? We can learn from their circle and then try to apply that to kids in fencing.

Here’s an example. There are world-level competitions – think World Cups, Grand Prix and World Championships – about once per month. There are five World Cups, three Grand Prix, one European Championship and one World Championship. That’s a total of ten each year. In addition to those, top fencers usually compete in one to three national tournaments during each season. Add all of that up and these top fencers are competing once a month, one weekend in four.

What about all of that time in between those competitions? What in the world are they doing if they aren’t competing? That’s pretty easy to figure out. Here’s EXACTLY what those top fencers are doing:

  • Train
  • Prepare
  • Restore

It’s easy to think that competition is where the action is because it’s the most visible aspect of the whole process, but the VAST majority of the time that athletes spend is not on competition, but rather on getting ready for it. It’s this silent time, this invisible time, that’s lost on people who aren’t part of it. If we take that method of senior-level fencers and extrapolate it down to kids, then what does it look like? Of course, it will vary depending on the level of the child and their commitment to the sport, but this can offer us a baseline. Let’s look at the two ends of the spectrum of kids in fencing, keeping in mind that within these there are relative beginners, moderate, and highly competitive kids.

Kids who want to be serious fencing competitors

We want to see a maximum of two competitions per month for competitive kids. Of course, depending on the calendar that might be a challenge as sometimes one large competition is followed directly by another, but these are general guidelines.

  • One big competition every two months
  • One smaller competition between every two big ones, like a local tournament.

Beginners who want to try out the competition

It’s important for kids who think that they might want to compete to try it out, but slower, in the beginning, is a good idea. That means competing every few months instead of multiple times in a single month to start with, allowing more time and energy to build the skills and training regimen that works best for them individually. Smaller competitions for young fencers who are new to the sport are the rule, so go with in-house or local tournaments early on.

  • One competition per quarter

Kids who want to fence for recreation

Again, even recreational fencers should compete for a wide variety of reasons. Whether the child is fencing to improve their mental and physical acuity, to learn a new skill, or just for the sheer joy of it, competing undoubtedly enriches the fencing experience.

  • Two local competitions per year

Always, always remember that these are guidelines only based on our experience and our analysis of fencing as a sport – talk to your child’s coach and create a plan that’s suited to their particular interests. Fencing is an individual sport! Your child’s competitive path will be highly individual.

The main thing that we want to see is that young fencers are engaged in and excited about the sport. Competition is a major part of that process in fencing, not only because it supports fencer’s development in the sport but because competition in and of itself is a growth experience. No matter their level, healthy competition generates improvement in skill and supports the growth of positive self-esteem. Even if a fencer loses the bouts they participate in, she or he will still score a touch and can be proud of the performance.

Parents can help their young fencers to create a balanced competition schedule that’s right for everyone, no matter what their competitive level may be.

Understanding fencing scoring is so essential to becoming successful as a competitor.

Fencers are required to sign their scoresheets as soon as they have completed their bouts, but most often novice fencers just sign without thinking, assuming that the judges and competition runners are the experts and that they must be right.

A. This is just a notation for the name of the club that a fencer is from (note that in FT club is omitted). This is, of course, important for the pool order (which you’ll learn more about below!).

B. The column for the names of each member of the pool.

C. These numbers are important, as these are the numbers that are assigned to each fencer. A fencer is often called up by their number, and referees will reference fencers often this way at larger competitions where there might be competitors with the names that might be a little difficult for referees to pronounce… You’ll notice that the numbers are the same across the top and the bottom. Where they intersect is where the fencer’s score is written. We will discuss in more detail how the scores are recorded in the next section.

D. The number of victories that each fencer has gotten in the pool. A score of five is a victory, or if the time ran out and the match didn’t get to five before time was up then the victory will come with a lower score. Some judges mark these scores with a V next to the score in the main part of the card (even for full 5 touches bouts, like V5), and some don’t and leave it as plain 5. The number of victories is the most important component in determining the standings of fencers. V = Victory

E. Touches scored against other fencers. This number is the total of a fencer’s row. If there is a tie between a number of victories for two fencers and the “Indicator” is the same (see what Indicator means below), then this is looked at next to determine standings. TS = Touches Scored.

F. The touches received from other fencers. This number is the total of a fencer’s column. TR = Touches Received.

G. This column is the “indicator”, or the difference between touches scored and touches received. If the number of victories is, all the same, the judges will go to the indicator. If the fencers tied all parameters (number of victories, indicator and touches scored) then the fencer’s will be listed as tied in the final standings (which is quite common in fencing!) I = Indicator.

H. This final column is important as well because it indicates which place a fencer stands in their pool.

Final Seeding

However, the placement is the pool, while interesting in itself, is not what really matters. What really matters is overall final seeding for all fencers from all pools. The seeding places first fencers with highest number of victories (not absolute number as in the pool, but relative number, which indicates a percentage of victories in the pools against number of bouts fenced in the pool by that fencer), followed by higher Indicator (in case two or more fencers have the same amount of victories), then by touches scored (if indicator is the same). In case all these parameters are the same, then fencers are all tied and placed in the same place in the random order (notes with letter T near the final placement number, like 21T).

Since final seeding is extremely important and it determines the elimination table, every parameter in the scoresheet carries an important weight and the fencer’s goal in every pool is to maximise the relevant parameters to get better final seeding placement.

Now to look at an actual scoresheet. You’ll notice that all of the numbers from the previous section are right here. Normally they won’t have all of these colours and most often the referee will just use a pencil to write scores down, but we’ve included them just to make it all easier to see.

You’ll notice that everything adds up. This is something that you’re checking for! Quite often those last five columns (V, TS, TR, Ind, Pl) will be blank when you go up to check the scoresheet. That’s ok! Today with so much digital scorekeeping it’s common for this part to be added up automatically when added to the computer and left blank on the handwritten sheet. Some referees still do the addition themselves, which is ok too.

Let’s talk about some of these numbers and how the referee will write the score up using imaginary names from the above example scoresheet.

  • Let’s say Paul fenced with Jack and won 5:1. That means that Paul scored 5 touches against Jack and Jack scored 1 point against Paul. Paul won the match. In the pool, Paul’s number is 1 and Jack’s number is 2. Thus the referee then will write 5 in the cell of first row & second column and will write 1 in the cell of second row & first column. As an alternative, he can write V5 and D2 in the same cells, to make it clearer who won and who lost in this bout. Either way is valid and there are no requirements on the handwritten scoresheet: however, it will always be V5 and D1 in the online results.
  • Now let’s say Simon (fencer number 4) fences against Jack (fencer number 2). Simon won his match against Jack with the score 2:1 (this means the time ran out before somebody reached 5 touches) Respectively in the cell of the 4th row and 2nd column the referee will write V2, and in the cell of the 2nd row and 4th column the referee will write D1

Now to review some of how we get to the numbers in columns V, TS, TR, Ind.

  • Paul’s scores are all in green – so look across his row.
  • He has a V (victories) of 4 because he won 4 of his matches
  • The touches he scored are recorded in his row, which is marked green. Add up the green numbers to arrive at his TS (touches scored). 5 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 5 + 3 + 5 = 28
  • His TR (touches received) is his column. Go to the number 1 column and add up the rainbow below. 1 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 2 = 21
  • Ind (indicator) is just the TS minus TR. 28 – 21 = +7
  • Now, look down the final Pl (place) column. The one on the very end. You can see that Paul is in 4th place based on his total number of wins and Indicator (his indicator is +7 which is lower than +11 of Lucas, who has the same number of won bouts, thus placing ahead of Paul).


The bottom section is not the one that of real interest to a fencer, but mostly to the referee. This is a section which referees use as a guideline to bout order and if they issued any cards to any fencer. Fencers mostly look at the bout order part during the pool to know when they are to be called, and that’s pretty much it.

Anxiety is a state consisting of psychological and physical symptoms brought about by a sense of apprehension of a perceived threat. However, levels of anxiety can differ according to situation and the individual. Trait anxiety relates to an aspect of personality in which nervousness is a stable personality trait. State anxiety refers to temporary feelings of anxiety in a particular situation. Pre-competition anxiety is commonly experienced by athletes at all levels of ability, but at events perceived as more intimidating, perhaps due to the nature of the competition, anxiety levels can fluctuate.

Anxiety can affect both psychologically (cognitively) and physiologically (somatic). Poor concentration, lack of confidence, increased heart rate and feeling of apprehension or sickness are common negative effects of anxiety. There are various strategies you can employ to help you control pre competition anxiety and overcome any negative side effects.

Relaxation training involves the usage of various routines to help the body relax. Most of this training is required prior to competition in the form of Yoga or Pilates classes, from which you can implore techniques in the build up to competition. The use of music can also aid relaxation.

Breathing exercises can effectively enable an athlete to relax and prepare for competition, as increased levels of oxygen in the blood can facilitate the working muscles. For it to be effective, deep breathing needs to be practiced over time. This technique is crucial in reducing butterflies in the stomach. For it to be fully effective, first find a quiet place and close your eyes. Regulate your breathing by placing both hands on your stomach and feel it rise and fall as you breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Recall your best performance and think of the positive feelings you experienced and their physical effects on your body. The more often this is practiced, the more successful it will become in reducing anxiety. Similar exercises can be carried out, picturing yourself at the seaside for instance, or another happy, relaxing place for you.

Goal setting is a simple but useful technique that is important in the reduction of cognitive symptoms. Giving athletes a meaningful direction allows them to focus on achieving their goals. Goals must be agreed with by the athlete and be process related goals and not solely outcome goals. The process of goal setting must be used as a method through which performers develop a route in order to achieve their goals.

Positive self-talk is a simple yet effective method to reduce anxiety, and like breathing techniques requires practice on a regular basis. A positive mind will provide a more balanced approach to competition and therefore provides an improved chance of success. Positive self-talk is the process of channelling your brain and directing thinking to support performance. A key part of anxiety is confidence, or lack of, positive self-talk is one of the most effective methods of instilling self-confidence. This in turn can reduce anxiety, due to the increased levels in self-belief. Having positive statements prepared for when situations of anxiety occur could be the difference between overcoming the anxiety and allowing it to ruin your performance. Positive statements such as “I have done this before, I can do it again” whilst recalling a previous competition that was successful and where you managed to achieve the goals you set out to achieve.

“Labelling” thoughts and feelings related to high levels of anxiety can be an effective way to prepare athletes for competition. By labelling the thoughts and feelings, athletes can associate them with feelings of preparing for competition, thus removing their negativity and getting athletes “in the Zone”. For example, a swimmer can recognise their increased heart rate as a positive sign that they are well prepared for competition.

Emotional control is crucial for preparing you mentally for competition. It cannot be taught, you need to discover for yourself what situations increase your anxiety etc. The ‘Emotional Thermometer’ is a good method of keeping your anxiety in check. The ‘Emotional Thermometer’ is an imaginary tool that helps assess your level of anxiety and manage it early on, as combatting anxiety early on prevents it progressing and ruining your performance. It is comprised of three stages, much like a traffic light.

GREEN – means you are happy, stress free and able to think clearly.

YELLOW – means you are a little stressed and anxious and your thoughts have become affected by your anxiety.

RED – means you are out of control. Your thoughts are completely irrational and you have feelings of anger, frustration or disappointment.

These levels are subjective, but as long as you are personally aware of which anxiety levels fit in each bracket, through practice during training, the thermometer will be successful.

You should continually take your emotional thermometer prior to and during competition. If you are green, currently you are fine! If you stray into the yellow or red zone, you must have already thought out your plan of action to quickly lower your anxiety levels back to green and prevent detrimental effects to performance. When your emotional thermometer strays into yellow or red, employing some strategies stated above, such as positive self-talk will help you take control of the situation again and return to green levels.

Competition anxiety does not need to be a problem. With practice of relaxation techniques, you can control your pre-competition nerves and prevent them negatively affecting performance, and allowing you to reach your full potential.

Ready? Fence!

Being mentally prepared for a tournament is just as important as being physically prepared. A successful fencer requires strong muscles, quick reactions, and refined motor skills to defeat their opponent. Having a strong mind, quick attitude responses and tailored mental skills give an equalled matched fencer a distinct advantage over their competition.

Mental preparation involves these four key elements:

1) Feeling that you are ready to compete. Developing this important aspect starts long before you compete. With each step of preparation for a tournament, you remind yourself that you are getting more and more ready to compete. If you feel that you are not ready, then you have already created a major shortcoming in your preparation.

2) Trusting your skills and abilities. Confidence is defined as knowing that you can perform certain skills. Feeling that you are a good fencer because you can execute the necessary skills at the necessary time is a huge step in the mental preparation process. Some fencers have tremendous accomplishments and lack confidence. On the contrary, you can have confidence without your desired accomplishment.

3) Focus on fencing well. When you fence well, good things will happen. By focusing on winning alone, you create an unnecessary distraction that pressures you, rather than relaxes you. This step involves having no expectations about your performance. This step involves developing proper self-talk.

4) Coping with adversity. I’ve seen it so many times. A fencer may be struggling in a tough bout, but hanging in there. Then out of the blue, one thing goes wrong and they explode in a fit of anger or mentally break down. Being prepared for anything puts you ahead of your competition. Fine-tuning this skill involves learning about control, and how heavily it affects your ability to keep your head in the bout.

Following this article will be a series of articles that will detail and expand upon each of these key elements. Like learning to master a parry or how to recognize proper attack distance, developing each of these elements requires commitment, discipline, and repetition.

Through learning these mental preparation skills, making the effort to improve your overall fencing game can certainly pay off!

1) Not being able to Concentrate

Focus is a huge part of fencing.  Given that fencing isn’t the only thing in your life, being able to concentrate can be a huge task.  If you can learn to concentrate on fencing when you are fencing, and not be distracted by other things, then you are on your way to increased success.

2) Trying to control what you can’t & not controlling what you can

Lots of fencers get distracted by trying to fix things that they have absolutely no control over. What they don’t realize is that they could channel their energy towards solving their problem by focusing on what they can control.

3) Having unreal expectations

This can be done in two ways: expecting to win or expecting to lose. Both can be bad. Learning to fence without expectations can free you from the pressure you put on yourself to win, or not lose.

4) Failing to prepare

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Developing a game plan is a critical part of any competitive fencer’s training. It can make a huge difference in your competitive results.

5) Not having confidence in your game

Fencers without confidence tend to believe more in their doubts than their own abilities. The truth is confidence is how you think, what you focus on, and how you react to situations. Confidence has very little to do with success or failure.

6) Overtraining

Fencers tend to overdo it and not plan out their training. It is also common for fencers to “cram” their training right before a tournament. This reflects poor planning of their season.

7) Worrying what others think

Some fencers are oftentimes bogged down by what their coach, parents, and/or teammates may think of them. We tend to put enough pressure on ourselves; pressure from others usually isn’t helpful.

8) Not having a pre-performance routine

Training involves not only the preparation you do leading up the tournament, but also what you do the day of a tournament.

9) Letting your emotions get the best of you

This is much easier said than done. Fencing is a highly cognitive sport, which can stimulate how you feel about certain situations and certain people. Whether you feel anger, sadness, or frustration, losing control of your emotions can unintentionally add obstacles to achieving your potential.

10) Letting fencing define who you are

There are plenty of fencers who think of themselves as a fencer first, and a person second. This can be a problem when they fall short of their self-inflicted expectations. They may think of themselves as a failure, even though they failed in fencing in a temporary way. Fencing is just one aspect of our lives. Learning that you are a person who fences, rather than being only a fencer, can be a tough, but important, step.

This list highlights some of the most common mental errors that fencers make. The next article in the series will discuss worrying about non-fencing life while fencing.

Competitions, camps and other group activities for young people add to their enjoyment and commitment to their sport. It helps develop team spirit and a sense of belonging. These events should be fun and safe for the children participating.


There is an extra responsibility on adults and leaders when they transport young people to events.

Adults should

  • Ensure there is adequate insurance on their car and that they follow the laws and rules of the road including the legal use of seat belts and booster seats (if required).
  • Ensure they do not carry more than the permitted number of passengers.
  • Avoid being alone with one passenger, put passengers in the back seat, have central  drop off locations or seek parental permission when transporting on a regular basis. Clearly state times of pick-up and drop off. Parents should check with young people about the plans, listen to what the young people are saying, be sure they are happy with the transport arrangements.
  • Should an emergency arise and travelling with a single child is unavoidable the adult should contact the parent/guardian to inform them of the situation and the child should be seated in the rear seat.


  • Written permission of parents/guardians should be obtained for all overnight away trips, this should include permission to travel, behavioural agreement and any medical/special needs of the group, (including permission to treat the participant).
  • The agreement should be signed by both parents and participants.
  • A meeting with parents and participants is useful to communicate travel times, competition details, other activities, gear requirements, special needs (medical or dietary), and any other necessary details, contact details, codes of conduct, etc.
  • The roles and responsibilities of adults participation in away trips should be clearly defined.
  • Travel documents such as passports, E11 and insurance should be current and adequate for Fencing. Clothing should be at the appropriate level for the event being attended (e.g. 350n or 800n as required).Proof of these documents and appropriate equipment should be provided before travel.
  • The Team Manager should ensure appropriate event insurance is in place.
  •  The Governing Body of Sport/Sports Club should appoint a Team Manager/Head of Delegation for away trips. She/He should have overall responsibility for the children’s well-being, behaviour and sleeping arrangements. She/He should be appointed as an official of the club for the duration of the trip.
  • The Team Manager should submit a written report to the organisers as soon as possible after the end of the trip.
  • On away trips, coaches should be accountable to the Team Manager in all non-performance related matters.
  • Where there are mixed teams there should be leaders of both genders (at least one female and/or male in the management/coaching structure)
  • Where there are mixed teams staying in hotel/hostel, no visits to bedrooms by team members of opposite sex are permitted.  In the event that a team member has to go to the room of opposite gender, then team manager’s permission should be sought and the bedroom door should be left open during the visit.
  • Adults (over 18) should not share a room with a child. Where the presence of an adult is needed there should be more than one child in the room with the adult. If children are sharing a room, it should be with those of the same groupings, age and gender.
  • Managers should check out the venue beforehand, so that separate and appropriate sleeping arrangements can be made in advance.
  • Alcoholic drink, smoking and other illegal substances/activities are forbidden to participants. Leaders should act as role models in this respect.
  • Any complaints or disciplinary matters are dealt with through the complaints and disciplinary procedures.
  • Team Leaders and other adults intending to take children to away competitions and camps are required to be vetted and attend a child protection and code of conduct course provided by the Irish Sports Council.


Being a host family or being hosted is an integral part of many sports and, if handled appropriately, can add to a child’s enjoyment and experience at a competition. Hosting can be a challenging role but also very rewarding. Special care should be taken in the selection of homes for overnight stays. A host should be provided with as much information about the child/children staying with them and details of the competition. Where practicable more than one child should be placed with each host family. The family in turn should agree to provide references and be vetted when and if this is available. In addition clubs should follow the recruitment and selection procedures recommended in The Irish Sports Council, Code of Ethics, Good Practice for Children’s Sport.

When arranging for events/trips abroad, the club or Governing Body will be dependent on the ability of the host organisation to access vetting services and obtain appropriate references. It is the responsibility of the trip organiser to provide the hosts with the relevant information on the child details of what is expected.

Host families should

  • Agree to abide by the Governing Bodies Code of Conduct
  • Consent to appropriate checks and references
  • Attend host family meetings before competitions or events
  • Provide safe and supportive environment for young people

Governing Bodies/Clubs should

  • Provide a travel pack to hosting families
  • Check out references with hosting families
  • Provide an itinerary of the trip
  • Gather information on destination and venue

Young People

  • Should sign a behaviour agreement
  • Should not be asked to share a bed or a room with an adult
  • Should be happy with the arrangements
  • Should show respect to the host families

Opening Hours

Monday 6 pm – 9 pm
Tuesday  6 pm – 10 pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday  5.30 pm – 9.30 pm
Friday Closed
Saturday Closed
Sunday 11.30 – 12.30 pm