Parents, if you have aspirations for your fencer to be competitive at the national level, then the guidance we offer here on how to plan your child's fencing competition schedule for the year will be informative. It represents the collective wisdom of parents over many years on the what is a good fencing competition schedule to develop your child's competition experience and confidence level. Depending on your child's age, skill level and your time and budget, there are multiple ways to create an effective competition schedule for your child.
The rule of thumb amongst parents is to go to as many nearby tournaments as possible when your fencers are younger. On average, young fencers should be competing two weekends a month or more during the fencing competition season (usually measured as September 1 to the end of Summer Nationals). Developing your fencer is a multi-faceted, multi-stepped process. Competition experience is a material part of that development for a competitive fencer.
While there is no specific formula, you develop a competition schedule and plan that fits your fencer's skill level, personality, fencing goals, your time and your budget. While a coach can guide you on which competitions provide good experience, only you know your child's emotional make-up, your family's current goals for your child's fencing, and your time and budget. Finding the right balance for your child is up to you.
Balance is critical. Pushing too hard or not pushing enough are both problematic, they hinder your fencer's progress.
As one of the world's top coaches once advised, unless your fencer displays exceptional skill, your fencer should really compete in events in his/her own age group and one age group above. Stretching your fencer prematurely can result in lost confidence and frustration, both of which will undermine your fencer's mental game.
The experience and confidence your fencer gains from regular competition at local tournaments, Regional Youth Circuit (RYCs) and Super Youth Circuit (SYCs) include:
- familiarity with the ebbs and flows of a competition, so they get used to how things are done, and minimize surprises that may unsettle them - learning to compete within the rules (getting yellow and red cards for rule violations are part of the learning experience) - fencing opponents with different fencing styles, physical size and skill level - losing and winning, and managing the attendant emotions - working and fighting for every point - behaving with humility, and respecting every opponent, regardless of skill or physical size - remaining calm and emotionally in control when they are down in a bout, and feeling pressure - keeping calm when the referee makes a bad call, and they are mad at the unfairness of it - remaining calm when their opponent's supporters cheer loudly and obnoxiously - executing on instructions from the coach, even when under pressure
These are all invaluable skills your fencer needs to succeed. These skills are also invaluable life skills that aren't taught in schools.
COMPETING IN Y8 AND Y10 FENCING COMPETITIONS
If your fencer is in the Y8 or Y10 age group, you have time on your side to develop fencing and competition skills. In general, don't sign your young fencer up for competitions until they've had, at least, 6 to 12 months of regular coaching at the fencing club. There is no rush, and you want to avoid unnecessary stress before your fencer is ready.
While coaching develops the fencing skills, the mental toughness for a very young fencer develops from consistent and regular experience with a competition environment.
Local tournaments in your fencer's age group are the best place to start, and you should plan on attending as many of them as you can once your fencer is ready. These tournaments are smaller casual affairs, providing your fencer with great opportunities to get used to competing, learn the basic rules of competition in a relaxed environment, and get accustomed to competition. The stakes here a low for both of you. You can find local youth tournaments in your area listed on ASKFRED, and you can find Regional Youth Circuit (RYCs) and Super Youth Circuit (SYCs) tournaments in US Fencing's Regional Tournaments List
If competing makes your fencer nervous and the tournament environment intimidates your fencer, the local competition is an opportunity for you to gently guide your fencer through the experience, and an opportunity for your fencer to develop competition resilience.
Once your fencer has a few local tournaments under the belt, your fencer can try competing in an event one age group up. If your fencer is in the Y8 age group, your only viable event may be in Y10. If that's the case, leave out the Y12 events until your fencer ages into the Y10 age group.
Depending on your location, there may be very little difference between a local tournament and a regional qualifying tournament in terms of size and skill level of the field. However, the difference can be pronounced in larger metropolitan areas with established fencing communities like the New York Metropolitan area, Boston, the Washington DC corridor, the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.
Sign up for regional qualifying tournaments, like RYCs and SYCs only when your fencer is ready. Your fencer's coach knows whether your fencer has developed the skills for a higher-level competition, so consult him/her about the skill level, and you are always the best judge of your child's mental and emotional readiness for a bigger stage. Certainly, once your fencer has completed 12 months of regular twice a week training, it's a milestone that signals he/she is ready to step out to RYCs.
An experienced Y10 fencer with 2 years or more of training should be able to confidently compete in both Y10 and Y12 age groups. A few stretch up and compete in the Y14 age group (after they earn Y12 national points), but this is not a necessary goal for a Y10 fencer, as there will be still a big gap in skills and physical development.
RYCs are a regional qualifying path to the Summer Nationals championship. While you can fence an RYC in any region, you only earn qualifying regional points at RYCs held in your home region. You should not have to venture too far from home to find one. Even if you don 't plan on going to Summer Nationals, RYCs are still terrific competition experience for younger fencers.
Unlike RYCs, fencers can participate at SYCs anywhere in the country to earn national points. We recommend that you stick with SYCs closer to home at the Y10 level. Regardless, SYCs usually require some travel whether by car or by plane. If it's within your budget, then definitely include SYCs in the competition schedule. The level of skill is higher overall, and the tournament is much larger. The SYC experience is an interim step to a national competition.
National competitions, like the March NAC and Summer Nationals are really optional for the youngest age groups. If it's in your budget, and your fencer is ready from a skill and emotional level, then the national competition makes sense. NACs and Summer Nationals are huge events with more than 80 competition strips, and several hundred fencers competing on any given day in a very large venue, it can be intimidating if your young fencer is more accustomed to regional events with 25 competitors.
While your fencer will have to be exposed to the national environment eventually, try and make the introduction as fun and as smooth as possible. Every child responds differently, so you have to manage the expectations. Most of the top fencers in the Cadet and Junior levels gained experience at the Y10 events at national tournaments.
Remember that a Y10 fencer must have competed in, at least, one SYC or RYC to fence in the Youth March NAC (North America Cup), unless the fencer has national points and is on the National Points List.
And there are specific qualifying criteria to compete at Summer Nationals.
COMPETING IN Y12 FENCING COMPETITIONS
If your fencer is a total beginner, follow the recommendations for the Y8/Y10 age group, except that you can shorten the time frame before your fencer competes to about 6 months. An 11-year-old is better developed physically and mentally and will be able to synthesize the basics of fencing much faster than a 9-year-old. Also, if you have goals for your child to be competitive at the national level, you need to increase the intensity of training and competition. A Y12 age group fencer should be competing in both Y12 within 6 months of starting and in Y14 events within a year of starting.
Between the ages of 11 and 14, there are real variances in physical development, you can have a 5'10" fencer with an opponent who is 3' tall. Your fencer needs experience fencing opponents across the size and skill spectrum.
At the Y12 stage, in addition to local tournaments, you should be going to as many Regional Youth Circuit (RYCs) as you can manage and competing at both the Y12 and Y14 levels. Not only will your fencer gain competition experience, they are opportunities to earn regional points, and in some cases in Y14 events, a rating classification.
SYCs are mandatory practice for the competitive fencer in the Y12 age group. The level of competition at an SYC is generally higher and provides your fencer with real competitive fencing experience. Again, your fencer should compete in both the Y12 and Y14 age group. In the Y12 age group, your fencer is working towards earning national points. At the Y14 level, the goal for your Y12 fencer is to gain experience at a more competitive level.
Some parents calculate that travel to a larger SYC is worthwhile since national points are awarded to the top 40% of the field, so there is a better chance of earning national points. However, keep in mind that points are only awarded to the top 64 fencers regardless of the size of the field. These large SYCs usually attract enough rated fencers in the Y14 events to meet event rating classification criteria, and they present ratings opportunities if your fencer has the potential to finish in the top 8 or top 12 of the Y14 event.
Some parents look out for SYCs hosted in cities away from the established fencing centers (see Y8/Y10 section for a list of established centers) where the field will be less competitive, and the chances of placing well and/or earning national points go up.
Following either one of these calculi can be expensive as very large tournaments (exceeding 100 fencers per event) are concentrated on the east coast, and smaller less competitive tournaments are situated in cities to which there are few nonstop direct flights. So, unless you live close to either of these, you are looking at increased flight costs and possibly more travel time, and therefore more days out of school and away from work. Your fencer may also struggle with jetlag associated with coast to coast travel. The maximum time difference you want your fencer to deal with is 2 hours for an SYC.
It's advisable to pick 2, and a maximum of 3 SYCs every year that are located as close to you as possible. Maybe, go to an SYC early in the fencing year, and to another one later in the fencing year, your fencer will certainly make progress over the course of 6 or 7 months during the season.
Some parents reason that if their fencer performs well at the 1st SYC they go to, they can forgo other SYCs for the rest of the year since their fencer could not better that 1st performance and therefore, could not better the national points they earned, so there is no need to go again.. While this argument makes sense for a 2nd year Y14 fencer, this is not a good argument for a Y12 fencer. The Y12 fencer will benefit from additional experience in the Y14 event and should give the SYC a second shot except maybe, when the fencer ranks within the top 10% of Y12 and Y14 age groups on the National Points List. And, for all of us parents, budget considerations may still take priority, and you make choices that deliver the best value for your fencer.
If they are ready, Y12 fencers should go, at least, to one if not both the national tournaments they are eligible for, the March NAC and Summer Nationals. These are very important preparatory tournaments for fencers with ambitions to become nationally ranked Cadet and Junior fencers. The experience will be invaluable and is the best preparation for higher level competitive fencing.
National tournament fields in Y12 usually exceed 160 fencers, which means points are awarded to the top 64 finishers. The competition is tough and sets a benchmark for your fencer to aspire to.
COMPETING IN Y14 FENCING COMPETITIONS
The start of the Y14 age group opens up tournament opportunities for your fencer, who can now compete in RYCs, SYCs, RJCCs, ROCs, local senior tournaments, in addition to an expanded group of national tournaments. All these tournaments represent competition practice opportunities, and you will have to be selective, or you can end up at a tournament every weekend during the fencing season.
For 1st year Y14s, the RYCs, SYCs and RJCCs represent the best practice opportunities. These competitions provide the practice necessary to become competitive at national tournaments.
While 1st year Y14s should still fence at the RYCs, most fencers move on from the RYCs in their 2nd year.
SYCs are still important as they present great competitive experience and the opportunity for national points. While a 1st year Y14 fencer should compete in 2 SYCs, if possible, a seasoned 2nd year Y14 can do with one SYC.
Y14s are eligible to fence in RJCCs (in fact they can do so as Y12s after the age-out at Junior Olympics), and they should actively seek these tournaments out within their home region. While regional qualifying points for Junior Olympics and Summer Nationals can only be earned at tournaments in the fencer's home region, fencers are free to compete in RJCCs anywhere in the country - many SYCs now tag on an RCC event.
RJCCs are frequently opportunities to earn a rating classification.
1st year Y14s should, as far as possible, compete at the March NAC, October NAC, November NAC and Summer Nationals.
-the March NAC is an opportunity to earn Y14 national points in the Y14 event,
-the October NAC is an opportunity to test the waters at the national Cadet level, and the Division 2 event is a rating classification opportunity that will also qualify your fencer for the Division 2 and Division 3 championship events at Summer Nationals if he/she finishes in the top 40%, and is classification eligible.
-the November NAC hosts Y14, Cadet and Junior level events, and presents your fencer with several opportunities to test their skills,
-Summer Nationals presents opportunity for Y14, Cadet and Junior events as well as the Divisions 1A, 2 and 3 championship events. Many of these events at Summer Nationals are scheduled in sequence, and it will physically be exhausting for your fencer to compete in more than 3 events, so pick wisely.
If your fencer has national points goals, then it's wiser not to sign up for a Division 1A, 2 or 3 event the day before as your fencer will be tired for the event that matters.
Be aware that early in the fencing season in October, many 1st year Y14 fencers are not quite ready for the competitiveness of a Cadet event, and your 1st year Y14 fencer may be eliminated after pools. Note that at Cadet and Junior national tournaments, the bottom 20% are eliminated after pools. For many 1st year Y14 fencers, the goal is simply to make the cut, i.e. not be eliminated. If the past is a good predictor, your fencer should make the cut by winning 2 pool bouts, although we have seen a few fencers who win one pool bout make the cut.
Many 1st year Y14 fencers don't compete at Junior Olympics despite qualifying through regional points at RJCCs. The risk of elimination is high for a 1st year Y14. You need to decide if you want to spend your resources here.
In the 2nd year of Y14, your resources and your fencer's time should focus on the transition to the Cadet level, which means your fencer must participate in RJCCs, and as many national tournaments as possible including the October NAC, November NAC, Junior Olympics, March NAC and Summer Nationals. A few top level Y14 fencers compete in the December NAC, January NAC and April NAC for Division 1 and Junior events.
ROCs are senior competitions at different rating classification levels, they attract not only school age fencers but also adult fencers. The quality of fencing is inconsistent, and they are not the ideal competition practice venue if your fencer's goal is the pursuit of national points. ROCs do represent very good rating classification opportunities though. So, let your fencer compete at a ROC if your fencer wants to qualify for the Summer Nationals Championship in Division 1A, Division 2 or Division 3, or your fencer is seeking a rating classification.
The same reasoning applies to Division 1A, 2 and 3 NACs. There are no national points awarded for these events, and they are primarily rating classification opportunities.
ENJOY THE YOUTH FENCING YEARS
They pass very quickly, and you'll likely look back with nostalgia at the tangled and messy fencing in Y10, or you'll look back with a smile to the beginning of the Y14 years when the universe of fencing opportunities fell wide open for your fencer. It may be stressful at times, when your fencer isn't listening to the coach or your fencer is going through a rough developmental phase, but the hope keeps you going. Every new tournament is a new opportunity for your fencer to do well.
You and your fencer will make a few good friends along the way.
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes.
One of my boys has struggled a bit with batting this travel baseball season. I could tell you every single time where the ball would go–it would be a grounder to short stop! Ugh. And then he would be out at 1st. This was consistent and frustrating–both to him as a player and to us as parents.
My husband offered many tips to get his batting stance to change a bit, and it has taken a number of weeks, a lot of practice and most importantly plenty of analyzing with the help of an app that has allowed our kiddo to get back to hitting consistently to the outfield.
The replay app was key in fixing our player’s batting stance. We could record him at bat and watch it back, in slo-motion. Over and over…seeing what part of his stance needed tweaked.
This is an invaluable resource in any sport–to name a few: the serve in volleyball, the layup in basketball, the quarterback throw in football, the in track and the list goes on and on.
Best Video Apps For Athletes
There are a number of Video Analysis Apps for Athletes available, but these are our favorites.
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes. Coach’s Eye is used to review athlete technique and game film. Coach’s Eye delivers state of the art coaching and content management tools on your mobile devices anytime, anywhere. Record your players and instantly show them how to improve, right on the field. This is the app our family uses and we love it!
What we LOVE about this app: if you are using this for a team, there are great subscription options available that allow for more storage and multiple users.
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes.
Awesome video analysis on the go. You can Instantly review video in slow-motion, zoom into the video, breakdown your videos with still shots and add drawings, voice or text notes and comments.
What we LOVE about this app: the split screen allows you to easily compare two performances at once!
Ubersense Coach (Soon To Be Hudl Technique)
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes.
Record. Analyze. Improve.
Athletes and coaches in over 40 sports use Ubersense to improve through slow motion video analysis. You too can use your iPhone, iTouch or iPad camera to record and breakdown your sporting technique to get instant slow motion feedback during your practice, race or game. Examples include analyzing your batting in super slow motion, comparing your tennis serve side-by-side to a pro athlete or checking your long-jump technique in precise frame-by-frame.
What we LOVE about this app: it’s FREE and has awesome features!
BaM Video Delay
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes.
BaM Video Delay continuously shows you what just happened seconds ago. There is no alternating record or play phase, just continuous playback but with a given delay. This way you get fast and easy accessible video feedback so you can quickly learn on your mistakes and get better in no time.
What we LOVE about this app: basic and simple to use.
Is there part of your sport that needs improving? The easiest way to analyze what needs work is to use one of these Best Video Apps for Athletes.
ReplayCam enables you to play back up to 60 seconds of whatever you’ve just filmed while you continue to film. Use it to check your golf swing, free throw shot, lifting technique, baseball swing or more. Simple operation using just Record and Play buttons enables easy repeat checking so that you can focus 100% on whatever you’re doing.
In the Replay mode, you can select clips for looped playback, or display live visuals in rows to compare and check movement.
What we LOVE about this app: you can post videos to social media and use clips on the computer too!
If your kids play sports, your weekends are filled with chauffeuring little athletes, supplying healthy snacks, and of course, the Search for Missing Cleats. And that leaves only so much time for creative pursuits, like, say, capturing the drama of the season on video.
Try as you might to record the excitement of Little League baseball or Pee Wee soccer, you invariably get home and find that your footage is boring or—worse—unwatchable.
What can you do to raise your game?
Well, we talked to an actual ESPN producer to find out. His name is John Vassallo, and he has kids of his own. He produces the network’s college lacrosse coverage, but he has also shot football, hockey, and wrestling at a variety of levels, including his own kids’ games. In addition to game coverage, he produces shorter pregame segments and online pieces that are actually better templates for a home video.
Though having the right equipment is important (more about that in a moment), Vassallo explains that the difference between amateur efforts and professional-quality storytelling lies in smart planning and a creative outlook.
If people just recalibrate their thinking,” he says, “the results would be exponentially better.”
Ready to try? Here are six pro tips from a big-league talent:
1. Come Up With a Game Plan Before Vassallo heads to a game—for ESPN or a home video—he knows roughly what he’s shooting. You should, too. Take a moment and think: “What do I want to accomplish?”
If you’re hoping for a keepsake to share with relatives and team parents, aim for a video that plays more like a pregame feature. A little action mixed with some casual sideline footage (a team huddle or a pitcher playing catch while warming up) and a few interviews. “There’s a reason why we do these segments,” Vassallo says. “People like them.”
If you’re shooting a video to help with coaching and player development—or even college recruiting—you should record the action using a classic “cover shot.” (See how below.)
Is it a really important game? Vassallo suggests—counterintuitively—that you might want to skip the video entirely and focus all your attention on watching the drama unfold. “You’ll have an indelible memory instead of a mediocre video,” he explains.
Pro tip: Vassallo’s bread-and-butter shot—and it should be yours, too—is what sports producers call a “cover shot.” It’s a medium-wide shot taken from an elevated position around midfield—like the 50-yard line in a football stadium. The goal is to follow the play as it develops. The cover shot can be a great teaching tool, but it’s also the basis for solid game footage.
2. Buy the Right Gear
Shooting sports is demanding, so it pays to invest in a camera that gives you capabilities even the best smartphones lack. If you also want to capture still photos, consider a DSLR with best-in-class video capability, like the Nikon D7200. Instead of buying the package lens, pony up for a telephoto zoom—say, the 70- to 200-mm f/2.8 or the 70- to 300-mm f/4.5—that will allow you to get closer to the action. (An SLR from a company like Nikon gives you the option to rent from a specialty shop a superlong telephoto lens—500 mm or more—like the ones the pros use.)
If you’re strictly video, try a straightforward high-definition camcorder like the Sony HDR-PJ670. Though you lose the versatility of an SLR with interchangeable lenses, the 30x optical lens is much crisper than what you generally find on a smartphone, and the advanced autofocus lets you keep up with the fast-paced action. The camcorder form factor makes it much easier to hold the camera steady, too.
If you enjoy shooting action sports—cycling, skiing, etc.—or want to get more adventurous with camera placement, consider a GoPro Hero4, which provides a wide variety of mounting options. What it lacks in features, it makes up for in ruggedness.
Pro Tip: How you support your camera is every bit as important as which model you choose. That’s why Vassallo recommends using a tripod to minimize the camera shake associated with longer zoom lenses. A single-leg monopod provides adequate support while allowing you to move quickly from place to place.
3. Prepare a Shot List
Once you have the gear in hand, take a few moments to think about how you’re going to execute your game plan. Vassallo suggests sketching a quick shot list. “You’re telling a story, so you want to vary your perspective,” he explains.
If your daughter is pitching a softball game, for example, you might start with a wide “cover shot” from the first- or third-base line. During the next inning, move to the opposite sideline for a tighter shot that focuses on her face or details in her pitching motion. After that, try shooting from behind home plate.
Amateur videographers have a tendency to fall in love with the zoom feature. Don’t stumble into that trap, Vassallo warns. If you want to get closer to the action, use your feet instead. Resist at all cost the temptation to keep zooming in and out during the action. “You’ll make the viewers seasick,” he says.
Pro Tip: You know that big moment when your kid scores a goal or makes a game-saving play? Vassallo’s advice: Forget about it. ESPN deploys a small army of camera operators to record each event, and they still occasionally miss an important shot because they’re not in the right place at the right moment. As the sole camera operator, you’re not going to capture every highlight, no matter how hard you try. “You’ll have hours’ worth of useless game footage,” Vassallo says. “And there’s still a decent chance you’ll miss the big play.”
4. Add Some Color
Once you have a few basic action shots out of the way, it’s time to have some fun. Look for close-up shots on the bench. The decals on your daughter’s batting helmet. Her well-worn glove. The stuffed animal she keeps in her gear bag. Don’t just hit record and stop. Linger on each shot for at least 5 seconds—mouthing the numbers to make sure you get what you need. You probably won’t use that much B-roll footage, but you will at least have the option to stretch scenes out when you’re editing. It’s easy to cut clips down. Making them longer? That’s not possible.
Pro Tip: If you have an action camcorder, take advantage of its versatility. Mount it on the backstop or the back of a soccer goal. At practice, you might even get a player to strap on the camera for a few plays and get a point of view that’s unique and exciting.
5. Ask Questions
It’s pretty hard to produce pro-level sports footage, even if you’re an actual pro like Vassallo. But you do have one big advantage over ESPN: You know the players, the coaches, and the parents. After the game, channel your inner Bob Ley. Pull people aside, point the camera, and ask a few questions.
Remember that big play? You might not have it on film, but you can always ask someone to describe it for you and layer the audio over artsy B-roll footage of a baseball bat or a glove. “So many parents have hundreds of hours of video of their kids playing, but they don’t have even 30 seconds of the coach talking,” Vassallo says. “That’s something that will be priceless when you look at it in 10 years.”
Pro Tip: Don’t overthink the interviews. Just ask open-ended questions. Your goal is to get people talking and telling stories. Don’t get too fancy with the follow ups, either. “'And then what happened?’ is one of the most powerful questions you can ask,” Vassallo says.
6. Edit to Amplify
“We have a saying in the business,” Vassallo says. “Edit to amplify.” To put it another way, less is more. A typical pregame segment that Vassallo produces might be only 2 minutes long. But that’s plenty of time to tell most stories. There’s no reason to come back with enough raw footage to rival “Apocalypse Now.” “Concentrate on quality rather than quantity,” Vassallo suggests. Carry that philosophy into postproduction, where you can use simple editing software like Apple iMovie or Adobe
Premiere Elements to create a tight final cut.
Pro Tip: Even though you’re not shooting the whole game, make sure you film the whole play. Don’t turn off the camera until there’s a natural break in the action: a tackle, a shot on goal, or a line drive to center. “Nothing frustrates me more than action that’s not resolved,” Vassallo says.
Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, has five tips that will transform your endless afternoons of wobbly zooming into mini-movies with gravitas. Deep voice not included.
If you've ever filmed your children playing sports, chances are very good you've never re-watched that forty-five minute tape of eight-year-olds kicking each other in the shins. But it's not your kid's lack of athletic talent that's at issue — it might be your skills as a videographer. As Little League season hits full swing, we sat down with Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, the man who combined John Facenda's "voice of God" narration, Sam Spence's orchestral soundtracks, and slow-motion photography to form the creation myth for America's new national pastime. Herein, his secrets to turn any YouTube dad into a budding auteur.
1. Keep the camera steady.
Tip: The first sign of an amateur filmmaker is a shaky shot. Don't zoom in-and-out. Stay steady, focused, quiet, and completely out of the shot.
"During Super Bowl IV, [Chiefs coach Hank Stram] was like Henny Youngman, delivering one-liners on the sidelines," says Sabol. "His famous quotes — 'They're flat as hell', 'Looks like a Chinese fire drill out there' — almost never made the light of day because I was laughing hysterically, my camera shook and killed the shot. We're very fortunate that our second cameraman didn't find Stram nearly as funny as I did. I almost ruined NFL history. The lesson I learned? Stay focused."
2. Shoot from your knees.
Tip: If you only film at eye level, you're destined to capture ambulances, fork-lifts, concession stands — there's nothing poetic about any of that. But if you shoot from the ground-up, the sky, the clouds, the crowd instill a heroic, dramatic feel.
"There are countless iconic shots that wouldn't have been the same had they not been shot from the knees," says Sabol. "John Riggins's famous touchdown run versus the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII — in that shot, you get Riggins's face, the gritting of his teeth, and the feel and taste of the line of scrimmage. Shot from field level, that moment just isn't the same."
3. Capture the sidelines.
Tip: Consider the action both on and off the playing field, because sometimes the most vibrant emotions get hidden under a helmet.
"The shot we got of Packers coach Mike McCarthy crumbling to his knees after [Arizona Cardinals linebacker] Karlos Dansby returned that interception for a touchdown in last year's playoffs comes to mind," says Sabol. "Sudden death overtime with the ball, and in an instant — the season was over. That shot, taken from behind McCarthy, with the field of play in front of him, said it all."
4. Always be shooting.
Tip: Film is expensive. Video isn't. Capture it all. The best theater is spontaneous theater. You'll miss those moments if you lose the heavy trigger finger.
"Prior to Super Bowl XXII, one of our cameramen followed John Elway from the locker room to the field," says Sabol. "On that walk, Elway dodges a sea of balloons, gets stuck behind a pair of horses, and is trapped behind a marching band. It takes him a few minutes to simply get to the field. We never would have gotten any of that footage had we not let the film run like water."
5. Get the little things, too.
Tip: One of the best ways to capture the human (child's) spirit is to capture the moments that tell a bigger story.
"One of my favorite pieces of footage is a shot we did of Dick Butkus's hands," says Sabol. "We filmed it on a cold day at Wrigley Field in 1967. It's just Butkus's hands, bandaged and bloodied, his ten knuckles covered in contusions. That one shot tells you everything you ever needed to know about Dick Butkus."
Hold Up: You Need to Clean Your Water Bottle *How* Often?
We asked the experts.
A quick scan of the office returning to work after the holidays yielded some interesting findings: enough nifty new lunch containers to inspire some serious meal-planning, and a smattering of shiny new water bottles on many a co-worker's clean and decluttered desks.
Everyone was looking so well-rested and hydrated, so high on being both environmentally-friendly and budget-minded. It got me thinking (as I waited in line to refill my own water glass): How often are these beautiful new reusable water bottles being washed?
I'm not here to point any fingers, but I did see those same bottles sit on desks for days on end, making me wonder whether any potential deleterious side effects could be lurking. I took my curiosity to the professionals to find out the proper cleaning frequency.
"Ideally once per day," according to Dr. Brian Chow, an infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center. "Or have a few bottles that you rotate through, and clean them all at once." He goes on to say that most of the bacteria found on the bottles come from us. "They are bacteria that live in our mouth and throat that our bodies know, and they don’t make us sick. However, if you share bottles with someone else, they may not be used to your bacteria or viruses. The germs that cause strep throat, mononucleosis, colds and the flu, and even bacterial meningitis can be spread by sharing bottles."
Sharing definitely does not mean caring in this case. Got it! But how bad is it really, not to wash these vessels on the daily? "In most cases, people with healthy immune systems will be okay going a day or two between washing bottles," says Dr. Chow, quickly alleviating my concerns. "However, all year round there are germs that can be transferred from other things we touch—door handles, light switches, faucets—to our hands, and then to the bottle, which we then drink out of. A quick wash and scrub at the end of the day and letting the bottle dry overnight is an easy step to keep you healthy while you stay hydrated."
Sounds like completely sound and reasonable advice. Knowing what I know about our readership's preferences for specific water temperatures when washing dishes, you can bet there was a follow-up question. "Water that is hot to the touch is best," explains Dr. Chow. "While it may not kill all the germs directly, it does help dissolve the residue that allow germs to live on plastic and metal. Using soapy water and a scrub brush are as important (this removes the dirt and grime), and also dislodges the germs if they are stuck to the bottle."
It goes without saying, too, to check your bottle manufacturer's specified instructions as to proper cleaning methods. (Psst! Make sure it is, indeed, dishwasher-safe if you've been throwing yours in for a cycle.) I'd also suggest more frequent or thorough cleanings if your water bottle has a special spout with more intricate crevices.
EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FENCING ATHLETE RECRUITMENT
While there are many advantages to participation in the sport of fencing, the most tangible advantage is the potential priority it affords fencers in the college admissions process through athlete recruitment. So the answer to the question, “Can fencing help get me into college? ” is a resounding YES!
Athlete recruitment to NCAA sanctioned college fencing programs is an opportunity available to both top ranked fencers, and dedicated fencers not even on the Junior National Points List. It all depends on which college you want admission to. Fencing can certainly help you bypass the brutally competitive college admissions process.
Many colleges with fencing programs in Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 of the NCAA actively recruit fencers to their programs. There are a total of 46 colleges with NCAA sanctioned fencing programs.
The term athlete recruitment in this blog includes both the hard recruitment by college fencing coaches that result in “Likely Letters” (LL), National Letters of Intent (NLI), and “pink letters”, as well as situations where the college fencing coach strongly supports your college application with the admissions committee, whether at the Early Decision/Early Action stage, or during the regular application cycle.
Before we go further, let’s make sure you and your fencer understand what everyone is getting into when you chase to become a fencing athlete recruit.
Regardless of the prestige that comes with being an athlete recruit, a fencer should make sure that the college in question is a fit in terms of academic pursuits, personality, culture, location and social life. Fencing should not be the only criteria. That said, fencers who thrive in a collaborative team environment will have great fun as part of a NCAA sanctioned fencing program.
Fencers in NCAA sanctioned Division 1 fencing programs generally commit to a schedule of rigorous training five to six days a week during the season. The fencing program’s rigor depends on the college, and there are variations between them. At the elite fencing programs, fencing takes precedence over any other form of college life. So a fencer should make sure that this is what he/she wants to do while in college before making a commitment as an athlete recruit.
The Division 2 and Division 3 fencing programs tend to run less demanding training schedules, but they still afford a fencer an opportunity to train and compete regularly.
NCAA fencing competitions are quite different from US Fencing competitions. It is team based. In NCAA fencing, the emphasis is on 5 point bouts, and the team’s overall performance is dependent on your performance. You can’t have bad pools, and still end up with a medal.
RECOMMENDED BOOK The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, by Jacques Steinberg
While the potential to be recruited into a fencing program sounds great, please remember that there are still limited spots available to college fencing coaches for recruitment to their team. A fencer must be pro-active in seeking out the fencing coaches at the colleges they are interested in, and they must stand out to win a berth.
However, be careful about listening to hearsay about coaches, colleges or whose going where. Stay focused on your goal to get into the college of your choice, and do all the right things to make this happen. There are many moving parts in the fencing athlete recruitment process, and there is no set formula. One person’s athlete recruitment experience, whilst very informative, is not necessarily going to be your experience. So don’t assume an outcome based on someone else’s.
Make sure that you are an academic fit with the college of your choice. The academically elite colleges have very little leeway to accommodate a good fencer with average grades. These academically elite colleges will look further down the Junior Points List for a fencer with outstanding grades rather than admit a top ranked fencer with average grades. There have been instances of top ranked fencers who failed to make the academic cut after letting it be known that they had been recruited to that elite college.
It is also helpful to review the current fencing team roster at the colleges you’re interested in, so you have a good idea how many slots will come open on that team the year you are a freshman. You can download the free FP Handbook of Vital Statistics on NCAA Fencing Teams HERE to get an in-depth view of NCAA fencing rosters.
In other words, do your homework on the colleges and on their fencing programs. This way, you may identify opportunities early and go after them.
BECOMING A FENCING ATHLETE RECRUIT AT A DIVISION 1 NCAA SANCTIONED COLLEGE FENCING PROGRAM
Athlete recruitment onto a NCAA Division 1 fencing team at an academically elite college or a college with an elite Division 1 fencing program is the dream of many high school fencers. It is, however, a privilege accorded to very few fencers every year. Only thirteen colleges fall into this elite group in Division 1, and two of them only have women’s fencing programs. Collectively, they probably recruit about 80 to 100 fencers across all 3 weapons every year.
The 13 colleges include Columbia University (and Barnard College), Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Duke University, Cornell University (women only), Northwestern University (women only), University of Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University.
Those who rank in the top 32, and possibly the top 50 of the Junior Points List during their Junior year in high school stand an excellent chance of being recruited to one of these thirteen colleges. For the academically elite colleges on the list, fencers must meet the academically demanding criteria set by the admissions offices at these colleges. Fencers should expect to meet the average GPA and test scores of incoming students at these elite colleges to gain admission as an athlete recruit.
For purposes of athlete recruitment to one of the thirteen elite programs, the ranking on the Junior National Points List is all that matters for fencers based in the United States. Only fencers in your recruitment year matter for purposes of evaluating who your real competition is. You may be ranked 29, but are really 6th in your recruitment year. That makes a big difference to your odds of recruitment.
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Ranking on the Cadet National Points List is not material in the fencing athlete recruitment process for the elite college fencing programs. For all those parents spending thousands of dollars sending their fencer to designated international cadet events, keep this in mind when deciding how many tournaments to send your fencer to. Unless your fencer medals at a Cadet and Junior World Championship, but for some reason doesn’t rank well on the Junior Points List, the recruiting coach at an elite fencing program won’t be paying attention to a fencer’s cadet points.
The elite colleges do recruit foreign fencers, and the performance of these foreign fencers in major international tournaments like the Cadet and Junior World Championships are critical in their recruitment evaluation.
Take note that while college fencing coaches may have some very elite fencers on their radar for several years, they are not always aware of the full universe of fencers they can recruit from in any given year.
For fencers who are late bloomers, it is very important to keep the coach informed of your fencing advances. If you have been off the radar, but are quickly progressing up the Junior Points List, it is important to highlight this progress to the coaches at the colleges you are interested in.
While there are very strict NCAA rules governing contact (face-to-face and electronic) between college fencing coaches and potential recruits, there is nothing to stop the fencer from initiating electronic or phone contact in the fencer’s Junior year in high school. A fencer can email the coach at a college they are interested in, express their interest in joining the fencing team and forward regular updates on his/her fencing and academic performance. The coach may respond and maintain a dialog so long as it is initiated by the fencer.
The fencing athlete recruitment process generally starts during a fencer’s Junior year in high school. NCAA rules allow electronic and phone contact between coaches and fencers in a fencer’s Junior year in high school (effective September 1 of Junior year), though all contact must be initiated by the fencer. Face-to-face recruitment discussions (at national tournaments) are against NCAA rules and not allowed. The one exception is the unofficial college visit where a fencer can talk to the coach about the program, but may not talk specifically about recruitment. Face-to-face contact is allowed beginning at Summer Nationals between a fencer’s Junior and Senior year in high school.
Despite all these restrictions, the top ranked fencers mostly have indications of strong interest for recruitment by the time Summer Nationals between Junior and Senior year rolls around. Their academic pre-reads with admissions have by and large been done too.
Fencers not amongst the privileged few, but are still within striking distance of being an athlete recruit, should work hard to set up meetings with coaches at Summer Nationals between Junior and Senior year in high school. You want to put yourself in front of the coach so you can best explain why you would be a great fit for the team, and share your fencing and academic achievements. Sometimes, earlier “commitments” fall through because a fencer chose to go to another college or did not meet the academic bar. You want to be in the right place to pick up that vacant spot. So, it’s not over till its over.
For fencers who don’t meet the admission criteria to these thirteen elite colleges, there are thirteen more colleges with Division 1 NCAA sanctioned fencing programs as well 20 more colleges in Division 2 and Division 3 where a fencer can pursue athlete recruitment. The recruitment programs at these colleges are not as aggressive or as well known.
Fencers ranked lower on the Junior Points List or not ranked at all (but are rated) have a shot at being recruited. Demonstrating your fencing chops and meeting the academic requirements at these colleges is still very important. Your rating classification matters, as well as your finishes at NACs and national championship events, and your performances as regional events of note (events with an A2 classification). If you have a good record of 5-4 pool bouts, you may want to share this data with the coach.
BECOMING AN ATHLETE RECRUIT AT A DIVISION 2 OR DIVISION 3 NCAA SANCTIONED COLLEGE FENCING PROGRAM
There are five colleges in Division 2. Take note that the University of California, San Diego moves to Division 1 in the academic year 2020/2021.
There are currently fifteen colleges with Division 3 fencing programs, with one more joining the group in academic year 2019/2020.
Most of these 20 colleges recruit fencers to their fencing programs. And you do not need to be on the Junior National Points List to be a viable recruit.
There are several academically elite colleges within Division 2 and Division 3, including Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Haverford College, California Institute of Technology, Vassar College (women only), Wellesley College (women only), Brandeis University and University of California, San Diego.
As with the thirteen elite fencing programs, it is important for fencers to approach the fencing coaches to express their interest in joining the team, and keep the coach informed of fencing and academic performance over time.
While you do not need to be on highly ranked on the Junior Points List to be a viable recruit to a Division 2 or Division 3 program, you still must demonstrate your fencing chops. Your rating classification matters, as well as your finishes at NACs and national championship events, and your performances as regional events of note (events with an A2 classification). If you have a good record of 5-4 pool bouts, you may want to share this data with the coach.
The timetable for recruitment to a Division 2 or Division 3 fencing program may be different than the Division 1 recruitment timetable. Fencers may have to wait till Summer Nationals between Junior and Senior year for coaches to really pay attention to them, and move the recruitment process forward through supported Early Decision/Early Action applications.
RECOMMENDED BOOK The Thinking Student's Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education (Chicago Guides to Academic Life), by Andrew Roberts
WALKING-ON TO A NCAA FENCING TEAM These actions don’t help with admission to college, but they do enable you to keep fencing while in college if that’s your desire.
For fencers able to gain admission to college on their academic merits alone, it is still open for them to ‘walk-on”, with the coach’s permission, to an NCAA sanctioned fencing team at their college. To get an early read on this possibility, fencers can always approach the coach in advance, and indicate their interest in joining the fencing team should they gain admission to the college. The training commitments still apply if they join a team that works very hard throughout the year.
JOINING A COLLEGE FENCING CLUB
College fencing clubs are not NCAA sanctioned, and are instead formed under the umbrella of the United States Associate of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC).
There are currently 52 collegiate fencing clubs that are members of USACFC. including many academically elite colleges. USACFC hosts its own championship competitions and anoints its own champions. USACFC boa
sts that it hosts the largest collegiate fencing competition in the world.
USACFC fencing clubs have no bearing or influence whatsover on college athlete recruitment or college admissions. You join the club after you gain admission on your academic merits.
For fencers not so keen to revolve their college experience around fencing, going to a college with a USACFC collegiate fencing club may really give them the best of both worlds!
Here is the link for this article with other information:
Do you want to fence in college? Think about these helpful ideas as you search for a college to attend.
Twenty Questions to Help Athletes Find Their Best College Match
To parents, academics may be the most important aspect of determining the best college match. For high school students, it may be the first thing they push to the side.
Athletes are really not that much different than non-athletes when it comes to choosing a college.
There are plenty of options, and finding the one that will most completely meet their needs means looking at more than just sport and major. From campus life to travel time to classes, weather and culture fit, there’s a lot to consider. And, often, students don’t even know what they want in a college experience.
To help student-athletes better understand their best college match, you can start by asking them the right questions. Here are 20 questions to better gauge their academic and cultural fit that will help them to start building a list of potential schools.
P.S. — it might be tempting to try grinding through all 20 questions at once. But you’ll likely get a lot of eye rolls and, “Ugh, I don’t know!” responses. Instead, ask a couple questions at a time and keep track of the answers in a notebook. That way, you can refer back when you need to.
To parents, academics may be the most important aspect of determining best college match. For high school students, it may be the first thing they push to the side. These questions help narrow down schools where your student would thrive academically.
1. What do you want to major in?
2. Would you be willing to adjust your major?
3. Do you want to be taught by full-time professors or graduate students?
4. Which type of classes do you prefer: lecture style or discussion style?
5. Will your major require an internship?
6. Do you want to take classes that interest you or would you like to stick to your major?
7. Is the prestige/reputation of the college important to you?
8. Do you fulfill the academic requirements to be accepted?
When students go to college, most of them will be living on their own for the first time. They need to feel at home in their university, surrounded by students they connect with. Campus culture refers to the type of students at the campus, the location, physical attributes of the campus and what stands out in the student body.
9. Are you more interested in a social campus, a commuter campus (where students tend to go home on the weekends) or a quiet campus?
10. How far away from home would you like to be?
11. Would you prefer to go to a school where you already know a lot of people?
12. What are your weather-related deal breakers?
13. Do need a lot of green space?
14. Do you prefer to be in a large city?
15. Would you like a religious university?
16. What kinds of extracurricular or social activities are you interested in?
17. Do you want to be surrounded by people who share your viewpoint?
18. Do you want a diverse environment?
19. Do you like seeing people you know around campus every day?
20. What specific experiences do you want to have in college (e.g., studying abroad)?
College is a big investment. As a parent you need to be realistic about what colleges are feasible from a financial standpoint. Ask yourself these questions to make sure you — and your student — know where things stand financially.
1. How much are you willing to pay for college and how much responsibility will fall on your student?
2. Does your student qualify for any scholarships or financial aid?
3. Will your student be supporting themselves while at college? Is the college town’s cost of living realistic?
4. Will your student need to participate in a work-study program or similar arrangement to help cover the cost of tuition?
5. Are you and/or your student willing to take out college loans? How much?
Starting with these questions can help your family start a list of potential colleges, and then from there, you can add athletic fit to further trim down your choices. Remember, you don’t have to restrict your search to four-year schools. Many junior colleges offer competitive sports programs and can be a stepping stone to a four-year college or university.
The above article is from: Sports Engine Community
Youth sport advice tends to focus on improving athlete nutrition and training. But even in a “fun” league, sometimes the most harmful stressors aren’t in athlete’s bodies, but in their heads.
For many kids, sports provide their first taste of anxiety: the stress of taking a game-tying free throw, the tension of running the anchor leg of a relay, or just butterflies in the stomach before a big game.
Anyone who has played sports has probably experienced sport performance anxiety, sometimes called ‘choking,’ at one point or another. But with their brains and self-awareness still developing, sports can be particularly stressful on the minds of youth athletes. This also means it can be especially challenging for parents and coaches to try and soothe these nerves.
The most serious sport anxiety can also make kids lose interest in playing sports altogether. Thankfully, the growing field of sport psychology has given parents, coaches, and athletes ways to understand and calm the pre-game jitters.
What Causes Sport Performance Anxiety
Mental stress on gameday is typically rooted in at least one of several factors. Many of these have more to do with everything surrounding the game, before and after, than the actual game itself.
Having an audience (particularly one that is loving and supportive): Athletes can become overly self-aware of every decision and play they make when they’re on the athletic stage.Fear of disappointing others: Even when a parent or coach is supportive, athletes may be anxious about disappointing them.High expectations: Every athlete wants to do their best, but internal self-talk might create stress when they set expectations that anything less than a perfect play is failure.Post-game analysis: Whether it is from a coach, parent, teammate, or themselves, the post-game analysis weighs on an athlete’s mindset.Recovering from an injury: After an athlete gets hurt, it can take a long time to restore their confidence.
How Youth Athletes Can Cope
Sport anxiety’s kryptonite is preparation. Athletes should arrive early and go through the same warm-up routines they do in practice. During warm-ups, they should try and visualize themselves playing well while taking some deep, slow breaths. This will put their heads in a focused and relaxed place.
During the game, focusing on the next play, rather than the result, will help keep athletes in the moment. Another simple trick to stay relaxed, even in high-pressure moments, is to smile. If you go through the physical motions of having fun, the mind will follow!
What Coaches and Parents Can Do
Parents and coaches can help reduce sport performance anxiety with the language they use before, during, and after games. Be wary of only praising athletes when things go right – a good rule of thumb to avoid adding stress is to praise effort instead of the result. As a coach, it can help to avoid instruction that adds extra pressure to a game situation (e.g., “we have to score on this next series!”).
Studies have shown that we stay out of our heads more when performing actions we might describe as “muscle memory.” At practice, having athletes do many repetitions of the movements they will be expected to do on gameday (e.g., fielding ground balls) is a good way to ensure they become second nature.
Coaches can also simulate game-type pressure in practice by playing music or recorded crowd noise, having parents stay to watch, or adding in other elements that will get athletes used to performing under stress. It’s important to make sure athletes are familiar with and confident in the strategies that are going to be used on gameday.
As a parent, be sure to keep specific post-game comments positive and remember that the time to make corrections is at the next practice, not immediately after a game in the car ride home.
Ask any fencer who has switched from a regular shoe to a fencing shoe and they will tell you that fencing shoes are so much better. With the holidays coming up they make a great gift idea. Shoes may be ordered directly from http://stores.thefencingpost.com/
Here is an article that was recently updated from fencing.net that gives an excellent comparison of the variety of shoes available.
The Comprehensive Guide to Fencing Shoes
Posted on November 2, 2016
JUST WHAT ARE THE BEST FENCING SHOES?
What are the best shoes for fencing? Do you need to purchase high-end fencing shoes, or can you go with a budget model?
Updated for the 2018-2019 Fencing season.
One of the most asked questions in the Fencing.Net forums seems to concern fencing shoes. Just what are the best shoes for fencing and what type of shoes should you get, should the top-end fencing shoes be out of your budget range?
First, keep in mind the dynamics of the sport. Fencing requires sudden changes of direction and the fencing lunge exerts a force of up to 7 times the fencers’ body-weight onto their leading heel.
When asked, fencers say they want shoes that are low to the ground and give them a good “feel” for the strip. Fencers also demand lateral stability in their shoes to accommodate the changes of direction.
Many epee and foil fencers also demand good cushioning at the ball of the foot due to the amount of bouncing that they do in setting up for points. (Just watch a few videos of high-level epee fencing for examples.)
In 2008, Nike released their answer to the fencing shoe question – all based on 18 months of research. That research found the following:
Fencing has among the highest force applied to heel of lead foot in all sports. Up to 7x body weight. Close to the level of impact of a big man (like Shaq) after a dunk!The trailing foot takes a lot of damage.The lunge impacts the foot at an extreme angle: up to 45 degreesFencers spend a lot of time on their forefoot when in preparation
This means that the shoes need to have:
Good heel cushioning set at an angle to the heel strike of the lungeFlexible uppers and sole to be comfortable when in preparation and “bouncing”Durable inner edge to deal with foot drag on the lunge, especially with metal stripsTraction: wood floors and gyms.
Keep in mind that NACs and larger tournaments are held with fencing strips on top of a concrete floor with minimal padding.
SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR FENCING SHOES:
The following is a quick summary of the most popular fencing shoes on the market today. If you want more detail, continue reading to get a better feel for the full range of options out there!
Top of the Market: Nike Fencing Shoes – $175 Mid Market: Adidas D’Artagnan V – $135 Budget Fencing Shoe: Adidas EnGarde – $69 (FRFC does not recommend this for ages 14 and up) Budget Non-Fencing Shoe: Asics Gel Rocket- $40-$80
WHAT TYPE OF FENCING SHOES SHOULD I GET?
Different fencers have some different (and sometimes conflicting) needs in fencing shoes. Before deciding on a pair, you need to know:
1. Budget 2. Age 3. Level of competition
Age and budget run hand in hand. Young kids are either going to destroy their shoes or outgrow them. You’ll have to look at the number of training hours and how hard they are on their fencing shoes to gauge which model is going to be the best value.
The higher the level of competition, the better shoe you’ll want to buy – mainly for durability on metal strips and for better cushioning and traction at those national events. If you are purchasing fencing shoes for your child, keep in mind that you need to get the pair that are going to last, while also being the best for them and their training schedules. An 11 year old that trains 3 to 5 times per week and is traveling nationally is going to burn through the low end shoes, so they’ll need more than one pair per season.
HOW LONG SHOULD FENCING SHOES LAST?
Most shoes in other sports are targeted to last for a single competition season in that sport. It’s easy for seasonal sports like baseball for kids where you’ll be swapping out cleats each season as your kid’s feet grow.
In fencing, there are overlapping seasons between the youth, junior, and senior ranks and many kids compete across age groups, which muddles the lines between seasons. The top brands are targeting shoes that have the internal cushioning lasting 9 to 12 months.
For youth fencers with a moderate training schedule, the kids will outgrow even the basic shoes before wearing them out. Of course, some clubs have a more intense training schedule which will impact your shoe budget.
Durability on the outsoles of fencing shoes is highly variable depending on the level of activity and the fencing conditions in the fencer’s club.
A fencer who is training 2-3 hours 4 days per week plus local events and NACs will burn through a pair of shoes much faster than the fencer who trains 2 hours for 3 days per week and only goes to one tournament per month.
A fencer who has the more active training schedule should shy away from the “beginner” shoes: the AF Elite and MVPs as those will wear out quickly with a lot of training hours. Opt for something on the higher end for more durability.
SIZING CONCERNS FOR FENCING SHOES:
Another thing to keep in mind with fencing shoes is that they are made in men’s sizes only. This creates issues for the women in the sport since you’ll have to do some conversions to get from a women’s foot/shoe size to pick out the appropriate men’s size. This is mainly due to the size of fencing as a sport. We’re hoping that fencing gets large enough to get manufacturers to design shoes specific for women. Until then, it’s up to you to do the appropriate size conversions.
Most fencing shoes run on the narrow side. The various house-brand shoes, PBT, and Adidas all run narrow, so they’re usually one size different. (A woman looking for a women’s US size 7 would order a men’s 6.) The Hi-Tec/Leon Paul and Nike shoes are a little wider, so that conversion is usually 1.5 sizes different (where our women’s 7 would get the men’s 5.5.)
The best thing is to try on the shoes, or order a couple of pair in different sizes and then returning the ones that don’t fit. If possible, its generally a good idea to time buying your first pair of shoes with a tournament large enough for a fencing equipment vendor presence. This way, you can try on a few in person and pick up the pair you like best.
THE RUNDOWN ON SOME COMMON MODELS OF FENCING SHOES:
Nike Air Fencing Shoe, AKA the Nike Ballestra
Yes. Nike has a fencing shoe.
This is the fencing shoe of choice at the FdN offices. The Nikes run at the top end of the fencing shoe price range and come in at $175. The shoes have a ton of research and design behind them and were launched with the 2008 Olympic Games.
The retail version of these shoes is in a white/gray/black model with some colors that were made available to NCAA collegiate teams. The various other colorways are still available from some vendors, though availability is not consistent.
For more information, see our official Fencing.net Nike Fencing Shoe Review, which includes more details, pricing info and where you can currently buy these shoes.
In terms of weight, the Nike shoes are currently tied with or slightly lighter than the most recent Adidas line of fencing shoe, the D’Artagnans.
Adidas Fencing Pro
The Adidas Fencing Pro was launched in advance of the 2016 Olympic Games and was generally intended to be an answer to Nike’s cornerstone shoe. It features an abrasion-resistant exterior for durability, rounded medial zones for ease of lunging, and multidirectional grip for quick movement changes. Its available in black/white and salmon/white colorway options.
The common consensus seems to be that they feel very much like a court shoe and could be used for other sports like badminton just as easily as fencing. For those who prefer court shoes, this is likely a great thing, as its a court shoe with fencing touches. For those who don’t, this shoe will likely not be worth the price due to the lack of other niceties that come with other shoes.
Adidas D’Artagnan IV
The D’Artagnan IV was launched in 2010 and is still Adidas’ most popular dedicated fencing shoe. The shoe looks like a bit of a Frankenstein. The back half is white and the forefoot is black. The inside edge of the shoe features the traditional leather layer (as opposed to the synthetic materials used by Nike) and Adidas has really worked on the weight of the shoe. This shoe has been very popular, mainly due to the $115 – $125 price point in the market. Recently, Adidas released the D’Artagnan V, resulting in a price drop on the IV and reduced availability, but it is still generally out there for purchase.
They’re not the most durable shoe, but it’s an Adidas shoe so there’s a lot of fencing knowledge there. Adidas has been producing fencing shoes for longer than anyone else in the space. They really took their lumps from the D’Art 3 and delivered a much better shoe with the 4. (The D’Artagnan III was really a re-badged tennis shoe and did not hold up very well for fencers.)
Adidas D’Artagnan V
The D’Artagnan V was launched in early 2017 and replaced the IV version of the product line. Its still a little early to get a feel for the shoe’s durability, but it is generally viewed as an incremental improvement over the D’Artagnan IV. Comfort, durability and weight have all been slightly improved.
Hi-Tec Razor Shoes
The Razor is the latest model of fencing shoe from the Leon Paul/Hi-Tec joint venture and are only available for purchase from Leon Paul. They straddle the line between high end and budget fencing shoes, with a number of high end features with a $100 price tag. Notably, they are made primarily of moisture wicking material, have offset lacing to protect the laces from abrasion, and an extra heel cup for heel protection.
BUDGET FENCING SHOES:
These are the entry-level cheap fencing shoes. These are all under $100 and trying to get as close to the $50 price point as they can.
AF Elite 2017
The AF Elite 2017 is the third generation of the Elite line of fencing shoes from Absolute Fencing Gear. The NJ manufacturer offers this shoe all the way down to a size 3 to get into the kid’s market. The shoes run on the narrow / small side, so those with wide feet may need to order a half size up. These are basic, value shoes that will certainly last longer on a strip than a non-fencing or street shoe. Those who are hard on shoes or train an intense schedule will likely eat these up faster than once per season.
Blue Gauntlet MVP Product Line
The MVP III are Blue Guantlet’s $69 Shoe
Blue Gauntlet is targeting the beginner and youth market with their MVP line of fencing shoes. There are three models ranging from $50 to $70 in price. In general, these are a reasonably good entry level shoe. They’re priced around the same as a non-fencing court shoe but provide the extra features that benefit fencing’s needs. They have good fencing-specific shock absorption and improved protection in common wear spots. The main downside is that they’re going to wear out faster than some of the more expensive options.
WHAT ARE THE BEST NON-FENCING SHOES FOR FENCING?
It’s tough when you have to shell out $120 – $175 every 9-12 months for new shoes. It’s worse when you’re one of those fencers who are notoriously hard on shoes. For that reason, many fencers have turned to their local sporting goods store to find a decent non-fencing shoe that meets the demands of fencing while still providing a good value.
There are some types of shoes to look for and some to make sure to avoid.
The most popular shoes to use have been court shoes. These are shoes made for sports like raquetball, squash, and even volleyball. Those sports feature lots of lateral motion and lunging actions. This means that they will be low to the ground and have cushioning set up for the heel strike (for your front foot) as well as the lateral stability for side to side motion (for your back foot).
Nike Indoor Volleyball Shoe
We had a fencer test this shoe out and she loved it. The gum soles are great for a wood floor fencing club and they held up reasonably well at NACs. The shoe was used for just about a full season of training and competition at the NACs and Junior Olympics before being retired in favor of the Nike Ballestras.
Asics Gel Rocket
The Asics make a decent shoe if you’re on a budget. The Asics have been reported to work out fine as a fencing shoe, but their durability is suspect on rough metal strips. Older models have actually had the gel come out of the sole after extremely intense use on metal strips! They’re reported to be a bit heavier than other shoes in their class. Epee fencers in particular tend to prefer these shoes more than the other weapons.
Adidas Stabil series
The Adidas Stabil series can be seen in many epee tournaments.
The Stabil has received the rave reviews from fencers on the forums, but the entire series has been pretty well received. These are a staple in the epee fencing community. The wide foot base and thin sole (relative to other court shoes) allow for a good “feeling” of the strip and fast direction changes.
A typical review quote (for the Stabil Vs):
“These shoes, in one word, rock. I will never again use a traditional fencing shoe. Good cushion, etc, and they’ve suffered 1 year of heavy usage on “cheesegrater” aluminum strips without complaint. I replace the insoles about every 6 months, but other than that, no upkeep. I love these things”
The Stabil line has a number of models, many of which are simultaneously in production and widely available from many sports retailers and shoe stores.
Yonex Badminton shoes
The Yonex Badmiton shoes are generally well-cushioned for the explosive moves you see on both the badminton court and fencing strip. They have grippy soles. They have great lateral support and sufficient toe protection. They’re reported to be a pretty good shoe if you can find them. Luckily, Amazon has started to carry them as of late (they used to be much tougher to get your hands on). Not many people are using these, but those who do pick up a pair are reporting good results. If you do decide to grab a pair for yourself, report back on your experiences on the Fencing.net Forums!
SHOES TO AVOID:
Any “fencing” shoe made by a major fashion designer.
There are “fencing” shoes out there by some major designers. When you take a look at them, they resemble fencing shoes and that’s because they are fashion (read: walking about town) shoes that were inspired by the sport of fencing.
There is absolutely nothing in the shoe designed to hold up to athletic performance or usage. Wear them out on the town, but take them off in the fencing club.
Friends don’t let friends fence in wrestling shoes.
Some misguided souls take a look at wrestling shoes and say “hey, that’s *really* low to the ground, I’ll really feel the strip in those” and they get them. A couple of weeks later they’re complaining about foot, knee, and lower back pain.
Wrestling shoes are made to be used when competing on a 2 inch thick mat. Nothing about that says “durability on a strip” or “heel cushioning for a lunge.” Avoid wrestling shoes at all cost. If you see someone at your fencing club suited up to fence and wearing wrestling shoes, put them in a 3/4 nelson, pin them to the floor, and make them go put on something suitable.