Has your young child been fencing for a while, enjoys the sport, but struggles to keep up with other students?
Many parents have been in your shoes, and just like you, they’ve looked for ways to help their kids practice fencing at home so they can perform well at the club. You’re probably wondering if there are any drills or fencing games you can borrow from your child’s instructor. Even though it’s completely understandable that you’d want to do that, it’s not the best idea.
If your child is a beginner, the best thing you can do is get them involved in fencing-related exercises and activities that will lay the foundation for future improvements and a deeper passion for the sport. That approach will help them become healthier people and better fencers who are always eager to learn more.
Why Can’t We Do Fencing Practice At Home?
Before we get to those at-home exercises, you’re probably wondering why your kid shouldn’t do fencing practice at home.
We’ve already acknowledged that your child is struggling to keep up. That means they have some bad habits that keep them from progressing. They’ll likely replicate those bad habits when practicing at home, and they won’t have a fencing coach around to correct them. Reinforcing those bad habits will make them much harder to replace, and that will just lead to more frustration.
Let your child’s coach replace their bad habits with good ones. Once the coach confirms that the right habits are entrenched, your kid has our blessing to practice fencing at home!
Until then, the best thing you can do is get them involved in fencing-adjacent exercises that encourage good habits. That includes everything from conditioning their bodies, giving them the mental tools needed for good fencing, and helping them acquire a passion for the sport.
Building A Strong Foundation For Good Fencing Habits
How do you get your kid’s body, mind, and spirit in shape for fencing? With activities that are seemingly unrelated to fencing, but actually foster fencing skills!
Cross Training for Fencing
The best way to get your child’s body in shape for fencing is with physical exercise that works the muscle groups that the sport engages, otherwise known as cross training. We’re not recommending that your child go to a gym. You can have them do simple exercises that don’t require any equipment, such as:
- Jumping jacks
- Jump rope
You can even have them pick up other sports that involve the same muscle groups that fencing engages. Examples of these include:
Supplemental Activities For Fencing
Good fencing also requires certain mental skills, and that’s where non-sporting activities come into play. Below you’ll find a brief list of the skills that every good fencer has and some practices that will foster those traits in your child.
Tactical & Strategic Thinking
Have them pick up chess to master staying two steps ahead of their opponent, planning their actions based on what their opponent does, and having an overall game plan.
Focusing on the Present
Help them practice mindfulness so they can focus on fencing well instead of obsessing over the score, focus on their opponent instead of their surroundings, and react to what their opponent actually does rather than what they expect them to do.
Recognizing Timing, Tempo, and Rhythm
Enroll them in dance or music lessons so they can gain a better understanding of how to time their fencing actions, learn to use tempo to set up attacks, and figure out how to recognize and disrupt their opponent’s rhythms.
Encourage them to start journaling so they can get in the habit of reflecting on their fencing actions and examining their opponent’s habits.
Fostering their passion for fencing is critical. Fencing practice can be hard, and loving the sport will keep them from quitting. Here are three ways you can foster that passion:
- Watch YouTube Videos: Have them watch videos of national and international tournaments. Seeing the pros fence is inspiring and exposes them to techniques they might want to try.
- Fencing Movies: Yes, let them devour The Princess Bride! Other swordplay movies you might consider include The Three Musketeers, The Legend of Zorro, and Wonder Woman.
- Backyard Swordplay: Let them break out the toy swords, throw away the fencing rules, and just go at it! (Bruises are optional.)
Putting all those exercises and activities together will guarantee a solid foundation for your child’s fencing. But as you’ve probably guessed, you shouldn’t overwhelm them with too many supplementary activities.
The drive to practice at home and succeed must come from your child, so we recommend starting with the fun things, a couple supplementary activities and exercises, and making all of it a family affair. Eventually, they’ll take the initiative. And under the guidance of you and their coach, they’ll begin to win bouts, learn from their losses, and love fencing more and more.