Updated: Jul 20, 2020
You know the routine when you show up at a tournament. You’ve listened to your coach’s instructions, you’ve gone through the checklist of equipment https://sabrecoachkate.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/tournamentchecklist2.pdf and you’ve completed the first few steps to tournament success https://sabrecoachkate.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/fencing-newbie-seven-steps-to-tournament-success/. You get to Step Five: Find a place to warm up, only to discover that the venue is packed and there are no available strips to use for warmup or practice. What can you do?
1. Think outside the warmup box
Fencing teaches us how to solve problems quickly and to be creative in the face of challenges. You don’t HAVE to warm up on a fencing strip. Mobile stretches, footwork, and bladework drills can all be done in a hallway or room outside the venue. Weather and temperature permitting, you can also do all of that outdoors. The only real problem will be that you can’t necessarily do warmup bouting safely in a place outside the venue. If you do decide to spar elsewhere, make sure you’re not presenting a danger to the public or that you’re using “weapons” in a place that will make people nervous. Also make sure to have a parent, coach, or teammate know where you are so they can find you quickly if the event is going to start soon.
2. Engage your mind with technology
YouTube has all kinds of fencing videos that you can watch to help you get in the fencing mood. Watching fencing can be a good mental warmup if you don’t turn it into a passive “that was a cool touch” session. Make sure to really concentrate on specific things such as footwork, crisp bladework, setups, and off-the-line actions. Put yourself into the place of one of the fencers on the strip and see if you can predict the next move they’ll make. See where they make mistakes. Pay attention to where they like to hit and how they like to attack. If you have videos of your own fencing, even better. Remind yourself of your strong and and weak actions.
3. Use your head
If there’s no additional room anywhere for physical movement and your technology has failed you, there’s always the space between your ears. Visualization can be a powerful tool to prepare you for competition. It is by far the most difficult because it takes practice and discipline to stay focused long enough for it to be effective. If you do visualizations well enough, you can actually get your heartrate up and begin to sweat–just like during a physical warmup. Imagine yourself in a variety of situations on the strip…on the en garde line, on offense, on defense. “Practice” your strong actions and your weak ones. Imagine yourself across from a weak opponent and the one who scares you the most. Most importantly, visualize strength and success.
A proper warm-up is crucial to tournament success. Don’t let a lack of space keep you from performing your best at a competition. And don’t show up on strip and use your first few pool bouts to warm up. You’ll be digging yourself a hole that will make it harder to be successful during DEs. Not only that, but at National level competitions with a 20% cutoff, you might not even make it out of pools if you don’t warm up properly. Trust me, I know 🙂 https://sabrecoachkate.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-i-didnt-make-the-cut-today-a-summer-nationals-saga/
What are things that you do to help you warm up and get ready for competition? Comment below!