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Fencing for Parents

Welcome to the thrilling world of fencing — a sport that combines the grace of ballet, the strategy of chess and the speed of the 100-meter dash!

Picture this: the clashing of blades, the agility of footwork, and the ultimate test of wits and reflexes. Fencing is a sport steeped in history, drama, romance and art — offering the physical rigor your child craves, alongside a mental workout that keeps their intellect sharp.

The Youth Program: Future Champions Fence Here

USA Fencing's Youth Program offers an unbeatable introduction to one of the safest yet most captivating sports around. Our program is designed to cultivate discipline, balance, coordination and — most importantly — good sportsmanship. The bonus? Your child will develop lightning-fast reflexes and the ability to make quick tactical decisions on their feet!

Thanks to the trailblazing efforts of American youth since the first national youth tournament in 1985, our fencers have become sought-after talents by college coaches nationwide.

Benefits of Fencing

Fencing isn't just about the bout. It's a holistic approach to character building. Your child will learn the importance of teamwork, the nobility of accepting defeat, the joy of victory and the unparalleled benefit of physical fitness.

Above all, fencing hones their analytical skills — teaching them how to think critically, solve problems and make quick decisions.

Your Role as a Fencing Parent

Your role is crucial in your child's fencing journey. From being their primary motivator to the arbiter of good sportsmanship, your influence goes a long way.

The key: Be consistent with your support — celebrate their wins, help them learn from losses, and encourage them to set and achieve their own goals. Your attitude can make all the difference!

It's important to let your fencer establish their own goals and play the game for themselves. That means avoiding the urge to impose your own goals or the coach’s goals on your child.

“Success,” sometimes interpreted as “winning,” comes at different ages for each fencer. Success in youth fencing is achieved if the program helps the child love fencing. 

At fencing tournaments, take time to meet new people, visit different cities and explore outside the competition space. Many lasting friendships have been formed between fierce competitors — and their families. Enjoy the full experience of competition by taking advantage of all the opportunities for growth.

A Quick Breakdown

Whether you're familiar with a "piste" or still wondering which of the weapons is an "epee," you're in for a thrill.

Your fencer will compete on a metal fencing strip, aiming to outscore their opponent within various time limits, based on their age group and the event in which they're participating. Points are registered electronically, ensuring fair play and quick results.

For a closer look at the rules, go here.

Bring Your Patience

Fencing tournaments generally take all day. Unless your fencer does not move up from the initial rounds (pools), you can expect to spend a great deal of time in the venue. Be patient.

The Bout Committee (BC) is working to get your fencer's event moving as quickly as possible. Bring something to help you pass the time — a book, knitting, a personal computer, etc. Comfortable shoes are a must as you will be "on alert" during the entire competition, at least until you become accustomed to the tempo of the competitive day.

And Bring This Stuff, Too

Prepare for the event with the necessary fencing equipment, detailed in its own section below. Other important items for parents include: snacks, medical insurance card, emergency contacts, small bills, credit/debit card, books or hobbies, Band-Aids, batteries, Sharpie, ice packs, water bottle, hair ties, camera/tripod, chargers, and other essentials for your fencer's well-being.

Different Tournament Levels

Your fencer will start with tournaments at the club and then local level. 

After that, they may be ready to move to a regional tournament, which offers fencers a platform for gaining experience and competing against athletes from their region and other regions.

If your child is showing consistent performance and improvement locally, they may be ready for a national tournament. These include North American Cups (NACs), Junior Olympics and National Championships. Check the entry rules and qualifying paths in the Athlete Handbook and ensure to send entry forms in a timely manner to avoid late fees.

Next, athletes with a certain national ranking may qualify for international events like World Cups and Cadet European Cups. All entries for World Cups must be submitted through USA Fencing, and most athletes are responsible for their own expenses.

What Equipment Fencers Need

Equipment selection is critical for both safety and performance. Below is a list of minimum required equipment that you should check and recheck for functionality:

  • Mask (sewn‐in bib, must pass 12K punch test)
  • Underarm protector
  • Breast Protector (mandatory for women)
  • Jacket (no holes, must close in back or opposite weapon arm)
  • Lamé
  • Knickers (no holes, must close in back or opposite weapon arm, must be overlapped by jacket by at least four inches. 
  • Glove (no holes except for body cord. Must cover approximately half the forearm)
  • Long socks (white, must reach bottom of your knickers‐soccer socks work well)
  • Fencing shoes or sneakers
  • Minimum two working weapons (epees must pass weight and shim test)
  • Y10 fencers must use weapons with blades that are no longer than 32.5 inches. This includes both genders, and all three weapons.
  • Minimum two working body cords
  • Fencing bag (to carry your equipment in)
  • Water Bottle
  • Towel and plastic bag to hold wet equipment
  • Tool Kit (screwdrivers for tip and pommel, spare screws, springs, Allen wrenches, small white cloth to use at base, small magnet, flashlight)
  • Test Box and weight and shims will help avoid penalties on the strip for nonworking equipment

Make sure all of your equipment is clearly labeled.

Washing Equipment

Maintenance of your fencing attire is crucial. Masks can be washed in dishwashers (alone), and lamés can be spray rinsed and drip-dried. Gloves and socks can be washed normally.

Bill of Rights for Young Athletes

We believe youth have the right to:

  • Be treated with dignity by all involved. 
  • Fence as a child and not as an adult. 
  • Fence regardless of skill level.
  • Fence at a level that is commensurate with each child’s development. 
  • Fence in a safe and healthy environment.
  • Have the proper preparation for fencing.
  • Have a qualified leadership for the sport of fencing. 
  • Have an equal opportunity to strive for success. 
  • Have fun fencing.