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FAQs About the Coach Education Program

Coach Education and Professional Development Program FAQs

Why is USA Fencing implementing a Coach Education and Professional Development program (CEPD)?  

The simple answer: We're doing it so we can create a sustainable education program that benefits the greater fencing community for our current and future members.  

Coaches deserve a pathway for professional development that provides educational information, tools, resources, and awareness of best practices to support them in their efforts to develop fencers throughout the pipeline and to enhance their development as a coach.

Athletes deserve a fencing environment that will maximize their growth, development, and enjoyment throughout their athletic journey, an environment created, in part, by USA Fencing coaches. 

Clubs — the heartbeat of fencing — offer athletes their first exposure to the sport. At these USA Fencing clubs, young fencers are learning skills and tactics of the sport, how to compete, how to train, how to deal with emotions, failures and success. Our clubs need and deserve support in guiding the development of their coaches who are so integral to the development of fencers. This important program will also strengthen club’s risk management programs amid an environment of fluctuating insurance costs, which in turn helps mitigate risk against the sport of Fencing. 


What’s in it for me?

The response depends in part on who ‘you’ are.  

For the club owner: We heard your comments that it is a challenge finding coaches and, additionally, that you must train these coaches. The CEPD program provides training for coaches on the foundations of teaching fencing as well as the foundations of being an effective coach. In addition, we have created a Junior Coach Add-On membership for our 14-17 year-old competitive members who want to try out coaching or help at their club. These Junior Coaches will receive coach training at a much-reduced cost. 

For parents: You can have confidence that any USA Fencing Coach member who is coaching and interacting with your child has received foundational training tied to coaching and fencing. Furthermore, you can be assured that the coach is taking advantage of professional growth and development opportunities. 

For experienced coaches: During a recent USA Fencing webinar, the presenter was speaking on creating culture within her team and how this was integral to program growth and success. Not surprisingly, it was a national team coach on the call who had the most questions for this coach, wanting to delve deeper into specifics of what she did to influence the culture. Learning should never stop. No matter your years of experience or training, you can and should continue to learn. This program will provide opportunities for you to continue to grow and learn and develop as a coach. Additionally, your growth may occur through your engagement with and giving back to our larger coaching community. Can you serve as a mentor? Can you share your knowledge with other coaches as part of our continuing education focus?  

For coaches: USA Fencing strives to put a system in place, one that will evolve and develop further over time, that supports and encourages your growth and professional development. You can communicate to your club members the training opportunities that you take advantage of to demonstrate your commitment to ‘getting better’ and Certificates of Completion can be posted in your club or updated on your webpage. 

For athletes: This is an opportunity for you to gain experience through the Junior Coach offering, to learn about foundational coaching elements and to start you on the next chapter of your fencing journey. 


What do I need to do in year one of the Coach Education Program? 

All USA Fencing Coach members have been given access to coach training modules within ‘FenceLab’. The modules required for coaches to complete include: 

  • Coaching Essentials (60 minutes) 

  • Creating a Culture of Belonging (30 minutes) 

  • Elevating your Emotional IQ (30 minutes)  

  • Foundations of Fencing (there will be Exemptions from this module – see below) 

  • Foundations of Parafencing (25 minutes) 

Because the intent of the training is to engage the learner and allow for reflection, coaches have 90 days to complete the training and are encouraged to only complete one module every two weeks. USA Fencing will send out reminders to take the next training available within FenceLab and stay on track. 

Additionally, the modules are self-controlled so a coach can skim parts they feel proficient in, meaning the total time to complete could be less than projected. In other words, a coach can watch a video in its entirety or decide that viewing one repetition of a given skill is sufficient for their understanding and skip past the repeated portions. 

Remember: Your Coach membership will remain ‘pending’ until the modules and final assessment are completed. 

The following individuals are Exempt from the ‘Fencing Foundational Skills’ modules:  

  • Those individuals with verified certification from a professional fencing coaching organization/ association - USFCA certification Assistant Moniteur or higher; Coaches educated in another country recognized by the AAI 

  • NCAA head coaches and assistant coaches  

  • National Team Coaches — past and present 


How do I access the Foundations of Fencing Coaching Course? 

In your Coach membership profile, on the Dashboard page, there is a tab on the right hand side about two-thirds of the way down called FenceLab.  Click this box and it will take you to FenceLab.  Once on that page, click “Complete Foundations of Fencing” link to take you to the trainings. 


I’m an athlete under 18, how do I access the training? 

You will need to add +Junior Coach to your membership to access the course.  After you do this, on the Dashboard page of your membership profile, there is a tab on the right hand side about two-thirds of the way down called FenceLab.  Click this box and it will take you to FenceLab.  Once on that page, click “Complete Foundations of Fencing” link. 


As a coach, do I need to complete an additional safety course to coach at National Events?

In order to coach at National Events, you will need to make sure the following requirements are complete:

  • Complete the Foundations of Fencing Coaching Course
  • Complete and Pass the Background Screen
  • Complete the annual SafeSport Training 


What does the entire Coach Education and Professional Development program include?

USA Fencing is excited to offer a coach development program tailored to our membership based on feedback we’ve received from our members.  

  • We will offer a monthly, online speaker series. The topics, in part, are driven by feedback from coaches in recent surveys and will be driven by your continued feedback and recommendations. We will also be working with the recently formed Coach Advisory Resource Team to identify relevant topics and presenters.  Topics may include helping athletes manage anxiety, how to use video in your club to enhance performance, understanding the role of sleep, talent ID and development, S&C training and nutrition.  

  • We will host in-person educational sessions at some of our NACs in the 2023-24 membership season. Because community, networking and sharing is critical to development, we will follow these sessions with informal socials to facilitate engagement and connection. 

  • The Women Coach Mentor Program will continue, and lessons learned will be shared with our coaching community.  This is a great opportunity for professional growth and development for both mentees and mentors. 

  • We have a new, robust LMS – ‘FenceLab’ – that can support discussion groups, serve as a repository for videos, house coach trainings and continue education opportunities, to name a few. 

  • We will work to tap into opportunities for education and professional development through the USOPC, other NGBs and external organizations.  


What is the long-term plan? 

After completing the Foundations course in year 1, coach members will be required to complete four Continued Fencing Coach Education (CFCE) opportunities but can take advantage of as many as is desired. We encourage coaches to seek out or engage in those opportunities that best meet their needs – that is, take advantage of opportunities that will help YOU grow and will impact your athletes or club.  We want to, over time, develop pathways of coach development that can help inform educational materials solicited and developed.