Myth: Individuals with a permanent physical disability (in a wheelchair or not), cannot participate in the sport of fencing.
Any Athlete wishing to compete in fencing (parafencing) must have an Eligible Impairment and that Eligible Impairment must be Permanent. Examples of an Underlying Health Condition that can lead to permanent impairment include:
Myth: You need a parafencing frame in order to start a parafencing program at your club.
Myth buster – NOT TRUE!
In the beginning, if a club has new parafencers, there are many skills that can be taught without the use of frames. GETTING STARTED - "Pret Allez"
SAFETY IS IMPORTANT! As the fencer progresses and moves beyond the beginning stages, a fencing frame will be required. A true test of time for this moment will be indicated by the comfort level of fencer/coach when more aggressive actions are executed. If funds are not available for a frame, THINK OUT OF THE BOX - DIY project! Inexpensive frames can be made and/or unique methods in securing the fencing wheelchair.
Myth: Coaching parafencing is so different than coaching able bodied.
Myth buster – NOT TRUE!
The art of coaching fencing (parafencing or able bodied) is similar in many ways. The true difference is learning the disability you are coaching. You treat the individual the same - they have the same basic needs, drive and dreams as any other athlete; no more, no less. And, for them as well, coaching is a crucial factor to the quality of their sport experience.
Many coaches who have never worked with athletes with a disability feel that to be effective you need highly specialized skills, knowledge or training. This is a misconception. In fact, most coaches who work with athletes with a disability soon discover that coaching these athletes is "fundamentally" no different than coaching any other athlete. The challenge is to truly understand the person, to focus on their abilities, and to see what they can achieve. Generally speaking, most coaches already possess the necessary technical skills and knowledge required to coach athletes with a disability. Typically, the only piece missing in your coaching “toolkit” is a basic understanding of a few key aspects that are unique to people with a disability.
Many coaches have expressed how working with athletes with a disability has enhanced their coaching abilities as they were compelled to see things differently and be creative.
“It must be athlete and sport first,” says Patrick Jarvis. For example, the mindset should be - this person is a fencer who happens to be an amputee or has a spinal cord injury and who fences from a wheelchair. The key is getting past the disability. The passion for fencing should be the common ground.
Core element (parafencing or able-bodied):
Initially, coaches who have never worked with persons with a disability need to consider a few key aspects
Technical aspects of coaching athletes with a disability (subtle differences): The main difference is that those athletes with physical disability fence from a wheelchair that is secure in a fencing frame that sits flat on the floor or piste
Basic equipment (gear): all the same - jacket, lame, mask, glove, plastron, chest protector, pants, body cords, mask cords. Parafencing has an epee apron (only gear that is different). The other equipment that is of major difference is the fencing frame and fencing wheelchair.