Welsh Fencing

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Welsh Fencing has recognised the need to revisit and update its strategy for Youth Development within the sport.

This document outlines a revised youth development strategy for Welsh Fencing aimed at delivering the following outcomes:

  • To create a friendly, open and cooperative community of young fencers
  • To foster in athletes an identity as a Welsh fencer, breaking down negative individual/club rivalries and promoting inter-athlete support
  • To engage with athletes in different regions and offer opportunities for all clubs to become involved with the programme
  • To encourage all WF coaches who work with young people to involve themselves with the sessions, helping to share coaching knowledge and best practice.
  • To develop and support a core of home grown athletes to represent Wales at domestic and international events

In order to achieve the objectives outlined above the following alteration would be required:

Regularity/duration: Short weekly training sessions are only practicable for fencers living in the Cardiff area, and effectively exclude those travelling from further afield. They also clash with other clubs’ training sessions , forcing athletes to choose between clubs. There’s also a sense of regular training ‘devaluing’ the individual sessions. In order to address these issues, the proposed system would be based around longer (4-6 hour) bi-monthly training sessions, organised around the competition calendar, and run on weekends to avoid clashing with regular club training.

Location/hosting: Although the majority of fencers live/train in the South Wales area, it’s important that the development programme works for fencers across Wales, and engages with coaches/clubs in the North and West. To counter these issues, WF will open applications for any Welsh club to act as ‘hosts’, so that each session moves to a different area. Hosts will have to agree to provide an appropriate space (i.e. training hall, parking, changing etc). A payment will be made to the host club to cover hall hire/use of scoring equipment.

Coaching Provision: There are three factors to consider with regard to coaching provision:

1. the range of coach engagement
2. inclusion of the whole WF community
3. cooperation with Coach Education Strategy and referee development programmes

The current system with one lead coach leads to a narrow teaching experience for athletes, dissuades other coaches from encouraging their students from engaging with the programme, and limits the productivity of the sessions with regards coach development.

The revised system will seek to engage all WF coaches who work with youth athletes, whilst working to avoid any sense of vulnerability that would cause them to dissuade student participation (e.g. poaching, being demeaned in front of students, etc ). Sessions will be publicised and invitations made to all coaches with students eligible to attend. The ‘lead coach’ will be the head coach of the host club, but a hands-off approach will be encouraged (see ‘Structure’). Coaches will work with only their own students on a 1-2-1 basis, unless specifically request by another coach.

Structure: The longer duration of the sessions (4-6 hours) will permit a more holistic approach to the athlete's development, incorporating a warm-up/S&C element delivered by the lead coach, external tutorials by non-fencing professionals (i.e. sport psychologists, nutrition, etc), and most importantly a significant period of open sparring. Coaches will be encouraged to give feedback through these sparring sessions, or work 1-2-1 with their students. There will be no group lessons, both due to their limited efficacy and the impracticality of delivering to a multi-weapon/gender/ability group.

Promotion: In order to be effective these sessions will have to be well attended. In order to ensure this the programme will receive publicising via WF website, social media, mailing list, direct contact to coaches etc. Attendance may also be considered as a factor in selection for Poland, Cadet Winton & School Games where appropriate.

Funding: A budget has been set by WF to cover hall hire plus any external professionals or sparring partners. We are keen to ensure the enjoyment and success of these sessions.