One of the most important attributes of any sport is good footwork. When it comes to fencing, speed and quickness are important but being light on your feet is paramount. Here are some ways to step up your footwork game.
Take Your Shoes Off
It sounds silly, but your shoes aren’t doing the work – your feet are. Taking your shoes off will allow you to better observe your feet so you can see exactly what you’re doing. Are you pushing off or landing on the right part of your foot when you lunge? Are you losing balance and rolling over the side of your foot? Visibility is key to self-correction.
Strengthen Your Lower Body
Your legs make up the largest muscle groups in your body. Exercises to build up your leg muscles will help you to gain better control and footwork. Talk to your instructor about which exercises you should incorporate, whether riding a bike, doing jump squats, or some other functional activity.
Learn to Land
Learning to land properly when you lunge will do two things. It will make you lighter on your feet so you can take your next step and it will help you to avoid landing hard on your heels. Landing hard, driving your heels into the ground, not only slows you down but can over time cause you injury and pain. Start with your shorter lunges and then move on to perfecting your longer steps.
People who are tense have a difficult time feeling and moving in “lighter” manners. Make sure you are taking some time to stretch and work on your flexibility between practice sessions. Relax while you are working with your partner, too. You’re both in class to learn and tension will do nothing but slow your reflexes.
Focus on Your Feet Alone
Put the sword down and spend some time moving up and down the floor, focusing only on footwork drills designed to improve your fencing. Ask your coach if you aren’t sure what to start with. Work on positioning your feet exactly where you want them with every step. You’ll achieve a lighter attitude and step and better balance.
Being light on your feet means faster movement and more effective strokes, ultimately leading you to better control of the space around you during matches. Practice makes perfect. Ask us if you need help.