Let’s start this out by making one point clear — we love it when parents take an interest in what their kids are doing, and we encourage parents to watch practices. Occasionally, though, your presence may be distracting your child or hindering their progress. Here’s what you need to know about being a good observer and supporter.

You Aren’t the Coach

This one is tough for a lot of parents. It’s very easy to watch your child’s practices, listen to the coaches, and even compare your own child to other children. Then the urge to call out corrections or suggestions overwhelms you and, before you know it, you’re attempting to coach your child as well. You are not the coach. You’re the loving, supportive, nonjudgmental parent. Trust your child’s coach to help them progress.

Your Child Will Learn Independence

It takes a certain amount of bravery for a child to pick up a sword and take a fencing lesson, especially in the beginning. Your child’s confidence will grow with every lesson, but they’ll advance in leaps and bounds when they don’t have you to look back at every single time they’re out there on the strip. Again, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t watch practices; but that you shouldn’t watch all practices. Give your child a little extra room to flourish.

Knowledge Isn’t Always Power

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again. No two fencers are alike and each advances at a different pace. Your expectations for your child’s progress may not match their coaches, or even their own. You don’t need to witness every single time your child loses focus or struggles with a new skill. The coach will fill you in if there is a need for real concern. Otherwise, witnessing every mistake your child makes as they grow will only make them self-conscious and worried that you are disappointed with their progress.

In reality, we all perform a little differently when others are watching us. We’re a little more reserved than we should be and tend to hold back. Allowing your child some space here and there will give them a new sense of independence, create forward momentum in their training performance, and ensure your role as supportive parent remains clear at all times.

Remember, we welcome you to your child’s practices. But maybe once in a while you should grab a coffee with another parent or run an errand. Your child is in good hands — and you’ll be pleased with how they grow!