Stress happens in all aspects of our lives, and that includes while we’re learning to fence and first competing. Even some seasoned fencers will admit to feeling as though their emotions are getting the best of them in training or during a match. While it’s important to acknowledge and process the things you are feeling, keeping your emotions in check during fencing training and competition is critical to your advancement.

The Rollercoaster of Emotions

As you train, and especially as you begin competing, you’re going to feel a litany of emotions. In positive moments you’ll be likely to feel courageous, playful, bright, at ease, and even elated as you work through challenges and make progress. On the other hand, there will be times when you feel anxiety, anger, fear, stress, isolation, pessimistic, and even frustrated. Identifying your emotions and putting them into words will help you to better evaluate your performance in each situation you find yourself in.

Remember that You are In Control

Take a step back before working with your opponent to remind yourself that you are in control of your situation. No matter what happens, there is always a solution. Did your weapon break? You very likely have access to a backup. Forgot a piece of gear? Someone likely has a spare you can borrow. You may not love your coach’s critique, but you have a choice when it comes to how you’ll perform your next technique.

Focus on the Present

Stay in the now when you are fencing. Sports happen when you’re taking part in them – not in the moments leading up to a match or even in the moments after. Focus on each moment as it is happening. Hear the referees calls but leave them in the past. Don’t become angry, annoyed, or frustrated at the things you perceive as not going your way. Don’t even ask yourself why you are feeling the way you feel. Those are questions you can ask yourself later, when the match is over.

Perspective is Important

Mistakes are a part of life. Making a mistake now doesn’t mean you’re going to continue to make mistakes or that you’ve ruined your training. The mistakes you make are opportunities for growth. It’s also important to remember that no situation you ever find yourself in during fencing practice will last for more than a few moments. It’s not going to last.

In the beginning, you may find yourself immediately reacting to bad situations that you encounter during your training. It’s ok. We all evolve as we progress. Just remember that as you progress you’ll become better at handling your emotions and working through difficult situations; and all of your coaches will be here to help you along the way.