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Solo Fencing Training - Conditioning

December 17, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Views: 110

Most fencing classes, lessons, and practice sessions are time constrained, by the availability of facilities and instructors, and by the time available in the fencers' lives for training for their sport. This forces fencing training activities to try to do many training tasks in a single session. As coaches we have to improve and teach technique, train for competition conditions, increase the fencer's speed and strength, develop self-confidence and fighting spirit, and improve his or her ability to apply techniques tactically in the bout... all in one or two lessons a week that may range from 5 to 60 minutes in length. That is a challenging task, and progress in one area comes at the cost of progress in other areas.

This means that any approach that shifts a significant training load from the individual or group lesson has a potential to improve the capabilities of the athlete. One area in which this can be done relatively easily is in conditioning activities designed to improve athlete fitness for competition.

There are five important principles when considering conditioning activities for athletes in any sport:

... Fitness is a mix of strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance. A conditioning program should address all of these elements.

... There are two general classifications of fitness: general fitness and sport specific fitness. General fitness provides a good basic capability. Sports specific fitness prepares the athlete to fence.

... As the name suggests sport specific fitness is high sports specific. Fitness for long distance running or football is not fitness for fencing. The physical requirements of the sports are very different, and activity which does not address a sport's requirements may actually reduce athlete performance. The closer physical training movements are to the movements of the sport, the more specific and the better the conditioning.

... The level of conditioning activity must be integrated into the macrocycle, mesocycle, and microcycle of the periodized training program.

... Conditioning is a highly specialized field of coaching in which the knowledge base is constantly evolving. Get professional advice in designing your training program. For example, at any fencing tournament you will find fencers sitting on the floor stretching before their bouts. And yet there has been general acceptance among the training community for at least a decade that static stretching before exercise does not improve flexibility or reduce injury - it inhibits performance.

What all of this means is that coaches can and should assign solo conditioning activities for their athletes to do as part of each week's microcycle. These activities should address strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance. Whether they are general or specific or mixed depends on the athlete's development and on the mesocycle. For example, functional training for core development and strength training are traditional activities for the off-season (although fencing increasingly has no off-season period). Speed training is more applicable to early season. Maintenance activities keep the fencer at the appropriate level during the main body of the season.

Some fencers will already have access to a gym and a personal trainer as part of a health club membership. You may be able to refer others to sports training gyms. In both of these cases, it is to the athlete's advantage if you can work with their trainer to provide the information needed to design activities for fencing and to fit within your annual training plan.

However, many fencers are left with what they can do at home. If they are lucky they have a set of weights or some form of a home gym to work with; even two dumbbells is better than nothing. However, there are also a wide range of exercises that can be done that use body weight without requiring additional equipment. In developing the home training program, keep the time needed reasonable so that the fencer has a chance to complete training in competition with the other demands of their life. Make certain that activities are sequenced so that systems and body parts are worked on different days. And vary the volume and intensity of training according to the other training scheduled for that day and the day of the microcycle.

Based on what the fencer has available in the way of outside training facilities or at home, design a conditioning program that he or she can do. Assign this as part of their solo training program for each microcycle. This increases the available training time, and engages the athlete more fully in their preparation for competition. And it frees valuable practice or lesson time for technical and tactical development.

Walter Green is a Maitre d'Armes (Fencing Master) certified by the Academie d'Armes Internationale. He teaches modern competitive and classical fencing, historical swordplay, bayonet fencing, and Asian martial arts swords at Salle Green ( http://www.sallegreen.com ), the fencing school he operates in Glen Allen, Virginia. Maitre Green also trains fencing coaches through the Pan American Fencing Academy ( http://panamfencing.com ). He serves as a Head Examiner for the certification of professional fencing coaches for the United States Fencing Coaches Association, and chairs the USFCA's Club Committee.

Copyright 2010 by Walter G. Green III. All rights reserved.

Source: EzineArticles
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