This article forms part of a series of reports which accompany the 2020-21 BF Annual Report.
2020-21 has been a unique and difficult year, and yet one that has also presented some opportunities to develop in areas.
For the fencers, the lockdown required an agile approach to maintain a level of activity and the ADP Coaching teams responded using online content delivery via Zoom. Camps were delivered via Zoom and sessions included some technical delivery, workshops on goal setting, performance analysis, culture and values, understanding strength and condition with reference to specific muscle groups. Strength and conditioning sessions were delivered to the fencers and these were also opened up to the wider member community.
In January to March, where the focus is normally on the upcoming major championships, Zoom calls moved from weekend events to shorter weekly sessions and included 1 to 1 reviews session with fencers and the induction of a new cohort of 30 fencers into the ADP programme. The induction included a session for parents.
Over the year the online attendance number remained on par with a normal delivery year, which is testament to the content delivery and the commitment of the fencers.
The wellbeing of fencers and the development of the psychological safe space are key to the programme delivery. Our work with the True Athlete Project, including the development of the first iteration of the psychological toolkit, are part of the programme and support fencers beyond the technical and tactical understanding.
Following individual fencers reaching out to senior staff at BF, a number of discussions and workshops were held, (led by the fencers) to explore discrimination in fencing. Following these sessions, further sessions were run with parents and coaches. Work will continue into 21-22 as we seek to create inclusive environments in which athletes can develop and perform.
The Mood check-in process was introduced to garner data on the mood of the fencers to indicate positive element and to guide future delivery.
The aim to develop a common coaching language was achieved with the first iteration of the GB Style document. The adoption of the ‘3Ps’ as a strategic framework across weapons has been an important step.
Coach development continued with the True Athlete Project to look at areas such as mindfulness, athlete identity, compassionate communication, as well as ‘in the moment’ development of tool use in practice.
BF was successful in securing spaces on the two High Performance programmes with UK Sport starting in April 2021: Katie Arup (Female Coaches Leadership Programme) and Chris Galesloot (High Performance Coach Apprenticeship). Alex Beardmore completed the 18 months UK Coaching Performance Foundation Programme.
Work continued on the BF Fencer Pathway resulting in the publication of the pathway framework in October 2020. As part of this work, BF worked with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport to create the performance matrix. This matrix further defined key performance components for fencing, that can be used to determine performance standards for UK Sport funded programmes. The insight from the matrix was aligned to the pathway framework and pathway stage and the resulting comprehensive pathway was a key factor in the UK Sport Progression fund award.
The full 2020-21 Directors’ Report can be found here.
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