Introducing BF’s Athlete Development Programme

Forming part of the overall BF Strategy, our mission is deliver a sustainable and inclusive 6W athlete development system that enables every (talented) athlete to access a high-quality pathway that fulfils their potential – as people and performers.

We do this though our Athlete Development Programme which exists to support athletes in achieving Olympic success and inspiring others.

Our primary objective is to produce athletes that are resilient, independent, and high performing with a true sense of self value that in turn inspires others to achieve success.

It covers athletes from age 15 to 35 (and beyond for those performing at Olympic level) who are moving through a defined development pathway to success at the highest level of fencing.

We take a ‘whole person’ approach because we believe that  ‘Better people make better athletes‘.

The ADP is founded on the strategic principles of fencer-centred, development-driven, competition-supported.


Our Values

These apply to everyone that participates in the programme – athletes, coaches and staff. They consist of the core BF values (Honesty, Respect and Excellence) plus an additional two (Accountability and Teamwork).

By signing up to the programme athletes are signing up to these values. They will underpin how we all behave and work – as individuals, teams and squads.  They are the bedrock of our GBR fencing culture.

HONESTY – Providing and receiving constructive feedback while acknowledging it might feel uncomfortable to receive and/or give.

RESPECT – Value others’ perspectives and treat people as they would like to be treated.

EXCELLENCE – A standard that uses BF values as a measuring tool for how well growth and development of coaches, athletes, and staff is encouraged and exercised

ACCOUNTABILITY – I do what I say I will do, and I take responsibility for the outcome.

TEAMWORK – Sharing skills and capabilities. Working as a unit and complementing each other.


Based on our values we are developing behaviour frameworks (for staff, coaches and athletes) to help guide how we live our values. For example through:

  • Earning Trust through Integrity and Professionalism (Honesty, Respect, Accountability)
  • Displaying Team Spirit (Teamwork, Respect)
  • Challenging and Innovating to Excel (Excellence)

These behaviour frameworks will be reviewed annually with programme participants.  Some of these behaviour commitments appearing in our Athlete Agreement which will apply to every athlete participating in a programme.


The Pathway Model (What the programme is underpinned by)

Our programme is based on a defined pathway of athlete development. This pathway is underpinned by development models – some sport specific (eg FTEM) and some more general (eg leadership). The Pathway Model consists of Pathway Stages, which are defined by Pathway Stage Components. These are in turn informed in detail by the Weapons Framework.


Our Strategic Principles

Fencer Centred – Our work in the ADP is  centred on the development needs of fencers as they join, move through and leave the performance pathway. Encouraging our fencers to be personally accountable, able to critique their own performance through the identification of learning moments and maximise the support available to them in answering their own performance challenge.  Providing environments which promote continuous learning and growth, in every session and experience.

Development Driven – Support the achievement of the fencer’s goals through guiding their development in understanding how to fence and how to make performance decisions in the moment. At the heart of this approach is the designing of experiences (from education, lessons, training, camps to competitions) which meet the needs of the fencers, providing them with opportunities to take ownership and ‘stretch’ their learning commensurate with the developmental stage they are at.

Competition Supported– Preparing our fencers for competition is a keystone to developing their performance. Identifying the right level of competition which, in turn, offers enough challenge to stretch their development is key.  The right competition at the right time will invariably provide supported experiences and challenges which incrementally nurture the growth of the psychosocial, technical and tactical aspects of our fencer’s performance.  This in turn to support positive performance trajectories through multiple Olympic cycles to deliver medal success for GBR.


What does the Programme deliver?

The Programme brings together development opportunities (such as camps, courses, competitions) which are intended to accelerate athlete development to Olympic success.

The Programme also ensures alignment between a number of other smaller funded projects and programmes (such as DiSE, Sport England Talent, UK Sport Medal Support Plan), to create the right opportunity for the right athlete at the right time.

The Programme is not responsible for creating and delivering day by day and week by week training environments and personal coaching. We can help signpost athletes to opportunities but we are not responsible for sourcing sparring partners, training venues and coaches  for athletes.


Who can join?

Entry and ongoing participation in the Programme is based on a number of factors including attitude, commitment, proficiency and performance standards and trajectories.

Typically the earliest that an athlete will be considered for inclusion will be 15. At these early stages, participation in the Programme is less about results and more about athletes understanding and developing the vital capabilities (such as mental and physical resilience, self awareness, responsibility, role model) for future life as a performance athlete.

Exit from the Programme will normally be at the point where an athlete is not making enough progress through the pathway to demonstrate they are still on track to represent GBR at a future Olympics.

The Programme isn’t for every person who represents GBR at every level.  Not every athlete has the motivation to succeed at the Olympic level and the ongoing commitment to develop themselves. 

Not all ADP athletes will be eligible for inclusion (or funding) in every aspect of the Programme – some opportunities will be dependent on the pathway stage, some may be restricted by age, some by location and some by Home Nation*. (This is how sport is funded in the UK. BF will be as inclusive as possible across the Home Nations, but subsidies/cost/availability may vary as a result.) One example is DiSE, which is only for athletes age 16-18 in state school education in England. 


What about funding?

To represent your country at international level an athlete will have to have the commitment and means to travel internationally.

BF does not get enough income from membership fees to subsidise athletes representing GBR. We are a small sport and the membership fee would become prohibitive for many of our members if they had to subsidise the elite pathway in this way.

Instead BF works to access government and charity funding where it is available and uses this to subsidise programme delivery. In some cases we are able to support applications for grants and funding for individual named athletes.

We believe that any funding to support our GBR ambitions is a privilege not a right.

All funding (whether from government or charities) comes with responsibilities and accountabilities to those organisations (normally laid out in contracts between BF and the organisation). We therefore expect all those athletes in direct receipt of funding or participating in subsidised development opportunities to understand and deliver on their associated responsibilities and commitments.

For more information about funding, what we fund, how to apply for grants etc see here.

For information about how the ADP is funded and what benefits an ADP member gets click here.


Return to ‘The ADP Zone‘ to find out more information about the work that we do.



Free Intro Membership

Activate your free, 90 day membership to British Fencing today. Membership insures you to fence at any British Fencing club.


Core Coach Offer

Does your organisation want to bring fencing to your community? Explore our core coach course, no experience required.


Calling All Teachers

Start your journey to becoming a community fencing coach. Introduce fencing to pupils for as little as £25. Find out more today.

Join the conversation. Share your stories using #BritishFencing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Our Partners

  • Our Partners