From 28th to 30th December, British Fencing Athlete Development Programme (ADP) hosted a training camp for epeeists and sabreurs. Here’s our report of what the fencers and coaches did over those three days.
Following on from the Foil ADP Camp in London the previous week, the latest Epee and Sabre ADP Camp took place at the University of Nottingham at the end of December. Epeeists took their place in the main sports hall with coaches Ian Lichfield, George Morris, John Rees and Lorraine Rose, with sabreurs up in the venue’s fencing salle with coaches Beth Davidson, Niki Dinev, Nat Lewis, Fran Russell and Phil Shepherd-Foster.
For epee, the theme of the camp was twofold, with the focus areas being thinking clearly under pressure (TCUP) and first attempt in learning (FAIL). Day one began with an emphasis on learning the significance of single tempo hits and how to create moments to use these. Following this, the fencers undertook a combination of fights to one minute and fights to fifteen hits, which emphasised the change of tactics and styles needed in different competition scenarios.
This theme continued into day two of the camp for the epeeists, with a morning session on purposeful individual sparring and fights to twenty hits. This was a very physically demanding session, designed to highlight the importance of being able to make good decisions and successfully execute actions while fatigued. After lunch, the camp pivoted to an individual competition which further highlighted how best to compete while feeling tired from the morning session.
For sabre, the camp theme was fencing within a team. The focus of day one was technical sessions that refreshed work done at the previous ADP Camp in October. The morning session looked at long actions, followed by a short footwork session, and then a deep dive into middle preparations and transitions.
Day two for the sabreurs began with team games to warm up before breaking into randomly allocated teams. The fencers then looked at the different roles within a fencing team and what they require of each individual, covering the wall of the salle with post-its of their ideas and observations. They then used these throughout the team competition on days two and three of the camp, with their notes always readily accessible so that these ideas could go from the abstract to being used in real fencing scenarios.
The epee and sabre athletes came together on the third morning of the camp for a talk from Ollie Cook from the True Athlete Project (TAP). Ollie is a European and world champion rower who competed for Team GB in the coxless four at Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He offered brilliant insights on the journey to becoming an Olympian, and his unique road to being in the boat in Tokyo after eighteen months of covid-related disruption including being forced to train for months in his garage during various lockdowns. He highlighted the importance of keeping a performance diary, showing samples of his own from various stages of his career and after answering questions from athletes, Ollie remained on hand throughout the day to observe and provide a listening ear for the fencers attending.
After lunch, the sabre team competition continued apace with a focus on refereeing and how to offer feedback in a team setting. In epee, the team competition was replaced by an individual one under competition conditions. After a cool down and a final debrief with the coaches, everyone headed home after a tough but rewarding three days of training.
The Athlete Development Programme (ADP) is a six weapon programme that exists to support athletes in achieving Olympic and Paralympic success and inspiring others. 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. Find out more about the programme here.
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