18/03/2019- Articles

Role of a Parent during a Fencing Match

(Quoted and adapted with kind permission of Coach Mac https://www.basketballforcoaches.com/parents-coaching-sidelines/)

“Usually teams have one coach.

But it turns out this isn’t always true on most youth sport teams…

Enter your nearest gym and listen closely during any game and you’ll quickly find out most youth sports teams actually have 8 – 10 coaches surrounding the court…

Unfortunately, only one of these is the real coach.

The other 90% are parents who have tagged themselves with an assistant coaching role and now feel the need to shout out their own instructions to the players on the court.

Don’t get me wrong…

Most of these parents do have good intentions.

They sincerely believe they’re helping their child’s performance on the court when they’re yelling out commands from their seats on the sideline.

But, they’re not.

And the parents coaching from the sidelines epidemic needs to stop.”

“but fencing is different” “it’s an individual sport!”

Fencing (and your child!) is no different to any other sport and child in this respect and here’s why…

There are four main roles during a fencing match:

• Coach
• Fencer
• Referee
• Spectator

Every person who is involved in a match can fill only one of these four roles.

• If you’re the coach, you coach the team/fencer.
• If you’re a fencer, you fence the match.
• If you’re a referee, you officiate the match.
• If you’re a spectator, you watch the match.

It’s incredibly important that every person who attends a fencing competition understands and respects the role that they’re required to play throughout the day.

Sometimes people’s roles change between coach and spectator depending on which match they’re involved with.

And while we’re on that topic…

Your Coaching and Playing Experience is Irrelevant

  • You’re still a spectator even if you were good enough to fence internationally 25 years ago…
  • You’re still a spectator even if your daughter’s coach doesn’t have the same level of coaching experience as you do…
  • You’re still a spectator even if you claim to ‘have been around fencing for 40 years and you know what you’re talking about’…
  • You’re still a spectator even if you run a fencing club…

Parents must understand this: If you’re not the coach during the current match, you still have no right to coach from the side of the piste.

Even world-class coaches like Frank Martin follow this advice…

Check out this must-watch video below:

And for more about the negative impact on the fencer check-out the article “4 Reasons why Piste-side Coaching must Stop

So, What Should Parents Do Instead?

A parent’s role as a spectator is very simple…

Watch the match and encourage the fencers on the piste.

Watching the match is self explanatory and doesn’t require further explanation.

But perhaps ‘encouraging’ does…

Encouraging does not mean:

  • Giving coaching advice.
  • Yelling out to any of the fencers or referees.
  • Over the top celebrating or intimidation.

It means enjoying the match and occasionally clapping and cheering for BOTH fencers on the piste.

Here’s a rule of thumb to remember….

As soon as you stand out from the crowd, you’re doing something wrong.


“Overall, here’s the point:

When parents are yelling out from the sidelines, they’re making each player’s youth sporting experience less enjoyable.

Parents need to take a step back and do a better job of understanding their role.”

“And remember…

Your kids aren’t going to be playing youth sports forever.

Sit back, enjoy the game, and let the coaches do the coaching.”

(Quoted and adapted with kind permission of Coach Mac https://www.basketballforcoaches.com/parents-coaching-sidelines/

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