Strip Coaching 101webmaster
This article explains the strip coaching process based on our philosophy and values, and following our club’s rules. This may differ from what other fencing clubs offer, and it should only be used as a general reference.
What is Strip Coaching?
Strip Coaching is strip-side strategical, tactical, and technical advice from a designated coach during competitions outside of the club.
By providing strip coaching for events, our goal is to maximize the performance and potential of every fencer in a given competition
Who is eligible?
Any student competitor is eligible and will benefit from strip coaching.
There will be no coaching when club students are competing against each other.
No Olympia members will accept, under any circumstances, to receive coaching from a coach affiliated with another club. This is subject to immediate expulsion.
You may be signed up for more than one event per competition, which is great because it prepares you for the next level when you’ll age out of the current age group. In this case, we recommend signing up for coaching for the event closer to your age/level.
When is strip coaching offered:
- In general, a minimum of 6-8 fencers (subject to change, depending on the importance of an event) is required for a coach to travel to a tournament.
- At Olympia, signing up for coaching is done electronically through a google form, which will be posted in our weekly newsletter at least one month before an event.
- The registration deadline for strip coaching coincides with the deadline for the event registration set up by the organizers.
- There is a possibility to be added to the coaching list after the deadline, at the discretion of the coach, and against a late fee.
- The coachs’ expenses for travel (flight/gas and hotel) are split evenly among all participants signed up for coaching.
- There is an additional coaching fee per event, usually payable directly to the coach.
We understand the cost of coaching can be expensive. Families are encouraged to do a cost-benefit analysis before signing up for coaching.
For details on what events your fencer should sign up for strip coaching please speak with your coach in advance.
If a fencer does not sign up for coaching, they will be still embraced by the group of participants: they will have a place by the banner, warm up with the group, be cheered on when possible, by their teammates, and invited to the team dinner.
How Strip Coaching Works at a Competition:
- Arrival at the event
The designated coach may provide guidance to fencers/parents in terms of registration, equipment check, armory, equipment/gear purchasing from the vendors, when applicable.
The coach will set up the club banner, help locate clubmates, build team spirit before the event, and offer guidance for warm-up.
Strip coaching will be provided during the first round of the tournament (pools) as well as the second round (direct elimination).
- Coaching during the pools
Once the competition begins, strip coaches will try and distribute their time equally amongst all fencers signed up for coaching.
Parents must text the strip coach (once only) when the student is “on the deck” to fence (a common name for the referees to announce who is fencing the next bout on the strip).
Please don’t repeatedly text/call your coach! They KNOW your child is fencing, and they will show up as soon as they’re available. When permitted (by the organizers), the coach will provide advice in short statements during the bouts, from the fencer’s side of the strip.
Strip coaches will check in with each fencer during the break, between pools and direct elimination bouts.
In general, the fencers should gather around the club’s banner during this break, where they will meet with their coach.
- Direct Eliminations
The coach may directly speak and provide advice to the fencer during their two, 1-minute breaks, in the direct elimination bouts.
The coach will not stay with one student for the entire duration of the bout, when there are others to be helped.
When two clubmates fence at the same time on two different strips or part of the venue, the coach must choose which fencer to help; in general, they will go to the fencer who has the most chances to win that bout and move forward to the next step of the competition.
The coaches are responsible to help the students to achieve their best possible results. They will not stay with someone whose score is (e.g.) four points down, rather than help someone who’s at an even score with chances to win.
It seems unfair for those new to the competition, but you’ll understand later on when you’ll gain more experience and you’ll find yourself in this situation.
Clubmates should be supportive of each other in any circumstances, show team spirit, and be respectful of those younger, or having lower ratings.
Why is Strip Coaching Helpful?
- The breaks in your bout are a time for you to rest or rethink your strategy. If your coach is at the strip, they may offer some quick encouragement or guidance.
- Coaches are often able to see things in a bout that the fencer is not able to see.
- The coaches are familiar with their student’s abilities and know the actions they can execute in a bout and while under pressure.
- Many fencers have reported feeling better emotionally by having their coach at the strip and experiencing a more cohesive team feeling.
How to decide whether you should sign up for Strip Coaching?
- Fencers brand new to competing should consider signing up for coaching for their first event, or at least for their particular age group.
- Fencers with a goal of obtaining points or performing well in a particular age group should consider signing up for coaching in that event.
- Fencers “fencing up” in the higher age group, who would like additional emotional and tactical support, may opt-in for coaching in these events, as well.
If there are many Olympia participants in a particular event, you may want to consider not signing up for strip coaching – there will be a higher probability that Olympia Fencers will bump into each other in pools and the direct elimination bouts, and no coaching will be provided when they fence each other.
For more information about strip coaching and additional insight from other fencing club’s point of view, please read this article from the AFM blog.
We highly recommend that parents new to fencing subscribe to their blog, in order to learn more about fencing.
In this article, they cover how to communicate with your coach, and better understand how you can be helped, and here the author has some advice for the fencing parents.
This page on the USA Fencing Association website is a guide for the parents new to fencing, including information about the parental role in the fencer’s development, a short explanation about the game, the tournaments, understanding the penalties, and more.
Of course, we have a comprehensive guide for the new fencers on our website, that covers all you need to know to start being a competitive fencer, starting with the age eligibility for different competitions, the competitions descriptions, links to the registration page on the USFA website, and much more.