Tournament Guide for Parents & New Fencers


Finding a Club

Finding a club that is right for you can be hard, but here are a few aspects to look for:

  • Your child is comfortable in the environment.
  • The coaches and fellow fencers are friendly and respectful.
  • The coaches and staff are understandable.
  • The coaches are knowledgeable and experienced.
  • The price point is right for you.
  • The club’s schedule works for you and your child.

After you have found the right club for you, be sure to sign your child up for a USFA(United States Fencing Association) “Competitive” membership($75/yr) at After your membership has been processed, sign up for an AskFred account(free), as well, at

Rankings and Divisions

USFA rate fencers on a letter basis, based on the type of tournament and your result(s). You must fence in tournaments, local, regional, or national, to earn these letters. The letter will display like so: A18. The A is the letter rating, and the two digits represent the year you earned or renewed that letter. A is the highest, B, C, D, E, and U is unranked. These letters, as well as your age category will determine that events you can or cannot fence in. It can get a little complicated, so either email USA Fencing with any questions or ask someone who understands the eligibility system well. This is the 2017-18 Official Age and Classification Egilibility from USA Fencing:

Who’s Fred? is what most tournament hosters use to organize tournaments. So this is where you sign up for local and regional tournaments. The USFA is in charge of organizing national events while AskFred is a database made from various inputs from various tournament hosters. By signing up for an account, you will also be able to easily access upcoming tournaments you have signed up for, as well as your previous placements at the tournaments you’ve competed in.

Here is how you work AskFred:

  1. We usually post local and regional tournaments in our Facebook group that we recommend you fence in. But you can also look up other tournaments by simply going to the “Upcoming Tournaments” tab, entering the necessary information, and then clicking “Find Tournaments”. Try broadening your search results if not enough tournaments come up.
  2. After you’ve found a tournament(s) that works for you, there will be five options: Pre-register, view More Info, view Who’s Coming, Email the Organizer, or to view a Google Maps of your route to the tournament venue.
  3. To pre-register, make sure that your rating is accurate, and then sign up for the events that you would like to compete in. Click “Preregister”. At checkout, AskFred asks for a service free, Select yes, and continue.


Pre-register before regular deadline to avoid additional late fees.

          1. To avoid additional late fees:
            1. Sign up before regular deadline(date can be found in “More Info”).
            2. Complete payment by regular deadline date.
          2. Print out waiver and sign, if necessary.
          3. Remember your specific event(s)’s date and time.
            1. Some tournament holders may change date and time as tournament.
            2. Although these last minute changes can be unfair, it is YOUR responsibility to be aware of this change in information.

Plan a way to get to the tournament, and back.

        1. Try asking fellow club members if you need a ride or want to share rooms(if staying overnight).

Notify a coach if you desire to have him/her strip coach you at the specific tournament.

      1. Date, time and location of tournament, and the event(s) you will be competing in.
      2. Must discuss with coach privately about any necessary payment(s).


Setting a goal.

          1. Now that you have the date of your upcoming tournament(s) set, it is time to prepare for your tournament.
            1. Attend as many club days/nights as you can. Learn and implement what you learn everyday. It’s not how much time you spend there. It’s what you do with that time.
            2. Talk to your coach about scheduling lessons, or attending any additional classes.

Getting the right mindset.

          1. When you’re training, don’t just go through the motions. Learn the purpose of every movement. Don’t just fence, fence with a purpose. Fence to learn. Fence to work on something.

You only feel nervous if you’re unprepared.

      1. Are you nervous or are you excited?


Check AskFred for any changes.

          1. Unfortunately, it does happen.
          2. Print and sign waiver, if necessary.

Check ALL of your equipment.

          1. Check body cords and head cords.
          2. (EPEE only) Check tip, screws, blade, wires, shims, and weight of each weapon.
          3. (FOIL and SABRE only) Check conductivity of lame, mask, and any other silver parts on equipment.
          4. Check that your glove(s) don’t have holes.
          5. Check that your whites don’t have holes, and follows regulation( zipper/ velcro holds together. Jacket covers knickers entirely. Knickers are long enough to cover up to waist and to knees).
          6. Your club’s jacket/ uniform.

Pack your bag(s). At LEAST:

          1. 3 body cords
          2. 3 head cords (FOIL and SABRE only)
          3. 3 weapons
          4. 1 chest protector(necessary for females(FOIL need padded one); not necessary for males)
          5. 1 plastron
          6. 1 fencing Jacket
          7. 1 fencing Knickers
          8. 1 pair of socks (that cover past the knee and has no holes)
          9. 1 glove (no holes, and if SABRE, it needs to be conductive too)
          10. 1 lame (FOIL and SABRE only)
          11. 1 pair of shoes (shoes you find comfortable to fence in, doesn’t have to be fencing shoes).
          12. 1 mask (if FOIL and SABRE, it needs to be conductive too)
          13. 1 water bottle
          14. club jacket/ uniform

Get a good night’s rest.

          1. Events can start as early as 6 or 7am. Taking into account travel times, warm up, etc., you may have to wake up at 4am! Be conscious of this, and plan ahead.

Eat a hearty dinner and a healthy breakfast.

Set your alarms to wake up on time.

        1. VERY, VERY important.


Must arrive AT LEAST 45 mins- 1 hour earlier than “reg close” time.

          1. Arrive, and check-in with the tournament organizer.
          2. Set down your bag at the appropriate place.
          3. Get equipment checked by the tournament’s armory.
          4. Start warming up immediately.


          1. Run/ Cardio for 5 mins.
          2. Stretch for 20 mins.
          3. Fully change into proper fencing gear within 5 mins.
          4. Start practice fencing with others approx. 30 mins before “reg close” time.
            1. Do not fence with your club members unless you plan on doing drills.
              1. You fence them all the time. Fence other people.
            2. DO NOT tire yourself out. Stick to simple basics. DO NOT go all out.

Report to assigned strip immediately.

          1. Tournament organizer(s) will announce when the strip assignments have been posted. They will usually display this somewhere, or notify you of a method to view this.
          2. Report to your assigned strip fully dressed with:
            1. main weapon, main body cord, main glove
            2. FOIL and SABRE only:  main head cord, main lame, two extra head cords
            3. two extra weapons, two extra body cords
            4. Water bottle

What to do during Pools

          1. When director arrives at the strip, the director must check:
            1. That you have a plastron and a chest protector(optional for males) under your jacket.
            2. Your mask and glove(and lame if FOIL or SABRE) have the “passed” stamp from the armory.
            3. Your body cord (and head cord if FOIL or SABRE) have the “passed” tag from the armory.
            4. Other than your main equipment currently on, you have at least one backup weapon, and body cord(and head cord if FOIL or SABRE).
          2. Take a picture of the scoresheet before and after the pools. Know when you are “in-the-hole”(second to next to fence) and “on-deck”(next to fence).
          3. After each bout, politely make sure that the referee recorded down the correct score.

Etiquette with the Director

          1. ALWAYS be respectful with the director.
          2. If you disagree with their calls…
            1. If you are a spectator, remember that you can be thrown out, and that you may not be completely knowledged yourself.
            2. If you are a fencer ,be confident in your actions to defend them, but it is never a good idea to continuously debate their calls, which might only make them give you more unfair calls.
          3. If you truly believe that the director is not qualified enough, DO NOT argue with the director. It is more peaceful and appropriate to contact the Bout Committee or USFA.

Rest/ Re-energize

          1. Between pool bouts…
            1. Relax, but stay focused.
            2. Stay hydrated.
            3. Feel comfortable.
              1. Warm-up whole you’re on deck if you want to(recommended).
          2. Between pools and DE…
            1. Can take a long period of time…
              1. Stay hydrated.
              2. Eat a small snack.
              3. USE THE RESTROOM, if necessary. You don’t have a lot of time between DEs.
            2. Stay focused…
              1. No matter how you aced after pools, do not let it get in your head.
              2. Depending on what tournament you’re at, wait time between pools and DEs can even last an hour…
                1. Stay warm, relaxed, energized, and hydrated. “Stay loose”.
                2. Don’t lose your concentration, and your game plan.

Report to assigned D.E. strip immediately.

          1. When DE strip assignments are called, report there immediately.
            1. After three calls, you can be eliminated from the event.
            2. The more efficient you are, the more likely your director will treat you respectfully as well.

Awards/ Medals

        1. # of medals awarded depend on size of tournament(usually only top 8).
          1. You may ask the bout committee about times and additional options(mailing the award )if staying for the awards ceremony will be a problem.
        2. Wear appropriate attire. Either all whites OR club apparel and sweatpants.



Fencing can be an extremely slow-progressing sport. Everyone reflects in different ways, whether it be writing in a Fencing Journal, watching videos of their own bouts, talking to their coach, or all of the above. No matter how you reflect, to reflect is the most important part of this journey to success.

In this crucial step, you must be objective with your performance, congratulate yourself on your achievements, but also learn from your mistakes, and then access what you need to further accomplish, in order to meet the goals you have set for yourself. Find your drive and your passion, and push beyond, but when you get frustrated, recognize that this frustration stems from your drive to do better, not your failure to execute. Never stop working hard, and trust the process.

Best of luck!! 🙂