Over the Christmas holiday, I was privileged to work as part of the coaching team, overseeing a four-day Talent camp with Britain’s top Junior and Cadet fencers at the Leon Paul centre in Hendon. All the Talent programme foilists are expected to use the following ‘5-5-5’ template for warming up before representing Great Britain at international fencing competitions. There are several advantages to using this system. For example, it encourages the fencers to move up and down a piste sized space, which is what they will have available to them at competitions. It also gives the fencer everything they need to be ready for action, without it being necessary for their personal coach being present (the coach can’t always be with them and that can’t stop them from producing their best performance). It replaces many of the fencers outdated routines that employ large amounts of ‘static stretching’, which are better suited to a warm-down after a competitor has finished their day. The ‘5-5-5’, of the title refers to how many minutes each section of the warm up lasts. However, it should be noted that this is a flexible template and a fencer who needs longer to warm up, is free to convert it into ’10-10-10’, to suit their requirements.
The first five-minute period, is comprised of jogging up and down the piste and running variations, including jogging by kicking their heels up behind them, jogging with knees up, ‘side jacks’ and skipping.
The second five-minute period consists of the fencer doing ‘dynamic’, stretches up and down the piste. Any fencers who were spotted sitting down to stretch were told by the coaches to get moving.
In the final five minutes, the fencer can do footwork and more dynamic stretching. However, there now needs to be explosive actions included and they need to test their limits, so that they are ready to fence immediately afterwards. For example, if in the second period of five minutes, the fencer did high knee lifts into a lunge, they should now jump in the air with their knee lift to get the full range of motion and make the action more explosive. A fencer doing footwork in this segment, should include some fast lunges and changes of tempo.