How many rest days before a major fencing competition?

Rest days are incredibly important in regards to muscle fatigue and athletic performance, because when you are resting your muscles recover and repair themselves.

While there is plenty of advice online about training and rest for attaining peak performance in different types of sporting competitions.  I didn't find any advice on the right amount of rest for fencing, I suppose that article is yet to be written.

Having trained at several geographically diverse elite fencing clubs over the years (thanks to parental job re-locations), my son has been given different advice by different coaches for what constitutes appropriate rest before a major competition, especially Summer Nationals.  Because fencers undergo such intense periods of training at pre-Summer Nationals camp, the question of how much rest they need before the start of competition is material.  A fencer's age is very much a relevant factor.

The best common sense advice he received as a 2nd year Y12 fencer was to take at least 4 days off before the 1st competition, and perform only light exercises on those days for up to a maximum of 2 hours.  His then coach observed that those who continued practice up to 2 days or 1 day before competition didn't usually perform as well.   This is sound advice indeed from a coach who has developed national champions and Olympians. 

Unlike many other sports, performance during competition in fencing is said to be 95%  mental, and 5% physical.  Not only does the body need to recover from hard training, the fencer also needs to relax and mentally prepare for competition.  Practicing hard right up to the end prevents the physical and mental re-set necessary for competing in a sport that is largely mental as soon as you hook-up on strip.

As it turned out in that 2nd year of Y12, my son took 10 days off, and managed to finished 48th in Y14 at Summer Nationals, earning his 1st set of Y14 national points as a Y12.  The 10 days off had given him recovery time from a very intensive month long camp, but it wasn't so long that he would have lost the benefits of the camp.  In hindset, it was just right.  He had arrived at Summer Nationals that year fully psyched, and ready to compete.

As a teenager, he's found that taking between 3 to 4 days out before a major competition has worked very well.  

This article reflects just one perspective, and we want to hear from coaches and fencers about their experiences with when they pull back from intense training before a major competition. 

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Donna Meyer