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Sports Psychology And Fencing: What Motivates A Young Fencer

Posted by: Dr. Granat on March 27, 2011

Over the years, I have counseled a number of top fencers. Piror to meeting these athletes, I knew very little about this sport. But, my clients taught me many of the basics and some of the subtleties that are an important part of the fencing world. The fencers educated me about the rules, the equipment and the psyching out that goes on the strip and at the matches.
To me, fencing is a rather fascinating sport. It is a combination of boxing, the martial arts, combat and ballet.
Great fencers are great athletes with quick reflexes, great balance and outstanding
stamina. People who succeed at fencing are disciplined, focused, resilient, creative and clever.
Great fencers are quite cerebral and they are also very adept at anticipating what their opponent will do next. To be successful at fencing you must know how to attack,
how to defend and how to counterattack. Like boxing, offense and defense can change
very rapidly in this sport.
Fencing is very mental. There is the internal mental aspect which involves
being confident, being focused, being resilient, remaining disciplined, balanced and relaxed.
And then there is the external mental part of the game which involves developing the
right strategy to beat your opponent. Fencers tell me that their sport is very much like a
chess game.

What Motivates Someone To Take Up Fencing?

When I counsel a fencer, or for that matter any athlete, I always ask them
how they got interested in their sport. I am also curious about what they love about the sport, when they started and if they have competed in or played other sports.
Knowing this information is helpful in understanding the fencer’s motivation and in understanding his or her personal sport psychology.
Some of the fencers I have counseled have told me that they were motivated and
intrigued by dueling scenes they had seen in movies about Zorro and The Three Musketeers.
One fencer confessed to seeing an Errol Flynn movie and being totally fascinated
by one of the action scenes.
Recently, a top young fencer who was suffering with some performance anxiety
came to talk to me to get some help. During the initial interview, this youngster explained that the dueling scene in the Star Wars film got him hooked on fencing. In fact, I integrated Star War images in the hypnotic technique that I taught this youngster to better his performance.
A number of fencers who I have counseled do seem to enjoy utilizing imagery from dueling scenes as they get psyched up and ready to compete in a match.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and the Founder of
He is available to give seminars and to counsel fencers and parents of fencers.
Dr. Granat is the author of several books and has been featured in many major media outlets. He cna be reached at or at 888 580-ZONE.

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