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Frequency Benchmarks for Local & Regional Tournament Events by Youth Foil Fencers (Y10, Y12, Y14)

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How often should a youth foil fencer (Y10, Y12 & Y14) compete in local and regional tournament events? There are probably as many opinions as to how often a fencer should compete as there are fencers! Based on our research, some try to fence about 30 events per year, and some more often. Others try to compete not more than about ten times a year, and for some, maybe only once a year. During our research, we found that one fencer competed in 81 events in their second year of Y10, with a total of 140 events as a Y10 fencer, and this figure didn’t include national events!

In all cases, the fencer’s coach is the best reference to determine when a fencer is ready to compete and how often they should compete. Check out our earlier posts on Benchmarks for Youth Epee, Foil and Saber Fencers, which provide information on the average age of fencers at their first tournament and a timeline to earn different rating classifications.

In this post, we examine the average number of local and regional tournament events entered by a group of youth men and women foil fencers over a six-year period (2010-2011 through 2015-2016). This period covers the two years in Y10, two years in Y12 and two years in Y14. But first, let’s provide a few definitions.

A competition (or event) is the aggregate of the bouts that determine the winner of the event. Competitions are categorized by weapons, by gender, by age, and by classification. A tournament consists of several competitions held at the same venue in the same period of time.

Local events include competitions that are organized by clubs, consortia of clubs and USFA Divisions. They do not include Regional Youth Circuit (RYC), Super Youth Circuit (SYC), Regional Junior/Cadet Circuit (RJCC), Regional Open Circuit (ROC) and Divisional Qualifiers which are all classified as regional tournaments. For further information on these tournament events, please refer to the Athlete’s Handbook on USFA’s website. Definitions for the terms used in the accompanying tables are provided at the bottom of the post.

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Youth Men’s Foil

The group we have used to determine the number and type of local and regional events entered during the six years, consists of the Top 20 ranked Y14 U.S. youth fencers with a birth-year of 2001.  They were ranked between #1 and #40 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and are currently ranked in Cadet Men’s Foil between #3 and #103 with one unranked.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 16 clubs in eight states with a range of rating classifications. The group also represents top performers, as its members achieved a final ranking in Y14 Men’s Foil in the #1 to #40 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #205  at years end 2015-2016.

The average number of local and regional events entered by the youth men’s foil group is graphically illustrated below. (Scroll over the graph to highlight details) The graph shows that the bulk of events entered were local events followed by SYCs.

Over the six-year period, the average number of local tournaments declined, whereas the average number of SYCs climbed and peaked in Year 2 – Y1o, declined in Year 1 – Y12, peaked again in Year 2 – Y12 and then subsequently declined. The average number of RYCs entered peaked in Year 2 – Y12 and subsequently declined, making way for RJCCs and ROCs. It seems more is better at least at first!

Y10 men fencers entered 12.1 events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up on average by 8.5 local events, 1.9 RYCs and 1.5 SYCs. The standard deviation of 9.2 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 2.8 and 21.3 events (12.1 events  +/- 9.2 events). It is apparent that there is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth men foil fencers, which is reinforced by the range of 30 events between the minimum and the maximum number of events entered by this group.

In the second year of competition, the total number of events entered averaged 17.2, made up of 9.4 local events, 2.7 RYCs and 4.9 SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between nine (25th percentile) and 23 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of 19.7 fencers for local and qualifier events to 56.3 fencers for SYC events.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2010-2011 (Year 1 – Y10) and 2011-2012 (Year 2 – Year 10) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Men Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016.

Year 1 – Y10   Year 2 – Y10
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 8.5 1.9 1.5 0.1 12.1 9.4 2.7 4.9 0.2 17.2
Standard Deviation 6.9 2.3 1.9 0.3 9.2 5.8 2.1 4.9 0.4 10.8
Maximum # 24 6 5 1 31 21 6 19 1 43
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
Median # 7 1 0 0 11 8 2 3 0 16
75th Percentile 9.5 3.0 3.5 0.0 17.0 12.0 5.0 7.0 0.0 23.0
25th Percentile 4.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 4.5 6.0 1.0 2.0 0.0 9.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 17.4 19.2 47.5 9.0 21.5 19.7 27.3 56.3 19.7 31.4
(# Top 20 Fencers) 15 9 7 1 15 17 14 14 3 17

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

The average number of events entered in Year 1 – Y12 fell to 15.1 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 7.7 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 7.4 and 22.8 events (15.1 events +/- 7.7events). The average event size was 45.5 fencers compared to 31.4 fencers for total events in Y2 -Y10. At 17.4 events, the average number of events for Year 2 – Y12 fencers is similar to 17.2 for Year 2 – Y10 fencers.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2012-2013 (Year 1 – Y12) and 2013-2014 (Year 2 – Y12) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Men Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y12   Year 2 – Y12
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 8.0 2.1 4.6 0.4 15.1 7.7 3.9 5.3 0.5 17.4
Standard Deviation 5.9 1.3 2.7 0.5 7.7 4.6 3.8 2.1 0.6 7.7
Maximum # 24 4 8 1 31 19 14 8 2 36
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 3 1 0 2 0 7
Median # 8 2 5 0 16 7 3 5 0 16
75th Percentile 10.0 2.8 6.8 1.0 19.8 9.0 4.8 7.8 1.0 21.0
25th Percentile 3.3 1.3 2.0 0.0 8.5 5.0 2.0 4.0 0.0 12.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 27.6 34.7 83.9 22.7 45.5 32.2 33.5 70.9 24.7 44.1
(# Top 20 Fencers) 18 16 17 7 18 18 16 18 8 18

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

With Y14 fencers transitioning to cadet, junior and senior events, there is a marked decline in the average number of total events entered as illustrated in the Year 1 – Y14 and Year 2 – Y14 data. Y14 youth fencers entered a total of 15.2 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up on average by 7.6 local events, 1.9 RYCs, 2.6 SYCs, 0.4 RJCCs, 0.8 ROCs and 1.4 qualifiers. The standard deviation of 6.7 events for the total number of events means that about 70% of Year 1 – Y14 fencers entered between about 8.4 and 21.9 events on average (15.2 events  +/- 6.7 events).

SYCs remained the largest events on average at 88.6 fencers compared to ROCs at 71.2 fencers. The average number of events in the last year of Y14 mirrors the first year of Y10, 12.2 events compared to 12.1. There is a significant decline in the average number of local events entered, 4.0 compared to 7.6 in Year 1 – Y14, but a modest increase in the average number of RJCCs and ROCs.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2014-2015 (Year 1 – Y14) and 2015-2016 (Year 2 – Y14) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Men Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 7.6 1.9 2.6 0.4 0.8 1.7 15.2
Standard Deviation 4.7 1.7 1.6 0.8 1.3 1.2 6.7
Maximum # 16 5 6 2 4 4 30
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Median # 7 2 2 0 0 1 14
75th Percentile 11.5 3.5 3.5 0.5 1.5 2.5 18.0
25th Percentile 4.0 0.5 2.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 12.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 33.9 38.5 88.6 37.0 71.2 21.2 44.7
(# Top 20 Fencers) 19 14 18 5 7 16 19

 

Year 2 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 4.0 1.0 2.1 2.8 1.9 0.6 12.2
Standard Deviation 2.8 1.2 1.3 2.0 1.8 0.7 7.2
Maximum # 8 4 4 6 6 2 24
Minimum # 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Median # 4 1 2 3 1 0 12
75th Percentile 6.3 1.3 3.0 4.3 3.0 1.0 19.3
25th Percentile 2.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 8.3
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 36.8 50.4 93.4 56.3 71.2 17.7 56.4
(# Top 20 Fencers) 18 10 17 16 14 9 20

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

Youth Women’s Foil

The group used to determine the number and type of local and regional events entered during the six years, consists of the Top 20 ranked Y14 U.S. youth women foil fencers with a birth-year of 2001.  They were ranked between #1 through #46 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and are currently ranked in Cadet Women’s Foil between #1 to #76 with several unranked.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 12 clubs in eight states with a range of rating classifications. The group also represents top performers, as its members achieved a final ranking Y14 women’s foil in the #1 to #46 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #118 at years end 2015-2016.

The average number of local and regional events entered by the youth women’s foil group is graphically illustrated below. Not surprisingly, the number and composition of events for youth women’s foil events are similar to youth men’s foil events. (Scroll over the graph to highlight details) The graph shows that the bulk of events entered were local events followed by SYCs.

Over the six-year period, the average number of local tournaments declined, whereas the average number of SYCs climbed and peaked in Year 2 – Y12, then subsequently declined. The average number of RYCs entered peaked in Year 2 – Y12 and subsequently declined, making way for RJCCs and ROCs. It seems more is better at least at first!

Y10 women foil fencers entered 11.5 local and regional events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up by 8.8 local events, 1.2, RYCs and 1.4 SYCs. The standard deviation of 10 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 1.5 and 21.5 events (11.5 events  +/- 10 events). Again, it is apparent that there is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth women foil fencers. The range of 32 events between the minimum and the maximum number of events entered by this group illustrates this point.

In the second year of competition, the total number of events entered averaged 16.3, made up of 7.6 local events, 2.8 RYCs and five SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between 12 (25th percentile) and 18.3 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of 15.4 fencers for local events to 39.8 fencers for SYC events.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2010-2011 (Year 1 – Y10) and 2011-2012 (Year 2 – Year 10) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Women Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016.

Year 1 – Y10   Year 2 – Y10
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 8.8 1.2 1.4 0.1 11.5 7.6 2.8 5.0 0.1 16.3
Standard Deviation 7.8 1.4 1.4 0.3 10.0 4.5 1.7 4.2 0.3 7.1
Maximum # 27 4 4 1 33 17 7 13 1 31
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 6
Median # 7 1 2 0 11 6 3 5 0 14
75th Percentile 14.3 2.0 2.3 0.0 18.5 10.3 3.0 8.3 0.0 18.3
25th Percentile 2.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0 4.3 2.0 1.8 0.0 12.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 13.3 13.5 33.8 10.0 15.9 15.4 20.5 39.8 23.0 24.3
(# Top 20 Fencers) 12 6 7 1 12 18 15 13 1 18

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

The average number of events entered in Year 1 – Y12 climbed to 17.9 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 10.6 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 7.3 and 28.5 events (15.1 events +/- 7.7events). The average event size was 32.2 fencers compared to 24.3 fencers for total events in Y2 -Y10.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2012-2013 (Year 1 – Y12) and 2013-2014 (Year 2 – Y12) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Women Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y12   Year 2 – Y12
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 9.9 2.5 5.1 0.5 17.9 7.8 3.4 6.9 0.5 18.6
Standard Deviation 8.5 1.8 3.2 0.7 10.6 6.1 2.7 2.1 0.5 7.7
Maximum # 39 7 12 2 53 21 8 11 1 35
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 0 5
Median # 9 2 6 0 17 6 4 8 1 17
75th Percentile 10.8 4.0 7.3 1.0 21.0 10.8 5.0 8.0 1.0 21.8
25th Percentile 3.8 1.0 2.0 0.0 13.0 3.8 0.8 5.8 0.0 13.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 21.5 21.3 60.4 10.0 32.2 24.5 23.2 59.0 10.9 36.7
(# Top 20 Fencers) 20 17 18 8 20 20 15 20 10 20

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

With Y14 fencers transitioning to cadet, junior and senior events, there is a marked decline in the average number of total events entered as illustrated in the Year 1 – Y14 and Year 2 – Y14 data. Y14 women foil fencers entered a total of 15.3 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up by 8.2 local events, 1.7 RYCs, 2.5 SYCs, 0.8 RJCCs and 1.4 ROCs. The standard deviation of 7.6 events for the total number of events means that about 70% of Year 1 – Y14 fencers entered between about 7.7 and 22.9 events on average (15.3 events  +/- 7.6 events).

SYCs remained the largest events on average at 71 fencers compared to ROCs at 37.3 fencers. The average number of events in the last year of Y14 mirrors the first year of Y10, 11.2 events compared to 11.5. There is a sizeable decline in the average number of local events entered, 4.7 compared to 8.2 in Year 1 – Y14, but a modest increase in the average number of RJCCs and ROCs.

The Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2014-2015 (Year 1 – Y14) and 2015-2016 (Year 2 – Y14) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Women Foil Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 8.2 1.7 2.5 0.8 1.4 0.9 15.3
Standard Deviation 5.5 1.8 1.2 1.1 1.1 0.9 7.6
Maximum # 23 7 5 3 3 3 35
Minimum # 2 0 1 0 0 0 3
Median # 8 2 2 0 2 1 15
75th Percentile 11.0 3.0 3.3 2.0 2.0 1.3 19.3
25th Percentile 4.0 0.0 1.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 31.7 29.2 71.0 29.3 37.3 6.9 36.9
(# Top 20 Fencers) 20.0 12.0 20.0 7.0 14.0 11.0 20.0

 

Year 2 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 4.7 1.1 1.8 1.7 1.5 0.4 11.2
Standard Deviation 5.0 1.3 1.7 1.9 1.4 1.0 9.0
Maximum # 17 4 6 6 4 4 34
Minimum # 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Median # 3 1 1 1 1 0 10
75th Percentile 5.0 1.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 0.0 12.5
25th Percentile 2.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 6.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 22.4 32.3 59.6 25.6 36.4 3.0 31.1
(# Top 20 Fencers) 17.0 11.0 14.0 13.0 13.0 3.0 19.0

Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net data.

Summary

There is a great deal of variability in the number of local and regional events entered by youth foil fencers as demonstrated by our analysis. There is obviously a fine line between entering too many events and suffering burn-out or “tournamentitis”, or entering too few tournaments and not honing the skills taught by coaches in private and group lessons.

Tournaments enable fencers to “package” all that they have learned in practice and private lessons. They can be used to hone their skills, teach youth fencers how to be mentally strong and expose them to different styles of fencing and new competition. Some fencers have a love of competition and enjoy tournament experience, others do not. At their best, they should provide fun times for youth fencers.

The number of events entered by youth fencers is related to a number of factors: the fencer’s experience and desire to compete, the competitive nature of a club’s membership, the approach taken by a club’s coaches regarding competitive tournaments, the quality, distance and cost of nearby fencing competitions and the opportunity to make and meet friends. In all cases, the fencer’s coach is the best reference to determine when a fencer is ready to compete and how often they should compete.

Definitions

Standard Deviation: A quantity to indicate the extent of deviation for a group as a whole. In general, we expect roughly 70% of observations to lie within one standard deviation of the mean and about 95% to lie within two standard deviations of the mean.

Maximum: Is the largest or the greatest value in a set of data. In this case, it is the largest number of events entered by a fencer.

Minimum: Is the smallest or the least value in a given set of data. In this case, it is the smallest number of events entered by an athlete.

Median: Is the middle data value of an ordered data set.

75th Percentile: A percentile is a data point below which a given percentage of observations in a group falls. The 75th percentile means that 75% of the observations were less than the 75th percentile value and 25% were above the 75th percentile value.

25th Percentile: A percentile is a data point below which a given percentage of observations in a group falls. The 25th percentile means that 25% of the observations were less than the 25th percentile value and 75% were above the 25th percentile value.

For ease in reporting, percentiles are often broken into quartiles, with the 25th percentile known as the first quartile, the 50th percentile known as the median or second quartile, and the 75th percentile as the third quartile.

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