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

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How often should a youth epee 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.

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 epee 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 Epee

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 #2 and #27 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and were ranked in Cadet Men’s Saber between #3 and #80 with several unranked in early 2016-2017.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 17 clubs in eleven states with a range of rating classifications. The group also represents top performers, as its members achieved a final ranking in Y14 Men’s Epee in the #2 to #27 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #146  at year-end 2015-2016.

The average number of local and regional events entered by the youth men’s epee 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 grew and peaked in Y1-Y14 at 9.5, and then dropped to 7.7 in Y2-Y14, whereas the average number of SYCs climbed and peaked in Year 2 – Y12 at 4.7 and declined over the next two years. 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 11.8 events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up on average by 7.0 local events, 2.3 RYCs and 2.5 SYCs. The standard deviation of 8.5 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 3.3 and 20.3 events (11.8 events  +/- 8.5 events). It is apparent that there is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth men epee fencers, which is reinforced by the range of 22 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 11.4, made up of 5.9 local events, 1.2 RYCs and 4.2 SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between four (25th percentile) and 16 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of 3.0 fencers for Qualifiers to 29.8 fencers for SYC events.

The average number of events entered in Year 1 – Y12 grew to 13.5 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 9.2 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 4.3 and 22.6 events (13.5 events +/- 9.2 events). The average event size was 28.5 fencers compared to 18.2 fencers for total events in Y2 -Y10.

With Y14 fencers transitioning to cadet, junior and senior events, there is a marginal increase in the average number of local, RYCs and SYCs entered as illustrated in the Year 2 – Y14 data. Y14 youth fencers entered a total of 17.3 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up on average by 9.5 local events, 1.8 RYCs, 3.3 SYCs, 0.2 RJCCs, 0.6 ROCs and 1.9 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 10.6 and 23.9 events on average (17.3 events  +/- 6.7 events).

ROCs were the largest events on average for Year 2- Y14 at 79.2 fencers compared to SYCs at 67.2 fencers. The average number of events in the last year of Y14 is not quite double the number in Y1-Y10, 18.9 events compared to 11.8.

Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered Over a Six Year Period 2010-2011 to 2015-2016 (Year 1 - Y10 to Y2-Y14) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Men Epee Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016.

Year 1 - Y10
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #72.32.500011.8
Standard Deviation522.50008.5
Maximum #144600024
Minimum #2000002
Median #73200011
75th Percentile1044.300017.3
25th Percentile2.50.50.50005.5
Average Size of Events (Fencers)11.19.926.300014.1
(# Top 20 Fencers)6440006
Year 2 - Y10
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #5.91.24.2000.111.4
Standard Deviation4.226.7000.310.6
Maximum #1672200140
Minimum #1000001
Median #60100010
75th Percentile72400016
25th Percentile3000004
Average Size of Events (Fencers)11.313.129.800318.2
(# Top 20 Fencers)135800113
Year 1 - Y12
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #8.11.23.9000.313.5
Standard Deviation4.91.36000.59.2
Maximum #1742100129
Minimum #1000001
Median #71200012
75th Percentile122400118
25th Percentile6000007
Average Size of Events (Fencers)16.420.956.80011.828.5
(# Top 20 Fencers)1791100517
Year 2 - Y12
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #82.74.7000.816.1
Standard Deviation42.54.8000.86.7
Maximum #1481700329
Minimum #1000003
Median #82300115
75th Percentile10.54.3600120.3
25th Percentile5.511.800012.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers)19.919.949.80013.228.3
(# Top 20 Fencers)201616001320
Year 1 - Y14
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #9.51.83.30.20.61.917.3
Standard Deviation4.62.41.70.50.91.36.7
Maximum #219623530
Minimum #2000004
Median #101300215.5
75th Percentile12.32.3501323
25th Percentile5.80200112.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers)33.322.565.129.371.416.737.6
(# Top 20 Fencers)201319371820
Year 2 - Y14
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #7.70.82.74.32.21.418.9
Standard Deviation51.21.221.71.35.8
Maximum #185585430
Minimum #1011007
Median #602.541118
75th Percentile10.5135.34222.3
25th Percentile4.8022.81015.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers)33.420.767.249.679.217.945.5
(# Top 20 Fencers)2092020181420
National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net and USA Fencing data.

Youth Women’s Epee

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 epee fencers with a birth-year of 2001.  They were ranked between #1 through #50 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and are currently ranked in Cadet Women’s Epee between #1 to #77 with several unranked.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 17 clubs in nine 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 #50 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #126 at years end 2015-2016.

The average number of local and regional events entered by the youth women’s saber group is graphically illustrated below. Not surprisingly, the number and composition of events for youth women’s epee events are similar to youth men’s epee 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 grew from 2.4 in Year 1 – Y10 to 6.6 in Y1 – Y14 and then declined marginally to 6.4 in the last year of Y14. 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 epee fencers entered 3.6 local and regional events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up by 2.4 local events, 0.4, RYCs and 0.8 SYCs. The standard deviation of 2.5 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 1.1 and 6.1 events (3.6 events  +/- 2.5 events). 

In the second year of competition, the total number of events entered averaged 6.5, made up of 3.0 local events, 1.5 RYCs and 2.0 SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between 2.8 (25th percentile) and 9.8 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of 12.7 fencers for RYC events to 20.6 fencers for SYC events. There is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth women epee fencers. The range of 14 events between the minimum and the maximum number of events entered by this group in Year 1 – Y10 illustrates this point.

The average number of events entered in Year 1 – Y12 remained at 6.5 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 5.1 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 1.4 and 11.6 events (6.5 events +/- 5.1 events). The average event size was 24.1 fencers compared to 14.7 fencers for total events in Y2 -Y10.

With Y14 fencers transitioning to cadet, junior and senior events, there is a jump in the average number of total events entered as illustrated in the Year 1 – Y14. Y14 women epee fencers entered a total of 12.8 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up by 6.6 local events, 1.6 RYCs, 1.9 SYCs, 0.7 RJCCs, 0.7 ROCs and 1.3 Qualifiers. The standard deviation of 7.7 events for the total number of events means that about 70% of Year 1 – Y14 fencers entered between about 5.1 and 20.5 events on average (12.8 events  +/- 7.7 events).

ROCs remained the largest events on average at 57.5 fencers compared to SYCs at 34.7 fencers in Year 1 – Y14. The average number of events entered in Y2 – Y14, climbs to 16.4 but the average event size is similar to Year 1 – Y14. 

Average Number of Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered Over a Six Year Period 2010-2011 to 2015-2016 (Year 1 - Y10 to Y2-Y14) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Women Epee Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016.

Year 1 - Y10
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #2.40.40.80003.6
Standard Deviation1.30.51.30002.5
Maximum #4130008
Minimum #1000002
Median #3000003
75th Percentile3110003
25th Percentile1000002
Average Size of Events (Fencers)11.8162200014.5
(# Top 20 Fencers)5220005
Year 2 - Y10
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #31.520006.5
Standard Deviation32.11.60005
Maximum #96400015
Minimum #0000001
Median #2120005
75th Percentile4.323.30009.8
25th Percentile100.80002.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers)11.712.720.600014.7
(# Top 20 Fencers)7460008
Year 1 - Y12
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #2.21.82.3000.36.5
Standard Deviation1.822.3000.55.1
Maximum #65600114
Minimum #0000001
Median #211.50004
75th Percentile3.33.34.3000.311
25th Percentile1000002
Average Size of Events (Fencers)1620.236.10010.724.1
(# Top 20 Fencers)107800312
Year 2 - Y12
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #3.52.83.7000.210.2
Standard Deviation2.71.74000.45.1
Maximum #971100118
Minimum #0000003
Median #3.53200010.5
75th Percentile54500014.5
25th Percentile21.30.30006
Average Size of Events (Fencers)17.213.725.4005.518.9
(# Top 20 Fencers)15171300418
Year 1 - Y14
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #6.61.61.90.70.71.312.8
Standard Deviation5.11.91.611.51.17.7
Maximum #155636426
Minimum #0000002
Median #61100111
75th Percentile113.52.51.51217.5
25th Percentile2.501000.57
Average Size of Events (Fencers)25.316.634.723.557.513.926.3
(# Top 20 Fencers)181017761419
Year 2 - Y14
LocalRYCSYCRJCCROCQualifierTotal
Average #6.41.61.63.22.21.316.4
Standard Deviation5.21.912.41.91.58
Maximum #185396433
Minimum #0000005
Median #41232115
75th Percentile7.53.524.53219.5
25th Percentile3011.51010.5
Average Size of Events (Fencers)25.218.138.132.746.910.329
(# Top 20 Fencers)18101617161119
National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of askFRED.net and USA Fencing data.

Summary

There is a great deal of variability in the number of local and regional events entered by youth epee 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.

Minimum: Is the smallest or the least value in a given set of data.

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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