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

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How often should a youth saber 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 saber 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 Saber

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 #27 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and are currently ranked in Cadet Men’s Saber between #2 and #79 with several unranked.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 14 clubs in nine states with a range of rating classifications. The group also represents top performers, as its members achieved a final ranking in Y14 Men’s Saber in the #1 to #27 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #141  at year-end 2015-2016.

The average number of local and regional events entered by the youth men’s saber 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 10.1, and then dropped to 5.5 in Y2-Y14, whereas the average number of SYCs climbed and peaked in Year 2 – Y12 at 5.1 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 7.7 events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up on average by 5.4 local events, 0.9 RYCs and 1.3 SYCs. The standard deviation of 4.6 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 3.1 and 12.2 events (7.7 events  +/- 4.6 events). It is apparent that there is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth men saber fencers, which is reinforced by the range of 14 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 12, made up of 8.2 local events, 1.4 RYCs and 2.4 SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between five (25th percentile) and 18 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of 10.1 fencers for RYCs to 28.6 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 Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016.

Year 1 – Y10   Year 2 – Y10
Local RYC SYC Total   Local RYC SYC Total
Average # 5.4 0.9 1.3 7.7 8.2 1.4 2.4 12.0
Standard Deviation 4.4 1.4 1.7 4.6 5.5 2.1 2.7 8.2
Maximum # 12 3 4 15 21 7 8 31
Minimum # 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Median # 4 0 0 7 9 0 1 10
75th Percentile 9.0 2.0 3.0 10.0 12.0 3.0 5.0 18.0
25th Percentile 2.0 0.0 0.0 6.0 4.0 0.0 0.0 5.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 15.0 14.5 20.1 15.9 14.6 10.1 28.6 16.9
(# Top 20 Fencers) 8 3 4 9 16 7 12 17

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

The average number of events entered in Year 1 – Y12 grew to 15.6 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 7.2 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 8.4 and 22.8 events (15.6 events +/- 7.2 events). The average event size was 25.9 fencers compared to 16.9 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 Men Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y12   Year 2 – Y12
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 9.1 2.3 4.0 0.2 15.6 8.2 3.2 5.1 0.5 16.8
Standard Deviation 4.0 1.8 3.6 0.4 7.2 3.8 2.9 3.3 0.6 6.8
Maximum # 16 6 10 1 29 18 11 12 2 34
Minimum # 3 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 0 3
Median # 10 2 4 0 16 8 3 6 0 17
75th Percentile 11.8 4.0 7.8 0.0 19.8 10.0 3.0 7.0 1.0 19.0
25th Percentile 5.3 1.0 0.3 0.0 11.5 5.5 2.0 2.5 0.0 13.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 16.7 16.0 53.5 10.3 25.9 20.0 20.2 58.9 6.7 31.4
(# Top 20 Fencers) 18 14 13 4 18 19 16 16 8 19

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 local, RYCs and SYCs entered as illustrated in the Year 2 – Y14 data. Y14 youth fencers entered a total of 16.9 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up on average by 10.1 local events, 1.8 RYCs, 2.8 SYCs, 0.4 RJCCs, 0.9 ROCs and 1.1 qualifiers. 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 9.3 and 24.5 events on average (16.9 events  +/- 7.6 events).

SYCs remained the largest events on average at 67.3 fencers compared to ROCs at 53.8 fencers. The average number of events in the last year of Y14 is double the number in Y1-Y10, 15.2 events compared to 7.7. There is a significant decline in the average number of local events entered, 5.5 compared to 10.1 in Year 1 – Y14, but a significant 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 Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 10.1 1.8 2.8 0.4 0.9 1.1 16.9
Standard Deviation 4.8 2.4 1.4 0.7 1.0 1.2 7.6
Maximum # 25 8 6 2 4 4 33
Minimum # 3 0 0 0 0 0 4
Median # 9 1 3 0 1 1 15
75th Percentile 12.0 2.0 4.0 0.5 1.0 2.0 23.5
25th Percentile 7.8 0.0 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 11.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 27.7 27.5 67.3 21.6 53.8 12.4 34.5
(# Top 20 Fencers) 20 14 19 5 11 11 20

 

Year 2 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 5.5 1.2 2.1 3.5 2.3 0.7 15.2
Standard Deviation 5.8 1.4 1.0 2.4 2.1 0.8 9.0
Maximum # 27 5 5 8 6 2 36
Minimum # 1 0 1 0 0 0 2
Median # 4 1 2 3 2 1 14
75th Percentile 6.5 2.0 2.5 5.0 4.0 1.0 22.5
25th Percentile 2.0 0.0 1.8 1.8 0.8 0.0 8.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 22.2 25.3 51.6 38.2 41.4 11.3 32.5
(# Top 20 Fencers) 20 12 20 18 15 10 20

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

Youth Women’s Saber

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 saber fencers with a birth-year of 2001.  They were ranked between #1 through #37 in Y14 at the end of the 2015 – 2016 fencing season and are currently ranked in Cadet Women’s Saber between #6 to #57 with several unranked.

The group represents a diverse group of fencers from 17 clubs in 13 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 #37 range out of a pool of fencers ranked to #114 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 saber events are similar to youth men’s saber 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 3.6 in Year 1 – Y10 to 7.7 in Y1 – Y14 and then declined to 4.4 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 – Y10 and subsequently declined, making way for RJCCs and ROCs. It seems more is better at least at first!

Y10 women saber fencers entered 4.6 local and regional events on average in the first year of Y10 competition as illustrated in the accompanying table. This was made up by 3.6 local events, 0.6, RYCs and 0.4 SYCs. The standard deviation of 2.5 for the average number of total events means that about 70% of fencers entered between 2.1 and 7.1 events (4.6 events  +/- 2.5 events). 

In the second year of competition, the total number of events entered averaged 15.1, made up of 7.3 local events, 3.6 RYCs and four SYCs. Fifty percent of fencers entered between 5.8 (25th percentile) and 18.5 events (75th percentile) events in Year 2 – Y10. The average event size ranged from a low of three fencers for qualifier events to 16.5 fencers for SYC events. There is a great deal of variability in the number of events entered by youth women saber fencers. The range of 38 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 Local & Regional Tournament Events Entered in 2010-2011 (Year 1 – Y10) and 2011-2012 (Year 2 – Year 10) by Top 20 Ranked Y14 Women Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y10   Year 2 – Y10
Local RYC SYC Total   Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total
Average # 3.6 0.6 0.4 4.6 7.3 3.6 4.0 0.1 15.1
Standard Deviation 2.1 0.8 1.0 2.5 4.3 5.0 4.4 0.4 12.3
Maximum # 9 2 3 9 13.0 14.0 12.0 1.0 40.0
Minimum # 1 0 0 1 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0
Median # 3 0 0 5 7.5 2.0 2.5 0.0 13.0
75th Percentile 4.0 1.0 0.0 6.0 10.8 3.5 6.0 0.0 18.5
25th Percentile 3.0 0.0 0.0 3.0 5.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 5.8
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 12.1 7.8 9.0 11.3 12.8 9.3 16.5 3.0 12.8
(# Top 20 Fencers) 10 4 2 10 14.0 10.0 9.0 2.0 14.0

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 13.2 as illustrated in the table below. With a standard deviation of 6.2 events, about 70% of the fencers entered between 6.9 and 19.4 events (13.2 events +/- 6.2 events). The average event size was 18.1 fencers compared to 12.8 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 Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y12   Year 2 – Y12
Local RYC SYC Qualifier Total   Local RYC SYC RJCC Qualifier Total
Average # 6.2 2.5 3.9 0.5 13.2 6.8 2.8 4.6 0.5 0.6 15.3
Standard Deviation 2.9 1.6 3.7 0.5 6.2 3.7 2.7 2.5 0.9 0.5 4.1
Maximum # 10 4 12 1 26 13 8 9 3 1 21.0
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 6 0 0 1 0 0 7.0
Median # 6 3 3 1 10 7 2 4 0 1 15.0
75th Percentile 9.0 4.0 6.0 1.0 16.0 9.0 4.5 6.0 0.5 1.0 18.5
25th Percentile 5.0 1.0 2.0 0.0 10.0 4.0 0.5 3.5 0.0 0.0 13.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 14.3 12.4 29.9 4.7 18.1 16.9 11.9 33.2 24.8 6.1 20.8
(# Top 20 Fencers) 17 14 14 9 17 18 14 19 5 11 19.0

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 jump in the average number of total events entered as illustrated in the Year 1 – Y14. Y14 women saber fencers entered a total of 17.2 events on average in the first year of Y14 competitions. This was made up by 7.7 local events, 2.2 RYCs, 2.3 SYCs, 2.1 RJCCs, 1.6 ROCs and 1.4 Qualifiers. The standard deviation of 9.6 events for the total number of events means that about 70% of Year 1 – Y14 fencers entered between about 7.6 and 26.7 events on average (17.2 events  +/- 9.6 events).

SYCs remained the largest events on average at 38.9 fencers compared to ROCs at 30.1 fencers in Year 1 – Y14. The average number of events entered in Y1 – Y14, drops to 14 but the average event size id similar to Year 1 – Y14. 

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 Saber Fencers at Year-End 2015-2016

Year 1 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 7.7 2.2 2.3 2.1 1.6 1.4 17.2
Standard Deviation 4.7 2.6 1.4 2.1 1.6 1.3 9.6
Maximum # 19 8 5 7 6 4 36
Minimum # 1 0 1 0 0 0 4
Median # 7 2 2 2 1 1 14
75th Percentile 11.0 3.5 2.5 3.0 2.0 2.0 23.5
25th Percentile 5.0 0.0 1.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 11.0
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 22.6 15.3 38.9 25.1 30.1 6.9 23.5
(# Top 20 Fencers) 19 11 19 14 13 13 19

 

Year 2 – Y14
Local RYC SYC RJCC ROC Qualifier Total
Average # 4.4 0.8 1.3 4.2 2.6 0.8 14.0
Standard Deviation 3.5 1.1 1.0 2.7 2.5 1.1 7.8
Maximum # 13 3 3 8 11 4 28
Minimum # 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
Median # 3 0 1 4 2 0 14
75th Percentile 6.0 2.0 2.0 6.0 3.0 1.3 20.3
25th Percentile 2.0 0.0 1.0 1.8 1.0 0.0 7.5
Average Size of Events (Fencers) 18.1 12.1 36.2 24.8 27.8 5.3 22.5
(# Top 20 Fencers) 20 7 16 19 19 9 20

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 saber 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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