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Potential Benchmark Indicators for Youth Men & Women Saber Fencers

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Benchmark Indicators

While the USFA’s classification system for fencers was primarily designed to provide an objective scale for the seeding of competitions, the system is now widely used by youth fencers to mark their progress in the sport.  Being awarded an “E” rating is a major milestone in the fencing life of many youth fencers and is often seen as a “rite of passage” between a “beginner” and a more accomplished fencer.

The pursuit of even higher classifications can lead to frustration and disappointment unless there is a realistic understanding of the time required to develop fencing skills, build confidence, and experience success. We have therefore developed a set of benchmark indicators which provide a realistic timeline for youth sabreurs seeking to achieve a rating classification.  In future posts, we will provide similar benchmark indicators for both youth foilists and epeeists.

So what is a benchmark indicator? A benchmark indicator is a measurement that can help a fencer improve his or her performance.  Benchmarks are goals to aim for. Fencers can choose benchmarks based on standards or averages derived from their age-gender-weapon category or experience group. For instance, fencers may look to peak performers in an age-gender-weapon category and set their performance levels in areas such as training or the time required to reach different classification levels as their benchmarks – the levels they will strive to reach.  Benchmark indicators can motivate fencers, giving them measurable goals to achieve. They can help youth fencers see how they measure up to others in their age or experience group.

For the purpose of deriving benchmark indicators for both youth men and women sabreurs, we examined the historical performance of a group of saber fencers who are currently ranked in either Cadet Men’s Saber or Cadet Women’s Saber and were born in 2001 or later. The fencers are ranked in the tables at the bottom of this post. The group is ideal for a number of reasons. First, all of the rating classifications were awarded during the Y-10 to Y-14 period. Second, it is a diverse group of fencers from different clubs, different states with a range of rating classifications and birth years. The group also represents peak performers as its members have achieved a ranking in the Cadet Division as a youth fencer.

Youth Men Saber Fencers

The group of men sabreurs consists of 29 fencers who are currently ranked in Cadet Men’s Saber from # 2 to # 73T with a spread of rating classifications from “E” to “A.” The group represents two birth years (2001 and 2002), 19 clubs in 13 states and provinces. The fencers’ average age at their first tournament was 9.2 years, with a range of 6.3 to 12 years as illustrated in the table below.

“E” ratings were awarded to 21 or about 72% of the group.  The average time spent between the first event and being awarded an “E” rating was 2.9 years with a standard deviation of 1.2 years. This means that about 70% of “E” rated youth men sabreurs were awarded their rating between 1.7 years and 4.1 years (2.9 years -/+1.7 years) after their first event. Fifty percent (50%) took between 2 years (25th percentile) and 3.9 years (75th percentile) to achieve their “E” rating. Of the group of 29 fencers, only four have an “A” rating, which took on average 5 years to achieve since their first event. See our earlier post on the clubs generating the largest number of “A” rated saber fencers  for the entire fencing population in 2014-2015.

Potential Benchmark Indicators for Youth Men Saber Fencers

Age at First Event (Years) Years Between First Event and “E” Rating Years Between First Event and “D” Rating Years Between First Event and “C” Rating Years Between First Event and “B” Rating Years Between First Event and “A” Rating
Average 9.2 2.9 3.4 4.0 4.7 5.0
Standard Deviation 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.3 0.9 1.1
Maximum 12.0 5.2 6.6 7.1 6.0 6.2
Minimum 6.3 0.9 1.7 2.3 3.2 3.7
Median 9.3 2.5 3.1 3.9 4.9 5.1
75th Percentile 10.3 3.9 4.2 4.6 5.4 5.8
25th Percentile 8.2 2.0 2.6 2.9 3.9 4.2
Number of Fencers 29 21 24 26 15 4
Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of USFA national and askFRED.net data.

The distribution of years between the first event and the rating classifications awarded to youth men saber fencers currently ranked in Cadet Men’s Saber at July 18, 2016 is  highlighted in the box-and-whisker plots below.

Each  rating classification has a diagram, the height of which represents the numerical range of years (minimum and maximum values). The “boxes” represent the 25th through the 75th percentile. This type of chart enables the viewer to make quick comparisons among the rating classifications.

This graph tells us that the full range of years to achieve an “E” rating for the group was quite large, extending from 0.9 years on the low end to 5.2 years on the high end. Scrolling over the box-and-whisker plot for the “E” rating highlights the data set: E 0.9-5.2, 2-3.9   The middle half (mid-spread) of fencers gained their “E” rating between 2 and 3.9 years after their first tournament. The 25% of of “E” ratings which took the least amount of time to achieve are grouped across a relatively small 1.1-year range (2.0-0.9 = 1.1). The distance across which the top 25% are distributed is slightly larger at 1.3 years (5.2-3.9 = 1.3).

Youth Women Saber Fencers

The group of youth women’s saber fencers consists of 22 fencers who are currently ranked from #7 to #48 with a rating classification spread of “C” to “A.” The group represents 17 clubs in 10 states, as illustrated in the following table.

The group’s average age at the first tournament was 9.9 years, with a range of 7.2 to 13.3 years as illustrated in the table below. “E” ratings were awarded to 17, or about 68% of the group.  The average time spent between the first event and being awarded an “E” rating was 2.4 years, with a standard deviation of 1.3 years. This means that about 70% of “E” rated youth women’s saber fencers were awarded their rating between 1.1 years and 3.7 years (2.4 years -/+1.3 years) after their first tournament. Fifty percent (50%) took between 1.5 years (25th percentile) and 3.4 years (75th percentile) to achieve their “E” rating. Of the group of 29 fencers, ten have an “A” rating which took on average 4.2 years to achieve since their first event.

Potential Benchmark Indicators for Youth Women Saber Fencers

Age at First Event (Years) Years Between First Event and “E” Rating Years Between First Event and “D” Rating Years Between First Event and “C” Rating Years Between First Event and “B” Rating Years Between First Event and “A” Rating
Average 9.9 2.4 3.3 3.6 4.1 4.2
Standard Deviation 1.6 1.3 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.1
Maximum 13.3 5.3 5.2 5.7 6.1 5.4
Minimum 7.2 0.5 0.7 0.9 1.4 2.4
Median 9.7 1.8 3.4 4.1 4.5 4.6
75th Percentile 10.9 3.4 4.3 4.4 5.3 5.0
25th Percentile 8.9 1.5 2.1 2.5 3.0 3.4
Number of Fencers 25 17 16 17 18 10
Source: National Fencing Club Rankings based on an analysis of USFA national and askFRED.net data.

The distribution of years between the first event and the rating classifications awarded to youth women’s saber fencers currently ranked in Cadet Women’s Saber at July 18, 2016 is highlighted in the box-and-whisker plot below.

Each rating classification has a diagram, the height of which represents the numerical range of years (minimum and maximum values). The “boxes” represent the 25th through the 75th percentile. This type of chart enables the viewer to make quick comparisons among the rating classifications.

This graph tells us that the full range of years to achieve an “E” rating for the group was quite large, extending from 0.5 years on the low end to 5.3 years on the high end. Scrolling over the box-and-whisker plot for the “E” rating highlights the data set: E 0.5-5.3, 1.5-3.4   The middle half (mid-spread) of fencers gained their “E” rating between 1.5 and 3.4 years after their first tournament. The 25% of of “E” ratings which took the least amount of time to achieve are grouped across a relatively small 1.1-year range (1.5-0.5 = 1.0). The distance across which the top 25% are distributed is slightly larger at 1.9 years. (5.3-3.4 = 1.9)

The benchmark data contained in the post provides fundamental information for the development of realistic goals in attaining different rating classifications for youth saber fencers. The data recognizes the varied performance of youth fencers and the staircase nature of taking one step at a time to becoming an accomplished fencer.

Ranking of Cadet Men Saber Fencers Born in 2001 or Later (July, 18, 2016)

RankFencerBirth YearClubCurrent Rating
2Walker, Christopher2001Nellya Fencers, GAA
4Skeete, Kamar2001Nellya Fencers, GAA
7Vidovszky, Robert2001Premier Fencing Academy, CAA
13Linder, James2002Fencers Club of Arizona, AZB
14Santana, Hudson2001Thrust Fencing Academy, NYB
16Zhao, Raymond2001Nellya Fencers, GAB
18Julien, William2001Sabre Outreach Network, FLA
19Bivins George2001Manhattan Fencing Center, NYB
26Schmitt, Trenton2002Premier Fencing Academy, CAB
28Shin, Richard2001Avant Garde Fencers Club, CAB
32Park, Donghwan2002Premier Fencing Academy, CAC
34Fernandes, Aksel2001Nellya Fencers, GAB
35TAttig, Will2002Oregon Fencing Alliance, ORB
35TOster, Keegan2001Hangtown Fencing Club, CAC
40TGuerrero, Alejandro2001Sabre Outreach Network, FLB
40TLevitt, Benjamin2001Bergen Fencing Club, NJC
42Zau, Calvin2001UnattachedC
53McBride, Jackson2001Fencers Club of Arizona, AZC
54Te Velde, Noah2001Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy, CTC
56TChen, Alan2002Research Triangle Fencing, NCB
58Tong, Qilin2002Nellya Fencers, GAD
60Sevostyanov, Stepan2001Manhattan Fencing Center, NYC
63TWoodward, Dylan2001Mid-south Fencers' Club, NCC
66Buenaventura, Christian2001Zeta Fencing, MAD
67TBelser, Bryce2001Peter Westbrook Foundation, NYC
67TKaram, Tariq2001Salle Auriol Seattle, WAB
69Osoliniec, Victor2001Cobra Fencing Club, NJC
71TSun, Alex2001Dynamo Fencing Club, BCE
73TMehta, Sachin2001Denver Fencing Center, COC
Source: 2015-2016 USA Fencing National Rolling Point Standings Cadet Men's Sabre

Ranking of Cadet Women Saber Fencers Born in 2001 or Later (July, 18, 2016)

RankFencerBirthyearClubCurrent Rating
7Jenkins, Morgan2001UnattachedA
9Anglade, Alexis2001Nellya Fencers, GAA
13Jenkins, Ryan2001UnattachedA
16Johnson, Honor2003Capital Fencing Academy, MDA
17Doherty, Maverick2001Salle D'Asaro, CAA
18Avakian, Mikaela2002Avant Garde Fencers Club, CAA
21Hanadari-Levy, Amit2001Capital Fencing Academy, MDA
22TBecker, Kaitlyn2001Fencers Club Of Arizona, AZB
22TFahri, Monir2002Cardinal Fencing Club, CAB
25Greenbaum, Atara2002Sabre Outreach Network, FLB
27Moya, Keona2002Premier Fencing Academy, CAB
28Yun, Joy2001PDX Fencing, ORB
29Hirsch, Sydney2001Tim Morehouse Fencing Club, NYA
30Nguyen, Thea2001Laguna Fencing Center, CAA
31Strzalkowski, Aleksandra2002Fencing Academy Of Denver, COB
32Morales, Jessica2001UnattachedA
33Witek, Sophie2001New York Athletic Club, NYB
34Hunter, Nina2002Oregon Fencing Alliance, ORB
37Wu, Angela2001Lone Star Fencing Center, TXC
41Buchmann, Vivien2002Fencers Club Of Arizona, AZE
43Palmer, Kristen2001Peter Westbrook Foundation, NYB
44Wang, Caroline2001Cardinal Fencing Club, CAC
45Seck, Chejsa-Kaili2002Peter Westbrook Foundation, NYB
46TPincus, Lucy2001Knights Of Siena, SCC
48Pincus, Emma2001Knights Of Siena, SCC
Source: 2015-2016 USA Fencing National Rolling Point Standings Cadet Women's Sabre

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