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Stepping Stone to Excellence: Fencing WA workshop
22 March 2015

Story by Trent Mitton
WAIS/AIS Hockey Player, member of Kookaburras Australian Men's Hockey Team
My first session as part of the WAIS Developing Champions program was both fun and educational. An excited young group of fencers met us on Sunday morning to take part in their second workshop, discussing a range of different topics.
The athletes were not the only ones learning that morning as myself and lead facilitator Amanda were taught a lot about a sport we were unfamiliar with.  Both being sport enthusiasts it was really intriguing to learn about the different disciplines of fencing as well as the strict rules and punishments in place if you were to talk back to a referee or act in an unsportsmanlike manner.  Something many sports including my own of hockey could learn from. 
One of the topics the young group found most beneficial was that of the mental skills. We discussed how important having a routine was before heading to a competition or bout. They identified there were different styles of mental preparation and how individual it was. Some of the techniques we talked about were relaxation and mental imagery, as well as only being able to control what you can and not being concerned with things you cant. This was important in fencing as equipment can be sometimes delicate and the conditions in the venue can vary between competitions. 
The other topics we talked about were social media and how it can be positively used for athletes but also the negative side to it. The last module we covered was nutrition and recovery. Which to the credit of Fencing WA the boys and girls were already very knowledgable in these areas. All of our questions were answered and our suggestions taken on board which showed they were still willing to learn. They understood how important injury management and prevention is at their age, our goal is to make these things habit by the time they reach a senior national team. 
I thought it was an extremely beneficial workshop for the Fencing WA group and believe the athletes learnt a lot. The Developing Champions program is perfect in providing the stepping stones to becoming an athlete in the modern era.
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