Craig Harkins Epee 2008
By focusing on fencing well and having process goals I was able to notch some victories in epee – but I’m a foil fencer. (Photo from 2008)

I recently answered a question about earning a rating over on Quora. Here’s some of the response that I gave:

Instead of focusing on your rating, which is a “high water mark” type of measurement, it’s best to focus on individual goals for each tournament.

When I’m at a fencing tournament I have a desire to win, or to place in the X round but my goals for the tournament have more to do with things that are under my control such as:

  • Am I keeping good distance during my bouts? This includes being in control of the distance and not just following my opponent to maintain distance?
  • Am I entering each bout with a plan based on scouting my opponent and having an understanding of my strengths vs their strengths?
  • Am I minimizing “unforced errors” where I’m giving away points vs. making my opponent work for every point?
  • Am I capitalizing on my opponents’ errors so that I get some easy points?

This is a focus on the process of fencing, rather than the results. I found that once I started making sure I was focused on process type goals, my tournament results and ratings improved as a matter of course.

What process-type goals do you have for practice and tournaments?