A while ago I posted about taking a hold of your training. This was designed to get people to realise that the only person who was going to make it all work was you. This is more or less a follow-up on that one, examining the next step in the process and one that should be considered by fencers at all levels.
Making plans for training is a good thing as it provides advantages, but it needs to be done right. The advantage of making a plan for your training, rather than just filling in holes where they are perceived is that it gives a plan for the future. This provides a direction for the training and a simple process to follow. This particular plan can provide a reason for going to training, and going on a regular basis especially. Where it is filling holes then there is motivation to pick something, where there is a plan, it is just the next lesson in the plan. This provides things to do at training, especially where the motivation may not be there to figure something out to do. This also means that the training is directed at a target.
Targets are important as they give us something to aim at. For some, they can be non-specific, but for most they need to be specific about where it is all going. As far as overall targets are concerned "I want to get better at my fencing." is a target which we all have as who does not want to get better at their fencing? This target does not provide particularly much direction. In order to provide direction, it is useful to be somewhat more specific, this is achieved by dividing goals up into long term and short term targets or goals.
Long term targets are those which will not happen soon and will require a lot of work, and are something to strive toward. These are often hopeful goals of where a person may want to end up sometime down the track. In many ways this is some what "cloud shooting" dreaming about the day that you will hit the top of the ranks in your particular form of fencing. Of course for some, this will be out of reach so this needs to be tempered a little with sensibility. These long term goals should not have a time limit on them anything under a year or even more.
Short term goals are those which will happen sooner than the long term goals, but they may not happen in a couple of months or possibly even a couple of years. These goals need to be realistic in order that you can work toward them in an active fashion. It is these goals that the plan for training is written to actively pursue. Each short term goal should be achieved with a plan. Each one of these short term goals should build to fulfil a long term goal. In this way there is an overall plan and more specific ones as well. The short term goals may or may not have a time limit, or date of completion on them. For some the introduction of a time is useful, for some it is not. Just remember to be at least a little flexible.
Being flexible in your plan is always useful. Things will happen in life which will interrupt the progress of your fencing plan. This can be major life-changing things or even simple things such as the flu. Due to these particular factors it is important to be flexible in your plan in order to take into account the unexpected. This means that if you propose a date, make sure that there is room in there in order to make changes as they are required. If one week off due to being ill will mess up the plan, then you need to be more flexible about it. Of course, simply putting things off because you don't feel like it is a way that will cripple the plan, so you also need to temper this flexibility with motivation and control over yourself.
Once all of the goals have been decided and dates set for the completion of the goals, next it is important to look at the lessons themselves. Most of the time these lessons will be able to be taken from the standard training program. In most instances it will be a simple tightening of the expectations of these lessons. Often it will be an increase in the performance aspect with regard to form. There will also be those lessons which will have to be modified to suit the training program and the goals set. In these particular instances tailor the lesson to suit what you want to achieve out of it. Use what works. Sounds silly? Use those techniques which have worked for you in the past in order to learn. For some it is simple repetition in drills, for some it will be to put the skill into a more active situations such as bouting.
Remember this plan is being tailored to suit you. Make sure that the lessons build on one another. The lessons should be connected in some way. One lesson should attach to the next in order to get to the one after that. Parry + Thrust = Riposte is a simple example of two lessons combining to result in a third. In this way the lessons should build on one another in order to get you to your goal. Think of this like building a wall. Each brick lends its strength and the wall would be faulty if it was missing. This needs to be one of the most important considerations in your plan.
Plans help us to achieve goals. Some will muddle through and find their way through other means, but a plan is always a useful thing. The plan will set simple goals for the fencer for each lesson. Each lesson will built to assist in achieving that overall goal. It is direction which a plan most supplies and often gives a person the motivation to do what they need to do in order to achieve their goal.
1. Establish goals.
2. Make a plan.
3. Find lessons to suit the plan, or make lessons to suit the plan.
4. Stick to the plan.
5. Expect to have to change things as you go.