The national academy was launched in 2010 as part of British Fencing's strategy to improve the UK's success at senior international competition. The national academy is very much in its early stages but is playing an increasingly important role for cadet (U17) and junior fencers (U20), prioritising activities to maximise success as seniors in about ten years time over activities that might only achieve success as a cadet/junior. Attendance at the academy may become obligatory for inclusion in the GB cadet and junior squads - although an attempt to enforce this from 2011 was widely resisted.
The long term athlete development model for fencers
To understand the national academy, you need to understand the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. LTAD is an approach to training that is currently being adopted by many sporting bodies in the UK. It maps a path for athletes to achieve elite status over a period of about ten years (10,000 hours of training). The academy sets priorities for acquisition of specific skills at different stages based on the model which assumes a series of critical windows for young athletes in which the effects of specific training can be maximised. Each window for an athlete is determined by measuring his or her physical development rather than relying on chronological age. You can learn more about the LTAD model for fencing by downloading the pdf (long term athlete development for fencers) from the national academy section in the useful documents section of this site.
National academy for fencers
The national academy is currently focussing its resources for fencers on those who are in the training to train stage (this effectively means cadets and young juniors). These fencers are encouraged to try to be athletes (rather than just fencers) - and participants receive (amongst other things) expert guidance from leading strength and conditioning coaches. One of the benefits of this is likely to be reduction of injuries amongst long term fencers.
The National Academy has a week long course in Nottingham during August, and two or three one or two day courses through the year. Entry is by invitation and application - although numbers were lower than expected in 2011 and applications are therefore likely to be welcomed for most fencers who are in the right age group.
There are three regional academies - London (Brunel University); Birmingham and a North Eastern England region called SUNEE. The academies meet eight times a year, and again entry is by invitation and application. Applications are likely to welcomed from fencers who are of the right age, and have a suitable level of experience.