Fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympics. Tracing back to the 15th century, there’s an immense amount of skill and strategy.
This is my Suiting Up Podcast musing, brought to you by Entrepreneur.com, where I interview world-class athletes and sports business executives to unpack their playbook of tools that ignites their success on and off the playing surface. In this week’s column, I’ll share three high performance tactics from one of the world’s best fencers.
Miles Chamley-Watson was born in London in 1989. He’s now a Top 10 ranked fencer in the world and Team USA Olympian in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. He’s a 6’5″, 185-pound African British-American, with dyed blonde hair and tattoos head-to-toe. Not your stereotypical fencer.
Beyond his non-traditional fencing vibes, I had a dynamic conversation with Chamley-Watson on performance and brand. He’s pushing an archaic sport to all new heights, leveraging modern media, sponsorships and other creative, alternative methods. Chamley-Watson is a model, represented by agencies like IMG. He’s done global campaigns and has been featured on a 300-foot Times Square billboard. Talk about an alternative way to bringing exposure to a niche sport.
Chamley-Watson has struck the perfect time management balance between brand building and high performance training. I was able to connect the dots through his year-over-year social media growth, modeling gigs and celebrity network, but didn’t anticipate how much I would glean from his tactics in training. Here are three high performance training methods I’ll be considering as I strive to improve on the lacrosse field.
1. Trusting your gut
Chamley-Watson understands his body better than his personal trainer, nutritionist or occasional fitness advice column. “I like to train first thing in the morning. My body’s ready, and I get the best results then.” Even irrefutable wearable tech data can’t steer Chamley-Watson to training in the afternoon or evening. No sleep the night prior? He’s ready for morning training. This is not the case for me, or other former podcast guests like Justin Forsett, Matt Hasselbeck or Venus Williams. Athletes have a knack for being astoundingly in-tune with their bodies. As a performer, trusting your instinct is critical — even if it might oppose performance literature. Take it from an Olympian.
2. Scouting yourself
“I prefer to watch video on myself rather than my opponent.” How often have you heard the coaching cliché in sports that references being more focused on our team versus theirs? Yet, opponent scouting is an integral part to performance. So, which method should we spend more time evaluating? Watching ourselves perform on field, or even listening to a playback of our voice can be uncomfortable. Chamley-Watson suggests we watch ourselves for improvement opportunities, rather than identifying weaknesses. Even in such a short period of time in hosting my own podcast, I’ve noticed times I interrupt my guest, ask extended questions and/or use filler words. Listening back helps me improve.
3. Alternative training
Chamley-Watson is two-time World Cup Champion. In preparation for his second title, he worked on his fencing footwork by exclusively boxing. He said, “There’s so much skill and movement that crosses over from boxing to fencing.” Listening to him talk about game day fencing preparation via boxing felt odd to me. However, the more I thought about it, I began to think about our long-term commitment to our respective disciplines, and on occasion, how monotonous practice can be. Mixing up your routine can lead to greater success. It adds a variance to your training, can keep your mind fresh and make reengagement back into your discipline that much more exciting.
My favorite quote from our conversation?
“Eliminate the word can’t from your vocabulary.”
If you have an intrinsic passion for what you want to accomplish, work hard and are thoughtful in your approach, no opportunity, task or idea is out of reach.
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