I am getting to the point where I can gain an advantage in the beginning of a pool or direct elimination bout and I am starting to do this more often even against more seasoned fencers. However, I feel that the threat of my fencing deteriorates as the bout goes on. Even against considerably less practiced fencers, I can see a large lead go south as the bout wears on and I even come close to loosing bouts like these sometimes.
I do not feel like my problem is one of getting so excited about a lead that I become very sloppy. However, something clearly changes after I have consistently delivered a message of "I can consistently get a touch against you" somewhere near the middle of the bout cycle (I do a little better "preserving the threat" if I have stolen the show near the end of the bout).
A little about my style of late (I mostly fence foil btw): I will tell you that in terms of technique and strategy, what has helped me gain early advantages these days has been a deliberate attempt to keep very tight "opportunity windows" and remain relaxed/poised enough to respond appropriately to a misjudged opportunity. For example, my preparation attacks are done with a goal of keeping my relaxed arm ready to strike and my feet/balance ready to shift if I am late. As another example, my marching attacks are done with an attempt to change the distance of the start and finish of my advance or lunge based on reaction of opponent while remaining relaxed enough to punish a search for the blade or finish calmly against a stop-hit/counter attack. Against opponents that desire a love affair with my blade, I will sometimes delay my hand while attacking.
I am more successful with pre-planned second intention actions against a desperate opponent who is down than I am with a calm one. More often than not I get hit when I try second-intention against calm/smooth styles. I will admit to trying to sneak in more second intention actions when I am ahead.
I would imagine others have faced a similar psychological hurdle (it is psychological right? or maybe I'm a poor tactician?) in terms of building upon early success in a bout so I would be grateful for any feedback I am especially interested in how to PRACTICE dealing with this issue as previous threads have underscored the importance of practicing dealing with the mental game.