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   Advanced Training Plans

Focus Points of a successful Training Plan  
        There are four main focus points of any successful training plan: heredity, personality, persistence, and quality of training. These inputs play an active role in five training stages that should occur during a training season.

        Each sport has different competitive seasons depending on the geographic location and the sponsoring organization such as a public school, college or university, or a national sports association. Obviously there are vast differences between summer and winter sports. Some sports like gymnastic, basketball, and swimming may be indoor sports during our winter month,  but are included in the Summer Olympics.

        The actual start of each ice skating training season has changed with the construction of indoor all year artificial ice rinks in many communities throughout the world. Ice sports competitions and training, except for skiing, are taking place on artificial frozen ice surfaces installed in enclosed, temperature controlled buildings.
   
        The level of the skater and the date of their final competition determines the start of each  training year for speed, hockey, and figure skater. For example - The younger skaters, entered in the regional qualifying competitions in the fall, will train almost year round. The regional championship in the fall may be the end of their season unless they qualify to go on to skate at the sectional competitions held a few weeks later. However, if they do not place, they will generally start preparing to move up to the next competitive level which requires passing the required MITF and free skating test for single and pair skaters. Dancers are  required to pass MITF, Compulsory dances, and free dance tests.

      A few skaters will qualify to skate at the US National Championships which are held after the first of the year. The exact date on nationals depends on if there is a Winter Olympics, which will cause the championships to be held a few weeks earlier than usual. 

        For a few select skaters, who are selected for the World Team, the Worlds Championships are scheduled after the Winter Olympics. Sometimes a member of the Winter Olympic figure skating team decides not to skate in the World Championships, thus allowing an alternate to skate and gain experience for the next season.

Planning a Training Program
        Any good plan starts by first conducting an analysis of any previous training program. There is no sense reinventing the wheel. The following suggestions may require tweaking to apply to specific concerns and requirements considered necessary to be successful in that sport:

Strengths      
List the strengths and weakness of the training program. Supporting comments.
What parts should be kept and what should be changed?  List supporting reasons.

Weaknesses
Are there areas in the program that are inadequate or missing?
What wouldn't you repeat?  List supporting reasons.

Opportunities
What can be done to enhance the training program to the benefit of the athlete? Does the schedule of activities need to be increased or modified in any way? List supporting reasons.

Anticipation of potential problems allows for developing a solution without the pressure of urgency. List what might prevent achieving the short and long term objectives?
Does the training/support system's and instructors need to be changed?

Threats
Analyze the athlete's strengths and weaknesses. Start by identifying what the ideal attributes (e.g. body build, strength, endurance, speed, flexibility etc.) are for a figure skater. The next step is to compare the athlete to the ideal athlete using a "gap analysis" of strengths and weaknesses.

A plan to address the gaps may require a long term plan (4-8 years) and a short term plan for the current competitive season. These two plans allow skater and coach to set a realistic training schedule to address the gaps.
    
A typical Training Program for Advanced Skaters
        A training year can be divided into five stages or phases. There are different proponents of the concept of varying the content, volume, and intensity of an athlete's training.  Don't become confused by the terminology, the concept is universally becoming embraced by coaches for competitive track skaters even though the implementation may vary and be described by different terms.
Stage 1: Training  to Train  Basic body conditioning to development of strength, mobility, endurance, and basic technical skills.
Skaters -
  • Strive to achieve the aerobic base and skills necessary to prepare the athlete's body for a high intensity training program.
  • Focus on participating in an on and off ice training schedule
  • Master basic, fundamental skills that are the foundation for all of the figure skating disciplines
  • Participate in on and off-ice drills
  • Adhere to a list of good work habits
  • Focus on mastering essential skills while competing
Coaches -
  • Emphasize the fun of skating
  • Award positively comments reflecting the skater's progress
  • Encourage skater to participate in a variety of fitness activities to avoid becoming stale/over trained
  • Discuss with the skater and parents how their own personal genetics will influence their post puberty body type may affect performance.
    
Stage 2: Training to Compete   Development of advanced technical skills and acquisition of a competition experience, plus a continuation of training to achieve strength, endurance/stamina, and mobility.
        The training schedule is ready to speed/power and higher intensity intervals.

Skaters -
  • Focus on developing a short and long term training plan

  • Develop strategies to help to improve the skater's competitiveness

  • Prioritize open non qualifying competitions. Using a calendar, selectively enter competitions that are spaced far enough apart to avoid negatively impacting the training plan.

  • Emphasize skill quality and consistent performance prior to adding new elements to a program.

  • Figure skating needs to have a higher priority than other physical activities

  • Don't ignore the mental aspects of training

  • A skater's attitude and personality will influence practice sessions and performance on tests and in competitions

    
Stage 3: Training to Win  Adjustment of technical goals in preparation of achieving the goal of becoming an elite competitive skater.
        This is the level  of elite skaters who are training to be selected to represent the USA in International and world/Olympic class competitions.

Skaters -
  • Primary focus is on creating the highest scoring short and long free skating program.

  • Maximize the positive psychological and physiological skills.

  • Training needs to plan to peak at the competition.

  • Attain maximum performance consistency.

  • Skating dominates daily activities - the time for socializing is after the competition.

  • Skater's support system can greatly reduce stress and provide a positive environment that helps the skater perform their best.

    
Stage 4: Peaking to Win  Is a well understood condition in athletic competitions of having all of the principle factors come together in an emotionally driven performance,
        Most athletes work on physical training to win in their sport. In reality the athlete must achieve a state of mind that facilitates peak performance. Those who learn to achieve this ideal mental state have a significant advantage over competitors who are unable to achieve a positive state of mind before and during their competitive performance.  You might describe this concept as state of self confidence on steroids.

        Some athletes achieve the desirable mental state through trial and error and reach the desired mental state by chance. Unfortunately there are others who are unable achieve the mental control to consistently bring out their best under high stress conditions.
  • Relaxation is a skill that must be cultivated by an athlete by learning to calm the mind and reduce the body's physical tension.
  • Mental Rehearsal is a visualization technique that produces mental images that the skater can manipulate as a rehearsal for the actual competitive performance.
  • Positive Winning Attitude is the key to achieving a positive mental state associated with skating a good performance and being satisfied with the effort. Each individual can be their own worst enemy by their own negative thoughts that leads to negative feelings and poor performance.
  • Cognitive Restructuring is a method to format the subconscious part of your mind where attitudes reside and substitute powerful positive statements or affirmations by continuously repeating positive statements to replace self doubts and negative thoughts. The result is the transformation your mental state into a positive attitude of a winner.
        These mental techniques must be practiced on a regular basis to achieve the control to do them in the rink prior to actually performing.
         
       
        When a skater moves from one stage to the next, his/her focus may change gradually or be completely replaced. Some focuses may continue to the end of the season, but at a lower level of intensity.

        There is a relationship of between the Volume of Exercise, Intensity of Work, and Recovery Requirements of each stage:

  Training to Train
Stage

Training to Compete
Stage

Training to Win
Stage

Peaking to Win
Stage

Intensity Low Low Medium High
Volume High High Medium Low
Recovery Low Low Medium High

Stage 5: Time Off  - A period of "down time" to allow the skater to recover from physical, mental, and emotional stress cause by the demanding training schedule of the competitive season, plus the preparation to develop a training plan for next season.

        The time off period can be extended to a point where the skater can experience a negative impact by forgetting previously acquired skill sets. It is common in the classroom, students returning from a summer vacation, need to have a four to six week review of topics taught in the previous spring.
 
        Experienced skaters in higher test and competition levels have years of experience establishing automatic skill sets that are not affected by the rest phase.

        Sometimes the rest period can help a skater forget errors that have existed for months, but not years. Technical errors that are long standing need to be "unlearned" before the proper technique can become an automatic long term memory response.

Recommended Reading:

Core Stabilization, Advanced Athletic Sport Training Methods  Community physical therapy outreach resources and advanced athletic training information.

Somerset Medical Center: Our Sports Performance Services  They are professionally trained in advanced sports medicine techniques vital to helping enhance our clients' performance.

PDF A New Look at Core Training   While basic core training methods may prove helpful to a variety of individuals, the more advanced sport training methods briefly described above may prove beneficial to competitive athletes. Be sure to learn the proper technique for the Olympic movements and plyometric activities from a certified NSCA professional.

Advanced Sports Training Principles   Jan. 12, 2010  In the serious sports world, FITT is meant for the general population of societies. Here are the six advanced sports training principles for more serious athletes.

Developing A Plan for Success

References:

Advanced Training: Tips For Success  Plan your workouts in advance but be willing to adjust depending on how you are feeling.

Advanced training tips  Information about working out, personal training and more.

Advanced Media Training Tip: Re-Define Negative Words Aug. 11, 2011  By re-defining negative words as positive ones, you're able to argue your case from an assertive position – not a defensive one.

PDF Planning Special Olympics Figure Skating Training & Competition Essential Components of Planning a Figure Skating Training Session. for Special Olympics ice skaters. Principles for Conducting Successful Training Sessions. Given demonstrations. coaching, and practice, the athlete(s) will advance in freestyle, pairs, and dance skills.

Recreational Figure Skating FAQ - Off-Ice Training   Nov. 21, 2011  Answers common questions about - Basic Skating; Advanced Skills; Adult Skating; Skating Boots and blades; Off-ice training and endurance Ice skating.

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

Training Factors

Training Considerations

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
  

  
    Developing A Plan for Success
PDF  Nov, Jr, & Sr Skaters Periodized Plan
PDF  Trainability of Children
PDF  Trainability & Overtraining
PDF  Overtraining in  Youth Sports

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