The Learning Process
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Developing Skills
Required for
Figure Skating

What Physical, Mental, and Emotional Skills Are Required for Success in Figure Skating?
       Each figure skating discipline requires different types of physical, mental, and emotional skills to be acquired. The degree of accomplishing these goals may vary in each discipline in order to be successful. All athletes acquire such skills at different rates depending on their personality, natural abilities plus the availability quality coaching, practice sessions exclusively for training in the specific discipline.

       There also is a variability that we confront daily that also applied to athletes-
  • Being in the right time and place,
  • Peaking for the competition
  • Being completely healthy
  • No family burdens - major or terminal illness, loss of income, divorces, etc.
  • The skating draw (first, last, or somewhere in between),
  • Good luck to perform your very best.
       Athletes benefit by being surrounded by parents, coaches, church, community, work or school peers whose personalities are positive and are able to provide emotional support should the occasion arise.

Passing Tests and Competing
       Not everyone will be able to do advanced revolution jumps, spins, pair lifts, and international dances at the level required of an elite athlete. It is safe to say that with the proper coaching, sufficient practice, and self confidence, most skaters can pass the gold medal Moves In The Field (MITF) test providing a minimum level of funding can be raised through parental assistance, grants, scholarships, and part time jobs.

       Most skaters can acquire the ability to perform the basic edges, stroking, crossovers, and turns when low cost group classes are available and they focus on developing these skills rather than spending too much effort on attempting to acquire free skating skills without the prior basic foundation. It is a common situation with beginning skaters, who aspire to learn to free skate, to dismiss the need to develop their basic skating skills concurrently with efforts to learn to jump and spin. The quality of the instructors in club or rink sponsored group classes are generally the same individuals who also are available for private lessons.

       Skaters who excel in jumping have more assertive, positive personalities. They typically are risk takers and do not allow themselves to become discouraged by being unable to progress as fast as they have expected. Skaters generally are good citizens on and off the ice. They never attempt to imitate other skaters on training sessions or warm-ups at competitions.

Anthropometry of Figure Skating    There are certainly some body builds which are more suited for skating than others. Also, due to differences in body size, strength, and power, there are differences in the ladies' programs as compared to the men's programs.   

The Florida State University   Values such as independence and assertiveness become more obvious. .... the idea that female ice skaters cannot jump as high as male athletes or the .... analyzes the rhetoric surrounding women's figure skating

The Basis for Training...  which increases their self esteem and reflects a strong personality.

       Spinning is a skill that some skaters have difficulty acquiring because they lack the ability to compensate for dizziness caused by their middle ear.

Vertigo  is a false sensation of moving or spinning or of objects moving or spinning, usually accompanied by nausea or lack of loss of balance.

Inner Ear/Balance Nerve Causes of Vertigo  There are many symptoms - lightheadedness, imbalance, and a spinning sensation - that are all commonly referred to as dizziness, but each can arise from completely different causes.

Why don't figure skaters get dizzy?    Spinning may cause dizziness: at the beginning of the spin, when the skaters are not yet used to the sensation, and at the end, when they must get re-acclimated to relative stillness.

How to Spin Without Losing Your Lunch

       Step sequences and transitions between required free skating elements are essential in the development of a well balanced free skating program.

     The communication within and between specialized areas of the brain is known as functional integration. Sensory integration is necessary for every activity that we perform because the combination of multiple sensory inputs is essential for us to comprehend our surroundings.

PDF Figure Skating Programs and Development  Figure Skating Programs and Development/ Pipeline of Figure Skating. U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program: the FUNdamentals. Offering 12 Basic Skill badges and USFS tests in all figure skating disciplines.

Skate Canada - Development - Programs - STARSkate  STARSkate offers opportunities for skaters of all ages to develop fundamental figure skating skills in the areas of ice dance, skating skills, free skate, pairs, and synchronized skating.

Welcome to the Trenton Figure Skating Club  STARSkate offers opportunities to Trenton Figure Skating Club, Box 21003, Pharma Plus, 109 Dundas St, Trenton. ON Canada.develop figure skating skills in four different areas.

Basic Skills - Welcome to US Figure Skating  Developed by U.S. Figure Skating and approved by the Professional Skaters Association (PSA), the Basic Skills Program is open to anyone interested. A small fee is required to become a Basic Skills member.

Skating in the Schools - Welcome to US Figure Skating  An exciting, new skating program created by U.S. Figure Skating for use by the educational community, "Skating in the Schools" fosters a link between schools, the fun and fitness of skating and the local rink. A guide relating skating skill development to educational theory.

Basic Skills Parents - Welcome to US Figure Skating  Learning skills and mastering those skills is an important part of child development.

PDF Figure Skating Programs and Development/  Basic Figure Skating Programs and Development/Pipeline of Figure Skating. U.S. Figure Skating Skills Program. Bridge Program/Junior Club.
Recommended Reading:

Training Considerations

  • Fundamental motor skill development   The fundamental skill phase of development begins in early childhood at about two to three years, and individuals have the potential to be fully proficient in most of them by about six years.
     Fundamental motor skills (i.e. hopping, jumping, skipping, kicking, throwing, catching etc.) are prerequisites to learning of sport specific skills (basketball, football, gymnastics, tennis, badminton, etc.).  Sport specific skills are comprised of fundamental skills. It is very difficult to obtain proficiency in sport skills unless the prerequisite fundamental skills are present.  A person's gross motor skill development depends on both their muscle tone and strength.
  • Gross Motor Skill Development  Gross motor skills are defined as the movements of the large muscles of the body that involve such essential activities such as walking and sitting upright, plus sports related skills such as kicking, lifting, throwing a ball, etc..
     There are five senses that are commonly discussed: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. One overlooked sense, known as proprioception and kinesthesia, is the sensation of joint motion and acceleration that provides the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. This sense allows the brain to unconsciously keep the body oriented and balanced while sending out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance.

     A great amount of training in motor activities relies on enhancing proprioception activities.  Proprioception input comes from sensory receptors or nerves inside the body rather than on the skin's surface.

     Learning any new motor skill involves training our body's proprioception sense which involves our ability to move our arms or legs in a precise way without looking at them.  Proprioception is so automatic that our conscious mind barely notices it. Thus it does not receive the attention it deserves in a training program; however, the ability can be trained, as can any other motor activity.

     Gross motor skills include:

  1. balance – the ability to maintain equilibrium
  2. body awareness – for improved posture and control
  3. crossing of the mid-line
  4. laterality – awareness of the left and right sides of the body
  5. major muscle coordination
  6. spatial orientation – awareness of the body position in space and in relation to other objects or people
  • Fine Motor Skill Development   skills are our ability to use our fingers, hands, and arms together to reach, grasp, manipulate small objects such as forks, spoons, crayons and scissors.  Through the process of coordinating Fine Motor Skills integrated with our abilities enable us to learn complex skills such as tying a shoe lace, fastening buttons, eating with a fork & knife, and printing, handwriting, typing, etc.
  • Sensory Integration  deals with how the brain processes multiple sensory modality inputs into usable functional outputs. It is believed that inputs from different sensory organs are processed in different areas in the brain. However, different regions of the brain may not be solely responsible for only one sensory modality, but could use multiple inputs to perceive what the body senses about its environment.


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 concerning team and individual sports programs:

Principles of Sports Training:
Principles of Training Athletes
Developing Skills for Figure Skating
Acquiring Sports Skills
Amount of Time to Acquire Sports Skills
Biomechanics of Sports
The Balanced Principle
Sports Skills  & Mechanical Techniques
Physical Fitness & Preparedness
Individual Differences
The Overload Principle in Training
Recovering From Training
Principle of Reversibility
Principle of Specificity
Transference of Knowledge & Skills
Training Variation
Psychomotor Domain
Objectives of Psychomotor Goals

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