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    Group Training Stages

Group classes can be an effective method to provide economical figure skating skills
       There are critical concerns related to maximizing the effectiveness of teaching groups of any size. Ideally the learners should meet basic prerequisite skills so everyone starts out with equal skills as a foundation for acquiring new ideas, concepts, and skills. The more homogenous the group, the greater the opportunity that no individual will be unable to keep up to the demands of the course.

       The traditional composition of a school class is based on the traditional "bell" shaped curve with the majority of the learners clustered in the medium with fewer students at the extremes of the bell curve. In a for profit organization whose goal is the maximize the retention of students, an intervention is needed to bring the slower learners up to speed. This is where the faster learners can be utilized as aids to help out as tutors.

       Another option is to introduce the concept of a self paced instructional format that provides the flexibility for slower students to double up on participating in group classes that are at the same level. This also allows students, who are ill or otherwise have a commitment and can't make their normal class to attend a different class. 

The Goal is to Enable Learning and Personal Development
       If there are enough times available in the master schedule for the week, beginning classes can start new enrollment on a bi-weekly basis rather that every 6 or 8 weeks. Making up classes of classes should require calling in and having the individual marked as an excused absence and the makeup session they will be attending. Is this extra work?  Sure it is, but in the long run this concept maintains a much higher interest level and substantially reduces the risk of the individual ceasing to be a client of the rink's group classes.

Think of the Group Classes as a Curriculum Offered at Community Colleges/Universities
       The idea is to break the classes down into different levels that are taken sequentially. Obviously there will far more sections of the same course at the beginning level. As the student progress through the entire series of course it is natural that there will be attrition. Thus there may only be one section of a course at the higher levels with a starting date for fall, spring, and summer semesters. Some courses may be offered at each semester while other may one be offered once a year,

       The purpose of this concept is to offer learners with a less expensive way for them to develop their skills without the expense of private lessons. It is amazing  the number of parents who can be convinced to pay for private lessons to learn how to figure skating, but would be offended if their son or daughter's classroom teacher advised that the child was having difficulties in class and requires assistance from a tutor at "X" dollars per hour 1 to 3 times a week.

Same Sex Group Classes
       With figure skating be much more popular with girls than boys, the number of boys in a beginning classes is usually quite small. A similar situation occurs with ice hockey, the number of girls interested in playing ice hockey is also quite small.

       Imagine the consternation of league officials if a girl wanted to play on a boys team. The girls who are playing hockey are on all girls teams playing against other teams of girls. It is important to note that in figure skating the girls and boys complete in separate events known as Ladies and Mens Singles. The pairs and dances events are between couples consisting of a man and a women.

       There are private all male and all female students from K-12. The ideal is that they will spend their entire school hours not distracted by girls flirting with boy and boy pursuing girls for dates.  Weather there is enough demand in a community for different classes for all boy and all girls to learn how to skate is questionable.

Age Differences in Group Classes
       There is considerable embarrassment for an individual who is much older than others in a group class. To avoid this difficulty is preferable as this is more likely to increase the fun of the participants.   

        Experience has demonstrated that certain age groupings are preferred as the size and abilities are much closer in the following groupings:
          3 to 5 years old - pre schoolers
          6 to 10 years old - elementary school
          11 to 13 years old - middle school, junior high
14 to 17 years old - senior high
18 to 25  years old - college
26 and up - working adults

       Young boys are generally 6 months to year behind girls in their physical coordination. As they grow older, the boys coordination and physical strength become equal and eventually the boys excel in these areas during puberty.               
Individual and Group Training should be individualized to the athlete's particular specific needs.
       Training provides the time to consolidate individual strengths and rectify weaknesses. Athletes should have input in setting training goals and priorities if they are expected to "buy into" the training program.

Every athlete's training is affected by five basic life factors that influences and may limit their ability to fulfill their full potential. These factors must be addressed in developing an Long Term Training Plan (LTTP):
  1. Age
  2. Physical characteristics (heredity)
  3. Mental and emotional (personality) factors
  4. Social status in skating, school, work, and school
  5. Financial backing and related emotional support
Model for Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD)
       Sports can be classified as early specialization (e.g. gymnastics) or late specialization (e.g. Track and Field, Team sports). Early specialization sports requires an extra phase to accommodate the younger age of the beginner when they start, while the late specialization model consists of five phases which is related to the athletes being older, and more physically developed when they start. This tends to extend the athletes competitive careers. Note: in some sports female athletes tend to peak earlier than their male counterparts.

Early Specialization Model
  1. FUNdamentals
  2. Learning how to train
  3. Training to pass tests
  4. Training to compete
  5. Training to win
  6. Retirement & Retainment
Late Specialization Model
  1. Learning how to train
  2. Training to pass tests
  3. Training to compete
  4. Training to win
  5. Retirement & Retainment
       For the purpose of this discussion is to focus on how skaters can plan their development in their pursuit of placing at a USFS National Championship. In figure skating, female skaters usually start to train two or more years earlier than male skaters who tend to reach their full potential, in their early 20s, several years later than the ladies. Ice dancers and pair skaters require longer to reach physical maturity to perform the required skills and develop their artistic/presentation skills necessary to be successful in competition.

Beginning Athletes - Establishing a Training Schedule:

Beginning athletes - all ages 4> and skill levels
NOTE: Young children have extremely limited attention spans. The use of games and fun activities must be stressed to keep them involved and to minimize frustrating situations.

Focus Points:
  • Focus on acquiring strong technical skills
  • Basic skills drill and practice
  • Develop good work habits
  • Focus entirely on performance
  • Emphasize feeling good about skill development
  • Stress a variety of fitness activities off ice
Late Specialization Model   Phase 1 - FUNdamentals
       This phase is appropriate for boys aged 6 to 9 and girls aged 5 to 8. The main objective should be the overall development of the athlete's physical capacities and fundamental movement skills. The key points of this phase are:

  1. Participation in as many sports as possible
  2. Speed, power, and endurance can be developed using fun and games; however, the volume  of training should be not be intensive
  3. Appropriate and correct skating, jumping, and spinning techniques must be stressed
  4. Introduction to the simple rules and ethics of sportsmanship
  5. Strength training with exercises which use the child's own body weight; medicine ball and Swiss ball exercises
  6. Training programs, based on the school year, are structured and monitored but not periodized
  7. Develop the athlete's coordination through non-skating activities:
    • ABC's (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed)
    • RJT (Running, Jumping, Throwing)
    • KGBs (Kinesthetics, Gliding, Buoyancy, Striking with a body part)
    • CKs (Catching, Kicking, Striking with an implement)
       Heredity plays an important role in developing a skaters “raw” talent and performance. Skating is a physical activity that requires basic balance and coordination that anyone can acquire if they have properly fitted equipment, quality group instruction, and regularly practice to acquire the basic skills.

       Jumping and spinning is much easier if the skater is not overweight and/or unusually tall for their age. Some skaters experience difficulties at puberty when their body weight is redistributed and/or they experience rapid growth in height and gain weight.

Training Stage 1 - Mastering Basic/Fundamental Motor Skills
  • Focus on regular participation in training sessions

  • Master of basic skills

  • Participation in on and off-ice drills

  • Encourage the development of good work habits

  • Compete attention focusing on the performance of skills that have been mastered

  • Emphasize the fun part of skating

  • Positively comment of progress
  • Participate in a variety of fitness activities

  • Genetics will influence body type which affects performance

Physical Potential of MITF Test Performance
Basic edges, turns, plus forward & backward crossover training
Specific individual skill training
Pattern recognition;

Lobe to lobe transitions

Combine individual basic skills into complete elements
Consistent bi-lateral element performance
at or above minimum to pass
Consistent performance
of all test elements with equal power and accuracy
at or above minimum to pass
Stamina – completion of last element of test as strong as first element
Relieving performance anxieties.

Develop a high level of confidence

       Learning new skills is a process that proceeds in distinctive developmental phases that rarely occur at a constant rate. Frequently, there are spurts consisting of a break through event in which the athlete is able to perform a recognizable performance of the lesson's focus.

       The goal of the instructor is to have the learner physically feel the proper body mechanics so they know if their practice sessions are being successful.

       Instructors must understand and be able to discuss with their students, the theory on which every physical task is based and serves as a platform to achieve more complex and advanced skills.
       More coaches are taking the extra time necessary to teach their skaters the basic skating principals and fundamental body control skaters previously acquired from practicing edges and turns on school figures.

       Specific milestones need to be incorporated into each individualized training plan's goals and objectives so the skater can focus their practices and measure their improvement against these standards when the coach is not available to provide external feedback.

Training Stage 2 - Advanced
      This phase is appropriate for boys aged 9 to 14 and girls aged 7 to 12. The main objective should be to learn all fundamental sports skills. The key points of this phase are:

Further develop fundamental movement skills
• Learn general overall sports skills
• Continue to develop strength with medicine ball, Swiss ball and own body weight exercises
   as well as hopping bounding exercises
• Continue to develop endurance with games and relays
• Introduce basic flexibility exercises
• Continue to develop speed with specific activities during the warm-up, such as agility,
   quickness and change of direc-tion
• Develop knowledge of warm up, cool down, stretching, hydration, nutrition, recovery,
   relaxation and focusing
• Training programs are structured and based on a single periodization
• Competition is structured and a 70:30 training/practice to competition ratio is recommended

     Establishing a Training Schedule and Goals:

     Specialization Phase
  • Free skating: Athlete Ages 5 – 21
  • Pair skating: Athlete Ages 10 – 24
  • Dance: Athlete Ages 10 – 26
  • Synchronized team skating Ages 10 - 21
  • Theatre-On-Ice Ages 6 - 66    
Focus Points:
  • Identify and focus on attaining goals and objec-tives in a short and extended timeline
  • Develop competitive strategies to succeed
  • Concentrate on forms of figure skating that em-phasize skater's natural aptitude
  • Emphasize quality of skill performance over quan-tity of poorly executed elements
  • Concentration on figure skating, while minimizing non related sports and physical activities
  • Development of mental training and conditioning
         A skater's personality influences how they relate to peers and adults at the ice rink, school, family, church, and at a job. Some individuals have a positive, out going personality with lots of energy, passion, and unlimited determination/perseverance.

       The direct opposite to the positive individual is the negative personality who sees their life as a series of incidents resulting from bad luck and being “picked on” by others. They do not accept responsibility for their poor decisions and this negative attitude colors all interactions with peers and adults at the ice rink, in school, with family, at church, and in job situations.
  • Focus on processing according to short and long term development plan

  • Develop competitive strategies

  • Prioritize and selectively enter competitions

  • Emphasize skill quality

  • Figure skating should take precedent over all other sports and physical activities

  • Develop all aspects of mental training
  • Personality will greatly influence performance
Physical Potential of Free Skating Test Performance
Basic edges, turns, plus forward & backward crossover training
Jumps –1/2, full & multi rotation skill level training
Spins – training includes combining positions & change of feet
Footwork, and step sequences that transition & connect musical highlights
Consistent performance of all test elements at or above minimum to pass
Develop stamina to complete all program elements securely
Relieving performance anxieties.

Develop a high level of confidence
Physical Potential of Pair Skating Test Performance
Basic edges, turns, plus forward & backward crossover training
Jumps –1/2, full & multi rotation skill level training;

Class I Lifts – 1/2 and full rotation;

Pair pivot Spiral
Solo and Pair Spins – One and combination positions with change of feet;

Class II Lifts – full rotation;

FO Death Spiral & pivot
Footwork, and step sequences that transition & connect musical highlights;

Class III Lifts  - full and Multi-rotation;

FI Death Spiral & pivot

Consistent performance of all test elements at or above minimum to pass

Class IV Lifts - full and Multi-rotation;

BO Death Spiral & pivot

Develop stamina to complete all program elements securely

Class V Lifts - full and Multi-rotation;

BI Death Spiral & pivot

Relieving performance anxieties.

Develop a high level of confidence
Physical Potential of Compulsory Dance Test Performance
Basic edges, plus forward & backward progres-sives training
Basic turns: one foot and change of foot in forward and backward directions on both left and right foot
Step sequences - training including combining body positions & changes of feet
Footwork, and step sequences to the correct tempo and expressing the character of the music
Consistent performance of all test elements at or above minimum to pass
Develop stamina to complete all program elements accurately and securely on each pattern
Relieving performance anxieties.

Develop a high level of confidence

Phase 3 - Training to train
    This phase is appropriate for boys aged 12 to 16 and girls aged 11 to 15. The main objective should be the overall development of the athlete's physical capacities (focus on aerobic conditioning) and fundamental movement skills.

    The key points of this phase are:
•  Further develop speed and sport specific skills
•  Develop the aerobic base - after the on-set of PHV
•  Learn correct weight lifting techniques
•  Develop knowledge of how and when to stretch, how to optimize nutrition and hydration, mental
   preparation, how and when to taper and peak

• Establish pre-competition, competition and post competition routines
• The strength training window for boys begins 12 to 18 months after PHV
• There are two windows of opportunity to strength training for girls
    • Window one is immediately after PHV
    • Window two begins with the onset of menarche (the first menstrual period) 
• Special emphasis is also required for flexibility training due to the sudden growth of bones, tendons,
   ligaments and muscles

• A 60% training to 40% competition ratio (includes competition and competition specific training)
   is recommended

       Training to Achieve A Skater's Full Potential: High Performance Phase

  • Free skating: Athlete Ages 8 – 25
  • Pair skating: Athlete Ages 10 – 28
  • Dance: Athlete Ages 10 – 30
  • Synchronized team skating Ages 10 - 30
  • Theater-On-Ice   Ages 6 - 66
       Skaters frequently attempt to include elements (especially jumps and spins) into a free skating program that they are unable to consistently perform in practice sessions as individual elements.

       An effective training schedule consists of a series of workouts spent in preparation leading up to the actual week of the competition, and a period of recovery following the competition. This same cycle continues through-out the entire training season start from the beginning and concluding with final competition of the year.

       The pre-competition practice schedule requires adding and improving existing technical abilities. Much of the creative preparation occurs during this period as new music is selected, the short and long free skating programs choreographed, costumes are designed, created, and evaluated for practicality, and new equipment ordered (boots and blades) and broken in.

      Training - High Performance

Focus Points:

  • Raise the bar of technical and performance goals in achievable increments
  • Use psychological and physiological factors to personal advantage
  • Maximize technical accomplishments and minimize or disguise weakness
  • Maximize performance proficiency and minimize or disguise weakness
  • Concentrate on figure skating and minimize most other athletic and social activities
  • Train to achieve stamina and consistent performances in test and competitive situations
      Junior through novice events skaters, who place in sectional and national competitions, may be invited to perform as guest soloists in ice shows, carnivals, and various exhibitions.

      The Junior, Senior, and International level skaters may find themselves participating in Exhibition Tours after the World Championship which an honor, but also delays their rest/recuperation by six to eight weeks or longer.

      These post competition demands on the time and energy not only delay a needed rest period, but also may shorten an elite athlete's training schedule to prepare for the next competitive season.

       Typical at the start of per-season training focuses on improving the technical and artistic aspects of the athlete's performance while correcting obvious mechanical flaws that were observed in the previous season:
  • Focus on the process used to achieve the product,
  • Maximize positive psychological and physiological factors and minimize the negative flaws,
  • Attain maximal performance endurance,
  • Strive to achieve 100% consistency in technical execution,
  • Training to enhances performance consistency,
  • While training dominates almost all other activities, there is time for social activities.
Phase 4 - Training to compete at National, World, and Olympic levels
      This phase is appropriate for boys aged 16 to 24 and girls aged 14 to 18. The main objective should be to optimize fitness preparation, sport/event specific skills and performance. The key points of this phase are:

• 50% of available time is devoted to the development of technical and tactical skills and fitness

• 50% of available time is devoted to competition and competition specific training
Athletes train to peak for major competitions
• Learn to perform these sport specific skills under a variety of competitive conditions during training
• Special emphasis is placed on optimum preparation by modeling training and competition
• Fitness programs, recovery programs, psychological preparation and technical development are
   now individually tailored to the athlete's needs

• Double and multiple periodization is the optimal framework of preparation
• Training to competition ratio in this phase is 25:75, with the competition percentage including
   competition specific training activities

Phase 5 - Training to Earn Gold Test Medals
      This phase is appropriate for boys aged 16> and girls aged 15>. The main objective should be to maximize fitness preparation and sport/event specific skills as well as performance. 

NOTE: Skaters who have not been able to place high enough in the US National Championships to be named to skate in international junior competitions are
behind in the development curve. Concentration on passing tests in multiple
disciplines (singles, pairs, dance, Synchronized Team, and Theater-On-Ice)
would increase their qualifications as a coach if they decide to earn money
by coaching figure skating to defray college expenses.

   The key points of this phase are:

• All of the athlete's physical, technical, tactical, mental, personal and lifestyle capacities are now
   fully established and the focus of training has shifted to the maximization of performance

• Training is characterized by high intensity and relatively high volume with appropriate breaks to
   prevent over training

Phase 6 - Retirement & Retainment
      This phase is appropriate for boys and girls who are graduating from high and enrolling full-time in college.

      The main objective should be to retain athletes for coaching, officiating, sport administration etc.

Recommended Reading:

PDF  Long Term Athlete Development  Sports scientists have reported that there are critical periods in the life of a young person in which the effects of training can be maximized. They have also concluded that it can take anything from eight to twelve years of training for a talented athlete to achieve elite status.

Research has shown that that chronological age is not a good indicator on which to base athletic development models for athletes between the ages of 10 to 16 as within this age group there is a wide variation in the physical, cognitive and emotional development.

  Motoric dominance and sporting excellence: Training versus heredity:  Personality types of NCAA and NAIA male and female administrators: A descriptive study. ... Perceptions of the importance of training, experience, and athletic ..... Choreography Styles in Figure Skating: Journal of Creative Behavior Vol. ...

Technique & its Training - Seirul-lo - Sport Training  In some sports (gymnastics, figure skating, etc.) the athlete's performance ... we can fix its relative importance and plan in sequence the learning goals during .... A) At this stage the training of motor participation must develop all ...

Learn The 15 Laws of Training   Whereas skater B shows the steepest improvement in performance with increasing ... If the athlete doubled her training to point B on that figure, she could expect her ... However, the importance is that the method of Foster et. al.


Intensive Training & Sports Specialization in Young Athletes  Feb. 1, 2010... and requirements relative to body size are higher in growing ... Progression of Tanner stages of puberty development has not ... in mind 1) the importance of assuring safe and healthy sports ... Ryan J. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters. ...

Variables of Training  In training we can calculate two types of volume. Relative volume refers to the ..... defines the performance (figure skating, diving, synchronized swimming), ... The importance of the aerobic energy system

PDF Technical note Right hand advantage in visually guided reaching & aiming movements
GROUIOS, G., 2004a, Motoric dominance and sporting excellence: Training versus heredity. Perceptual and Motor. Skills, 98, 53–66.

Heredity and Health-Related Fitness  The importance of heredity as a factor affecting the development of the health- related intensity in each program.

Your Attitude Reflects Your Personality  Aug. 2, 2007. The Importance of Having a Positive Attitude · Can Your Attitude Effect Your Life? A Positive Attitude Can Lead to Success and a Longer Life

Doug Maccurdy. Talent Identification around the world  In the beginning stages (say 7-10 years old) a child should have an ... identify talent if the training and competitive structures.

Talent identification and development in soccer

PPT Personality Psychology  Personality is the set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that is organized and relatively enduring and that influences his or ... like no others Individual Uniqueness Level. 3 Levels of Personality Analysis.

Stages of Learning Sport Skills  The stages of learning are phases that athletes experience as they progress through skills. Coaching instructions and training activities can be designed.

Stages of Youth Athletic Development  Oct. 16, 2005 ... An Informed Approach to Sports Training. In the United States, youth sports ... In England, sports administrators developed three stages of Youth Athletic Development.

Athletic Insight - Impact of a Brief Workshop on Stages of change   Stages of change as an outcome measure in the evaluation of mental skills training programs. The Sport Psy-chologist, 13, 107-116.

Growth & Development: Coaching Through the Phases of Growth  Oct. 13, 2004. This article reviews coaching guidelines for the three stages of ... Some training in different sports will help develop coordination.

PDF Strength Training for Female Athletes  There may be psychological and /or physiological considerations

Chapter 7: Age- and Sex-Related Differences Body Size and Composition; Strength and Power Output. Resistance Training for Female Athletes. Trainability of Women; Program Design Considerations for women.

An Outline of LTAD The first 4 stages, with their respective approximate age ranges, are generally appropriate for all late specialization sports.

Overuse Injuries, Over training, and Burnout in Children  June 1, 2007 ... Overuse injuries can be classified into 4 stages: (1) pain in the ..... Intensive training and sports specialization in young athletes

Sports - stages, average, Definition, Description The National Athletic Training Association encourages parents to ask ... " Developmental Stages of Sports Readiness Can't Be Rushed

Training: Quantification in Competitive Sports  For most sports, training probably has a greater effect on performance than raw talent. Training is an exercise in simplification, which occurs at several stages.

Intensive Training and Sports Specialization in Young Athletes  Feb. 1, 2010. Progression of Tanner stages of puberty development has not been ... keeping in mind 1) the importance of assuring safe and healthy sports play: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters.

Relationship Dynamics and Dimensions of Support  Sport in terms of performance, training, economic and familial pressures ( Kestnbaum, 2003). ... research concerned with figure skating

Multilateral development versus specialization  Figure 2.1 illustrates a conceptual model for a long-term sequential approach to training. ... On the contrary, training specificity is present in all stages of a training ... cross-country skiing, running, skating, swimming, and cycling.

Multilateral Sport Training Programs for Young and Mature  From childhood to adulthood it is of paramount impor-tance to train the following ... athlete stages in a constructive, periodized and individualized way. ... 17 years of age (except for two female sports: gymnastics and figure skating).

The Effect of an Imagery Training Program on Imagery Ability  Imagery training and verbalization training on figure skating performance.

Strength & conditioning for figure skating - Lippincott  Skaters have neglected strength and conditioning, and now we know it is of vital importance adjusted for weight and interval training routines that meets the requirements of figure skating.

Sports Psychology & Mental Toughness Skills Training  To learn more about how to boost sports performance via mental training, ... an injury or in the recovery stage of injury and needs to work through issues such as ... auto racing, motocross, running, shooting, gymnastics, skating, soccer, ... Coaches also learn the most importance mental strategies.

Sport Performance - training, exercise, strength, muscle  These aspects of sport performance are also influenced by heredity and body ... In certain disciplines, such as skiing or figure skating, when there are ...

PDF  Effect of Training on Postural Control in Figure Skating   2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins .... Strength and conditioning program for figure skating. NSCA J. 1988;10:26–30. 17. Lipetz J, Kruse RJ.

Group Class Lesson Management


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:

Fitness Training Considerations
Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Guidelines for Training
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Group Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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