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Long Term Planning

Goals for Planing for the Long Term
   The concept of periodization, or cycle training is a Short Term Plan used to chart out an entire season's training program. The same concept can also be applied to a Long Term Plan that encompasses an entire skating career in which each season's training is divided into stages with each stage having a different, specific, and progressive focus.

     The concept of the Long Term Planning Matrix illustrates the interaction of the major forces which focus the athlete, coach(es), and trainer(s) on coordinating immediate, intermediate, and long term goals and objectives on future success.  The integration of the processes should result in optimizing the transitions between the three stages.

     The process used to achieve a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) involves the following steps:
  • Context Analysis - constructs the educational background and personality profile of the client(s).  Are they decision makers who will be able to make commitments?  Are specific learning methods preferred? Are there limitations of the facility and staff that must be considered?  Are there time and funding constraints?
  • Beneficiary Analysis - examines the knowledge and skill levels of the client(s), their expectations, and most efficient instructional teaching modality to maximize the learning/processing approach for the client.

  • Work Flow Analysis -  looks at what needs to be changed and/or improved based on existing skill levels.
  • Suitability Analysis - attempts to determine if the proposed program will best serve the established training objectives - improvement of skills and enhancing the desirable attitude(s) of the client(s). It is extremely important to consider if the proposed training can be easily accommodated in the existing life style of the client(s) without drastic modifications.
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis - considers the projected training expenses with the probability of achieving a tangible and desired outcome. The analysis evaluates if the costs are justified with the short and long term projected benefits.
      There is a presumption that an ideal progression of skill development, organized by the relevant learning inputs, will occur on a time line that can be accomplished with normal human development and  maximize the development of athletic talent.

      This scenario is unlikely to be realistic for most skaters considering skaters start at different ages and experience training schedules and school curriculums/schedules that can not be factored into the plan. The plan is a theoretical, academic representation of the process an elite athlete in any sport experiences as they acquire the necessary skills as measured by testing and placements in competitions.

      The training plan assumes that skaters will have a supporting family of parents and siblings. However, there may be a conflict being the emphasis on skating balanced with an emphasis in acquiring an education in preparation for a non skating career.

      A coach, skater, and parents can define and/or modify any of a training plan's input assumptions. A potential champion does not necessarily have to achieve all the qualities recommended. There also is a "luck" factor to consider that is involves the minimum quality and quantity of skills necessary to win or place at any given competition without risking committing a major error. The draw for skating order in the free skating part of the competition can be a factor coaches and skaters consider the possibility of inserting a risky jump element when skating early in the skating order.

      Another factor beyond the control of the training plan is the annual changing rules and new interpretations made by the ISU. Sometimes there may be very little notice of major modifications in the next season's rules. Generally this does not affect athletes who compete at lower seven levels as they usually will have more time to adjust their skill training and competitive strategies.

Role of Heredity
For many years the issue of the influence of heredity and the environment have been debated.  Today it has been accepted that the individual's observed behavior is actually determined by both heredity and environment.

       Are there differences in how
heredity and the environment affect individuals? If there are differences, what are the factors which are responsible and to what extent is our knowledge of these variations important to those attempting to improve the behavior of students?

       The term "Heredity" can have a social context - the values and the norms of the close and extended family are imprinted onto children through the other members of that social group and is called "Social Heredity or
"Cultural Heritage".

Heredity is the transference of genes from the parents to form a new and unique biological individual. Each individual is born with a specific set of potentials which are developed through interactions with their living conditions/environment.

gender issues concerning male and female children

Role of Personality
       A child that is shy and non-assertive usually does not want to put themselves in a position that can be embarrassing, especially in front of peers. They are concerned with messing up or completely failing so if they have had one such experience, it is unlikely they will make further attempts.

       The who is very assertive will not allow one or even multiple difficulties to prevent them from trying until the eventually acquire the skill.

       Child development involves the growth of perceptual, emotional, intellectual, and behavioral capabilities that are functioning during childhood (prior to puberty). It includes development of language, symbolic thought, logic, memory, emotional awareness, empathy, a moral sense, and a sense of identity, including sex-role identity.

Role of Self-Confidence
Successfully performing a motor skill task once allow moving the bar to five consecutive successful repetitions within a week. Each time the goal is achieved their self-confidence/self esteem increase, allowing the performance expectations also to be increased.

      Every child must be free to make decisions as to what challenges they feel are important to warrant their expenditure of time and energy to pursue with in a period of time that does not exceed their frustration level.

The Elementary School Journal 1991 The University of Chicago Press
       Children acquire self-confidence and self-esteem as a result of successful experiences, particularly in the motor domain. Early exploratory activities enable all children to develop motor skills that are essentially available from ages 7 to 10. Boys and girls must be provided similar experiences in human movement, and teachers must shed sex bias and encourage skill development in all children.

       Teachers should provide experiences in which all children can be successful. In addition, some situations in which children initially fail but learn to persist and try alternative solutions are valuable. Guidelines for matching challenges (tasks) to learners are provided in order to enhance the self-esteem of children.

Technical Expectations
      Free skating is defined largely by technical development of skater's jumping skills, therefore, the entry and exit points for the stages are defined by skill acquisition. There are other factors such as age, education, emotional, social, and physical developmental stages that are relevant. It is obvious that not all skaters will acquire the ideal level of skill at the listed ages. The interaction of the various training factors can affect the skater's performance outcome.

      Technical skill development is influenced by chronological age and maturity. What appears to be a promising career of a pre-teen can be derailed by puberty's physical and emotional changes.

      Age is used to restrict and to qualify skaters to compete in some events.  Some skaters, parents, and coaches base their competitive strategy and training schedule to enter a competitive event.

      Technical progress needs to be an on-going regardless of age. All athletes want to become as proficient as possible, as quickly as possible; however, this may result in taking short cuts that causes coaches to ignore major technical and performance errors.

      Other qualities such as life skill development, psychology and physiology will certainly impact progress at whatever stage of technical development and should be considered but movement through the stages are not defined by them.

External Factors: Economic and Career Considerations
     The recent down turn of today's economy has shown how external factors can quickly intersect with long term plans to pursue and achieve both skating and educational goals without compromising expectations.

     Not all skaters will be able to ultimately progress to the highest skill stage. It is not necessary to experience an elite stage to have a successful and fulfilling skating career. The vast majority of skaters, even though they may have competed and even won lower events, will reach the elite skating level.  Skating careers may end at or before the gold test stage for a variety of reasons:
  • Retirement upon graduation from high school (often to attend University)
  • Retirement before graduation from high school (interest in opposite sex and family financial problems)
  • Athlete lacks commitment to train at a level to pass tests and enter competitions
  • A failure to focus on achieving the minimum, or higher standard to pass tests
  • Unrealistic performance expectations based on training schedule
  • Diversity of training - Participation in multiple sports or disciplines. For example - Free Skating, Dance, Skills, Interpretive - exceeds available training time.
     At any age and skill level, a skater may find that they prefer not to test or compete as a single skater. This does not mean that they must stop skating, they can transfer their skills from free skating and MITF to pairs, dance, synchronized team skating and/or Theater on Ice. Because of their fundamental skating skills, they quickly can acquire the new skills that are specific to the new discipline and rapidly pass the tests necessary to compete in the new venue.

Note: Some skaters may decide to become coaches in order to pursue testing and
competing when their financial resources are limited.

Some skaters who are not elite skaters may become involved in leadership roles in
club management and becoming accountants or judges.

Elite skaters may become interested in becoming Technical Specialists.

Recommended Reading:
  • Fine Motor Skill   What role do motor skills play in the child's personality development? Children may differ in the rate at which they acquire and master motor skills.
  • Music Performance Learning Model by Daniel Lemos Cerqueira, Ricieri Zorzal, and Guilherme Augusto de Avila, Dept. of Arts, Federal University of Maranhao, Brazil. Proposes a model for music performance learning based on three root principles: motion, memory, and conscience.
Developing Training Plans

List of Brian Grasso Articles

Flexibility For Young Athletes - Q & A With Chris Blake  Are there different kinds of Flexibility besides bending over to touch my toes what all young athletes should be doing? There are seven different ways of going about flexibility:

The Functional & Athletic Aspects Of Training Figure Skaters  Within the sport of figure skating there seems to be a dichotomy in terms of the conditioning efforts prescribed by training experts or professionals.

Global Development Vs. Sport Specific Training It's All In The Science  No one can learn how to create 6 or 12 month training plans in a day. It takes time and diligent effort to acquire this skill, but your ability to get better over time will have a direct and positive impact on both your young athletes success rate as well as your businesses ability to attract new clients.

Flexibility - Are We Hurting Kids?  The scope of confusion regarding flexibility can be seen when considering the assessment tools most commonly used to test one’s suppleness.

How To Warm-up Your Young Athletes  Warming up for sport or activity is, in essence, preparing the body for the task it is about to do.

Plan For Success - Youth Training The most common problem facing Trainers & Coaches today with respect to developing young athletes over time is the ability to plan long-term.

Beginning and Test Skaters

Elite Skaters PDF IJS Handbook

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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credit is given for the source of the materials.

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