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Learning to Skate -
Essential Skills & Training


Lasting, long term skills are best acquired by the acquisition of reliable data and technical skills
       A major reason why individuals fail to accomplish their goals is that they take short cuts that subsequently need to be corrected.  Too many companies have rushed products to market with major design flaws requiring very expensive recalls and a damaged image of the brand name.

       It is impossible to predict exactly what circumstances may exist in the future, so rushing to achieve your goal may or may not coincide with a favorable environment for success. The best way to succeed in any endeavor is to anticipate potential problems and take steps to avoid, eliminate, or mitigate the problem.

       An successful athlete is a product that can be marketed as a prospective Heisman Trophy candidate, professional football, basketball, baseball, soccer player, spokesperson for a company/brand, or launching a line of products like the George Forman Grill.

       It is doubtful that a young athletes has dreams of being a future phoneme so why take shortcuts to win in local competitions? It is the responsibility of the parents and coaches to impress the young athlete of the importance of mastering the basic, fundamental skills of their sport.

       The most cost effective training avoids an athlete acquiring poor technical skills so expensive and time consuming retraining is not necessary to accomplish the objectives that must be accomplished to achieve the goal/personal ambition.

Is there a difference between learning to skate and training to compete?
      There is a difference in the time, effort, and perseverance involved in learning to perform at a recreational level and persisting in developing the skills to be an elite athlete.

      The technical skating skills taught by an instructor in a group class for beginners and athletic coach who is working to see that the tasks that are individually performed in practice can be mastered so the athletes have ability to perform multiple skills in a continuous competitive performance.

      The addition of performing a choreographed program of the same skills to a musical section with transitions that tie the athletic skills with the necessary performance skills increases the difficulty.

      Some individuals can achieve the necessary performance, but when they attempt to duplicate their efforts in front of and audience of judges and spectators, they develop a form of "performance anxiety" that can be severely debilitating in extreme cases.

      Athletes can start competing by participating in a recreational skating programs such as the ISI and USFS Basic Skills "Learn to Skate" programs.

      A comprehensive training program can be designed by a skating coach. Such a program should be patterned after training used to develop elite skaters who can become a consistent performer with the stamina to complete at a senior level in free style, pair, dance, or synchronized team skating events. Competing is not a sprint, but requires consistently improving throughout a competitive season without the loss of energy and technical proficiency as the each performance ends. Remember that it is the final performance at the season's last competition that crowns the winner for that year.

      It is extremely important to avoid acquiring basic technical errors at the beginning stage caused the skater, parent, and/or coach rushing to have the athlete starting to learn jumps and spins without acquiring the essential body control to perform essential edges and turns at a wide range of effortless flow over the ice.

Off Ice Strength and Conditioning Programs
      Skating as a sport is not different than any other sport. Strength and conditioning are important in trainig as for any athlete. That training can be performed as part of group training  (which is much less expensive)  or individually depending on time and financial constraints as well as the availability of appropriate supervision. 

      Either approach requires appropriately sized equipment for use by younger athletes and certified trainers to provide supervision when the gym is open for use.

Elements of Conditioning
      Conditioning includes strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness that is intended to develop the young athlete as a whole not just focus on specific groups of muscle development. Sport specific training builds on the athletic skills that were developed in the prepubescent years. Strengthening and conditioning is safe and effective for young children when the emphasis is on safety and the quality of movement, not the achievement of unrealistic goals.

      Children can begin training when they are willing to perform the exercises correctly. The exercising is much like a young child practice scales when learning to play any instructment. It just not fun! It helps considerable if the exercising equipment is of an appropriate design and size. Free weights, body weight and exercise bands offer resistance to improve strength without the use of adult sized equipment.

      Knowledgeable trainers will encourage the development of core body strength as this enhances proper form and stability for all others exercises. Bilateral exercises are designed to encourage the athlete to be able to move equally well to all sides and directions so that the total muscle balance is always equal. The stability gained form core control and upper body upper body strength are essential to improving the coordination, movement, and overall body performance. The intensity, frequency and type of exercise should vary depending of the stage of training in the competitive season.

      The flexibility gained with static stretching can inhibit the development power. Prior to on ice training sessions and at a competition, a skater's off ice warm up should include dynamic flexibility – exercise that moves the body through the range of motion and increases circulation to the muscles. It is best to reserve static stretching until after a practice or performance. This is much like walking a race horse after running a race. Skaters should gradually cool off rather suddenly stop a strenuous exercise/performance.

      It is safe for children to participate in cardiovascular fitness training, but caution must be taken as their  greater body surface to body mass limits sweating capacity and subjects them to higher core temperatures. Young athletes should be encouraged to stay hydrated before and during their exercise sessions.

      The principles of youth and adolescent training should focus on staying fit as that improves their ability to perform longer without forced errors resulting from the increasing levels of physical stressors that results in an elite training program that is required to become competitive.

Differentiating Between Expertise of Coaches
       With as many distinctive disciplines as existing in figure skating, it is not surprising that coaches might want to specialize teaching adults, or beginning, low, juvenile, novice, junior, or senior levels of compet- itive levels. Some coaches prefer the challenges of being a choreographer while others may prefer to teach test and competitive skaters in figures, Moves in the Field (MITF), pairs, dance, artistic, synchronized skating, Showcase, or Theater on Ice competition events. Some coaches prefer to only coach on a part time basic because of raising a family or having an other occupation. Their choice to limit their availability often means they are selective of who they will accept as students.

       The competitive back ground of a coach's experience, how long they have taught, and the number of skaters they have worked with that earned their gold medals gives an idea of their value as a coach. An important part of the selective process is the coach's personality and how well they can work with specific ages of athletes. 

       Members of the Professional Skaters Association (PSA) must pass annual background checks, carry insurance, and participate in the certification of their skating skills, teaching knowledge, and ability to communicate those abilities in front of a panel of their peers. Only certified PSA coaches can put skaters on the ice at USFS tests anad competitions.

What does it mean to be a Warrior Athlete?
       The Warrior Athlete is someone fully committed to their sport and living life to its fullest. This individual willing to get up each day and start fresh on their path with an open mind and heart - ready to push their body to the maximum.

        Only when a person is at peace with themselves will they be ready to pursue their sport and retire  with achieving every goal without regrets. Such an individual will fearlessly face adversity and pushing themselves to limits they never thought possible. They typically are leaders who blaze new territory and who does not back away from difficult situations. They definitely are not a mindless follower!

Principle Number One: Intention
       Setting a goal is rather easy to do, bu following through with their stated intention as an athlete and coach separated the "Talkers from the Doers". Without setting written goals and objectives, neither you or anyone else can be sure of your intentions. Some individuals just can't muster the motivation and perserverance to follow a path to accomlish what they dream of accomplishing.

       The first step is to set down your personal life goals. That may include getting a college degree, geting married and starting a family, and/or a career. It all starts with make the first decision and following through.

        Always remind yourself of how every goal can be achieved - that then become your specific intention. This can be highly focused like a laser beam or have a wide and unfocused approach. he latter approach is less likely you are to hit the "bulls eye" of a target. A true "Warrior" will not settle for less than their best effort nor will they make excuses when they fall short of their goal. They make a commitment to be all they can, and do what it takes to achieve it despite obstacles.  


Recommended Reading:

Hockey Training for Different Age Groups - Laura Stamm  (Technique) For children who choose to participate in hockey, skating skills now must be strongly ... SkillTraining:Skating is an extremely complicated activity.

PDF Off-ice training to develop Skating Skills  On-ice training alone will not be sufficient.  There are many components to performing the complete skating stride. 

Figure Skating Skills The Basics - The basic figure skating skills you need to learn at the start.

PDF Off-Ice Strength & Conditioning for Figure Skaters  The USFS outlines of some of the guidelines for off-ice training and figure skating. I. Why should skaters perform off-ice training?

Training Figure Skaters Many training coaches prescribe that their skaters practice landing jumps and performing balance based skills (such as spirals) off the ice.

Sask. Speed Skating | FUNdamentals The focus of this stage is on critical skill and speed skating literacy. Optimal window of skill training starts for girls near the end of this stage, between ages
8-11 (Short & Long Track).

Transferable Ice Skating Skill Levels It is helpful to understand that essential basic skating skills are transferable. The best approach is to identify and correct fundamental technical skating errors not as soon as possible. The longer it takes to begin to correct basic problem with only serve to maximize the frustration of the athlete and the time/expense associated with the effort to make the corrections.

References:
  • Learning Theories  The database contains brief summaries of 50 major theories of learning and instruction.
  • Social learning theory focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another.
  • Learning Theories  One of the key issues to look at when examining any Learning Theory is Transfer of Learning.
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:

   
Sports Information
PDF  Off Ice Training Guides

   
   
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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