The Learning Process
San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
The Specificity Principle simply states that training must go from highly general training to highly specific training. The principle of Specificity also implies that to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. To be a good cyclist, you must cycle. The point to take away is that a runner should train by running and a swimmer should train by swimming.
It is the application of the principle of specificity that underlies the development of effective fitness training programs for the different figure skating disciplines. Specificity also is the driving force of how figure skaters learn the basic motor skills. Unfortunately, the principle is sometimes misinterpreted.Specificity and Sports Fitness
Specificity is described as the type of changes a skater's body makes in response to their training. The concept is very simply, the product of the training can only produce as much quality and quantity as the skater is willing to expend!
A training program must be more than a skater mindlessly performs activities to prepare only for the specific requirements of the next test or competition. There must be an effort to consistently work on the basics that take time to master and whose expectations increase with each test level. With time and regular practice, a skater's body becomes better able to meet the increasing demands of figure skating as it adapts to the changing rules of the ISU.
Adaptations to training are most evident in elite athletes. For example, the effects of years of rigorous training clearly distinguish differences in bodies of single and pair skaters from dancers, synchro skaters.
Dancing has places major demands of sustained training because they must training to perform in three events. Free skating and pair skaters also have very physically demanding activities that result in a larger, stronger heart and increased blood vessels to supply oxygen to the specific muscles involved in jumping, spinning, and lifting (pairs only). In contrast, in contrast the synchro skater has maximized their ability to perform edges and turns with power in very precise formations in complete unison. A small mistake by one skater can cause a cascade of errors from which recovery is impossible.
There is one principle that should be applied to a figure skating fitness training program - all beginning through intermediate levels of skaters should participate in a basic fitness components designed to develop core body strength, power/speed, endurance, and flexibility to establish a strong foundation prior to expending long hours in the pursuit of one discipline of figure skating exclusively. All skaters should pass Pre-pre to Senior MITF, Pre-pre to Intermediate Free Skating, and Pre to Pre-Silver compulsory dance test as the skills are directly transferable.
Specificity and Motor Skill Learning
Most sports have very specific motor skills that are unique to each sport. Athletes in all competitive sports require the discipline to execute skills as they make split second adjustments in response to competitive situations.
The concept of specificity involves learning and performing a variety of closely related movements. Rather than practicing and perfecting any single skill or movement in isolation, the specificity of skill learning requires an athlete to master the basic skill prior to attempting to develop variations on the skills.
There is a clear and measurable effect from practicing skills with out variation because the beginner is just beginning to understand the concept and motor skill required in the cognitive or mental stage. As learners progress, adding a variation of a basic skill to practice keeps the skater energized in preparation for more demanding levels of competition.
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:
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