Figure Skating
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Strategies of a
Successful Coach

Essential concepts, to develop an annual training plan, should be based on
information from creditable sources.

      Coaches, choreographers, and trainers must have the technical skills associated with the specific sport and discipline.  There are sports organizations that provide accreddition for coaches, choregraphers, and trainers.

      In addition, they must have a good business sense to market their services. While these individuals can not market themselves as a certified sports physiologist, unless the have a dergree and license, they aree often required to deal with athlete personalities and interactions that arise between skaters and parents. Few individuals relish aboratrating these conflicts, but the best way to achieve training goals is to resolve issues to avoid friction or mitigate it whenever possible.

     Individuals who interact with young athletes should place the desire of winning in perspective with life goals such as:
  • Fitness,
  • Academic,
  • Career,
  • Spiritual, Church activities
  • Financial,
  • Business,
  • Social Interactions and activities
  • Recreational sports activities
  • Humanitarian
  • Marriage/partnerships
  • Traveling
  • Fun
  • Hobbies
       When developing your written list in greater detail there are two qualities - direction and clarity that should use in determining the priority of the primary goals of your list. This should equate with the  emphasis you place on managing your time, energy, and financial resources to actually achieve these goals.

       Sometimes things happen that we tend to view as being lucky or unlucky.  Having a positive attitude has a lot to due with how we handle situtations that we can control, and expecially those that are beyond our conrol.

Do you know why your do things?
       The wrong answer is "The devil made me do it!" Everyday we make decisions that range from the mundane to the extremely important, even life threatening. A person's personality has a great deal to due with their approach to "Risk Taking".  It is important to stress that the results of our decisions can vary each and every time depending on th convergence of external factors. When something goes wrong, don't use the excuse "Everyone is doing it!"

       There may be a very important person in your life that provides the inspiration that motivates you, even when things are gloomy, to continue pursuing your quests in life.

       Goals are very very important in life. Smart goals are like street signs, they keep you on track when you're paying attention. These goals give you the ability to see where you are going, what you want to achieve, and a better chance of getting there.

       Goals should be considered as a means to achieving the ultimate purpose you have indentified for your life. As a tool, goals allow us to improve our focus. In the event we lose our direction, goals provide signposts to help us rediscover our path to fulfilling our grand aspiration in life.

“Not having a goal in life is like a ship with out a rudder. You'll get tossed around
in the throws of the ocean and probably end up on some rocky shore.”
source - Earl Nightingale (March 12, 1921 – March 28, 1989) was an American motivational speaker and author, known as the "Dean of Personal Development."

Have you considered a career in coaching a specific sport, physical eductation, or parks/recreation
Have you participated in school sponsored sports? Were you involved in various sports and recreational activities sponsored by a local park and recreation Department or independent organization such as Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football, figure skating club, ice hockey league, etc.?

      If you don't know how to start to create your life plan, take the time to understand who you are -
  1. Do you truly enjoy working/teaching individuals of all or specific ages?
  2. Is maximizing your income more important to you than the pleasure derived from teaching?    
What is your personal background and experience with the opportunities in a possible career
Please take the time to assest your background qualifications by answering the followiwng questions:
  • Are you involved in a full or part time participant in a sport?
  • Is it seasonal or a year round commitment?
  • Have you any professional experience?
  • What is your age, USFS test level, and placement in USFS qualifying competitions?
  • Do you have any academic or other credentials?
  • Do you plan on teaching recreational athletes or those individuals who what to compete in non-qualifying competitions? 
  • Are you qualified to work with skaters who aspire to be serious competitors in qualifying competitions/sporting events?
  • Are you eligible to coach rink side at USFS events?
Schedule of activities:
  • When does the training season start and end?
  • Is there an off season?
  • Do you train in the season? Explain in more detail.
  • What tests do you need to pass to qualify to compete in the new competitive season?
  • List the closing date to enter the competitions that you want to compete in.
  • What is the date of the first competition?
  • What is the important competition of the season?
  • Place all of the above information on an Event Calendar.
  • Calculate the time between the dates.
Develop a rough draft of the training plan you would use for yourself:
  • Define in general terms your training goals and objectives.
  • Have your training goals and objectives changed as your sports skills increased?
  • Divide training year into time periods or phases based on the activities on the Event Calendar.
  • Is there enough time to divide the phases into macro cycles?
  • Is there enough time to divide each macro cycle into micro cycles?
  • Determine the training load for phases, macro, and micro cycles.
  • Specify daily training by the types of training.
  • Block out specific amounts of training time needed to accomplish the types of training.
  • Compare the amount of available time of the skater to your rink’s ice schedule of activities. Don’t forget to include off-ice activities that are either at the rink or held off site.
      Use a generic training outline and modify it to neet your individual needs. The following example is divided into stage which are then subdivided in phases:

  • General Preparation
  • Specific Preparation
  • Pre-Competition
  • Competition
  • Taper
  • Pre-Competition
  • Peak for final competition
  • Final Competition
  • Relaxation
  • Off-season
      Identify conflicting dates with the timeline. It may be necessary to make adjustments after inserting the starting and ending dates, which determines the number of available weeks in each phase. 

      Have you factored into the schedule plans to take and pass MITF, free skating, and compulsory dance tests that are necessary to qualify to enter qualifying competitions?

      After establishing a working timeline, decide how many hours of training is affordable during each phase. Don’t forget to include off-ice activities, plus transportation to and from home or school to the rink and other activities.

      There also is the question of having a driver or public transportation available and the cost/time of the transportation.

      Create a daily schedule starting with the first activity on the schedule. If the rink is the first stop on the list, add 20 minutes of stretching/warm-up exercises and putting on the skates to determine the arrival time at the rink.

      Create a daily schedule starting with a trip to the rink as the first activity on the schedule. Estimate the normal driving time assuming there is no need to fill the tank up with gas. Add 20 minutes of stretching/ warm-up exercises and 5 minutes for putting on the skates to determine the arrival time at the rink.

      Who is responsible for getting up at the house - the skater, the parent, both? Are there one or two bathrooms? It takes time to get up, shower, get dressed, and fix breakfast, pack lunches, and gathering school/work materials. It helps to be organized and have the clothes selected and laid out the night before.

      Check the refrigerator and cupboard to make sure there is milk, lunch meat, ce-real, bread, juice, and  Coffee!  Invest in an automatic coffee maker that you can program to have hot coffee when you get up. Allow extra time for grumpy skaters and parents who move slowing in the morning.

      Many parents fall into choosing a typical practice schedule of what other parents are doing. This does help if you are trying to car pool with other families.

      Ask your coach to recommend what is a normal amount of weekly practices for your child's age and skill level. Observe other skaters and talk to their parents.

      Choose a number that you can afford and see how this affects your family life. Start out with a minimum schedule and increase as necessary to achieve the desired rate of progress.

      Don't force your child into a weekday routine of getting up at 4:00 a.m. every morning unless they are really willing to commit to everything that goes with the sacrifices that other family members will have to make.

      The training emphasis is determined by the focus the skater and coach are comfortable with though out the entire season. The focus points include:
  • Physical – stamina, endurance, power, edging
  • Technical – mastering basic turns and edges, and exiting jump & spins, plus adding new jumps and spins
  • Mental – self confidence, assurance
  • Tactical – construction of program elements
      There is a balance of the following four elements which are age and skills specific. For example, when the general preparation phase starts 3 - 4 months before the competition phase, the balance might be:
  • Physical - 45%
  • Technical - 40%
  • Mental - 10%
  • Tactical - 5%
      As a skater becomes a more advanced athlete, the balance will change more towards the mental and tactical aspects of figure skating. For example:
  • Physical - 20%
  • Technical - 20%
  • Mental - 30%
  • Tactical - 30%
      Mental training involves improving a skater’s focus, concentration, and attention control, plus self-confidence, determination, and motivation.

      A skater’s positive emotion is some-times described as their passion. However, as the term relates to training the meaning refers to physical exertion level.

      Periodised training plans assume that the intensity curve approximates a reciprocal of the volume curve. An increase in volume causes the intensity level to go down. Likewise, as volume goes down, the intensity will increase. If this is a valid premise, the fatigue loads should be consistent with the athlete's capacity for training.

      An effective aerobic training requires low intensity training over a long duration. Training the anaerobic system requires a different strategy - very intense training over a shorter period of time. Athletes respond quickly to increasing the training load. These energy systems can occur sequentially or concurrently.

      As a general guideline, the more fatigue that is produced per unit time, the more intense the activity. As measured by active and resting heart rate. The perceived effort (1 -10 scale) is very unreliable and is very dependent on the observer's interaction and frustration with the skater.

Phase Details:

General Preparation:
      The first phase focuses on developing the basic and fundamental skills to achieve power, ice coverage, edges, turns, and upper body control. Performing figures is an example of an aerobic energy system.

      Off-ice exercises are designed to increase muscle mass and strength as part of an overall fitness program. Skaters should use this phase to work on mastering the correct techniques rather than resorting to short cuts that are associated poor habits,  The exercise volume/load would be increasing throughout this phase.

Specific Preparation:
    Is a continuation of the preparation phase, but there is a transition into a discipline specific training such as jumps, spins, compulsory dances, synchro formations, etc.

    During this phase, the athlete should continue to emphasize speed and power. Volume/load should continue to increase throughout, with a high final volume (hrs./week) being higher that in General Preparation phase.

      This is the phase where the athlete prepares to enter the first competition of the season. The peak volume (hrs./week) in this phase gradually becomes more depending with the goal of peaking for the competition.

      Some coaches may both increase the volume and the intensity of training. It is very important not to let the fatigue level get out of control. Coaches must insist on a recovery period constant with the increased intensity. Macro cycles will generally be shorter (3-1, 2-1 and even 1-1) approaching the competition.

Note: when traveling some distance to enter a competition; there may be only a few short official practices. Many coaches seek other rinks, within a reasonable drive of the host rink, to obtain supplemental practice sessions. These sessions may be at very late or very early hours that the skater is NOT accustomed to skating.

      At the competition, an athlete should be well rested. This means getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Coaches also need to reduce the total practice volume and fatigue levels by up to 50%. In the lower non-qualifying events of figure skating, the early competitions are generally treated as training races.

      The concept of tapering is very dependent on the skater's age, attention span, adrena-line levels, and the possibility of dealing with hyperactivity disorders (ADHD). Young skaters and preteens generally have relatively little endurance; however, they recover quickly from workouts.

      A one-day event may only require one day off after arriving back home from the competition. Of course this depends on the skater's age and their exhaustion level from the travel. Obviously the parents will be more exhausted than the child who may fall asleep in the car during the trip home.

      There also is a considerable difference if the skater was successful in the com-petition or had a disastrous performance. Coaches and parents need to consider reducing the practice schedule as much as 25-30% of peak volume.

      Peaking may be only one competition event, or it may involve a short program or initial round of compulsory dances that qualify the skater/team to skate in the final round of the competition. Emphasis
is on mental preparation, performance, and recovery. Off-ice exercises are restricted to warming-up, flexibility, and cooling down.

      This is a period of participating in other activities outside of the sport of figure skating. Typically a school age skater will be making up school assignments and tests. Not exactly very relaxing, but a necessary part of being a competitor in a winter sport.

      The Off-Season phase is a stage that is devoted to recovery and regeneration of an athlete’s physical, mental, and emotional state after an exhausting competition season. It is a time to take care of chronic and repetitive strain injuries under a doctor’s supervision.

Recommended Reading:
Careers in Skating Coaching Certification

Course Development:


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 Training Plans
   Elite Skaters PDF IJS Handbook    Beginning and Test Skaters
         Different Approaches to Teaching Jumps
         Performing Triple & Quad Jumps
         Common Sense Strategies
         PDF  IJS Strategies
         Strategies for Training
PDF Strategies for MITF Tests
PDF Strategies for Free Skating Tests
Strategies for Triple & Quad Jumps
         Achieving Triple & Quad Jumps
PDF Difficulty Versus Quality
PDF Strategies for Complusory Dance Tests
         Strategies for Pair Tests
         Strategies for Free Dance Tests
         Strategies for Selection by a Synchro Team
         Strategies for Partner and Team Selection
PDF Strategies /Tactics to Succeed
         Trainability of Children
PDF Trainability of Children
PDF Trainability of Young Athletes
         Writing Goals & Objectives
         Psychomotor Domain Taxonomy
         Psychomotor Objectives
Course Syllabus
         Writing Quality Lesson Plans
PDF Writing Objectives
Long Term Athlete Development
Processing Criticism
Test & Competition Strategies
         Strategies for Competitive Training
         Long Term Planning
         Skill Acquistion Timing
        Average Time Required to Pass Tests
        Building a Commitment
PDF Guide To Winning
PDF 101 Ways to Motative Students
         Personality Theory in Coaching
         Strategies of a Sucessful Coach
         Calculate Base Values/GOE Scores 

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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