San Diego Figure Skating Communications
a non-profit educational organization
A Training Plan for Women
A look at training female figure skaters
Both short and long term plans need to incorporate the major forces which drive a skater's success in figure skating.
The 300,000 plus USFS female members, who are under the age of 21, generally began actively skating as preteens enrolled in Kindergarten through eighth grades. A much small proportion of this population began skating as teenagers. School curriculums/schedules are a major influence in determining training schedules of skaters. Increasingly there are families that home school their children which allows these skaters to skate during the day when ice is less crowded. The Matrix is a theoretical concept provides a view of the process an elite skater can experience as they strive to acquire the necessary physical skills measured by USFS testing and placements in qualifying competitions.
Ideally every skater will have a supporting family of parents and siblings. Children from broken homes, represented by female heads of households exist in figure skating, but frequently experience limited financial resources, with the parent working long hours that make it difficult to get their child to the rink for early morning practices. In addition to transportation problems, single parents may be especially conflicted in efforts to balance skating with an emphasis in acquiring an education in preparation for a non skating career.
Modification of training
A coach, skater, and parents can define and/or modify any of a plan's assumptions. A potential champion may not achieve all the goals or ideal qualities. There is the "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 a fall. 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 Matrix is the annual changing standards, rules, and interpretations made by the ISU that affect elite skaters with relative short notice/ in their careers. Skaters at lower skill levels have more time to adjust their skill training and competitive strategies.
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 skill level throughout their skating career. The interaction of the various training factors can affect the skater's performance outcome.
Technical advances influence figure skating training
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. Skaters should become as proficient as possible, as quickly as possible without ignoring major technical and presentation 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.
The recent down turn of today's economy has shown how external factors can quickly intersect with long term plans to pursue skating and educational goals.
Only a small percentage of skaters achieve the elite level
Relatively few skaters will achieve elite status. It is not necessary to excel in all stages to have a successful and fulfilling skating career. The vast majority of skaters, even though they may have competed and even won, will not ever reach the elite skating level. Skaters may quit at or before the gold test stage for a variety of reasons:
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 train to become accountants or judges.
Elite skaters may become interested in training to become Technical Specialists.
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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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.