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Training Variation

The Variation Principle
       Research supports planned variations/changes in training program consistently increases gains in performance. Training programs for virtually every sport supports the use of variations in intensity, duration, volume, and other important aspects of practice will retain enthusiasm of participating athletes.

       The most well known method of practice variability concerns training in phases. Typically, an annual sports training program includes phases of training for conditioning, intensive sport-specific work, in-season maintenance, and an off-season regimen. Training in phases, or periods, is called periodization.

       Periodization has been used by Eastern Europeans for about 50 years.


  • Macrocycles one competitive season - approximately a year
  • Mesocycles - approximately a month
  • Microcycles - approximately a week

Note: include anticipated planned changes in exercises, intensity, volume, and other training variables that target the athlete's goals for peaking during the competitive season.

       Adjustments in training are very effective when used for skill learning, as well as for fitness training. Changes within a range or class of skills is well supported by Schema Theory. Refer to Variation in Training.

       This principle does not conflict with the Specificity and Overload Principles. Specificity is about how the athlete's body adapts to the type of training program used, and training should be similar to the demands of a sport. Practice variability simply suggests that athletes should not perform exactly the same regimen each day. It supports specificity because competitive conditions present different situations that demand slightly different responses. The Overload Principle implies that gradual and progressive changes in training must occur in order for improvement to take place.

Variation Training Tips:

  • Set up a sports training plan for the entire competitive season using phases for specific purposes.
  • The training activities need to form a cohesively plan to build from the off season that peaks for games or competitions during the competitive season.
  • In each week of each training phase, coordinate the intensity of fitness training activities with technical and tactical work to allow ample recovery.
  • For weight training, adjust exercises, sets, reps, rest, and volume within a range that fits the training cycle.
  • For aerobic training, adjust distance, speed, duration, recovery, and volume within the training cycle.
  • When signs of over training occur, change workouts by reducing intensity and allowing longer recovery time.

Principles of Sports Training:

Mental Training:

Developing A Training Plan


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:

Principles of Sports Training:
Principles of Training Athletes
Developing Skills for Figure Skating
Acquiring Sports Skills
Amount of Time to Acquire Sports Skills
Biomechanics of Sports
Balanced Principles For Training
Sports Skills & Mechanical Techniques
Physical Fitness & Preparedness
Individual Differences
The Overload Principle in Training
Recovering From Training
Principle of Reversibility
Principle of Specificity
Transference of Knowledge & Skills
Training Variation
Objectives of Psychomotor Goals
Objectives of Psychomotor
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