The Learning Process
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Training Variations for Athletes

Should All Training be the Same?
Doing the same things, the same way is boring. It does not matter what the individuals age is, the response is the same - they lose focus. This can lead to inattention which increases the possibility of injuries.

       The concept of "Drill and Practice" does produce results, but when carried to an excess, there is a serious diminishing amount of progress. The solution is to mix things up and make things fun. Too often the learner will provide positive oral feedback when they much rather be doing something else.

        Since the objective is improvement, changing the environment of learning really requires the teacher/instructor to read the facial expressions and body language of the athletes. Be prepared to immediately make changes on the spot.  If you don't feel comfortable improvising, devise various optional items that can be immediately be implemented.

Vary Training

      Training variation involves changing activities as to the range of intensity or class of skills. Variability of practice promotes learning and athlete's experience, reduces occurrences of staleness, and reduces the duration and/or intensity of plateaus.

       It does not hurt to challenge athletes by showing them what the ultimate goal is that you want them to be able to reach. Arrange a demonstration. Breakdown the goal into objectives that are much easier to reach.  Even shy athletes can be much more competitive than you might think. Develop their confidence and assertiveness by using students to act as "aids" in group classes. They will work much harder to justify your confidence in them.

Start with simple entries and gradually transition to more complex introductions
      Once athletes learn the fundamental movements of a skill, varying where they perform the element in practice sessions helps them learn to adapt to a competitive program choreographed to meet the well balanced program requirements by being able to make adjustments in the execution and location of required/optional items.  Coaches should discourage favorite (lucky) spots to perform jumps, spins, etc..

      Benefits of variations of tasks in practice sessions in training plan for competition:
  • Practice conditions should match competitive conditions. If the primary ice surface is smaller than  the host club's ice. Cone off the larger rink's ice surface to outline the smaller rink's surface.
  • Attempt to determine if the competition rink's ice will be colder, the same temperature, or warmer than the home rink.
  • Schedule running through your program(s) at your home rink. Limit skaters to simulate competition warm-ups followed by skaters drawing for their skating order.  Ideally, a coach should arrange to bring in judges and technical specialists to make the simulation as realistic as possible.
  • Schedule the off-ice exercises in phases with periodized cycles effectively builds variety into the annual weight training plan. The objective of training is to peak for each competition.
        Typically ice skaters must develop the ability to perform a variety of actions requiring the full use of all of the edges performed in both forward and backward directions. In is quite common for figure skaters to become so comfortable performing specific jumps and spins in the same location on the ice, that they are unable to perform the same elements at a different location after a series of transitional elements.

Recommended Reading:

Developing A Training Plan

Principles of Athletic Training

Mental Training for Athletes



Variation Training  Variation is a great way to help maximize your on and off-ice training. Variation and Training The old saying that variety is the spice of life applies as much to training.

Individual variation in response to altitude training   Histogram displaying variation in change.

The Variation Principle in Sports Training   The variation principle suggests that minor changes in training regiments yield more consistent gains in sport performance.

The Physician and Sports medicine: Strength Training for Women   American women first began strength training for sports in the 1950s.

Gender Issues Related to Males Coaching Female Athletes   The greater muscle mass that males possess allows for greater strength.  The female sports perspective.  Women's Lives: Themes and Variations in Gender Learning.

Physical and Mental Training Considerations


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:
Learning Considerations
PDF  Attentional Focus
PDF  Spatial Disorientation
PDF  Effects of Mood on Performance
PDF  Confidence through Motivation
PDF  Transfer of Learning Issues

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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