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Value of Annual Planning
 
An annual training plan should be based on objective information
       Essential concepts to develop a plan should include the following information:
  • Your age
  • Sports ability level
  • Does your plan include competing in non-qualifying competitions? 
  • Are you eligible to enter qualifying events for a national championship?
  • What are your academic interests?
  • How will you fund your academic interests?
  • What are your career interests?
  • Do you have any interest in a career in sports or a related field?
  • What is motivating you?
  • What to do foresee as potential obstacles
       Develop specific information about your plans for participating in sports for the current season, in 5 years, and in 10 years. Develop a calendar on which you schedule sports activities:
  • When does the training season start?
  • 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 projected  training plan for the current season:
  • Define in general terms your training goals and objectives.
  • 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.
      Begin by using a generic training outline. The following example is divided into stage which are then subdivided in phases:
                    
                        
                           









Stages
Phases
    
First
  • General Preparation
  • Specific Preparation
  • Pre-Competition
   
Second
  • Competition
  • Taper
  • Pre-Competition
   
Third
  • Peak for final competition
  • Final Competition
   
Fourth
  • Relaxation
  • Off-season
 
      Identify conflicting dates with the projected 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.

      Factor in the transportation issues such as:
  1. Having a drivers license, car and Insurance,
  2. Someone else providing the transportation,
  3. Public transportation available at -
  4. Convenient schedule,
  5. Length of travel time including transfers,
  6. Distance from home to pickup point,
  7. Distance from demarcation to practice/competition venue.
  8. How will you get from practice venue to school or job?
Create a Typical Daily Weekday and Weekend Schedule
      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 practice venue 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.

Volume:
      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.

Emphasis:
      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.

Intensity:
      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.

Pre-competition:
      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.

Competition:
      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.

Tapering-Off:
      The concept of tapering is very dependent on the athlete'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:
      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.

Relaxation:
      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.

Off-Season:
      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.

References:

Instructional Design:

Training Principles:

Developing A Training Plan

Developing A Plan for Success

Resources:

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:

Fitness Training Considerations
Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Guidelines for Training
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Group Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan
 
 

      
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