By: Gabriella DeBono
Have you ever wondered how Olympic and World champions put down the performance they need exactly when they need it? Credit is due to behind the scenes work that turns months and years of training into one pinnacle moment. In the world of athletics, this work is referred to as periodization.
Periodization is a planning tool specific to sport and fitness training. It involves different cycles, or time periods, where training type and intensity vary. Typically, figure skating is divided into four seasons: pre-season, in-season, post-season, and off-season. This annual plan can also be referred to as a macrocycle and helps to prioritize the goal of “peaking” at the most important competition(s) of the year.
For example: in-season is when you are in the heart of your competition season. You should be focused on refining your program(s) and keeping your cardio up. Post-season and off-season are the time to be building strength off the ice and developing new skills– like new jumps and spins!
Why the shift in focus? To put it simply, skating is a complex sport and requires you to be strong in many different ways– strength you can’t build all at once! Organizing your training in relation to the competitive season will help reduce your chances of burning out too soon or getting injured. Day-to-day, you can do this by alternating a high intensity training day with a medium or low intensity training day. Make sure your off-ice and on-ice training complement each other as well. This kind of weekly planning is referred to as a microcycle in periodization and is no less important than big picture planning.
No matter your level of skating, it is important to sit down with your coaches, trainers, and other members of your team and map out your training plan for the season. Here are a few ways you can organize your training to achieve your competitive and personal goals:
1. Write down important dates on a calendar and keep track of your weekly achievements
Test days, competitions, ice shows, you name it! In order to plan your training around your goals, you have to know your timeline. Also, keep track of your short-term goals and achievements in our Plan Skate Track book. When the season is done, you’ll be able to see what worked and what changes need to be made for the next season.
2. Focus on your year
A senior international skater will have a different macrocycle timeline than a pre-novice provincial level skater. Focus on when your competitions are and know when to rest your body or gear up!
3. Practice practice practice!
Maybe you’ve never tried tapering, or lessening your training intensity, before a competition, or maybe you find you taper too much. Before your big competition(s), try altering your training schedule to see what will work best for you on the big day!
For your reference: