The Training to Train stage of development is one of the most important stage in an athlete's development. It is often the stage in which we make or break an athlete. This is when the athletes are going through puberty and are facing significant social pressures. More specifically bodies are continually changing so training needs to be tailored to each athlete's individual growth and development. A positive experience, high quality, developmentally appropriate programming and careful monitoring during this stage of development will provide the solid foundation necessary upon which athletes can remain active for life of pursue competitive sport objectives.
Participants in the Training to Train stage of development are of middle/high school age and are experiencing their growth spurt. The ages that define this stage are based on the approximate onset and end of the adolescent growth spurt. This period is generally defined as ages 11 to 15 years for females and 12 to 16 years for males.
Skaters are becoming athletes during this stage and need to build an aerobic base and consolidate their sport- specific skills. Towards the end of the stage, they need to focus on strength and the anaerobic “alactic energy system”. At this stage, athletes are ready to consolidate their basic sport-specific skills and tactics. It is also a major fitness development stage. For skaters wishing to pursue higher levels of competition increased training hours are needed at this stage to develop each athlete’s long-term potential.
The start of the Training to Train Stage
The start of the Training to Train stage is not marked by age, but rather, the onset of puberty. There is a simple way to track the onset of puberty and the rapid growth that accompanies it. Many parents go through the birthday ritual of measuring how tall a child has become – and often have the birthday heights etched on the kitchen doorframe. Recording these heights shows us how tall the child is. If we look at how much the child has grown since their last birthday we get a measure of how fast they are growing. This is called “height velocity”.
During the years from about age six until the onset of puberty, children grow at a fairly constant rate – usually five to six centimetres per year. If the value increases, you’ll know the child is starting the adolescent growth spurt and that puberty is not far behind. Recording and plotting height every three months from about age eight onwards provides an even more accurate picture. See “The Role of Measuring Growth in Long-term Athlete Development”. By keeping track of this information, it will be easier to determine which training and competitive events are developmentally appropriate for each skater. Through puberty, skaters of the same “chronological age” can be up to 5 years apart in terms of developmental age.