The system of competition makes or breaks skaters! Athletes need to train and compete according to training-to-competition ratios that develop skills and fitness while preventing injury and burnout. As well, the quality of competition and the timing of competitive events need to serve the needs of the athlete – not the needs of coaches, parents and administrators.

Science shows us that talent and ability are developed through thousands of hours of practice and training – whether it’s sport, music, art or mathematics. In Canadian sports, we often get the formula backwards, if we have any formula at all.

Developmentally appropriate competition and scheduling is critical to skater development in all stages, as many participants are motivated by participation in competition it is imperative that the programming offered by developmentally appropriate. During earlier stages, developing physical capacities take precedence over competition; events should be generally short in duration and take place at a local or regional level. Throughout the later stages the ability to compete well becomes more important and skater may need to travel greater distances to have meaningful competition.

Speed Skating Canada’s Competition and Events system review and recommendations published in Racing on Skates took direct aim at this question, looking at both the nature of events and their scheduling, as well as providing a set of guiding principles for competitions and events.

SSC’s Guiding Principles for Competition and Events

Competitions and Events should:

  1. Reflect Speed Skating Canada’s values and True Sport’s principles
  2. Be a full partner in the Canadian sport delivery/youth development system
  3. Adjust to change in society
  4. Provide a pathway towards personal and sporting excellence for all participants
  5. Be meaningful for all participants (skaters, coaches, officials, parents, volunteers)
  6. Be fun, safe, attractive and accessible to people of all ages, of all skill levels and from all different backgrounds
  7. Utilize the basic characteristics identified in the long term athlete development model and other literature to define the event/competition objectives for each stage of development
  8. Utilize the basic characteristics identified in the long term athlete development model and other literature in the selection of event/competition activities and skills for each stage of development
  9. Define and celebrate success in relation to each stage goals and objectives for all participants.

Many changes have begun to take place within the competitive system looking at activities and distances, the scheduling of the events as well as building means to ensure meaningful, developmentally appropriate competition for participants in each stage of development.

Due to major geographic distances and differences in sport participation rates, for FUNdamentals, Learning to Train and Training to Train can look quite different from region to region, however all should be built on the guiding principles. Be sure to ask your provincial/territorial speed skating association what they are doing to ensure that their competitive program is developmentally appropriate.

For more information on specific competition guidelines by stage of development, consult the Competition bullet under Skater Development Guidelines on the web page for that stage of development.

The contents of this page were prepared using information from SSC's Racing on Skates and Find Your Edge document as well as resources from Canadian Sport for Life. To learn more about the Active Start stage of development and Physical Literacy visit and