Training to Train

Training to Train (Males: 12-16 years, Females 11-15 years)

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.

Things to Think About

  • The Training to Train stage makes or breaks the athlete. Athletes may exhibit special talent, race to win, and do their best, but they still need to allocate more time to training skills and physical capacities than competing in formal settings. To maximize their long-term potential, winning should remain a secondary emphasis.
  • Technical development remains key, while much of the foundational technical skills are developed in the Learning to Train stage of development, as skaters grow they will need significant time to adjust to their increased size, strength and resulting speed.
  • The social aspect of sport is very important, with adolescents wanting to be able to affiliate with peers. Team based activities and initiatives which reinforce a sense of belonging to a team or club are an important means of reinforcing this this desire.
  • Not all 14 year olds are equal, due to individual differences in physical growth and development skaters may be as much as two years younger or older than their chronological age – see “The Role of Measuring Growth in Long-term Athlete Development” for more information .
  • During the growth spurt, especially if the growth spurt happens exceptionally quickly, athlete skills and movement abilities may be significantly impeded.
  • Physical, social, psychological and emotional development do not always go hand in hand – be sure to consider all factors when determining a skater’s readiness to embark in training and competition programs
  • Specialisation in distances and between short track and long track should be avoided. Physical and psychological capacities and still developing making it difficult to determine where an athlete will ultimately be successful – many individuals identified as sprint athletes early on have developed into middle and long distance skaters and vice-versa, while numerous successful international athlete have crossed over to long track from short track in their late teens and early twenties.

Skater Development Guidelines

  • Practice
  • Competition
  • Skill Development and Technique
  • Physical Development
  • Psychological Development
  • Monitoring & Testing
  • Equipment


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 Training to Train stage of development visit