Reasonable goals for 7yo beginner

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Hello everyone,

I have been reading up on the forum since my 7yo daughter started getting more serious about figure skating this year. While we work with a coach (and her team), before I have the conversation with her in more details, I do want to get some feedback here first as you guys have been great on insights for many others. Dad and I are both clueless as how this sport goes, but I’m learning.

In short, I’m planning ahead for next year (June 2020 forward) and getting a handle on how our skating schedule would look like next school year and to arrange other activities around it.

My daughter started skating at 5, exactly two years ago. The first year we did weekly LTS group sessions on and off, some public skating. Second year when she was 6, we did weekly LTS consistently. She got more interested and started to ask for more ice time. She started a second weekly LTS about 8 months ago, weekly private lesson 6 months ago. Right now, she skates 4 days a week (~5 hours on ice, about half of the time with instruction, half self practice), 2 LTS sessions, 2 private lessons. She is in free skate 1, working on pre pre MITF, and having her first singles competition coming up in Feb 20. In general, I, as a total outsider, feel like she is progressing well, or at least progressing. She is not the most audacious on ice (not fast, maybe still getting comfortable on ice), but she is willing to try jumps, spins and in general motivated enough to use self practice time somewhat efficiently.

She in her own words, would like to compete in regionals as a juvenile (as the most feasible level) in a few years. She also wants to go to sectionals or placed top 4, but I don’t know if she understands how tough that is. Let’s say a good/competitive juvenile regional competitor under 12 of age is her goal for now, could I get a more of a breakdown of where she needs to be to get there for the next 6mo, next year or two? I’m aware there are MITF and FS tests to go through. I have also been on the Canadian site where they outline hours and milestones etc, and feel we are in the middle in terms of ice time now? But that again speaks to an average child. I have no idea if my daughter is average, below or above. Maybe she needs more to catch up as lots of kids at that competitive level start younger than 6? For next year, what is a good amount of ice time/lesson time to be at given where she is now? 5/6days a week? 8 hours on ice a week?

Thank you!!!
 

jf12

Final Flight
Joined
Dec 8, 2016
It sounds like you should keep doing what you’re doing if she enjoys it. Perhaps this summer think of doing skate camp. You will find that once your skater gets to pre juv MIF and working on axel and doubles you’ll have to increase ice time because they’re working on harder things.

With regards to progress, it’s so non linear when they’re this young. I have seen 9 year olds go from no doubles to 3-4 doubles in one summer.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Le professionnel d'élite
Record Breaker
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I personally think that's alot of ice time for someone her age. I say this as a pro, I've skated since age 3 and got to the highest levels of the sport.

This is a questionable topic, as for many kids it might be too much time, some just enough.

I would just hate for her to be overworked at her age (even if she loves it and asks for it) and to risk injury in her growing pre-pubescent body.

Please be careful. I am so glad to hear she loves the sport and asks for more on her own though.
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Thank you @jf12 - she does enjoy it a lot - always with a big smile when she steps on ice. She was talking about summer camp too as two of her skating friends went last summer. Last year we did not consider as 3-4 hours on ice per day for 1/2 weeks sounded a lot at that point - might be okay this summer.

I understand what you mean with the non-linearity about progress. We saw that for her speed, spiral and jumping height already.
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Thank you for your reply, @Ic3Rabbit!

Kids her age (6-8) at our club are doing all different things, ranging from 1h to 10+ a week, majority in her freeskate level is doing 3-5 hours total. Our coach seems to think the ice time should somewhat be a function of skating level, but of course there is a feedback loop - the more ice time, the better you become, so the better you can use the ice to be "conducive", thus makes sense to add more ice time, thus you become better and so on... It sounded subjective and vague...

In terms of injury / overworking, what types of things we should be watching out for at her level?
 

Ic3Rabbit

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Thank you for your reply, @Ic3Rabbit!

Kids her age (6-8) at our club are doing all different things, ranging from 1h to 10+ a week, majority in her freeskate level is doing 3-5 hours total. Our coach seems to think the ice time should somewhat be a function of skating level, but of course there is a feedback loop - the more ice time, the better you become, so the better you can use the ice to be "conducive", thus makes sense to add more ice time, thus you become better and so on... It sounded subjective and vague...

In terms of injury / overworking, what types of things we should be watching out for at her level?

At her age the more ice time (aka too much time as I said before) equals injury and overworking, tiring of the sport. She's going to burn out before she's twelve.

Leg, knee, ankle, back, hip, spine injuries are most abundant in that age group, especially if overdoing it.

Ice time and lesson time= money grab on the coaches part. It seems like s/he's pushing her too much at her age. I know, have been through all this myself as a young skater, and as a pro now I see this and that doesn't mean it's good.

Coming up the ranks I had 1-2 private lessons a week and then practiced 3 days a week. As I got older and higher competitive level the ice time increased to 6 days a week for a few hours a day and that was when I was jr/sr level elite and doing two disciplines. Some senior level competitors aren't even on the ice as much as your child is right now.

You need to decrease ice time and look for off-ice things like pilates or other off ice training, she will need a strong core for lift and snap in jumps if she plans on going far and doing them well. That will help make her better.
 

NanaPat

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I'm confused about the time skated. Is it 5 hours/day x 4 days/week or is it 5 hours total for the week, spread over 4 days?
 

Ic3Rabbit

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I'm confused about the time skated. Is it 5 hours/day x 4 days/week or is it 5 hours total for the week, spread over 4 days?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but i read it as 5 hours on the ice and then 2 private lessons and two LTS classes, which would be alot. OP, what is her total hours on the ice with and w/o instruction?
 

Mamamiia

Medalist
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Feb 28, 2018
My understanding is 5 hours a week, half instructed(including 2 private lessons and some group lessons), half self practice.
 

NanaPat

Record Breaker
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding but i read it as 5 hours on the ice and then 2 private lessons and two LTS classes, which would be alot. OP, what is her total hours on the ice with and w/o instruction?

My understanding is 5 hours a week, half instructed(including 2 private lessons and some group lessons), half self practice.

My understanding was like Mamamiia: 4 lessons (2 private 2 group) for a total of about 2 1/2 hours a week plus enough self-practise time to make up a total of 5 hours a week.

I thought maybe Ic3Rabbit was interpreting it differently, which is why I asked.

Hopefully the OP will come back and enlighten us!
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Hi all,

Thank you for your replies. Sorry I confused anyone. It’s 5hrs total a week. In that five hours, half is instructed - 1.5hr private, 1hr group. The other 2.5 hours she wants to practice herself. So it’s somewhat less productive to me but she enjoys it. The 5hrs are spread over 4 days.

Hope this clarifies it.
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Also she is doing some off ice training. She has been in ballet an hour per week since age 3. Then she does this off ice training her coaches have her do at the rink before going on ice. Once 10mins, another one 30mins. Mostly look like learning the jumps off ice.
She is involved with other sports but I didn’t think it would be relevant. Things like swimming, soccer and tennis at school, parkour during the summer time outdoors. Nothing consistent amongst those though.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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Hi all,

Thank you for your replies. Sorry I confused anyone. It’s 5hrs total a week. In that five hours, half is instructed - 1.5hr private, 1hr group. The other 2.5 hours she wants to practice herself. So it’s somewhat less productive to me but she enjoys it. The 5hrs are spread over 4 days.

Hope this clarifies it.

Thank you for clarifying. Your time is okay then for the amount she is on the ice, still, keep in mind what I said with injuries to look for as she progresses as well as looking into off-ice training to start giving her a strong core.

Good luck! :cool:
 

Ic3Rabbit

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Also she is doing some off ice training. She has been in ballet an hour per week since age 3. Then she does this off ice training her coaches have her do at the rink before going on ice. Once 10mins, another one 30mins. Mostly look like learning the jumps off ice.
She is involved with other sports but I didn’t think it would be relevant. Things like swimming, soccer and tennis at school, parkour during the summer time outdoors. Nothing consistent amongst those though.

What does this off ice training include that the coaches have her in?
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Thank you. Those injuries- are they things I need to be proactive about meaning checking in with her pediatrician more often? Or more of a thing that she will complain about if something is wrong?
My daughter is rather on the cautious side and she usually complains about things right away if not her usual self. I’m trying to see if a more regular check up should be on the horizon
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
That 10 mins one is jumping up and down. Tapping feet together sometimes while in the air.. Then rotate half and then one rotation locally. Mostly the five kids in that group stay relatively on their own spots.

The 30 mins one has bigger space. They do those above but also include skipping, hopping etc. Little obstacle course. Jumping onto a block for example. More time spent on rotating jump, also take a few steps to get speed and jump and mimic the jump on ice and land on one feet and hop.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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That 10 mins one is jumping up and down. Tapping feet together sometimes while in the air.. Then rotate half and then one rotation locally. Mostly the five kids in that group stay relatively on their own spots.

The 30 mins one has bigger space. They do those above but also include skipping, hopping etc. Little obstacle course. Jumping onto a block for example. More time spent on rotating jump, also take a few steps to get speed and jump and mimic the jump on ice and land on one feet and hop.

Those are just typical stretches and warm-ups. All skaters do that, or should. That has nothing to do with building her core or real off-ice exercise to build her core for jumps and also ensure less injury.

As far as the injuries and doctors. Just make sure she's not overdoing it, that was my worry when I misunderstood when you initially wrote how much time she really has on the ice. Once you clarified, she should be okay, just make sure she keeps everything in check. If she starts complaining about something hurting, it's usually too late by then and there's already an injury or wear on something. I'm not trying to put you in a panic but this sport runs a very fine line between good and injured.

If something starts to hurt a bit I'd have it checked out. If it's a big injury you'll know it for sure and there won't be any questioning (and that is the kind I said it's already too late bc the injury has already happened at that point). It sounds like she's doing okay and the coach is doing what they can to prevent injury.
 

juumpmama

Rinkside
Joined
Nov 26, 2019
Those are just typical stretches and warm-ups. All skaters do that, or should. That has nothing to do with building her core or real off-ice exercise to build her core for jumps and also ensure less injury.

As far as the injuries and doctors. Just make sure she's not overdoing it, that was my worry when I misunderstood when you initially wrote how much time she really has on the ice. Once you clarified, she should be okay, just make sure she keeps everything in check. If she starts complaining about something hurting, it's usually too late by then and there's already an injury or wear on something. I'm not trying to put you in a panic but this sport runs a very fine line between good and injured.

If something starts to hurt a bit I'd have it checked out. If it's a big injury you'll know it for sure and there won't be any questioning (and that is the kind I said it's already too late bc the injury has already happened at that point). It sounds like she's doing okay and the coach is doing what they can to prevent injury.

Thank you for your advice!

So you think she'd be fine at these hours for a few more years, potentially increase a bit once she is at pre-juv (from another post on here) depending on how well she is doing physically? Our coach seem to assume we'd want to add an hour ice time per year (at least), so 6 hours total when she is 8, and 3 hours of instruction. Is that reasonable?

I will look into more off-ice stuff. Is intro-level gymnastics lesson once a week a good idea? Or is it just going to wear out her faster?

While I love watching figure skating, and has always been in great awe of the skaters (of any level), I did not imagine my daughter would be interested in the sport, and let alone, be somewhat good at it... I have so much respect for her, and all the kids go out there and try these crazy moves on ice regularly... It does make me insecure a bit as we cannot give her the insights/resources some of the parents can being in the sport or a similar one themselves, but the least we can do is to support her unconditionally, and learn as much as we can throughout the way. This is a beautiful sport and we do want to do all we can to preserve that magic. However, I feel like we are getting into the weeds of it when factors other than interest and passion need to be thought about. For one, personality or rather work ethics... What is your take on that? It's sort of obvious to me that being driven, perfectionistic, and resilient are common traits of good skaters. What are good habits/mentalities to build at this young age? This goes beyond skating and that is why I also feel it'd be great for her growth as a person.
 

Ic3Rabbit

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Thank you for your advice!

So you think she'd be fine at these hours for a few more years, potentially increase a bit once she is at pre-juv (from another post on here) depending on how well she is doing physically? Our coach seem to assume we'd want to add an hour ice time per year (at least), so 6 hours total when she is 8, and 3 hours of instruction. Is that reasonable?

I will look into more off-ice stuff. Is intro-level gymnastics lesson once a week a good idea? Or is it just going to wear out her faster?

While I love watching figure skating, and has always been in great awe of the skaters (of any level), I did not imagine my daughter would be interested in the sport, and let alone, be somewhat good at it... I have so much respect for her, and all the kids go out there and try these crazy moves on ice regularly... It does make me insecure a bit as we cannot give her the insights/resources some of the parents can being in the sport or a similar one themselves, but the least we can do is to support her unconditionally, and learn as much as we can throughout the way. This is a beautiful sport and we do want to do all we can to preserve that magic. However, I feel like we are getting into the weeds of it when factors other than interest and passion need to be thought about. For one, personality or rather work ethics... What is your take on that? It's sort of obvious to me that being driven, perfectionistic, and resilient are common traits of good skaters. What are good habits/mentalities to build at this young age? This goes beyond skating and that is why I also feel it'd be great for her growth as a person.

No to gymnastics as she'd up her chances of injury.

Yes, most of us are driven perfectionists but that only takes you so far.
 

VegMom

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
First let me say that goals may change. Likely they will. So it's good to have goals and be realistic about them, but it's also important to leave some wiggle room for other things too. So my suggestion is to make a few bigger, over-arching goals. For instance, goals about staying active and developing life-long fitness. And try to keep those bigger goals in mind when worrying about the more specific other goals.

From what I have read and learned about US figure skating...

Ok so let's take her goals and just break them down a bit. She wants to compete at Juv level and get to sectionals, right? OK so Juv has an upper age limit. If she wants to go to Sectionals at the Juv level then she's got to be competitive at that level by a specific time. And sadly, girls get less time than boys. Plus there's far more competition between girls in the US than between boys. Just FYI.

(As far as I can tell, the age limit idea is that Juv is for competition between children. Seniors has a minimum age limit, supposed to be adults competing against one another. These age limits are kind of just artificial but the concept is that pre-pubescent is for Juvenille and mature adults are senior. Puberty is the reason boys get more time - they mature more slowly. All the other levels between Juv and Senior and the levels before Juv do not have age restrictions. Following the standard competition route along the age limits is kind of a guide about progress but not exactly because no two skaters make progress exactly the same way.)

*Note: there is also an Open Juvenile. And there is now an Excel level National Festival that's an option... this goal might be more realistic.
Also, plenty of skaters who don't make it at Juv don't give up. They keep going and try to get to Sectionals or Nationals at some level. The main thing is they keep trying.


Anyway, back to the goal of being competitive at the Sectionals Juvenile level. In order to be truly competitive at that level in singles she needs to be able to do all her doubles including double axel successfully in a competition setting (as well as the similarly leveled spins and footwork). And she needs to do this well. And it needs to be by the time she's 12 years old:

Age requirements as of Sept. 1 prior to the regional championships:
1. Juvenile: 12 years of age or younger for girls; 13 years of age or younger for boys
2. Open Juvenile: 13 years of age or older for girls; 14 years of age or older for boys
https://www.usfigureskating.org/content/2019-20 Rulebook.pdf

Each axel is generally a level where skaters 'drop out'. My understanding is the rate is about 10% who continue at each axel. The single axel becomes a challenge for many skaters and they never get it. Some quit, others move to dance, others keep trying til they get it. Then the double is even more of a challenge and many quit, change routes, or just keep trying. And then we know that the ones who can do triple axel is pretty rare among the women so that's not really worth worrying about. A skater who can get to double axel is a very good skater and has a lot of competitive options.

So the parents I've known who are very goal-driven about this basically take the number of years from now til then and come up with a plan with their coach about how to get there. Figure that it will probably take twice as long to get a double axel as a single, add in the time necessary for all the in-between jumps, tests, rest and slumps, and kind of go from there. Nothing is guaranteed. Injuries, illness, coach changes, social issues, all kinds of things can get in the way. And that's why it's helpful to have some backup plans and goals so that if 2A by age 12 is not possible (usually it's not) then there are other reasons to keep skating or at least keep doing some sort of sport.
 
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