Tom Zakrajsek

Goal of this project: To share my specific knowledge of periodization design for the sport of figure skating within the coaching community and for the fans who are interested in learning more about how coaches train their athletes.

I want to create a dialogue with coaches through the social media to show them really how easy it is to write their own plan and at the same time show my thanks to the PSA, USFS and the USOC for all they have done for me in my career by providing access to valuable resources at crucial points in my coaching development.

involved: PSA, USFS/ISI and Icenetwork; possibly USOC?

Social Media used: Facebook and Twitter and possibly Instagram?

Timeframe: the entire month of July. This is typically the most intense training month for elite figure skaters who are “in season.” During 2013, the “Olympic Push” is in full swing. My athletes will be preparing for Glacier Falls competition the first week of August so this timeframe will also show a tapered workload.

Periodization Concepts that will be communicated in addition to sharing specific daily plans:

1. Tudor Bompa is the father of periodization. Simply put: coaches must plan the skater’s training over time.

2. Train the skater not the short or long program.

3. Body Systems involved:

Energy (Work, Fuel, Oxygen, Lactate and Heart)

Figure Skating is a sport of medium duration because the short program and long program are between 120-480 sec. This means the best way to train for our sport is in 4 sets of 5 minute intervals. So a 20 minute lesson should be active and structured this way.

Figure Skaters need:

Speed of Movement
Speed Endurance
Lactate Tolerance

4. Hydration is critical during all training phases.

5. In addition to on-ice workloads being structured, Nutrition and Mental Training must also be periodized.

A skater’s nutrition must match the workloads and can increase metabolic efficiency during training.

A skater’s mental preparation needs to be done before a competition. The coach can introduce sports concepts each week several months in advance to prepare the skater for competing.

6. GOAL: stretch goals are required for achievement; the team is not sure what can be accomplished with the skater. This is the challenge of periodization and related to Johari’s Window concept.

7. Training Cycles (active rest, pre season, in season, taper, off season) are broken down into BLOCKS.

Blocks can be week(s) or month(s).

Microcycles are days and weeks.

Mesocycles are weeks and months.

Macrocycles are over 6 months to a year or longer.

Quadrennial Plan is a 4-year macrocycle for an Olympic goal.

8. Coach is the architect of a periodization plan. In the early stages of the skater’s career, the coach plays a larger role. This concept is called guided discovery and is controlled by the coach. Eventually, the goal is to limit coach dependency.

Must have a VISION first.
Create a PLAN.
COMMUNICATE the plan by telling and asking for input.

Set specific goals. Make the maximum effort. Enjoy the training process and overall journey. Let the chips fall where they may.

Feedback from the TEAM of support professionals around the skater is important. Must address critical issues first.

For example, if a skater wants to learn a double axel and their air time is only .41 and they need to be .46, an action-oriented plan that is positively driven must be designed that includes both off ice and on ice goals.


In a weekly cycle, the work on each day is varied and coordinated with what off ice training is being done by the athlete.

For example:

Monday is a HARD day.
Tuesday is a MEDIUM day.
Wednesday is a HARD day.
Thursday is a LIGHT day.
Friday is a MEDIUM day.
Saturday is a LIGHT/MEDIUM day.

The body must be stressed in order to adapt. If the skater does not stress the body, then the skater does not adapt. If the skater does not adapt, they become…EXTINCT. NEVER STOP LEARNING!!!!

An athlete must step back to move forward. Think of how a person feels the first day after surgery compared to three months after surgery. This is what training is all about.

10. A skater cannot be overtrained if they are not in shape to begin with. The pain associated with training from “overreaching” accompanies this SUPERCOMPENSATION phase and is not “overtraining,” though the symptoms are similar.

11. As the volume of doing skills (jumps, spins, footwork and programs) increases, the intensity lowers. This creates an “X” curve. The meeting point of the two produces the best results in training cycles.

12. Guiding principles for creating a plan:

Play is the best form of learning.
Work is not the opposite of play and can be fun.
Depression is the opposite of play and can mean the work is not fun.

Finally, training is not learning. These are separate concepts and require different designs by the coach.

For all of the adult support team (coaches and parents), the focus tends to be on performance. This is not necessarily the same for the skater.

Just as in a yoga class, there are 3-4 levels of difficulty from easier to mastery. This is also the case with writing periodization plans for figure skating coaches who work with skaters of all levels.