|Drills are one tool coaches can use to improve a skaterís chance of establishing good technique. But care must be taken to properly select, train and periodize relevant drills for positive transfer to take place. Training for free skating does make use of drills, however, other branches of figure skating should not be confused with practice drills for the free skating branch. Superficial excursions into other branches do not provide sufficient practice to be useful nor do their movements relate to the essence of free skating movement even if they were to be explored fully.
In the Preparatory period of the yearly plan, particularly during the Learning Years, a variety of drills dedicated to balance and co-ordination will form the general foundation on which future learning can take place.
The use of drills will be much more evident at the beginning of a skating career and will gradually fade over time as the Principle of Specificity becomes increasingly important. The following guidelines are based on those of Dave Chambers in 'The Art and Science of Coaching'.
Effective drills should:
1. Have a specific purpose and meet the objectives set for the practice.
2. Be suitable for the age, skill level and physical maturity of the skater.
3. Be applicable to the skills used in the sport. A drill that does not serve any purpose is meaningless to
both the athlete and the coach.
4. Follow a progression from simple to complex.
5. Challenge the skill level of the athlete.
6. Be varied and innovative.
7. Be undertaken at a tempo that simulates the action of the sport.
8. Be done correctly.
9. Introduce competition into the drill where possible. Any time a race, battle or winner is involved in a drill
the participantís interest and intensity levels are raised.
10. Remain flexible in their development and running.
11. Run for an ideal amount of time.
12. Flow from one to another in a progression.
13. Overall, use the whole (ice surface).
14. Be planned appropriately, executed at a high tempo and with a proper work-to-rest ratio if a
conditioning effect is to take place.
15. Be enjoyable.
16. Be evaluated after practice for their effectiveness.
17. Improve areas of weakness observed during competition or practice.
18. Overall, show improvement in skills.