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COMPILED BY PETER ZAPALO In 2014, the U.S. Olympic Committee

created a guideline called the American Develop- ment Model to help young athletes reach their full potential in sports. Like other long-term athlete development models — those spanning the career of the athlete — this model promotes getting a broad-based athletic education as the athlete grows and develops. T is allows the ath- lete to develop multifaceted movement skills and avoid becoming too specialized in any one sport too early, which could lead to wear and tear on the body due to overuse. In skating, this is at times a diffi cult

prospect, as fi gure skating is inherently an early specialization sport. In this article, we talked to two prominent off -ice strength and condition- ing specialists — Kat Arbour (KA) and Brandon Siakel (BS) — and Hetty Wang (HW), mother of 2018 World champion Nathan Chen.

Why is it important to develop certain athletic skills earlier in an athlete’s career? What would you do to develop a broad base of athletic skills?

KA: I think we need to take advantage of win- dows of opportunity for skills development. I fi nd that it’s much harder to teach older athletes to translate ability to jump high when they’re off the ice to on-ice jumps. I’m working with a group of 6-year-olds, and I have them learn- ing to jump over a cone, and when they begin jumping with their coaches and learn the loop and fl ip on the ice, we will emphasize the ability to jump high and to straighten their legs.

HW: I feel like being involved in multiple sport- ing activities helps to develop other muscles and skills. Being in hockey, ballet and gymnastics helped Nathan learn skating skills faster on the ice. Gymnastics is great for young kids and helps them learn control and coordination, which translates well to skating.

KA: Flexibility is another ability that needs to be developed early on, but athletes need to be supervised so they develop good alignment of the lower extremity and great technique in movement off the ice.

How would you choose activities like skating and other sports that will help a


young athlete develop a broad base of skills?

BS: Encourage participation in a variety of sports throughout childhood, even if there is a “primary” sport of focus. Multisport partic- ipation provides an opportunity for athletes to be exposed to a greater repertoire of social, cognitive and motor skills that can enhance the current or future sport chosen to specialize in.

HW: I feel like when a young child is in only one sport, they can burn out or become bored. Figure skaters are both athletes and artists, and I think ballet really helped Nathan. He actually didn’t like ballet (the activity) that much, but he had a lot of friends in ballet and liked going,



Ice Dynamics is off ering a 12-week

customized exercise progression program for S.T.A.R.S. athletes based on test scores from the S.T.A.R.S. combine. The program provides a three-day-per-week training plan that will help skaters improve the skills that need work and maintain the skills in which the skater scored high on a particular test. The progressive introductory program

is a perfect complement to the S.T.A.R.S. assessment, providing guidance in the areas one needs most, and is a good precursor to the periodized Ice Dynamics programs. Check out

STARS for access to the dynamic warm-up, mobility and stability routines, as well as the S.T.A.R.S. Ice Dynamics program.


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