Season Preparation and Planning

Introduction

The following information was prepared to assist BC coaches, skaters and parents to ensure that skaters are healthy and fit for the start of a new season. It is a guideline and should be modified as needed to suit each individual skater. The information presented below is intended for skaters moving from the Provincial Stream into the Performance Stream (inter-provincial/national). High performance skaters at the national/international level may require more comprehensive planning and testing.

Please note that recommendations and websites included below are for information purposes only, and are not meant to be an exhaustive nor prescriptive list. Skaters and their immediate support team (parents, coaches, medical/paramedical professionals) are responsible for the season plan and health of each skater. Skaters are encouraged to verify the qualifications and experience of any medical/paramedical professionals.

Recommended Preparation

The following list outlines what preparation is recommended for skaters at select points during the season. See below (‘Detailed Information’) for more about each topic.

Pre-Season (May)
  • Functional Movement Screen and/or Assessment
  • Sports Medical Assessment
  • Baseline Off-Season Testing
  • Baseline SCAT3 Concussion Testing
Pre-Season (August or early September)
  • Repeat Off-Season Testing
  • Baseline In-Season Testing
Mid-Season (December)
  • Repeat In-Season Testing
Season End (February or early March)
  • Repeat In-Season Testing
Additional Considerations
  • Consultation with a dietician (identified by RD) to plan for proper nutrition, supplementation strategy and hydration
  • Regular dental check-ups/hygiene
  • Mental fitness/sports psychology preparation (see resource for more information)
  • Sleep hygiene planning (see resource for more information).

Detailed Information

Functional Movement Screen

A Functional Movement Screen is a screen to analyze how people move through basic movement skills (e.g. squat, lunge, jump). There are many different standardized tests, for example: FMS, Sport Readiness and PLAY (suited to younger athletes). A Functional Movement Screen may be administered by various professionals, including: kinesiologists, personal trainers (identified by NSCA-CPT if certified), strength and conditioning coaches (identified by CSCS), registered massage therapists (identified by RMT), physiotherapists (identified by RPT) and athletic trainers/therapists (identified by CAT-C). Some speed skating coaches are also trained to administer the tests. These screens are a snap shot of functional movement and are a helpful start to identify major/obvious movement pattern deficits. Skaters may also benefit from a more comprehensive, individualized Functional Assessment, usually administered by a physiotherapist (see below for more details). It is typically more expensive to complete a Functional Assessment than a Functional Movement Screen. Contact your coach or health/fitness specialist (see list above) to arrange for a screen.

Functional Assessment

Functional Assessments are a crucial part of the skater’s preseason preparation, in order to catch functional movement pattern deficits early in the season. The full assessment is typically done by a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy clinics will set the cost for an assessment, which can range from ~$60 to $150. Health practitioners specializing in sport can register on the SportMedBC website. This website is an excellent resource for finding local sport-specific practitioners. If there are no local physiotherapists listed on the SportMedBC website, any physiotherapist in a private clinic should be able to perform a Functional Assessment, but may not specialize in sport. See the Sample Letter to Physiotherapists and the Expected Follow-up from Functional Assessment documents- helpful resources to ensure the skater gets the most benefit from their Functional Assessment.

Sport Medical Assessment

A medical assessment/general check-up is recommended at least once per year. A general physician (identified by MD CCFP) should do the check-up. A general physician who has a speciality in sport will be identified by MD CCFP DipSportsMed. Physicians may choose to use the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation as a guideline. Skaters who are traveling out of country for competitions should discuss travel vaccines and banned substances/anti-doping with their physician. Physicians can also provide recommendations on seasonal vaccines.

Off-Season Testing

Testing results should be used by coaches to track fitness levels and adjust training programs; testing for the sake of testing has little, if any, benefit. A baseline session should be done in May to establish a starting point for the season and to evaluate the maintenance/loss of the previous season’s fitness levels. A repeat session should be completed near the end of the off-ice season (August/September). BCSSA has a defined battery of Off-Season Testing tests, with accompanying test protocols. The tests can be administered at your local CSI/PacSport campus or by a coach/other individual who has access to the appropriate equipment and testing protocols. Coaches may be eligible to be trained by their local CSI/PacSport campus to administer the tests and should contact the campus directly for more details. It is best if skaters repeat their testing in the same venue, to eliminate factors such as floor surface changes. The cost for testing sessions can vary based on the location. Many regional camps offer testing sessions included in the camp fee.

In-Season Testing

In-Season Testing should also be done to allow coaches to adjust training programs. In-Season Testing should be done at the beginning of the ice season (August or September) to establish a baseline, mid-season (December) and at the end of the season (February or March). The on ice component of In-Season Testing can be done with standard speed skating equipment, during any practice session. Club coaches can administer the on ice tests. BCSSA has also developed a battery of In-Season Tests with accompanying protocols.Â

Wingate Test

The Wingate test is a test of both peak anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. Speed skaters typically complete the test on a stationary bike. The Wingate is recommended for skaters after they have been through Peak Height Velocity (PHV). It is important that skaters undergo regular height measurements to determine when PHV occurs for each individual skater. In the Wingate test protocol used by BCSSA, the test itself lasts 30 seconds. A sufficient warm-up and cool-down are also completed. The Wingate test is usually administered by an exercise physiologist (identified by CSEP-CEP) and must be done at a lab/gym with appropriate testing equipment. Many of the CSI/PacSport campuses offer Wingate testing (FSJ, PG, Vancouver, Victoria). Private gyms and university labs may also offer testing. A testing session typically costs between $30-70. Skaters who do not have access to a facility that administers Wingate tests may do the Running-Based Anaerobic Sprint Test (RAST) as an alternative.

SCAT3 Concussion Baseline Testing

Concussion awareness has been increasing in speed skating. Recently, an updated version of the standard concussion test (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3)) was released. It can be used for athletes aged 13 and older. The Child-SCAT3 is for athletes aged 5-12. Both tests are intended to be administered by a trained professional, including athletic trainers/therapists, physiotherapists, physicians and sports first responders. The Concussion Recognition Tool can be used by the general public (including coaches and parents) to help identify concussions. The SCAT3 can be used as a baseline test, i.e. a test to be done before a concussion, to assist with result interpretation post-concussion. The baseline testing takes approximately 10-15 minutes and is non-invasive. Some physiotherapists may be comfortable administering the SCAT3 as a component of the Functional Assessment.

References and Acknowledgements

  • Athlete Health & Performance Handbook. Canadian Sport Centre Pacific.

  • The Art of Staying Healthy in Sport (PowerPoint Presentation). Janet McKeown, MD CCFP DipSportsMed, Canadian Sport Centre Pacific.

  • Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. McCrory et al., February 2013.

Special thanks to: Peter Saar (Canadian Sport Institute), David Morrison, Nancy Goplen and the BCSSA Athlete Development Committee for their input and expertise.