When should my skater move up to the next level?

When your figure skater should move from one level to the next level of competition, isn't always obvious. It's a little more clear in the competitive stream compared to the STARSkate stream. Your coach should provide guidance on this but the reality is that they may have some reasons for moving a skater up a level or keaping them at the same level.

It's not necessary to move up a level at the start of the skating season. There are good reasons to not move up a level and some not-so-good reasons. Some reasons why your coach may not want your skater to move up a level include:

  • Your skater isn't ready to move up
  • Your skater might have the skills but isn't psychologically ready to move up
  • Your skater is showing good development and if they stay at the current level, they have a better chance of winning medals
  • Your coach may have several skaters at the higher level and would prefer to keep the skaters spread across categories to balance their work load.

I recently watched a skater at our club move up quickly from one level to another and then spend a year finishing at the bottom of every competition. She continued to train hard and by the end of the next year was getting podium finishes at bigger competitions. In her case, moving ahead when she may not have been ready seemed to work out. She didn't get demoralized and her extra year at that competitive level gave her some extra confidence for the second year.

We've been cautious in moving our daughter up to the next level because she's not as confident and more likely to get discouraged by consistent failures.

I've been using the following as a guide on when it makes sense to move up from one competitive level to the next. If you skater has finished on the podium in a couple of competitions which have other strong competitors, or if they've been consistent in placing well (say top 5), then it's probably time to look at moving up a level. When you're in a competitive stream where you're getting a scorecard at competitions, the skaters point score will also give you an indication.

The decision to move up a level is a lot more clear when you're in the competitive stream where each skater is receiving a scorecard each time they compete. Their score is measured on a scale that measures their performance against the best possible execution of each of the elements in their program. In other words, their age and the level that they're skating at is irrelevant to the score that they receive. So, in theory, the scores that a skater in the pre-juvenile level will be less than those in the Juvenile level, which will be less than the pre-Novice level and so on. As a result, if your Juvenile skater is getting as many points as some of the Pre-Novice skaters, it may be time to think about moving up a level.