To a large extent that's because I like to focus on what ordinary kids can get out of the wonderful sport of figure skating, and also to help parents keep in perspective exactly how extraordinary their kids are (or, ahem, are not).
But some kids are extraordinary. We've seen the phenomenon over the past few years of elite boys pushing the age envelope downward, with younger and younger kids winning at Intermediate and Novice before they run up against minimum age restrictions at Junior.
As an email I received queried,
"What if you're talking about a reasonably talented 6 y/o with solid single jumps and axel and there seems a bit of time yet to worry about triples but they've been bitten by the competition bug. ... Do you go with that and delay and possibly limit progress or do you pull them away from competing so they make hastier progress but barely compete for the next few years?"In fact, I had this exact question from my Alpha students this week. They all claimed to "be really good" at cross overs. And y'know, they are really good at cross overs.
But their cross overs can be better-- more confident, more advanced.
And that's really the crux of the matter.
Whatever skill you're working on right now-- whether it's simple cross overs or a double axel-- it can be better.
So the first answer to "why not move on to the next thing" is actually another question, namely, are you properly identifying what the next thing is? If you've got all the doubles, is the next thing really the triples? Or is it consistently landing all jumps in competition, or improving your GOE, or landing more difficult combinations, or improving the technique?
I like to point out the brilliantly managed career of Jason Brown, a skating phenomenon who was one of those 9 year-olds with all his doubles. But, knowing that he had tons of time because of his young age, his coach has parsed out his milestones. The goal was not "national champ by 17" which he arguably might have pushed for, but rather to hit specific measures-- land the triple axel in competition, then land it in a major competition, then skate a clean program that includes a triple axel, etc. Jason's going to have a long, injury-free career because his coach understood that his youth was not a goal in itself, but rather a gift that allows them time to develop a brilliant skater.
Skating skills in and of themselves are not the goal. They are sign posts along the way. A child with doubles at 9 is certainly going to be landing triples by the time they're done with high school.
The reader asks, essentially, "do you delay their progress or do you have them compete with their age group."
I ask, in return, what, exactly, do you consider "progress?"
What choice have you made, or would you make, with a skater who pulls ahead of their age restrictions in competition?