The Learning to Compete stage of development is the stage of development where athletes begin to engage on the high performance pathway and the emphasis on training is on preparation for competition. Skaters will train to consolidate their technical and tactical abilities and continue to build their physical capacities. In this stage of development all physical capacities are fully trainable.
Skaters in the Learning to compete stage of development are in their last years of high school. This is the stage where skaters choose to become “serious”. Skaters need to commit to high-volume and high-intensity training throughout the year. Not all skaters will enter this stage of development and other may choose to make the commitment at a slightly older age.
Although there is an increased emphasis on competition during this stage, physical development remains very important as skaters look to “Optimize their engine”. It should be noted that all objectives of the “Training to Train” stage must be achieved before the objectives of “Learning to Compete” can begin. Instruction in topics such as nutrition, sport psychology, recovery and regeneration, injury prevention, and injury management also become very important.
Formal competition becomes more prominent in annual periodized training, competition and recovery plans, and includes major national and international events. Skaters may continue to compete with those who are training at lower volumes to remain active, but will be increasingly streamed into competitive pathways.
Tactical development is key during this stage and a large number of the races (both in-training simulations and formative competitions) that a skaters participates in will be for the purposes of learning and experimenting with different tactics.
Tapering means reducing both intensity and volume in training as athletes approach the date of major competition events. Tapering allows athletes to peak for major competitions, ensuring that they will perform at their best.