Ages and Participation

The ages and participation section of the USSA Training System describes the biological age, training age and corresponding chronological age for each developmental phase along with the recommended days of participation for each phase in the sport.

When prescribing an appropriate training and competition program for young athletes, their biological development and past training experience should be factored in. For this reason, there is overlap in the ages of athletes from phase 3 through phase 6 to account for the fact different athletes mature at different rates. What is the best training plan for one 14 year old may not be a good fit for another. The volume, intensity and specificity of training should be determined from biological and training age, not just how old the athlete is or what grade they are in school.

The recommended days of participation should be thought of as total daily on-snow training sessions. It is difficult to replicate the skiing and riding environment due to the constantly varying terrain and snow conditions and the sliding nature of our sports, so high performance oriented athletes need this on-snow training time. Athletes unable to get the recommended number of days due to school schedules, distance from the ski area, or other reasons should use these targets as reminders to make the most out of the days on snow they can get, and to supplement the days missed as best they can with other activities if they wish to be on a performance track.

Training to competition ratios take into account the fact that there is often less time spent skiing or riding on competition days and competition travel often is expensive. Maximizing training time and controlling competition costs for younger athletes generally leads to better long-term outcomes.

Skiing and snowboarding are extremely demanding sports physically, and participation in other sports is critical to developing a well-rounded athlete. This multi-sport participation is highlighted especially through phase 3. By phase 5, the performance athlete will have narrowed down their sport focus so that the primary sport may be supported by participation in complementary sports, but training is prioritized for the primary sport.

Click on the tabs by phase above to learn more about the age and participation recommendations for each phase.

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