Alpine Programs

ATS Technique and Tactics - Phase 4

As they experience rapid growth through this phase, skiers will need to adapt to their changing bodies. At this point in the skier's development, there begins to be a greater focus on tactics, or line in the race course. Courses and drill exercises are done over a longer length, as skiers in this phase have greater stamina, strength, and concentration abilities. More time is spent on the race course now as half to two-thirds of training should be in the gates. Improvements in skills may not be as fast or as visible during this phase compared to before, but the payoff for all the skills work is not far down the road.

Phase 4 skiers should spend time working on:

  • Refining previously learned skills in a variety of terrain and snow conditions
  • Tactics exercises in gates to learn the fastest line
  • Speed and terrain elements
  • Regularly working on skiing skills outside of gates and then bringing those skills into gates

The SkillsQuest Skiing Assessment exercises for phase 4 skiers are:

With evaluation of these four exercises, skiers can identify strengths and weaknesses in their pressure, edging, rotary and balance skills. Skiers should strive for perfect execution of these tasks.

Key Competencies


  • Has command of fore/aft pressure.
  • Can increase pressure via upper body or lower body movements.
  • Can alter turn size as desired.
  • Has command of the rotary skill during all phases of the turn.
  • Can ski on one ski with rhythm changes.
  • Can adjust pressure and edging to alter turn size.
  • Can ski long radius turns in a tuck.
  • Able to adjust pressure over the skis to gain speed.


  • Understands how speed influences line choices.
  • Adjusts line appropriately for terrain and rhythm changes.
  • Understands turn apex placement concepts.

SkillsQuest Rewards

Here are some ideas for skiing goals phase 4 ski racers can set and earn rewards for achievement:

  • Tactics – consistently skis a line where pressure and edging aren't interrupted at the gate with early pressure in the turn
  • Rhythm changes – adjusts line to maintain speed and flow through rhythm changes
  • Terrain changes – adjusts line to set up for a breakover or to carry speed from steeps to flats
  • Moving with terrain  - actively moves with terrain to maintain ski/snow contact and to gain speed where possible

There are many more, make your own!

Course Setting Recommendations

Course setting should begin to challenge the skier's tactics to a greater degree using more substantial rhythm changes. Variety is still very important. While skiers in this phase can start to make great gains in stamina, they still do not have a well-developed anaerobic energy system, so a mix of short and long courses should be used. Recommended disciplines include slalom, GS, super G, duals and terrain and jumping elements. Competition venues should not have excessively long flat sections at this phase. A shorter course with more technical challenge is preferred over a longer course with easy terrain, particularly in this phase due to maturational differences.


27mm full-length gates are appropriate, though brushes and stubbies should still be used frequently in training throughout the season.  Typical course sets should be between 7-11m in open gate sections and 4-6m between gates in combinations, using the full spectrum. Situational training should also include sets outside this range, such as 1m picket fences and 16m over-round courses. Set more often on steeper terrain and incorporate more terrain changes in the set. 

Giant Slalom

Typical course sets should be between 18-27m between turns, using the full spectrum of these distances in training and moving even outside the range occasionally. Maximize variety, but in a progressive manner - start easy and increase the challenge as athletes are ready (slope, offset, vertical distances, rhythm variability). Set over terrain elements frequently (rolls, banks, etc.) with more speed and tactical challenge in training. Course sets should require skiers use different turn entries to complete the course (carved, slight steering and substantial re-direction). Skiers are preparing for FIS ski specs and must be challenged to bring the skill set they'll need to ease the transition to FIS equipment.

Super G

Emphasis is on elements training, learning jumping and gliding skills. Sets should be generally on moderate terrain, using the full spectrum of distances between gates but making sure courses maintain rhythm and flow in this phase. Sets are generally basic and control the skier's speed with no abrupt turns. Terrain and jumps are encouraged. When incorporated, they should work with the flow of the hill and course, with skiers having room to approach from a balanced position without excessive loading of the skis. 

Download this document for more detailed course setting recommendations.


Center of Excellence TV is full of videos for coaches and racers looking to take their training to the next level. Subscribe to the alpine collection and receive email alerts when new alpine videos are posted.


Need to renew your membership, get coaching tips or work on your technique? Want to check rankings or results? Find all that and more on your My USSA page. 


Ready to become a member of USSA? Whether you're an athlete who wants to compete, a fan who wants to follow the action, or part of the support team, the USSA has a program for you.

Get Involved

The USSA's athletes get no government funding. Their success is dependent on passionate fans, like you! See how you can help athletes achieve their dreams.

Child Protection

Help raise awareness about misconduct in sport and promote open dialogue. Together we can build a game plan to make sport safe—for everyone.