A guide to better understand your progression.

Written by: Douglas Fagel 
Edited by: Asa Fountain
Photo by: Alex Baker

Learning to ride the wave of a progression can carry you from one goal to the next. Understanding how to break down a goal into its elements can help you find the flow in your progression.

Breaking down your goal will help you stay on track with your continued growth and improvement. We do this by first identifying the specific Rider/Skier Goal; the end result we want to achieve. We then address how that goal relates to terrain by taking grade/steepness, run length, snow conditions and overall difficulty into account. From there we connect how the board/skis need to perform to be successful, and finish with focusing on how the rider/skier needs to move.

Let’s look at this breakdown further.

This article is written for both skiers and snowboarders. To keep the article flowing and easy to read we will describe our skiing and snowboarding goals as the Rider Goal.

Progression Cycle

Rider Goal - What the skier or snowboarder wants to achieve and where they claim success.

Terrain - Where on the mountain the goal is to be achieved, and how big, steep, technical, and varied the terrain might be.

Performance - What the board/skis need to accomplish.

Movements - How the body needs to move.


Rider Goal

What is your primary objective? Is it to make it down a run that you’ve never felt comfortable on? Is it to learn a new trick? Is it to increase your speed? Is it to float your way through powder fields? By breaking your end goal down into smaller components you create a number of pathways towards achieving success.


Every goal needs to identify the environment in which it wants to be completed. Riding through the trees on one run might be more difficult if the trees get tighter and the pitch gets steeper. Scoring a 360 on a 22 foot (7 meter) jump requires a different approach than performing the same 360 on a 50 foot (15 meter) jump. Choosing the right terrain to promote success is a key component to keep your progression moving forward.


This is what your board/skis need to accomplish in order to be successful. As riders, we should look towards how our equipment is affected by how we move, and by connecting how our equipment responds to our movements we can better understand its performance. The board/skis need to do specific things to achieve specific outcomes, leading toward our Rider Goal. This is where we look at how our equipment is flexed, tipped, pivoted, twisted, and pressured to create energy under the body.


The board/skis do not perform on their own. Every aspect of the desired performance is generated from the weight, leverage, and movements of the rider. Without the rider, the board/skis will ride flat based straight down the hill or fall line. Each aspect of the board/skis’ performance can be manipulated, managed, and generated from the rider. In order to get deeper into the path towards achieving our Rider Goal, we need to understand how each movement affects the board/skis and how we can blend movements to create our desired performance need in the equipment, then build back towards applying that goal in the desired terrain, and ultimately achieve our Rider Goal.

Build the Progression

Once we have followed these steps we can retrace them, building back towards the Rider Goal. We apply movements to create performance relative to terrain and in turn relative to achieving success with our desired goal. If we don’t see success, we can break down our goals into smaller steps on easier terrain. We can spend time with simple movements getting the necessary experience and practice to master each skill before we step to the next goal.

Apply this technique to your next progression and let us know how it worked for you.

This article is an original educational publication created by Snow Sports Development Inc.
We encourage it to be shared with snow sports teachers around the globe.

Coaching Tool: Progression Building - Carving Skills