Qualifying for Nationals

When do I qualify for competition at the National Senior Games?

The National Senior Games  are usually held every two years, in odd numbered years (2019, 2021, etc.). To be eligible to compete at The National Senior Games athletes must compete in and qualify at a state qualifying games hosted in the prior, even numbered, year (i.e. athletes qualify in 2022 at a state games to compete in 2023 at Nationals).

Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, and out of abundance of caution, the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Florida were postponed to May 10-23, 2022.This also changed the qualifying process for the 2022 games only.

Beginning with 2022, the qualifying schedule has returned to the pre-pandemic process. Athletes must qualify at a State Qualifying Competition in 2022 to be eligible for the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh, PA.


How do I qualify for competition at the National Senior Games?

There are three basic ways to qualify.

1) Qualifying by place. For each qualifying year the National Senior Games Association determines the number of places that will qualify in each sport. The number of qualifying places is not the same for all sports. In most sports, the top four places in each age group, each gender will qualify for competition. The exceptions are team sports, tennis, golf and triathlon. In team sports (basketball, softball, volleyball) the top three places qualify. In tennis, the top three places qualify. In golf, the top finisher will qualify. In triathlon, all finishers qualify.

2) Qualify by Minimum Performance Standard (MPS). Minimum performance standards have been established for events where the performance can be measured by time, distance or score. Sports which have minimum performance standards are: archery, golf, race walk, road race, swimming and track and field.  Click HERE to view the NSGA MPS document.

Athletes who finish out of the top places that would qualify them for competition, but who meet the MPS for their event and age group, will also qualify for national competition. The Minimum Performance Standards are re-calculated after each national competition.

3) Qualify by Qualifying Down. In states such as Ohio, which allow non-residents to compete in their state games, non-residents cannot take a qualifying spot away from an in-state resident. If an out of state resident finishes in a qualifying spot, Ohio residents may also qualify for competition through the qualifying down standard.

Example of how these qualifying standards apply:  




Finish in competition

Do I qualify?





Yes- First place finish





Yes- Second place finish





Yes- Third place finish





Yes- Fourth place finish





Yes- meets minimum performance standard





Yes- Qualifying Down (4th place Ohio finisher)


NOTE: In Ohio, medals are awarded by finish, regardless of in or out of state.

Are there other ways to qualify other than to compete at the state games?

NSGA also allows qualifying via “Limited Event” Qualifying. The cycling road races (20K and 40K), pole vault, hammer throw, 5k & 10k Road Race, and Triathlon are considered limited events. Athletes may qualify in these events if their home state does not offer the event.

The participation and documentation requirements are different for the different events, however, in general the alternate qualifying event must occur in the qualifying year. Qualifying details are included in the senior games rule book. Documentation for these events are submitted to and evaluated by the NSGA. 

The Limited Event Verification Form is available on the NSGA web site

How is my group determined for competition?

Your age bracket for competition at the Ohio Senior Olympics State Games is determined by your age as of December 31 of the year of the state qualifying competition.

Your age group for competition at the National Senior Games is determined by your age as of December 31 of the year of the National Senior Games.

Example: An individual who is 54 on December 31 of the year of the qualifying state games will compete in 50-54 bracket during the state games and will age up to 55-59 for the National Games.

Can I compete in state games outside of Ohio?

Absolutely, as long as the state welcomes out of state competitors. Each state decides whether their state games are “open” or “closed.” “Open” games allow residents not from their state to compete.

Ohio is an open state. States that don’t allow out of state residents to compete are considered “closed” games. Check out the National Senior Games Association web site, www.nsga.com, for information about other state’s games.

What if the state doesn’t offer the sport in which I want to qualify?

You can compete in that sport in another state’s games, as long as they welcome out of state competitors. You may also qualify using the Limited Event Qualifying rule if you are interested in the cycling 40K road race, 5k & 10k Road Race, Hammer Throw, Pole Vault, or triathlon, you may qualify using the Limited Event rule (see the National Senior Games Rule Book, Rule D).

I am the only one in my age group at the state games! How do I qualify?

You must compete at the state games in order to qualify. If you are the only one in your age group, you may compete against someone in another age group in order to qualify.

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