Our Big Secret | The 5 How To’s Of Snowboarding

Virtual Snowboard School, Virtual Snowboard Lessons

Watch & Ride simplifies the whole skill of snowboarding into 5 How To’s.

The 5 How To’s Of Snowboarding

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Each How To is individually targeted and improved.

Every How To has lessons for you to practice that will skyrocket your riding technique.

Lessons are categorised into 3 skill levels: green, blue, and black (just like the slopes).

Progress through the ability levels by practising and mastering all the Virtual Lessons.

It’s easy to learn and improve when all of the skills involved in snowboarding are isolated into their own parts. You can take on new information quickly, and practice with a high rate of success due to learning in manageable bite-sized pieces.

Develop the mindset of continuous improvement and in no time you will be riding like a pro!

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How To Stand:

The way you stand on the board is the foundation of success!

Just like the foundations of a house, if you are not on a stable base, you cannot build anything new on top. The other How To’s will be difficult to practice without a solid stance. To develop your riding and easily acquire new skills, a balanced athletic stance is crucial.

As you develop your stance on the board you will be more comfortable/confident trying new movements and techniques. Your new found body awareness will dramatically improve your rate of success when experimenting on the board. Through practice, you can train your brain to learn and feel where your limbs are in space.

Characteristics of a balanced, athletic stance:

  • Head up – Eyes looking where you are going
  • Shoulders in line with your hips and the board
  • Stacked joints – Shoulders on top of hips, hips over feet
  • Relaxed lower body – Equal weight on both feet
  • Centred position on the board

A strong position while snowboarding allows you to manage all terrain as well as continually balance and adapt. Think of sitting on a chair when you’re on your heel edge, and being a sprinter coming out the blocks on your toe edge. You must keep your body weight to the inside of your turns to be stable and move freely.

Understanding your body, and how to create an athletic position will dramatically improve how you interact with the mountain and what terrain you can conquer.

Key points:

  • Stable and strong position on top of your board
  • Look and feel relaxed when you ride
  • Develop body awareness – This is fundamental in snowboarding to know and feel what position your body is in
  • Mobile lower body – Avoid the horrible locked out and stiff feeling
  • Gain Adaptability – The ability to deal with any obstacle or terrain under your feet

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How To Steer:

To explore all terrain on the mountain responsive board control is a must. You need to use and combine a variety of lower joint movements to control speed, steer, and direct your board.

Help direct the board with your eyes and look where you want to go. It’s like driving a car, you don’t look down at the road. You want to see everything in front of you. This will help you be able to balance better and enhance your ability to steer with the lower body.

Steer the board across the slope, out of the fall line to help you maintain control of your speed. The fall line is the fastest way down the slope.

Imagine that this page is a ski slope and that if you pointed your snowboard straight down you would be in the fall line. The longer you are in the fall line the more speed you will pick up.

Turn Shape Examples:

We can do closed turns that will look like a C

Open turns that look like an S

Traverse straight across the slope __

Down at a slant   \

Go straight |

Or zigzig Z

In snowboarding ideally, you want to have a quiet upper body coupled with a dynamic and active lower body. The upper body stays relaxed and in line with the snowboard. The lower body drives and directs the board.

As you learn how to properly use each body part to steer, you will feel a direct connection from body-to- board.

Use your hips, knees, and feet to guide the board, manage speed, as well as change up the size and shape of your turns. This will give you increased confidence, and enhanced control in a vast amount of terrains like trees, moguls, and steeps.

Key points:

  • Responsive turning – Turn where you want and when you want
  • Hips, knees, feet – Key body parts to effective steering
  • Improved speed control
  • Increased variety of turns – Ability to change up the size and shape
  • Feel more confident riding challenging terrain – Trees, steeps and bumps

How To Grip:

You need to understand and effectively use the edges of your snowboard to have control and stability in all terrain. Edges let you grip the snow to direct the board and control speed. The sidecut of the toe and heel edge are designed to do the work for you and make turning easy. When the sidecut is engaged, the board will want to grip and turn in its natural arc.

By mastering the use of leaning and bending through your turns you will gain new elements of control and balance. You lean to the inside of the turn to maintain balance and bend to get closer to the board to gain stability. It will also give you the vital ability to moderate the amount of edge applied to grip the snow. You will gain stability when turning with effective edge grip, which will make you feel safer at higher speeds.

Factors that affect your grip on the snow and the amount of edge you need to apply:

  • Snow conditions
  • Speed
  • The size of turn
  • Steepness of terrain

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The ability to edge early means that you engage your downhill edge above the fall line. This lets you gain grip earlier into the new turn, which gives you more time to adapt, balance, and control your speed when turning.

By refining the use of your ankles, knees, and hips, you can increase or decrease the edge angle. Different scenarios, like riding in tight trees may require the need for a flat base over an edge in the snow. This allows you to turn/pivot fluidly without resistance from the edge, and gives you the expert technique of “slip and grip”.

Key points:

  • Importance of using hips, knees, and feet to engage edge
  • Bend and lean to the inside of your turns to maintain balance
  • Ability to moderate edge angle – How much edge is needed
  • Early Edging – Engage your downhill edge above the fall line. 
  • Edge VS no edge – Depending on snow conditions and terrain

How To Move:

The stand out quality of an expert rider is knowing how to apply pressure and manage forces felt from the terrain. Developing a loose and adaptable position will enhance your ability to react in a variety of situations. If you can move dynamically with your lower joints, you will gain confidence and be able to explore new terrains such as steeps, trees, and bumps.

At faster speeds and in steeper terrain the forces you feel and interact with are much greater. You need refined movements from the lower joints to control speed while turning. This will also help you manage the forces underneath your feet, and keep the board on the snow.

Through continuous adjustments to your bodies position, you can learn how to manipulate the forces you interact with.

Become skilled at moving through different planes of balance in order to enhance your control and adaptability:

  • Fore and Aft – Movement between the nose and tail of the board
  • Vertical – Moving up and down on the board
  • Lateral – Edge to Edge
  • Rotational – How much steering is applied

Meld and flow into whatever terrain the mountain throws at you. If you are static, you are stuck. You can’t ride moguls or bumps with a stiff lower body, or locked out joints from poor positioning. Being able to relax your ankle joint in bumpy terrain is a must as this is a key joint to help you absorb.

Through the understanding of how to create, control, and release pressure you will learn how to manipulate your snowboard. By deliberately deforming the snowboards shape, you can generate and control the rebound created. This will give you a dramatic increase in performance and will help you to project downhill into the next turn. The ability to create rebound out of your equipment is why you pay $400+ for a snowboard. If you cannot effectively manipulate the board and create rebound you are wasting your money!

Key points:

  • Mobile lower joints to manage pressure / forces felt from the mountain
  • Speed control and reduced edge chatter / skipping
  • Flow over any terrain with loose/adaptable lower body – Exploration into steeps, trees, and moguls.
  • Rebound for added performance – Create, control and release pressure to get energy from your snowboard
  • As terrain and speed ramp up, the forces you feel and have to manage increase

How To Blend:

The ability to combine all the movements you are learning is fundamental to riding with style and fluidity.

When you blend the 5 How To’s together, it is much easier to advance your skill set, and ride more challenging terrain.

Crucial to this area is the ability to time and coordinate the variety of movements your body is trying to perform. Timing is when the movements happen. Coordination is the order in which these movements happen.

A Snowboarder who can observe the terrain and plan their line will be able to flow and anticipate any movements that need to be made. If you can think 2 – 3 turns ahead you will dramatically reduce your chances of getting caught unaware. The ability to think ahead and plan your turns is crucial to being able to ride in the trees.

Key points:

  • Develop your own style and link all the 5 How To’s of Snowboarding together
  • Fluid turns – No jerky movements
  • Symmetry and flow in your riding
  • Ability to time and coordinate the variety of movements your body is trying to perform
  • Observe the terrain and plan your line

If you haven’t claimed your free trial of the Virtual Snowboard School yet, click the link below to instantly skyrocket your riding skills. Happy Snowboarding!

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Fraser Johnston

Founder & Trainer at Watch & Ride
CASI Lvl 3 | Evaluator Lvl 2 | Park Evaluator. After coaching and evaluating "instructor training programs" for several seasons, I fell in love with the science of snowboarding. I believe there is no better way to spend a day, than using your body for sport outside in nature! It is always such a joy to guide and watch people reach their potential on the snow, as well as surpass milestones of what they thought was possible.The goal for Watch & Ride is to create fun and simple Virtual Snowboard Lessons that are available to everyone and conveniently accessible. My wish is to grow the sport and evolve the way people learn to snowboard, ensuring they have fun, stay safe and get the best possible experience on the mountain.

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