How to Hit Rails on a Snowboard

Hitting rails on a snowboard is a big goal for many riders. While there are many different grinds and tricks possible on a rail, the most basic way to ride them is pretty straightforward. With a bit of practice and patience, it’s possible to learn it fairly quickly. 

I’ve been snowboarding for most of my life and am a certified snowboarding instructor. I’ve taught many riders to hit rails, and I know the best tips and techniques to make this happen. 

This post will show you how to hit rails on a snowboard. I’ll provide you with some tips and tricks to keep in mind in the terrain park and give you some other helpful information to up your freestyle game. 

Let’s get after it. 

Initial Thoughts

Most snowboarders won’t be ready to try hitting rails on their first day riding. Some might not even be ready after a month or a year of practice. It’s important to go at your own pace and not rush into anything too far ahead of your ability level. 

Hitting rails takes intermediate-level skills and techniques, although there are some ways to go about it that can work well for beginners. Remember that when you are learning, and don’t get frustrated if it seems more complicated than it should. 

How to Hit Rails on a Snowboard

Here are some tips, techniques, and tricks to keep in mind when learning how to hit rails on your board.

Start With a Box

When you want to get a feel for what it’s like to hit a rail, you should start by riding a box in the terrain park. A box is a lot wider than a rail, giving you more room to stay balanced and ride across the top of it. 

Approach the box straight on and simply ride over it. That’s the most basic type of rail slide, or in this case, box slide. Once you get the hang of that, you can start thinking about moving to a smaller rail or trying different types of slides and grinds. 

Focus on Your Balance

Hitting rails requires a different level of balance than regular riding. It’s more precise and direct, so you don’t have as much room for error. You want to keep this in mind as you attempt to hit a rail. 

Make sure to keep your knees bent and your arms out to help you stay balanced. This is no guarantee that you won’t fall, but it will at least allow you the best chance of sliding over the rail without wiping out. 

Get Enough Speed

One thing I see all too often with people who are learning how to hit rails is not having enough speed. While you don’t want to be out of control when approaching a rail, you need enough speed to allow your momentum to carry you over the rail. 

You can do a few speed checks as you make your approach, but don’t drastically reduce your speed. You’ll need more than you think, and this is one instance where going faster is better than going slower. 

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Another trick to keep in mind is focusing your eyes at the end of the rail and not directly below you. This can take some getting used to but is an essential part of helping you stay balanced and in control. 

When you are riding on the snow, you don’t look directly down at your feet. You keep an eye down the hill at what’s coming up in front of you. This is the same technique you need to use when hitting a rail. 

Basic Rail Slide Maneuvers

In this section, I want to list out some of the easiest rail or box slide maneuvers, so you can get an idea of what they are and if you might be ready to attempt them. Again, starting on a box with any of these will be easier than on a rail. 

50/50 Slide

A 50/50 slide involves you riding directly over the rail or box without really changing your body positioning. It is probably the easiest slide to accomplish, and I almost always have my students start with this before trying anything else. 

Lead with your natural foot over the rail or box and simply ride over it just like you are riding over snow. You don’t need to change up much, but you want to make sure to stay balanced and engaged, so you don’t fall over. 

Board Slide

A board slide involves turning your board 90-degrees and sliding over the box or rail perpendicular to the downhill slope. This maneuver involves the same approach to a box or rail, but you need to spin your body a quarter turn to make it happen. 

Once you get a board slide down, you’ll really feel like you are learning how to hit rails. It will take some practice at first, but you’ll improve very quickly if you spend enough time on it. 

Other Slides/Presses

Once you have those two different basic rail slides mastered, you can start playing around with different types of slides and presses. You can watch other riders in the park to see what you think you can do or take a lesson with a freestyle instructor. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to hit rails on a snowboard can be a ton of fun. But it can also take some time, and you need to be patient, or else you might get hurt. Don’t try a rail unless you feel capable and confident, and always remember to ride within your ability level.

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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