One of the most important skills every snowboarder needs to master quickly is how to slow down. Speed is certainly a fun and exciting aspect of the sport, but if you don’t know how to control it, it can be a recipe for disaster. Almost all of the other skills and techniques you need or want to learn are made possible by your ability to control your speed and slow down properly.
Here, you’re going to help you with the basics of how to slow down on a snowboard. If you are brand new to the snow, it can take a few attempts and some mild crashes before you pick it up. Don’t be discouraged. With patience and practice, you can quickly learn this critical skill and start to watch your overall snowboarding skills improve right before your eyes.
The Importance of Slowing Down
Learning how to snowboard without learning how to slow down is like driving a car with no brakes. It’s a dumb and dangerous idea that almost certainly leads to a bad outcome. Slowing down is one of the most basic technical skills that every single rider needs to know.
The main reason slowing down is important is because it’s a critical safety measure in protecting yourself and other riders on the mountain. Sliding downhill on the snow means that speed increases quickly if you head in a straight line. Slowing down gives you a way to control your speed so you can stop and start whenever you need. It also allows you to avoid obstacles and other dangerous scenarios on the mountain.
The ability to slow down opens up many different areas of snowboarding. It isn’t just a way to stop. Your speed is constantly changing when you ride. Proper speed control is an integral component of advanced snowboarding because it gives you the ability to easily navigate all of these changes. In short, if you want to become a good snowboarder, you need to know how to slow down.
Different Techniques to Slow Down
There are several different ways to slow down on a snowboard. We will look at several of the most common, from the basic to the more advanced. When you’re just learning, make sure that you master the first techniques before attempting the more advanced methods. Always practice any new skill you learn on easier runs before diving into anything too serious.
1. Edge Control is Key
The edges of your snowboard basically act as brakes in terms of how they help you slow down. The strips of metal around your board can scrape, dig, and bite into the snow as you ride, creating enough friction to adjust your speed. They also help you turn and carve. However, if you think about those techniques, they are only possible because of the ability to slow down. Your edges are your best friends in learning how to reduce speed.
2. Basic Slide
The most basic way to slow down on a snowboard is to slide perpendicular to downhill. That’s an important beginner-level skill to learn. It doesn’t look cool and you might think you’ll never use it once you become better, but even professional snowboarders use the slide to slow down and gain control when they get into gnarly situations.
To slow down by sliding follow these steps:
- You need to build up a little bit of speed before you can slow down. First, point your board downhill and start moving.
- Once you have some steam, turn your board so your toes point downhill.
- After making this turn, you will be perpendicular to the downhill. From there, you can dig in your heelside edge to slow down.
- The more you dig your heelside edge into the snow, the more you will slow down.
- Lean forward a bit to start sliding downhill.
- Repeat these steps until you get a hang of getting into a slide, maintaining a slide to slow down, and then pointing your board downhill again.
Here’s a good video teaching this technique.
3. Slowing Down by Turning and Carving
The next level of speed control is learning how to slow down by turning and carving. This is the most common method used by snowboarders of all ability levels. It’s effective and allows you to maintain control throughout a wide variety of conditions. You obviously need to learn how to turn and carve right to use this technique, so that’s the first step. Once you have those skills, you can use it to slow down.
- Edge control is key here, but instead of using only your heelside edge, you will use both the heelside and toeside edges.
- Start by pointing downhill to generate speed.
- Lean into your first turn and your uphill edge will dig into the snow.
- After you complete a turn, turn the other direction with your opposite edge facing uphill.
- Again, the more you dig in your uphill edge into the snow, the more it will control your speed.
- Sharper turns will result in more slowing down while narrower turns will be faster.
Here’s a good video showing this technique.
4. The Speed Stop
A more advanced method of slowing down is the speed stop, which is also known as the gravity stop or hockey stop. It involves turning quickly and digging your uphill edge into the snow so you come to a full stop in a matter of seconds. This technique requires skill, but it allows you to stop on a dime to avoid danger for any other reason when you need to stop quickly.
- The speed stop is a combination of a turn and a slide stop. You go into a turn, but instead of heading slightly downhill to maintain speed, you dig your uphill edge in.
- Make sure to bend your knees and hips slightly to absorb the impact.
- Point the leading tip of your board slightly uphill during this turn to have gravity help you with the stop.
- Practice this method on less steep terrain to master it before attempting it on advanced terrain.
Here’s a good video showing this stop at a basic level.
Learning how to slow down is an absolute must for any snowboarder. You can’t experience all the sport has to offer without being able to maintain control and that’s only possible once you learn how to effectively control your speed.
Following the above steps is a great way to practice your technique when it comes to slowing down. Once you get a good feel for the different methods, you will gain confidence and become a better rider. It’s always a good idea to take a lesson from a good instructor if you are having any trouble learning these maneuvers on your own.
Do you have any other tips on how to slow down on a snowboard that weren’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below!