Snowboarding is an absolutely amazing activity. However, it does take some time to truly get the hang of the sport. There are some critical skills you need to learn before you can make progress or consider yourself a serious rider. One such skill is the ability to turn. The following guide will break down the skill, teach you the basics, and explain why it’s so important.
The Importance of Turning
If you’re new to the sport of snowboarding, you might feel overwhelmed with all there is to learn. That will disappear soon, trust me. As soon as you learn the basics, you’ll have so much fun that all of your worries will fade away. That being said, you do need to learn those basics first.
Turning on your board serves two critical functions: safety and control. While straight-lining down a run can be fun from time to time for any speed demons out there, it’s only possible when you know how to turn and slow yourself down. Proper turning technique keeps you in control. In that way, it helps regulate speed and enables you to properly position yourself down any run or through any obstacles you may encounter.
If you never learn how to turn, you will never learn how to snowboard. It’s as simple as that. You need to learn the skill in order to keep yourself and others safe on the mountain.
The Basics of Turning
In order to better teach you how to turn on a snowboard, it’s important to understand the basics of turning. We’re going to look at two main elements in this regard: the anatomy of a turn and body control.
The Anatomy of a Turn
If you think of turning from a visual standpoint, you can picture it as drawing your way down a snowy mountainside. Every single turn you make resembles the letter C. This analogy can help us break down the anatomy of a single turn:
- The top of the C is the start of the turn
- The rounded middle section of the C is the actual turn
- The bottom of the C is the end of the turn
You must begin your turning process at the top of the C by leaning either toeside or heelside. Once you make that initial commitment, you’re in the middle of the turn. Now, shift your weight slightly towards the uphill side of the mountain to retain edge control. At the bottom of the C, you will begin to come off of your edges and initiate the next turn.
When you string a series of turns together, they form an S shape. If you’ve ever watched a snowboarder going down a run, that shape is easy to recognize. If you think about your turns in this visual way, it can help you anticipate every move you make and see your line as you make your way down the mountain.
The ability to turn on a snowboard is based on how you move and control your body. By shifting your weight and leaning from one direction to another, you force your board to respond and a turn. Experienced riders will rarely think of each aspect when making a turn, but it can really help beginners to break things down.
Your head and eyes are the starting point for each and every turn you’ll make on the mountain. Blind turning, while possible, is difficult and dangerous. As with just about any form of movement, you want to look where you’re going. Start your turns by positioning your head and eyes the direction you wish to turn. The rest of your body will then follow.
After you move your head and eyes, your shoulders and midsection turn next. Think of turning on your board from the top down. As your shoulders and chest begin to twist, it then forces your lower body to initiate the turning process as well. Your core and hips will begin to move after your shoulders lead the way. From there, your legs and feet will respond.
Your knees are the next step of the turning process. The way you position your knees will allow for even more control and increase your ability to improve. It also helps with turning and balance. When you’re making a heelside turn, you want your knees to move towards the nose of your board. When you’re making a toeside turn, you want your knees to move towards the tail of your board.
A Word on Words
Learning how to turn on a snowboard is much easier to learn on the snow that it is on paper or a computer screen. It’s important to understand the basic elements of turning and think about it in a visual way, but there is no substitute for getting out there and learning with a board underneath your feet. I could write about turning all day long, but the only real way to learn is to put the advice into action and get out on the snow.
How to Improve Your Turning
Practice makes perfect. The more time you spend snowboarding, the better you’re going to get. Most new riders learn how to make their first turns on their first day out. It can be trial by fire sometimes, but you will undoubtedly learn how to turn when you start heading downhill. It might take a few falls but, after a while, you’ll get a hang of it.
It’s also important to take a snowboard lesson if you can. A good instructor will be able to help and encourage you through each and every turn you make. It can be nice to have someone with plenty of experience who wants to share their knowledge and skills with you. At the very least, go ride with someone who knows how to snowboard so they can give you a basic lesson as you get started.
Do you remember learning how to snowboard? Do you have any tips for others who are learning to turn for the first time? Let us know in the comments below.