Here’s how to do a frontside turn on a snowboard:
- Angle yourself perpendicular to the fall line.
- Apply slight pressure to the front of the board to launch.
- Gradually shift your weight onto your front foot.
- Rotate your head and torso the direction you want to turn.
- Shift your weight to your front foot.
If you’ve just taken up snowboarding, you are likely enjoying the rush of racing down a slope but also wondering how to refine your technique. One of the snowboarding skill areas you may consider working on is turning. If you’re a beginner, you may be wondering how to turn on a snowboard.
In this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step tutorial on turning on a snowboard for beginners for both frontside and backside turns. I will also list a range of different drills which you can practice to help refine your turning technique, and share some helpful tips to keep in mind when executing snowboard turns.
How Do You Turn On a Snowboard?
You make a turn on a snowboard using one of two main types of turns: the front side and the backside turn. These are done by shifting the pressure from your back to your front foot or back to your front foot, respectively. It also helps to turn your head and torso in the direction you want to go.
The way you adjust pressure and turn will impact the way your snowboard turns.
How To Do a Frontside Turn on a Snowboard
A frontside turn is when you turn your snowboard to point downwards on the slope in the middle of your turn. To do a frontside turn, you should shift the pressure on the board to your front foot. Then, angle your torso and your head in the direction you want to turn.
Here is detailed a step by step guide to doing a frontside turn on a snowboard:
Angle Yourself Perpendicular to the Fall Line
Begin by adopting the proper stance before beginning to go down a slope. The proper stance will help you move into a turn posture more easily.
Make sure that your snowboard is angled, pointing towards the slope you want to snowboard down. Allow the back of your snowboard to dig into the snow.
Apply Slight Pressure to the Front of the Board To Launch
Flatten the board by applying a little pressure to your front foot. This should disclose the snowboard. You will begin moving down the hill. Try to control your pace by keeping the pressure on both your feet balanced.
Gradually Shift Your Weight Onto Your Front Foot
Once you identify the direction you want to turn, shift the weight of your body to your front foot and your front toes.
When you do this, your board will begin to point downwards, parallel to the slope. Ensuring your board is pointing downwards will make you move faster.
If you feel like you are moving too fast, resist the temptation to transfer the pressure onto your back foot. Instead, begin to execute the next step of your turn, which will slow your board down.
Rotate Your Head and Torso the Direction You Want To Turn
Turn your head and upper torso backward in the direction you want to rotate. This will turn the board sideways and in the direction you want it to go.
Shift Your Weight to Your Front Foot
Once you have finished your turn, shift your weight to your front foot. This weight shift will slow you down and allow you to continue moving down the slope in the direction you want.
How To Do a Backside Turn on a Snowboard
When you do a snowboarding backside turn, you will be facing away from the slope in the middle of the turn.
Here is a step by step guide to doing a backside turn:
Start Perpendicular to the Slope
Before attempting anything, balance yourself off the snowboard, with a little more pressure on the front of the board.
You’ll want to ensure that you have dug the front of the snowboard into the snow as an anchor.
Evenly Distribute Pressure on the Snowboard
Once you are ready to start riding, begin to balance out pressure on the snowboard. You may have to apply a little extra pressure on your back foot to dislodge the snowboard.
Put Pressure on the Front of Your Snowboard
Once you are ready to turn, apply pressure to the front of your snowboard. You can do this by shifting the weight to your front foot.
The board will turn to point downhill and begin to pick up speed.
Turn Your Head and Torso Towards the Top of the Hill
As soon as your board is pointing downhill, turn your torso and head to face behind you. Rotate your head and torso in the direction you want to turn. If you want to turn right, for instance, rotate your head and torso right.
Put Pressure on Your Back Foot
When you turn your head and torso, your snowboard will turn sideways.
One this happens, allocate pressure to your back foot, which will then complete your turn and slow your snowboard down to a cruising pace.
6 Drills To Practice Turning On a Snowboard
To practice and improve your snowboard turning skills, I definitely recommend you try the following drills. But it’s not just my suggestion, as these drills are all recommended by the Special Olympics Committee to improve a snowboarder’s techniques. And I believe that all beginners should strive to master these fundamentals.
The Heelside Garland Drill and the Change in direction drill focus on turns incorporated during a snowboarding run. Meanwhile, turning on purpose drills focus on sharper and quicker turns. Try these drills once you have practiced wider turns.
Several turning on purpose drills include:
- The modified cone drill
- The turn-on command drill
- The turns-by signal drill
Let’s take a look at how to do each of these drills.
1. Toeside/Heelside Direction Changes Towards Object Drill
This drill focuses on helping snowboarders turn in the direction of a particular object. To practice this skill, do the following:
- Choose an object on a slope that you want to turn towards.
- Launch yourself down the slope.
- Apply pressure with your toe or your heels, depending on the type of turn you are doing.
- Rotate your head and hips towards the object. The rotation should be a gradual movement to allow you better balance and control over your board.
- Slow your board down and come to a gentle halt once you have turned towards your object.
2. The Heelside Garland Drill
The Heelside Garland includes shifting the pressure and weight on your feet to change your snowboard’s direction. This drill will call upon you to turn as you make your way down the slope continuously.
Here are the steps to the Heelside Garland Drill:
- Apply pressure to your heel to launch your snowboard at the top of the hill.
- Shift your weight to your toes, and look in the direction you are trying to turn in. As you do this, your board will begin to turn in the direction you are looking towards.
- Shift the pressure back to the heel of your board. This will cause your board to move in the opposite direction that you were turning.
- Continue alternating pressure on different parts of your feet to move in a zig-zag across the slope.
3. Modified Cone Drill
This drill involves navigating around a series of cones down a slope. To start, place a line of cones around 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) apart along the slope you want to snowboard down. You will then practice navigating around each cone.
To do this, you will need to begin a turn immediately after completing one. Once you are comfortable navigating around the cones, reduce the distance between each cone to practice making shorter cones.
4. Turn On Command Drill
The turn on command drill will allow you to become more confident in making impromptu snowboard turns. To practice, you’ll need to ask your snowboarding instructor or a fellow snowboarder to partner with you, but it’s as simple as this:
- Select a short slope to practice this drill on.
- Station your partner at the bottom or the top of the slope.
- Begin your ascent down the slope and have your partner call out turning instructions as you go.
If you’re doing this drill down a long slope, look at your partner’s hand directions or have them give you audio input.
5. Turn by Signal Drill
The turn-by signal drill is excellent if you have a partner on hand but still want to practice impromptu turns. Start by setting up signposts or signals along the slope you are snowboarding down. (If you don’t have signposts that will tell you how to turn, use objects as symbols of a particular turn. For instance, you may use a stick as a prompt to turn right.)
Then simply practice the drill, turning based on the signs you have set up for yourself. Vary the drill several times on the same slope to increase your confidence and skill.
Tips for Turning On a Snowboard
Once you know the theory of how to turn on a snowboard, you can turn your attention to improving your turns. You can improve your turns by paying close attention to your stance and checking the position and balance of your board. It would help if you also changed the technique of your turn depending on the terrain.
Learning from snowboarding instructors and experts will also help.
Read more about these guidelines below.
Adjust Your Stance
When you are snowboarding, your stance will control the direction and pathway of your board. Your stance is critical when you’re turning. Pay close attention to:
- Your head. It is essential to keep your head straight and to point in the direction you want to turn. However, use your peripheral vision to scope out any obstructions that could impact your turn.
- Your shoulders. The direction your shoulders turn will also impact the way your upper torso will move. This, in turn, will impact your snowboard as it turns.
- Your feet. Make sure that your feet are at a comfortable distance from each other. Each snowboarder will have a slightly different stance – it’s essential to experiment with what feels suitable for you.
- Your arms. Some snowboarders prefer to keep their arms spread out to maintain their balance and control while riding. This is especially important when attempting turns, as the change in direction may upset your balance.
Check the Position and Balance of Your Board
Before beginning your descent down a slope, you need to make sure your board is balanced right. Ensure that you have positioned the board perpendicular to the fall line. Other things you can do to improve your board’s balance include:
- Selecting the right snowboard. You should choose the right snowboard based on your experience, weight, and the terrain you are snowboarding on. Visit a snowboarding store and test out different snowboards to see which one you feel most comfortable on.
- Choose a snowboard based on the terrain and your style of riding. If you enjoy backcountry riding, for instance, you may prefer a split board.
Change Your Technique Depending on the Terrain
The terrain you are snowboarding on will impact the way you make your turn. When turning on steep terrain, make sure you are bending your knees deeper than you usually do and paying close attention to the angle of the fall line. When snowboarding on rough terrain, try to turn in a gap between the bumps.
Snowboarding on a Steep Terrain
When snowboarding and turning on steep terrains, keep these tips in mind:
- Bend your shoulders, hips, and knees to match the angle of the slope.
- Continue leaning forward, even if it feels unnatural.
- As you close each turn, make sure your board is spread across the fall line. If it is not spread evenly, try to hold the turn for a little longer until it is even.
Try snowboarding on steep terrain only once you have practiced a few drills on gentle slopes.
Snowboarding on Bumpy Terrain
Bumps in terrain may be natural (caused by rocks and raised soil) or man-made (built-in to slopes to improve your technique). When snowboarding and turning on a bumpy terrain keep these tips in mind:
- Look for the broadest spot to turn in. This will typically be in the gap between bumps.
- Try to keep your head level, which will help you keep your balance as you turn across bumps.
Get Direction From a Snowboarding Instructor
While understanding the theory is the first step towards snowboard turns, the next step is engaging with an instructor. An instructor will give you advice on your stance and how to adjust your posture to ensure smoother turns.
The more time you spend refining your turns, the better they’ll get — the first practice by attempting simple backside and frontside turns. Then, try to improve the complexity of your turns by trying snowboarding drills.
When turning on a snowboard, you need to remember to adjust the pressure you are applying on your board and turn your body in the direction you want. Pay attention to your environment to judge the type and style of turn you should make. Using drills to practice will help you improve the way you turn on your snowboard.