Experiment with your knees

Every rider has their own unique style. This is one of the best things about snowboarding. And while there are guidelines for teaching and technique, snowboarding has no official rules—no single right way.

As you become a skilled and experienced rider, you’ll develop your own signature style. As long as you’re balanced, smooth, centered and having fun—you’re good to go. No matter what your ability level, it’s good to test your style and experiment. In this episode we introduce our favorite drill to play with style and improve turns.

One simple experiment is to adjust your knees. Whether you have them close together or spread apart will depend on your snowboard, weight, style and how aggressive you ride.

Step 1: Get warmed up
At the bottom of the hill, press your knees together; then push them apart. Notice how this causes your snowboard to flex slightly. This flex will do strange and powerful things to your carves.

Step 2: Do it on a groomer
On a familiar groomed run, alternate between pushing your knees together and apart. Test the extremes of each position. You will notice that your snowboard performs best with your knees somewhere in the middle.

Step 3: Determine what works best
Aggressive riders on stiff snowboards will often ride better with their knees slightly together. More timid riders on softer snowboards may feel best with their knees a bit further apart. Try both until you find the sweet-spot for your style on your set-up.

When you demo or buy a new snowboard, try the same drill. A few years ago I demoed a soft freestyle snowboard. At first I kept washing out my turns until I realized the snowboard performed great if I just kept my knees further apart.

Pressing your knees together causes your snowboard to flex. This flex can make softer snowboards buckle and wash out during high speed carves. On a stiff board, the flex can give your turns an extra boost of power.

Certain types of turns and snow conditions may call for different knee placement. You may grip ice better with your knees closer together, while knees further apart is smooth in powder.

Continue to test each extreme. You may find that your current style works best, or that you can improve with just a tiny adjustment.

Next step: Start to get dynamic

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10 Responses to Improve snowboard turns
  1. Dobromir
    March 21, 2013 | 11:17 pm

    Hi Rick and Jill, I am from Bulgaria but at the moment boarding in Ischgl, Austria. I would like to thank you for the videos and especially the scientific (engineering ) parts which helped me grasp the basics of snowboarding. I would love to see you explaining “buttering”. Do you intend to do a lesson on that soon?
    You can be certain that I will recommend you to my friends.
    Dobromir

  2. Steve
    January 3, 2013 | 4:08 am

    Many thanks and greeting from Greece! Found out your lessons on youtube and followed them step by step. After 5-6 times on the mountains and much practicing in my living room, this is me snowboarding in Bansko Ski Resort. Keep up the good work!
    http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/118/bansko.jpg

    • Steve
      January 3, 2013 | 4:12 am

      *greetings

  3. Valerie Glavieux
    December 27, 2012 | 11:11 am

    I took 3 lessons from resorts and couldn’t get how to snowboard. Then I found this, I board because of you guys, Thank you so much.

  4. Karl Hughes
    October 28, 2012 | 1:59 pm

    Simply great website….

    How do I do cross- under turns ? are they the same as you show in ‘get dynamic’ ?

    Regards from Scotland.

  5. Stuart
    April 13, 2012 | 9:47 am

    A friend of mine just showed me your website. Thanks for making such good step by step training videos. I can’t wait to try your instructions on the mountain!

    Jill,
    I have to ask where you got your cow suit. I know it was meant as a joke by my wife would love it since she is so into cows.

    • Jill
      April 22, 2012 | 5:53 pm

      Hi Stuart! Thanks for the support. The cow suit is actually my old GS suit for racing. I used to wear it long ago when I was still ski racing, then again when I was snowboarding. I’m not sure they make it anymore.

      –Jill

  6. sylvain richard
    February 8, 2012 | 9:54 am

    From quebec canada thanks for the video i snowboard because of you xxx

  7. Ksenia
    January 13, 2012 | 1:56 am

    Hello! Geat videos! They do help a lot!
    I have a suggestion for you. In your video Experiment with your knees http://snowprofessor.com/how-to-snowboard/intermediate-snowboard-lessons/experiment-with-your-knees
    timing 1.56 when the guy falls and then stands up with his left foot forward and changes the front foot to the left one. Please make a video how to do this 180 degrees turns. Thanks a lot!

    • Lidong Chen
      December 26, 2012 | 6:22 pm

      Yea! Me too! I really want to know how to do that!!!!!!



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