Learn how to make snowboard turns.

Like the steps you’ve already learned, turning starts with your feet. In this episode, we build on the techniques you’ve mastered throughout the series and help you learn C-turns.

Before trying C-turns, you should have mastered skating, stepping, straight glides, j-turns, riding the chairlift and garlands. If you’re one of those impatient people who just skipped ahead…go back and learn the previous steps.

Step 1—Perfect snowboard alignment
All along we’ve been stressing proper posture, and it becomes even more essential as you begin turning. Proper alignment is:

  • Head looking downhill
  • Shoulders both parallel to your stance and level with terrain
  • Arms at your sides
  • Knees and ankles bent
  • Feet soft and ready for business

This perfect alignment we speak of is in everything we do. Your upper and lower half should always be working together in balance whether you’re running, playing soccer or anything else. Though some swear that you can turn by pointing your arms where you want to go, it’s a terrible technique that will leave you off balance and exhausted. Since you’re feet move the snowboard, arm rotation will throw you off balance and waste a massive about of energy. Skip the arm flailing and just use your feet.

Step 2—Practice foot and knee movement standing still

Since your upper body shouldn’t move, turning begins with your feet and knees. Get a friend or coach to hold your hands and practice the movements. You can use a fence for balance or even try this on your living-room carpet.
Toe turn:

  • Press down on your front foot toes
  • Then press down on your back foot toes
  • Then gently move your front knee in

Your feet will tip the board on edge and your front knee helps to round the turn.

Heel turn:

  • Press down on your front heel (or pull up on your toes)
  • Then press down on your back heels
  • Gently push your front knee out


Step 3—Practice the pressure
Like the J-turns and garlands you’ve already mastered, the amount you press on your feet is subtle and slow.

On a hard floor, gradually put pressure on your toes just until the skin around the nail turns white. That’s the right amount of pressure.

Imagine pressing your front toes into the sand – just enough so the sand squishes between your toes. For heel turn pressure, transfer pressure off your front toes and sink your heels into the sand.

Imagine the pressure you use to step on the gas pedal when driving. If you don’t want to jerk forward, you apply gentle, gradual pressure to the pedal.

Step 4—Make a C-Turn
Head to your local green run or bunny hill and do some Garlands to warm up. Turning requires just three subtle movements. Seriously—that’s it—if you add more you’ll be messing stuff up.

Toe turn:

  • Start from a heelside traverse
  • Press down on your front toes, the board will begin to point downhill
  • When you feel the snowboard start to turn and point straight downhill, press down on the toes of your back foot
  • Rotate your front knee in slightly to make a complete C-shaped turn and come to a stop

Heel turn:

  • Start from a toeside traverse
  • Press down on the heel of your front foot (or pull up on your toes), the board will begin to point downhill. You should feel your toenails pressing on the tops of your boots and your calf muscle should be pushing against your high-back
  • When you feel the snowboard start to turn and point straight downhill, press down on your back foot heel (pull up on your toes)
  • Rotate your front knee out slightly to make a complete C-shaped turn and come to a stop

Tips to correct common mistakes.
Here are some common problems and solutions.

Problem: Lack of commitment

If you can’t bring yourself to point the snowboard downhill and abort every turn attempt mid-way through, chances are you’re scared of commitment. There’re a lot of new things to conquer for your first turns: speed, catching edges, people in the way.
Solution: Make it easier by focusing on just one thing. Get a friend or instructor to start you out pointing downhill. This makes it easier to focus just on turning – not standing up, pointing downhill and what not. Focus on using your feet and knees.

Problem: Sitting back
When your snowboard points downhill, the quick increase of speed can be startling. Often beginners instinctively shift their weight over their back leg. While this may make you feel slower and more controlled, it’s almost impossible to use your feet efficiently when your weight is in the back-seat. It’s like trying to drive a car with the e-brake on.
Solution: Exaggerate leaning over your front leg to maintain the nice isosceles triangle. While you may feel overly forward, chances are you are centered.

Problem: Rushing the turn
If you keep catching your edge when you try turning, chances are you’re going up on edge too soon. You’ve carefully paid attention to the lesson and you’re doing the whole front/back/knee thing – but you’ve just got to slow it down.
Solution: Be patient and wait for the snowboard to point downhill and begin turning before engaging your back foot.

Problem: Ape Arms

If you’re one of those people who thinks it’s easier to turn by rotating your shoulders, you need help. Like we said earlier, upper body movement causes you to work twice as hard, be off balance and look like a weirdo.
Solution: Stop arm movement by grabbing onto your pants while riding. This will help remind you to keep your arms down. If that doesn’t work you need the snowball drill. Take 2 snowballs (firm, icy ones), and place them between your hip and your wrist. Try to make turns without dropping them.

I hope we’ve shown you that, turning takes just three simple foot and knee movements and, with a few small corrections, you can make C-turns. Congratulations! You’re snowboarding!

What’s next: Linking turns

10 Responses to Step 8: Learn to turn a snowboard
  1. Suzette
    April 5, 2013 | 12:49 am


    Learn to turn a snowboard | SnowProfessor.com…

  2. Joel
    January 21, 2013 | 6:13 am

    Hey I have a problem I can snowboard ok but when I’m on a toe side turn too long it feels like my foot is comming out of the boot and my ankle is going to break any suggestions

  3. emily
    December 30, 2012 | 8:29 am

    Hey I’m a gr 7 student in alberta and I’m in the middle of watching your videos. There so amazing and i love them all, I had the first few videos down but i had troubles with sliding and riding the ski lift.I heard you talking about the friction pad for sliding and I’m gonna go out and get that a.s.a.p. and that will improve on my ski lifts too.

    I went to nakiska a few weeks a few weeks ago. i went on a green hill for the first time and it was fun but i fell when i started to pick up speed. Is there a way to stop that?

    Another thing is i used the the gliding down sideways like i was stopping down a steep part and i made it a few times but i fell then too, so i have 2 questions is there a easier way to get up, and how do i not fall


  4. Jerry Maguire
    January 27, 2012 | 9:07 am

    Jill and Rick

    My fiance and I are from the UK and are getting married in Banff in a week and we have 3 weeks of Canada snow to look forward to. I was “just” at the point of getting turns sorted out but was always given the “arms” advice, having watched your videos and tips im really chomping at the bit to get going and try them out. We dont get much snow the UK hence little practice but hopefully if i can remember your advice on all the videos then id be very pleased if i was linking turns better than my previous attempts which look a little like your “crash test dummie” guy in these vids. Both of us love your website – and your easy going style of no “bullsh*t” teaching. you ought to stick on a donate button with paypal, id gladly drop you some support money for the site as i think its a resource every one could benefit from using.

    Very many thanks for everything!

    Jerry and Claire

  5. Mitch
    January 16, 2012 | 5:07 am

    Jill, Rick,
    Great site; just reviewing turning, is it just toe/heal pressure to turn? Do you not shift weight over the edge you want to turn into . i.e. regular rider, want to turn right, move hips forward over board edge?
    Please advise.
    Thanks again for the info.

  6. Rhotax
    January 1, 2012 | 9:37 am

    But what about short, fast turns ? I’ve always though that ski’es are more safe than snowboard because they’re lighter, shorter and because of that they can do faster and smaller turns.
    I often get this situation:
    Let’s say I’m riding a snowboard “to the left” (I’ve just maded turn to the left and I’m riding across the slope).
    Then suddenly someone below me have made a turn, so now he is on my “path”. I can’t take him from left (I can’t go forward no more) because there it’s the edge of worest. All I can do is stop or turn…right.
    But, the distance is short, so I can do, a long, nice shaped turn to the right I need to do fast, very short turn, almost 180 degree from my current position !
    How to do it when there’s many steps in turn procedure: first foot toes, second foot toes, knee…etc. How to do it in ONE STEP ? Could snowboard turn that fast at that much of angle ?

    • Jay
      March 22, 2013 | 6:25 pm

      Same question with me. Any suggestions you could provide now? Many thanks

  7. […] Posted by BliND KiNK Learn to turn a snowboard | SnowProfessor.com Just watch that…and don’t mind the doucher.. will.. I mean he makes good points but man is he […]

  8. […] something that will explain this better than myself.. I use this site for teaching help anyways. Learn to turn a snowboard | SnowProfessor.com Just watch that…and don’t mind the doucher.. will.. I mean he makes good points but man is he […]

  9. Jimmy
    January 19, 2011 | 3:02 am

    Thanks Jill & Rick for putting these videos online. They are very informative and helpful. Please keep posting more videos.

Follow SnowProfessor: