Step 8: Learn to turn a snowboard


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