Introduction to freestyle snowboarding by Grounded Freestyle Coaching

Posted on Monday 14th February, 2011 Times Viewed: 6287
To be a good all round snowboarder it is important to have skills in all aspects of snowboarding, to be a complete rider. The key starting point for all snowboarders should be to work on having good technique. With good technique, whatever aspect of snowboarding you want to focus on will be made easier. If you have bad technique you will always be trying to compensate for this, which will in turn hinder your development.
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Even if you only want to freeride it is important to learn freestyle basics as the board skills you develop will help whilst riding the big mountain. Likewise, if you only want to ride park it is important to make sure your riding technique is good. For example when riding the pipe the ability to hold an edge properly is essential. This is made a lot easier if your technique is good.

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The main reason to learn a bit of freestyle is that whatever level you are at, it is a lot of fun and that is the main reason most of us ride a snowboard.

Know what you want:
The first thing to do when you start freestyle snowboarding is ask yourself what you want from freestyle snowboarding and where you want to get to. By knowing this it will give you an idea of how much effort you will need to put in. If, for example, you want to compete and try and become a sponsored rider then you will need to work a lot harder than someone who just wants to do some basic tricks and have the confidence to hit jumps.

Where to start:
One of the first places to start when beginning freestyle is getting air born.

There are four main ways you can do this:
- Coasting: ride up to a feature with enough speed to clear the landing with the terrain providing the lift with out any movement.

- Pop: Popping is when you push against the ground with both legs to generate air.

- Ollieing and Nollieing: The ollie springs of the tail, the nollie off the nose. The rider must flex the snowboard to generate lift by using the spring (camber and flex) of the snowboard. Biomechanically, the two movements are symmetrical, but most will find the nollie harder when moving

(Canadian Snowboard Coaching Program, Basic coaching manual 2008).

Once you can get in the air using these techniques the mountain will become your playground. Don’t stop practicing these, as the better you are at them the more fun there is to be had.

180s:
The next step after learning the ollie is to start to learn 180s. As you will be landing backwards, it's now time to learn to ride switch, if you can't already. 180s can be learnt frontside or backside. To start, practice these on the piste and once you get confident with them move them on to small hits. On landing, try and do two or three turns switch before you revert. As with all tricks in freestyle snowboarding, once you can do it forwards, learn it backwards, you will find that some things are easier. So, once you have your FS and BS 180s you should learn switch FS 180s (cab 180) and switch BS 180s (hard trick). Even though you may find these hard, they are important to learn, as pairs of 180s make up all the 360s. This means when you go to learn 360s you have all the component parts.

Jibbing:
One of the most fun and when done well most stylish things you can do on a snowboard. There are endless varieties and combination jibs you can do the piste and they enable to take advantage of the natural or man-made terrain around you. I'm not going to go into specifics as there is too much to cover. Check out the web and movies where you will find endless examples.

By learning jibs it gives you great board control and will help you understand how your body and board work together. A lot of the skills are transferrable and will help with riding rails etc. All skills are good skills.

Kickers:
Once you feel confident in your riding and your ollies work well it's time to hit some kickers. Getting air is one of the best feelings in snowboarding and a good park with good kickers will offer you a relatively safe way of doing this.

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First of all, know your level and hit the jump size accordingly. If you are new to kickers obviously start off on the small jumps. Your technique and body posture are very important for kickers as if your body is twisted or you are leaning back it will effect what happens in the air.

Get used to the small jumps, making sure that you are popping off the lip, are well balanced in the air sucking your knees up and landing on both feet. Once you have mastered this try and learn some grabs and see how they affect you. Then it's time to move to a bigger jump.

Rails/boxes:
Once again the better technique and board skills you have the easier learning to ride rails boxes will be. Start with a nice easy box learning 50-50s and all the basic board slides. Get the confidence on an easy obstacle and start to increase the speed that you do your tricks then move onto more difficult rails and boxes.

Pipe:
If there is any part of freestyle snowboarding that requires really good riding technique it's the pipe. Often really icy, the ability to hold an edge and pump the transitions is crucial to getting good air out of the pipe.

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The first place to start is to just get used to riding the frontside and backside walls, un-weighting as you reach the top of your upward motion. Remember, you are traveling across the pipe, so make sure that you are not pointing your nose down the pipe too much. Watch others who ride well and see what they are doing. If you can do this and you start reaching the top of the wall its time to learn to drop in.

The drop in one of the most important parts of a pipe run as it sets you up. You can drop-in either front side or backside, its just personal preference. The focus should be on maximising the speed you can get from any given drop-in point. This is done by holding your edge perfectly in the pipe bottom and pumping the transitions.

The pipe can take a bit of time to get used to, especially with the size of some pipes. It just takes practice. It is worth persisting as there is no where else in snowboarding where you can get so many hits in such a small area, push yourself with technical tricks and there is always the challenge of seeing how big you can go.

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In General:

- Always work on your technique.

- When you go riding, think about what you are doing. Go out with things in mind that you want to try or practice.

- If something is not working think about what you are doing and what you need to change to make it work. Then try a different approach.

- Get someone to film you – the camera does not lie.

- Watch movies etc – see how the pros do it.

- Don't neglect the areas you find hard.

- Try to be a complete snowboarder.

- Keep practicing

- Have fun!

If you want to follow Grounded Freestyle Coaching on Facebook click here

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