When Snowboarding, Having The Right Setup can Be The Difference Between A Good And A Bad Day. That Being Said, Getting Your Snowboard Stance Setup Before You’re At The Mountain Is The Best Plan To have.
A Snowboard Stance Is An Art. When Done Correctly, It’s Connecting Your Body To The Snow Through Boots, Bindings, And Of Course The Snowboard.
If done incorrectly, the snowboarder can get hurt, incapacitated, or just have a bad time.
This post is going to help you get setup right.
What Should My Snowboard Stance Be?
We’re going to jump right into things here. I’ll differentiate between my opinions and what is solid facts. Below is how I like to ride, and why.
- I love a wide stance. It makes me sink lower to the ground, and that gives me more adaptability. (However it does reduce my ability to spin).
- My front foot always has more angle than the back. It’s not a lot, but I notice it.
- Lately I’ve been moving my high backs into my calves, it forces me to crouch and get into a deeper athletic position. This has helped immensely with maneuverability.
If you don’t understand anything I just wrote, that’s okay, the next paragraph has basic stance terminology. I’d recommend going over this list as you read my post. You might not need to know them here, but on the hill it can be beneficial.
Snowboard Stance Terminology
- Snowboard – If you’re reading this post, I hope you know what this is.
- Bindings– The part of a snowboard set where you lock your feet into the snowboard. It’s like a bridge between your boot and the snowboard.
- Base Plate – a circular plate on the snowboard binding where you can set the binding angle.This is where the bindings usually screws into the snowboard.
- Binding Angle – The angle of the binding in relation to your snowboard. On the plate you’ll see lines and numbers. These are angles for the bindings.
- High Backs – The back part of your snowboard binding. Where your calves and the back of your foot rest. These can be adjusted forward or straight up.
- Snowboard Boot – It’s just a boot. Usually a pretty awesome one, but a boot just the same.
- Regular Footed – Regular footed means that you ride with your left foot forward. Ask yourself, if you’re going downhill what foot would be in front? If it’s the left foot. You’re regular footed.
- Goofy Footed – It’s wrong…so wrong. (Totally kidding) But if you’re goofy you ride right foot forward. It’s kinda like being left handed only with your feet.
The links above will send you to other blog posts I’ve written on the specific topic. Most are guides to purchasing the proper equipment. If you’re new to snowboarding, I’d suggest you read through those posts as well. There’s a lot of good information in those posts.
That being said, if you’ve already jumped in and purchased some gear, you obviously want to set it up and shred the hill.
The Basics Of A Snowboard Stance
The first thing you want to figure out when you’re trying to figure out your stance, is are you regular or goofy footed? This terminology comes from skateboarding, and if you’ve ever been on a skateboard you’ll probably be able to answer this pretty easily.
When riding on the board what foot did you use on the front of the board? If it’s your left, then you’re regular, if the right, then I’m sorry, but you’re goofy. (I mean it all in good fun).
In addition to this, I use a general test when people don’t know what way feels better. Whenever I’m teaching people I tell them to look forward and as we are speaking I start to walk around them while they look straight ahead. On the third or fourth time around, I gently push their back. (Just forceful enough to make them take a step). The foot they step with is their dominant foot. This is the one you’ll want to start with.
Keep in mind while riding, you might wanna make a change. If for some reason the other foot feels right, switch it up.
***Pro Tip In Snowboarding There’s also something called riding switch, this is where you ride the opposite of what you normally do. This works well if you’re doing 180s or others tricks involving half rotations. Check out my post about Switch Riding to learn more.
How To Install Bindings On Your Snowboard?
Now that you know whether you are goofy or regular, you’ll want to sit down with your snowboard, bindings, and boots. You’ll also want a Phillips head screw driver (not a drill DO NOT use a drill).
When you look at your snowboard you should see screw holes or a channel down the middle of it (The Channel Is A Burton Thing)
Follow This Order and You Should Be Fine.
- Place the bindings a bit wider than shoulder width apart on the snowboard.
- While keeping both bindings the same distance apart. Center them on the snowboard.
- Put a couple screws in, so they don’t move, but don’t tighten yet.
Most snowboards will have this measured out, but like I said above Burton Snowboards uses a channel system. This makes things a bit more difficult as there aren’t holes to align but I started using a measuring tape. That seems to work fine.
Setting Up The Width Of Your Snowboard Bindings
Starting out, you’ll want the width to be slightly wider than your shoulders. I’d only go an inch or two at the extreme wider than that. (Two is probably way to much right now).
Check the width, and see how comfortable you are. Crouch a little bit to check your knees and see how your ankles feel. If my stance is ever off. I can usually pin point the width. I’ll get sharp pains in my inner knee after riding awhile. This is from an old injury, but it reminds me to adjust my bindings.
Once you’re comfortable with the width, take the screw driver and put one or two bolts into the binding, but don’t tighten them down yet. You just want them to stay in position.
On the next steep you’ll need to adjust the binding angle, and you can’t tighten them until that’s setup.
What Degree Should I Set My Snowboard Bindings?
For new snowboarders, just do a basic setup. This will help you learn and you can always adjust it later.
My recommendation is to have your front foot (left/regular or Right/goofy) at a slightly higher angle than your rear. If you look at the binding plate, you’ll see angles and lines. In a way, it’s kinda like a measuring tape.
Don’t go to extremes with your angles, a little goes a long way, and will help your knees while you’re riding.
Binding Angle Recommendations
Front Foot: I recommend going 12-15 degrees max on this. You can always adjust it later, but if you go to extreme on this your knee will be turned awfully in a weird direction, and if you’re new to snowboarding, you’ll be spending a lot of time on your knees the first few times you go.
Rear Foot: I recommend the rear foot being set to a 9-12 degree max. Keep in mind I like having it set 3 degrees less than the front. this means if my front foot is set to 12, my rear should be a 9.
By setting this stance you can help get into the groove, and see what adjustments you’ll want in the future. Go shredding and make mental notes of what you wanna play with.
Notice I didn’t mention anything about Highbacks, keep those neutral and at factory settings until you get the hang of snowboarding, after that play with them and see what you like.
Some people swear by them, and others like me use them as a reminder to crouch.
Advanced Snowboard Stances
The stance I just posted about is great for beginners, and there are parts of it (angles) that I still utilize today. However there are some more advanced snowboard stances that I want to share with you. You don’t have to play with them now, but as you grow, you’ll want to look into them for the future. They all have their positive/negative features. So use this wisdom wisely.
Neutral Stance: This is almost the exact stance I described at the beginning of this blog. The only difference is that some people want the rear foot to be set at 0 degrees. This, means the binding is perpendicular to the board.
I’ve tried this stance before, and it did nothing for me. However if you give it a go, and you like it. More power to you.
Duck Stance: With this stance your front and rear feet will have matching angles pointed outward. This is great for people who ride switch, tear up a half pipe, and generally shred in the park. If you find yourself riding switch a lot, this is a good stance to look into. Check out my post about riding switch if you’re interested.
Forward Stance: If you’re an all mountain rider or a park rider you won’t be in this stance too often. It’s a stance used specifically for alpine racing. With this stance you’ll have both feet pointed at an angle towards the front of the snowboard. Hopefully not pointed straight forward, but angled in that direction.
Keep in mind these are generalities. When you are snowboarding make sure things are comfortable for you. Nothing ruins a day worse than cramping toes or painful knees. Make the adjustment when necessary, and tear the mountain up.
Testing Your Snowboard Stance
So up to now we haven’t gotten into the full setup. I always recommend doing this at least once after you make adjustments. Here is my list of rules I go through once the board is setup. (do this with your boots on, strapped in and away from the Mountain)
I tend to do this at home in my living room. It looks weird when a girlfriend or a roommate comes home though…
Put on your boots, and strap into your bindings. Look down and answer these 4 questions.
- Do my toes or heels overhang the edges of the snowboard? If yes, I might have to adjust the angle, buy smaller boots, or get a different snowboard.
- When I crouch do my knees or ankles hurt? Am I comfortable in this position? If there’s pain, try adjusting the angle, this might help.
- Am I centered over the snowboard? (Huge question here, this impacts everything) To far and you’ll nose dive into the snow, to far back and you’ll loose control on groomed runs (give it a little back on powder days)
- How does it feel? Try rocking back and forth. If you are new this might be hard to answer, but if you’ve ridden before, it should click.
Snowboard Stance Quick Tips
- Always Look Where You’re Riding – Beginners tend to look down at their feet when starting out, and when you do this you’ll fall. Snowboarders tend to go where they’re looking. Look ahead and see where you want to go.
- In addition to looking down, many snowboarders will start out by doing something I call the clam shell. This is where they have a great stance from the waist down. But they are bending down at the waist to view their feet. You loose all leverage doing this. DON’T LOOK DOWN.
- When going down hill you should be in a comfortable crouch with a straight back and your head straight up. However keep in mind your head should be turned in the direction of travel.
- Keep your hands at your side, but make a fist. This way if you fall you won’t be breaking a wrist or finger. ***Bonus fact if you wear mitts your hands will be warmer.
- NEVER lean back when going downhill. You’ll accelerate faster but you lose your snowboards connection to the ground. This makes turning more difficult.
Snowboarding Stance Conclusion:
When learning to snowboard, make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing with you. Even if they’re not an instructor, they can give you some valuable knowledge and tips.
Always ride safely, and only shred within your current skill level. If it’s your first day, avoid the black diamonds, it’s a smart thing to do.
And always wear a helmet, I can’t tell you how many times mine has protected my head. Have a great season.
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