How To Turn On A Snowboard; Skidded Turns

Learning how to turn is the most important snowboarding skill you can master, and Skidded Turns are the first step towards that goal. On a snowboard turning is how you stop, steer, and maintain control of the snowboard.

When you’re heading to the mountain for your first time, you’ll start doing skidded turns first.

Skidded Turns Are The First Turn A Snowboarder Will Learn On The Mountain, The Front Edge Of The Snowboard Will Carve A Path While The Rear Skids Along Behind It. This Will Send Up Lots Of Snow, But Increase Control.

Before we begin, make sure you’re focused on safety. Wear a helmet and only ride in areas where your skill level matches up. I’d recommend if you’re reading this, wondering how to turn, just stay on the bunny hill.

Skidded Turns, Snowboard Terminology

Below I placed some basic snowboarding terminology. I’ll be using these terms throughout the rest of this post, so make sure you understand what it means.

  • Snowboard Shape: Most Snowboards Have An Hourglass Shape. This Helps With Turning, And Stability By Directing The Board In The Direction Of The Turn Instead Of Straight Ahead (if boards were straight)
  • Snowboard Edge: The Sides Of The Snowboard That Come Into Contact With The Snow. These Are Usually Made Of Metal And Go Up And Down Both Sides.
  • Heel-Side: When Strapped Into Your Snowboard It’s The Edge That Your Heel Is Over.
  • Toe-Side: When Strapped Into Your Snowboard It’s The Edge That Your Toe Is Over.
  • Traverse: To Move Horizontally, Across The Hill Or Peak (I Avoid This)
  • Powder: Another Word For Snow, If The Word Deep Or Epic Is In Front Of It, You’ll Have The Best Day Ever.
  • Green Circle: The Easiest Runs At Any Ski/Snowboard Resort. Bunny Hills Are The Easiest Of These.
  • Blue Square: Intermediate Runs, If You Are Reading This For Help Turning, You Have NO Business On These Runs. Stay On Greens and Build Your Skills.
  • Black Diamond: DO NOT Go Onto Any Level Of These Runs Without Knowing What You’re Doing. You Could Seriously Injure Or Kill, Yourself Or Someone Else.

Snowboarding Is Dangerous:

Snowboarding is a dangerous sport. These skills I’m writing about are meant to be learned on a bunny hill or an easy/short green circle.

Always Maintain a comfortable speed, because you could lose control injuring yourself or others. Remember you’re not the only one on the hill. So only ride runs where you feel comfortable, and always wear a helmet.

***Pro-Tip: Put an earbud into one ear when you’re riding and listen to something that has a good base line. It helps you feel the groove while you’re shredding, but make sure you’re paying attention too.

The Physics Of Skidded Turns

When you look at the top of any snowboard, you’ll notice they have an hourglass shape. This shape helps you to turn the board, and by applying pressure from either your Toe-Side or Heel-Side you’ll be able to dig the snowboard edge into the snow. That sends you and the snowboard onto a new vector of your choosing.

Skidded Turns On A Snowboard
A Skidded Turn Will Send Send Up Lots Of Snow.

It all sounds simple right?

Well, that’s why you’re here, hopefully I’ll be able to explain it to you. When you’re looking at the board and you see the widest parts, these are the parts that you’re driving into the snow when turning.

Tips For Starting Out:

  1. Stay Centered Over The Snowboard.
  2. Make Sure Your Knees Are Bent And Stay Crouched In An Athletic Position.
  3. Keep Your Body Straight Up And Down (While Crouching). People tend to bend over at the waist when learning to snowboard. (It’s Called Clam shelling). If you do this, you’ll have no control.
  4. You Go Where You Look, always steer into a turn with your should. And Never Look Down. You Go In The Direction You’re Focused On, And Yes, The Ground Is Where You’ll Go If You Look Down.

The Two Types Of Snowboard Turning

There are two basic types of turning when you’re snowboarding. One is called a skidded turn and the other carving. Once you get a get feeling for those you can moved into dynamic skidded turns and dynamic carving.

I consider them to be more advanced forms, so I don’t really say they’re different, just advanced. However some people will dispute that, and it’s okay. There arguments have their merits.

I’ve already written an extensive post on carving. You can click the link if you’re already familiar with skidded turns and need a challenge as I won’t go much into carving on this post.

What Is A Skidded Turn On A Snowboard?

Skidded Turns On A Snowboard
Turning On A Snowboard

(Keep in mind I’m giving these directions for regular footed People. If you’re goofy, flip all the lefts with rights and vice-versa)

A skidded turn is the first type of turn you should become familiar with. To perform a skidded for the first time. Start on the right hand side (when at the top looking down) of a bunny hill.

Remember those tips I gave you above strap in and begin going down the hill, but do it slowly, and fall on your butt whenever you feel you’re out of control. (Learn How To Fall Properly Here)

When going downhill you’ll start to generate some movement (Do Not Speed Here). Stay Centered over the board, and apply pressure to both of your heels. At the same time begin to turn your shoulder left and stay centered over the snowboard.

Maintain proper stance by having your knees bent, your head turned left looking downhill and your shoulders should be square with your hips.

If you did this right, you’ll have made your first left turn. However if this was your first try, you’re probably on your butt, wonder what happened. It will take a while, but eventually you gain your balance, and it becomes easier.

Initiating Skidded Turns On A Snowboard

Once you have a little speed and you begin to apply pressure to your heel-side edge. You’ll notice the snowboard will begin moving towards the left. This is good, make sure your shoulders and weight are shifted accordingly. If you’re doing this right, you’ll be traversing the hill to the left.

Turning On A Snowboard

If you’re on a bunny hill, you’ve most likely reached the bottom at this point. Do this a few more times so you feel comfortable, and then switch over to doing this on the opposite side using your toes.

The toe-side is a little harder to master, this is because your back is facing downhill, and it’s also more dangerous. Be careful of what edges you use because using the wrong edge at the wrong time could injure you.

Keep practicing until you’re comfortable with both heel-side and toe-side turns.

Point Summary:

  • Stay Centered Over The Snowboard
  • Your Snowboard Will Go In The Direction You’re Looking
  • Keep Crouched In An Athletic Stance.
  • Stay On The Bunny Hill, Until You’re Comfortable With These Maneuvers.

Drills To Perfect Skidded Turns:

Ride down green and wide hills searching for places to to practice. Once you’ve reached a selected point, force your rear leg out and shift your weight forward in the direction you’d like to go. This will put the board into a skidded turn. This works whether you’re doing Toe-Side or Heel-Side, so do a little practice with it and have some fun.

Shoulders should be the driving force here not your hips. Head And Shoulders Will Guide And Direct The Legs. Also For Safety Remember That your weight should stay centered over the board, and slightly uphill. This will prevent you from catching an edge.

An easier way to perform a skidded turn is to shift (not force, just point and redirect) your hips and shoulders in the direction you’d like to go. This will change your body weight on the board, and redirect it. With some practice you can be proficient with either method. The first method is a basis for a lot of tricks, while the second method is easier.

Tips To Remember When Attempting Skidded Turns.

  1. Start on the bunny hill: Keep Your Speed Slow. (I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!!) When you begin to feel comfortable, you can move onto a green run. Don’t ruin your day with an injury early.
  2. Stay Centered Over The Snowboard: Balance Is Extremely Important In Shredding. Being Unbalanced will get you an injury.
  3. Get Into A Good Athletic Crouch: By Keeping your legs bent, and being in an athletic stance. Balancing Becomes Way Easier.
  4. Don’t Clam Shell: Many New Snowboarders Bend Over At The Waist, And This Causes Your Center Of Gravity To Be Off. You Should Be Straight Up And Down From The Top Of Your Head To Your Board. (With A Crouch Of Course)
  5. Never Look Down: It’s Really Tempting I Know, But When You Look Down, You Fall. Get Into The Habit Early Of Looking Where You Want To Shred.
  6. Ride Switch: Once you learn how to turn regular, switch things up and ride switch. It helps your balance and gives you a leg up on the competition. To learn how to ride switch. Click Here

Extra Thoughts:

A good way to see if you performed a skidded turn is to stop and look at the trail you’ve left in the snow. If it’s a thin line no wider than the edge of your board, you’ve been carving, but that’s doubtful as that takes a concentrated effort. However if you see a long banana line (Thin line, Fat line, Thin line) , then you’ve been doing skidded turns.

The bigger the banana means more of a skid. Keep on practicing, and see the difference size bananas you can make.

Dynamic Skidded Turns

A dynamic skidded turn is almost the same as a regular skidded turn, however it has more of an expert element to it. Usually they’re done on steeper runs, and at higher speeds. The main difference between the two of them involves body positioning.

A Dynamic turn occurs when the center of mass or weight of the body travels in a separate direction from that of the snowboard. This means while your snowboard is turning, your body should be leaning up the hill. A really good progression of pictures can be found by clicking here. You can see the body positioning in the pictures, and how it is different than the snowboard.

Once you’ve mastered these different ways to turn, you’ll have the ability to turn in whatever situations you need.

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