Originally Posted by Tog
Well how about a basic progression to a 360?
Also, would you say that concentrating on the leg push off is more important than the body windup? Seems like some try too much to whip things around.
So before attempting a 360 you should make sure that you are comfortable doing 180s. This requires taking off with a slightly wider than shoulder width stance, "popping" off the lip of a jump, rotating 180, and landing backwards. It is good to practice doing this both directions.
360 Progression (Static)
In socks or tennis shoes, stand on a level surface and practice jumping and spinning. Arms are the key to all aerial maneuvers. Again, ARMS ARE EVERYTHING. Think of your arms like a lever. The longer the lever, the more force it generates. Start with a wide stance and bent knees, like a basketball player about to take a free throw. Then, with your eyes spotting something out in front of you, take your arms and wind up. This means you should be doing a counter rotation with your upper body. If you are spinning to the left, your arms should both be on the right side of your body. Now POP. This means straighten your legs and jump off the ground. The jump doesn't have to be terribly dramatic. In fact, you don't have to jump at all when you take this trick to snow. Think of the pop more like a turn initiation. You initiate a turn by releasing your edges and unweighting your skis. Popping is essentially the act of taking weight off the ski so it can leave the ground. Now as you pop in your socks or tennis shoes, start to unwind. When you hit the highest point of your jump your arms should be completely unwound and you should look like a lower case "t". At this point you should be turning your head and looking over your left shoulder. Continue to spot things around the room to keep your head up as you spin. Don't look down! When you get to 270 you should already be spotting your landing. As you return to the ground you should land softly and bend your knees to absorb the impact of hitting the ground. Do this over and over until you develop muscle memory and it becomes second nature.
After you have done this in tennis shoes, throw on your ski boots and try it again. You will find that it is much more difficult. If you have access to a trampoline you can try it with a little bit more air also (though I wouldn't recommend jumping on a trampoline with ski boots). Once you can do 360s comfortably on the ground you are ready to put on your skis and hit the park.
360 Progression (Dynamic)
On snow go to a mellow green or blue groomed trail with a lot of natural transitions. Practice doing 360 flatspins over the transitions on the run. Approach the transition with a wide stance and bent knees. Eyes should be looking out in front of you, not down at your skis. Wind up and try to "pop" as your toes approach the edge of the transition. With your arms out like a "t", do a 360 spin on the snow. Try to maintain a shoulder width stance throughout the spin, keep your head up, and try to stay as flat as you can on your bases. It may help to do this in a firm spot so as not to catch an edge. Once you are comfortable doing this you are ready to take it to a jump (or to a box because it is the same progression).
When I teach any new trick in the park I like to think about the ATML model; approach, takeoff, maneuver, landing. First things first, pick out the appropriate feature! Don't feel obligated to do this trick on the smallest possible feature you can find. Some people need a little bit more air to get this trick around. Furthermore, learning more complicated tricks on small features can lead to some really bad habits like "hucking". Hucking is pretty much throwing yourself into the air and praying for the best. Executing a trick properly requires control. Once control has been established, the size of the feature doesn't matter. I can do a 360 off a tiny little bump in the middle of a trail or off of a 65ft park jump. The fundamentals are all the same.
Once you have picked out the jump you are going to spin, test it a few times by doing straight airs and 180s. This should help you judge how much speed you need to make it to the landing, as well as how much time you'll have to finish your trick. Your approach is the same as the progression, wide stance, knees bent, arms wound up, eyes looking ahead. When you get to the edge of the lip go ahead and stand up tall. Your arms should have hit that "t" and you should be starting to turn your head and look over your shoulder. Tighten your core! Your core is the connection between your upper half and your lower half. If you continue to look over your shoulder and rotate your upper body, your lower half should follow. Keeping your head up and your arms out to the side will help with balance in the air. If you feel that you need to speed up your rotation you can bring your arms in and bring your knees up to your chest. Making yourself compact in the air will make you spin faster.
When you approach 270 in the air you should still be looking over your shoulder and spotting your landing. At 270 you should start to open up and make yourself big. This will instantly slow down your rotation so that you can land straight, without over rotating. Keep your hands in front of you and brace for impact. Try to land on the entirety of your ski, not the tip or tail. Bend your knees and engage your core to absorb the landing. Finally, ride away like a boss.
Hopefully this helps a little bit. Please let me know if you have any specific questions or concerns. It is actually a super easy trick but it has a tendency to allude people. A lot of it is confidence, like most things in skiing. Trust yourself and commit 100% and everything will be fine.