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Riding switch?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
First of all, many thanks to ssh for providing a snowboard forum.

I've been riding for 6 seasons now. From time to time, I'll take a run switch to try to get better at it. Even after practice, it still feels weird, and I have a hard time carving turns riding switch. Any tips?
post #2 of 20
I can't think of any drills or technical tips at the moment, but I can tell you how I learned to ride switch. Just as I could never will myself to give up a day on skis to learn to snowboard in the first place, once I did learn, I could never will myself to give up a day or more to "re-learn" how to ride in the opposite direction.

What did the trick for me was two-fold:

First, when I began teaching snowboarding, I found myself constantly riding in both directions, either because I was demonstrating something to a goofy footer (I ride regular), or because I just happened to be in that position at the time.

What brought about my AH-HA! moment, however, was when I was told to just try and ride switch for a few turns on the way into (uncrowded!) liftlines, at the base of the mountain, or on the green cruisers we use to get around the mountain. Instead of mindlessly humming along, revert around and link a few turns switch. Start small -- 2, 3, 4 turns. Eventually, you'll progress to the point where you can ride entire runs switch.

I began the above process at the same time I changed my stance to duck, so I can't say what effect other stances have on learning to ride switch, but I can and will vouch for the "one step (turn) at a time" approach.
post #3 of 20
Agree with the above.

If it is truly "carving switch" that you are looking for, that is easy to learn. If you are already carving forward, then you know that carving is just tilting the board. Flip it switch, line up - toes, knees, hips shoulders, then look in the direction of travel. Then, simply tilt the board up on edge. It will carve. Spend some time on some mellow, empty runs 'til you get it.

I actually find that teaching people to carve switch is easier than teaching them to skid turns switch. It is just simpler - go backward, tip it, rip it - rinse, repeat.
post #4 of 20
Curious what equipment your riding and the angles you have your bindings?
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Vailboarder
Curious what equipment your riding and the angles you have your bindings?
My freeride board is a Never Summer Premier at 159 cm, Burton Mission bindings at 15 degrees in the front, and -8 in the back. My jib/park board is a Sims at 155 cm, old school Burton Missions, 15 degrees in the front, -11 in the back. I use Salomon soft boots.

Riding switch just feels like learning how to snowboard all over again. Everything is reversed, so it just feels weird. I can't ollie switch for the life of me either. I guess it boils down to the old saying: practice, practice, practice.
post #6 of 20
Vailborder asks a necessary question. Assuming boarderline is not riding alpine gear or a high angle stance, let's look at the most common issue and solution. I see a lot of beginner switcheroos riding stiff. Their legs just don't bend much at all. The solution is to concentrate on bending and straightening your legs the same way that you do riding normal. If you're not riding duck, then your stance angle is going to be backwards from what you're used to. It makes it a little bit harder and you tend to want turn your shoulders more than you should, but it's just ingraining the same forward riding movement patterns backwards. The ingraining part you do through practice. Start small as recommended above, but then work your way to riding an entire run switch. Soon you'll be asking us for advice on switch bumps!

If you've got high angles/alpine gear riding switch is just harder to do. Some of us might go so far as to say you'd be nuts to try it, but it can be done. The angles and the gear just make it much more difficult to get the movements to translate efficiently through the board.

Also note that if you have a FREERIDE board, these are directional. The binding stance for normal riding is behind the center of the board. When you ride switch, you're now riding with your weight centered in the front part of the board instead. You need to make subtle changes in your fore/aft balance to compensate.

Just like riding normal, focus on getting your weight over the edge of the board that's on the snow and bend your legs a little bit and you should be able to ride switch just fine.
post #7 of 20
So I think you know your answer. I'm not sure that switch will ever feel as good as forward. If it did it would probably be called forward. Practice is the way though. I have known a few people over the years that rode an equal duck stance centered on the board that it was very difficult to tell when they were riding switch. I'm not sure how they felt, but it sure did look good.
post #8 of 20
Vailboarder has a good point. the old skateboard terms come out...fakie vs. switch...anybody had this conversation with a studnet or fellow instructor?

Jonah D.
post #9 of 20
one thing I did to start learning switch was to ride that way when I was teaching new boarders. (of course I showed them my regular stance as the examples) That way it made it more fun for the noobs to learn as I was right there with them, going slow and falling and all.
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by boarderline View Post
First of all, many thanks to ssh for providing a snowboard forum.

I've been riding for 6 seasons now. From time to time, I'll take a run switch to try to get better at it. Even after practice, it still feels weird, and I have a hard time carving turns riding switch. Any tips?
Actually if I were you I'd be thanking The Rusty for your snowboard forum. It was basically his idea and pushed for it. I didn't think it would fly with all these skiers.
post #11 of 20
What is the advantage of being able to ride switch again? I understand it's something i should be try to do, I'm less clear on why.
post #12 of 20
I'm going to assume you are not interested in any freestyle as switch is essential to most freestyle moves. Do what floats your boat.

Being able to ride switch can get you out of tricky situations in expert terrain such as bumps and trees. Also, terrain features don't always allow you to lead with your normal forward foot to get out.

I've found it helpful numerous times in tight tree riding. If a lane suddenly doesn't work you can quickly switch and take another lane. It's also another way to quickly dump speed.

It's also a great way to improve your regular riding. You'll really get to understand your rotary and pressure movements used to steer your board.
post #13 of 20
Great answer DS!


The biggest advantage is that if it is something that can be done, it's cool to be able to do it. Aside from the freestyle tricks, watch someone do linked toe or heel side turns (one turn regular + 180 + one turn switch) and I defy you to respond any other way but "that's cool".

Like DS I often use switch riding to diagnose issues with regular riding, both in my own riding and in my students. Whatever inefficient movement habits you have for your regular riding are usually amplified an order of magnitude in your switch riding. Improving your switch riding will help your regular riding too.
post #14 of 20
Thanks Rusty!

I must also say it's also a real "ego-boo" moment when you can pull a clean switch in the trees and hear Earl Saline say "nice switch" from behind you.

Those toe to toe turns are real cool. I didn't know how to do them till last month. There was a rumor that they weren't on the Cert 2 Riding task list. Wrong!
post #15 of 20
In that case, any advice on learning toe-to-toes or heel-to-heels?

I can link turns riding switch, but that's about it, and they're not very pretty turns yet.

I don't really have a 180. To go back and forth between switch and forward I've been using essentially a flat spin when starting toeside. Heelside is a little better. I've found if I'm carving the turn heelside, near the completion of the turn, I can dig the tip of the board in the snow, and essentially throw myself over the handlebars. I "land" toeside, then immediately cross over to heelside. So (if you're being generous) it amounts to a heel-to-heel, but I'm very briefly on toeside in the middle. "Cool" is not a word I'd use to describe how it looks.

Any tips or recommended progressions to get this down? Or should I just focus on improving switch riding in general before trying anything fancier? I've seen riders link toesides (or heelsides) turn after turn, and yes, way cool.


<...> toe to toe, don't move too slow 'cause the man from Mars is through with cars.
post #16 of 20
I think I'll let rusty chime in on the toe-to-toes and heel-to-heels pointers. One of my study areas is Cert 2 Instruction. We only did on-the-ground ones last month. I've never seen a certain Cert III/examiner biff so bad as when he demo'd on ground heel-to-heel turns.

Some things Earl had me think about last month at my prep clinics:

Equipment: I've been riding Flow's for the past five years. They are great for teaching lower level lessons but not great for riding upper level terrain. The upper pad is so big that it prevents lot of ankle flexion. This really was apparent when he had us in medium to big bumps. I bought some Burton Triad's two weeks ago. Huge difference. Switch is much more fluid, turn initiation of heel to toe in bumps is easier, and even skating is easier. The WP resort trainer also noticed an immediate improvement in my range of flexion and extension. Hey, my NASTAR time vastly improved too! In the space of three days I had my old boss tell me to ditch the Flow's, my resort trainer tell me to ditch the Flow's, and just about every instructor in the locker room to ditch the Flow's. The Flow's will remain on my lower level teaching board but will be absent on everything else.

Stance and stance width: I went more duck last season. That really helped on switch heel to toe turn initiation. One thing I didn't think was a factor was my stance width. I thought I had it dialed in. Earl told me to widen my binding stance out. I did that and that really helped. My weight is much more centered and has allowed me to really be more responsive in pressure movements.

Can you do switch carve?
I learned it two days before the clinics and I'm still working on the timing. It did help my switch though. It's not something that you would actually teach but as Earl says "it helps with riding versatility".

Practice, practice, practice:
Earl had us riding so much switch at the clinics that I really couldn't tell if I was riding switch or regular by the last day. Practice switch short, med, large radius skidded turns, and switch short, med, large radius dynamic turns. That should help with the hip/knee movements/timing.
post #17 of 20

well, i'm no pro, but with the snowboard there are neck and back injuries associated with looking over the same shoulder all day long. muscles like to be excercised equally on both sides of the body when possible. besides you get mad bragging rights im just getting started on snowboard from skis and figure that i will start bracticeing switch off the bat so i dont have to deal with the pain of relearning later.

post #18 of 20

Changing my bindings to a duck stance and widening them definitely made riding switch easier for me.  I just kept adjusting until it felt right.

post #19 of 20

Think about how you ride regular.  Shoulders parallel to the terrain.  This means more pressure on your front foot.  Biggest mistake I see when teaching people switch riding is they're riding in the back seat.  More weight on your front foot will help, also your extension and flexion is often reduced.  Try over exaggerating the flexing in your knee's and ankles.  You'll probably also catch yourself riding with lower body separation meaning that your shoulders are open and no longer inline with your snowboard.  Finally, keep your upper body relaxed and still.  Don't force your turns with your shoulders.

post #20 of 20
Originally Posted by kriswielga View Post

What is the advantage of being able to ride switch again? I understand it's something i should be try to do, I'm less clear on why.

It's good for tricks and more variety for turns.

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