Beginner Snowboarding Tricks

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A snowboarder doing an ollie

Maybe you’ve eyed other riders hitting jumps and rails and dreamed of doing the same? Learning basic snowboarding freestyle moves can add an element of excitement to your runs while challenging you to become a more well-rounded rider. From flat ground tricks that you do outside of the terrain park to riding your first box inside, we’ll walk you through some beginner snowboarding tricks. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Flat ground tricks that you do outside of the park and can bring it in to the park: ollie, nose/tail press
  • 360 flatspins
  • 50-50 on a small box
  • Straight air off jump

While terrain parks provide a fun way to try out snowboarding tricks, they also come with risks. It's important that you educate yourself about terrain park safety and the features in them before using the park. Read more about terrain park etiquette and rules.

 

How to Ollie on a Snowboard

One of the first basic tricks you’ll learn on a snowboard is an ollie, a move where you use the pop of the tail to spring off the ground and get air. It’s a fundamental skill that originates from skateboarding and forms the basis for getting air without going off an actual jump. Practicing ollies outside of the terrain park will come in handy later when you want to incorporate the move into other tricks.

Here’s how to ollie:

  1. Scoot the board out in front of you (toward your nose) while flexing your back leg.
  2. Pull your front leg up (your board should flex, creating pop) while springing off the back foot and tail of the board.
  3. When in the air, flex both legs so the board becomes parallel with the ground.
  4. Land with both feet at the same time, absorb the landing.

 

How to Tail/Nose Press on a Snowboard

Flexing your board is a big element of freestyle riding that will carry over into other tricks you’ll learn later. A tail or nose press (also called a manual) is another basic trick that you can learn on flat ground. Learning this move gets you used to shifting your weight over the front and back of your board, gets you more aware of your edges and adds an element of play into your riding. Once you’re comfortable standing still on flat ground, you can try a tail press while going downhill. Later, you can take the press onto boxes and eventually rails.

 

A snowboarder doing a tail press on a box

To tail press: 

1. Shift your weight over the tail of your board by flexing your back leg and extending your front leg. Don’t lean back—shift your hips/center of mass over your back foot. You can also try scooting the board out from under you rather than moving over top of it.

2. With your center of mass over your back foot (and the tail of the board), the nose of the board should start to lift up.

3. Try this trick while stationary or on mellow terrain.

4. Keep your shoulders and arms in line with the board. It is common to open up, but this will make it harder to keep the board flat (not on edge) and to keep your balance.

 

A snowboarder doing a nose press on a box

To nose press: 

  1. Instead of shifting your weight over the tail, shift it forward over the nose and flex your front leg.
  2. With your center of mass over your front foot (and the nose of your board), the tail of the board should start to lift up.
  3. Again, try it while stationary a few times before trying it on mellow terrain. Practice finding the balance point so you can hold the press longer.

Note: Pick a start and finish line to start and end your presses. This will help you practice your timing for when you are ready to try it on a box.

 

How to Flat Spin 360 on a Snowboard  

The flat spin 360 is another move you can do outside the terrain park and it’ll help you progress to other tricks. In this move, you’ll switch between your toe edge and heel edge as you rotate in a full circle. Try this first on a gentle slope, or the same terrain where you first learned to make turns.

If you ride regular (left foot in front):

  1. As you finish a toe side turn, continue to point the nose uphill so you spin clockwise.
  2. Put more pressure on your front foot and pick up your toes on your back foot so the board twists and continues rotating.
  3. With the nose pointed uphill, shift your weight to your right foot (new leading foot) and shift to your heel edge. (If you’re a regular rider, this would be your right foot heel edge.)
  4. Continue spinning clockwise—enter another toeside turn and repeat the process.

If you ride goofy (right foot in front):

  1. As you finish a toe side turn, continue to point the nose uphill so you spin counterclockwise.
  2. Put more pressure on the toes of your front foot and pick up your toes on the back foot so the board twists and continues rotating.
  3. Keep your eyes up and your head turning throughout the maneuver.
  4. Continue spinning counterclockwise, enter another toeside turn and repeat the process.

Note: This can be done in either direction, whichever feels more comfortable; learning both directions will only make you more versatile!

 

How to 50-50 on a Snowboard

A 50-50 is where you ride straight over a box or rail, nose first, in the same direction as the feature.

First, practice on flat ground: Draw (or imagine) a box in the snow in a flat area. Relax your body and keep your ankles loose as you ride across that box. Keep your board flat from start to finish.

Inside the terrain park: Start with a small box that is wider and shorter and has a “ride-on” where you don’t need to jump to get onto the box. Once you’ve nailed the smaller boxes, ride ones that are narrower or longer. As you progress, you can add a tail or nose press while riding the box or do a two-foot jump or ollie off the box.

Here’s how to 50-50 on a box:

  1. Pick a starting point to get enough speed without having to brake. (It helps to watch others to find that sweet spot). Finish any turns at least 10 feet before the box.  
  2. Line yourself up so you’re riding straight onto the box (nose first).
  3. Maintain a relaxed athletic stance with knees bent, and hips and shoulder in line with your board. Keep your board flat from start to finish.
  4. Look to the end of the box and your landing. Bring your legs up a little as you ride off the box.
  5. Land flat so the weight on your board is even. Roll to your toe edge to get grip and ride away.

Tips

  • If you find you’re not lined up correctly, don’t force it. Let yourself come off the side. The common mistake is for people to try to stay on and lean onto their edge, which will cause you to slide out. Also, don’t try to jump off early—this could also cause you to accidentally slip on your edge and fall.
  • If you’re not ready to hit other features that follow that box, pull off to the side and make sure you’re not in the path of others.

 

How to Straight Air off a Jump 

If it’s your first time on a jump, start with a small one. Watch other riders hit it first. You can also scope out the jump by riding to the side of it while mimicking the speed you’ll want to take.

Here’s how to jump:

  1. Make a couple of clean turns as you approach the lip of the jump. (Watch others to see how many speed checks they do and adjust your speed accordingly so you can land properly in the landing zone. You don’t want to come up short or go too far.)
  2. While riding up the takeoff, stay straight and flat and keep a little pressure on your toes, but not enough to really turn. This keeps you more balanced and in an athletic stance than if you were to go off your heels.
  3. Once in the air, let your feet float up toward your upper body.
  4. Look ahead to where you’ll land.
  5. Your body (hips, shoulders) and board should be on the same plane when you land. Land flat on your board. Roll onto your toe edge and ride away. 
 
 

Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoors activity.

 
 
 

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Contributing Experts

Amy Gan

Amy is a PSIA-AASI national snowboard team member, and the lead snowboard trainer at Mount Snow Resort in southern Vermont. Amy spends her off season mountain biking as well as teaching mountain biking.