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What up shredder?
Ah riding switch…
The easiest way to catch an edge and eat shit…
So why would we even bother?
Well, it’s also an essential skill for all types of riding. If you’re new here, riding switch is essentially riding backwards on your snowboard, with the opposite foot forward than you would normally ride with.
So if you usually ride left foot forward, riding switch would be riding “goofy” or with the right foot forward and vice versa if you usually ride with the right foot forward.
I don’t care what your ability level is, if you’re spinning in and out of jibs, launching over 80 foot jumps or just cruising down your favorite blue square.
If you don’t know how to ride switch, you’re not utilizing your snowboard to its full potential, and you’re at a massive disadvantage, and at greater risk for wrecking.
Today, we’re going to talk about a couple of rules that are going to massively improve your ability to ride both directions on a snowboard.
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Why Should You Ride Switch?
Do you really need to know how to ride switch? If you want access to 90% of what’s possible on a snowboard, then the answer is yes.
Half the fun of snowboarding is that you can go both ways.
You can butter, spin and grind either way.
You can take off switch, land switch, and revert mid rail.
You can save yourself from a fall, by being quick on your feet, and avoid disaster in the trees by being versatile and being able to switch back and forth.
So why don’t most people do it?
Simply put, people like to do things they’re good at, and most of us are horrible at riding switch. It’s like learning to snowboard all over again, complete with the wrecking, the humiliation and the bruised knee caps.
You have to be willing to be uncomfortable in order to get good at riding switch
Not only that, but you have to make it a RULE for yourself.
Tips for Riding Switch on a Snowboard
When I first started to learn to ride switch, I couldn’t figure it out. I’d try it out halfway down the run, struggle to turn, and just go back to my regular way of riding.
Until I found the ultimate hack.
Someone told me I needed to “never miss a switch day.”
What that means is, one day a week, you just go up and ride switch the ENTIRE day. No exceptions.
Eero Ettala, one of the greatest snowboarders of all time is notorious for religiously adhering to switch days. He also won the X-Games doing a switch double wildcat over the biggest jump on the course.
So I went up to the mountain for my first switch day, and the first run… I was still horrible.
But a couple hours later, I wasn’t so bad, and a couple weeks of doing a switch day every week, and I could actually ride.
It turns out, if you already know how to snowboard, so it doesn’t take nearly as long to learn how to ride switch.
Start out learning to stop toeside and heelside switch, and then progress to small s-turns, and then bigger carves across the slope. Stick to a mellow slope until you get a little more comfortable.
When I stuck with it for a while, I improved much faster than I thought.
These days, I force myself to ride switch in all situations. I hit jumps switch, ride on to rails switch, and even challenge myself to ride moguls and trees switch. I’m still working on that one.
The key here is to attack what makes you uncomfortable.
If you can’t turn toe side switch, make it a rule that you’re ONLY allowed to turn toeside.
Practice it over and over and over again until it’s not as uncomfortable. You will surprise yourself with how fast you progress.
As Arnold says, everything is reps.
In addition to one switch day a week, you should ride at least one run switch every day you ride. I try to ride switch every single run.
Back in the day, there was a pro snowboarder named Travis Parker who has since retired from the game. Once season he announced he was switching to regular, after being goofy his entire snowboard career. At the time i thought this was ridiculous, but now I’m actually considering switching to being goofy for an entire season.
I think You could get to the point where you don’t have a natural stance, even on jumps and rails.
Now, some people think they need to get better at riding in their natural stance before learning to ride switch. I’m beginning to think everyone should be learning to ride both directions from the beginning.
The caveat here is, I’m not supporting you only doing falling leaf, never turning toeside, and just riding heelside regular, then goofy.
I’m talking about full turns both directions. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Riding Switch on a Directional Snowboard
Some of you might worry that you need to ride a “twin tip” or a snowboard that is symmetrical on the nose and the tail, but you can ride switch with a directional board no problem.
For years I only rode a twin tip board with a perfectly symmetrical stance, because I thought I needed it to ride switch, but once I switched to a directional board and set my stance back a bit, I didn't mind it at all.
One thing I do adjust to make it easier, is I make sure I ride a “duck stance” with a negative angle on my back foot. My personal preference is 18 degrees on the front foot and negative 15 on the back, but only because I ride a ton of switch.
Riding Switch Snowboard Stance
One common mistake to watch out for when riding switch is riding your snowboard like it’s backwards, keeping your shoulders squared up towards the back of your board. We don’t want to actually ride “backwards” we want to ride switch.
Practice ollies, and other tricks we do regular. This will help us treat it like it’s own way of riding rather than just riding backwards.
Take note of your body and leg positioning, and how you weight your front and back foot regular and try to mimic it switch.
Muscles aren’t used to riding switch
Keep in mind that your muscles haven’t been trained switch, so it’s going to feel weird, and you might be weak at first. Like anything, you’ll build muscle and get stronger the more you do it.
Dealing with the pressure
When starting out, Your friends will be much better than you right now if you’re riding a switch and they’re riding regular. You have to learn to be ok with this, and eventually you will be much better than them in both directions.
So that’s it.
Schedule a switch day for 1 out of 5 days you ride, and ride switch the entire day. You already know how to snowboard, I don't need to tell you how to ride a switch, it’s the same as regular snowboarding.
The big thing is you actually make yourself do it, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Go out there, ride switch, and show skiers what they're missing out on.
So yes, Just to summarize, here's the entire video in a nutshell:
How does one get a good riding switch?
Peace out shredder