Chapter 1 The Teaching Guide Chapter 2

Chapter 1 The Teaching Guide
Chapter 3
The Snowboard Turn
Chapter 2
Chapter 4
Teaching Children
Movements of Snowboarding
Chapter 5
First Time Snowboarders
Chapter 7
Master the Turn
Chapter 6
Learn to Turn
Chapter 8
Exploring Carving
Chapter 10
Exploring Freeriding
Chapter 12
Situational Freeriding
Chapter 9
Chapter 11
Technical Carving
Technical Freeriding
Chapter 13
Exploring Freestyle
Chapter 15
Chapter 14
Chapter 16
Halfpipe Riding
Chapter 17
Snowboard Equipment
Chapter 19
Maori Translation
Chapter 18
Chapter One The Teaching Guide
The Snowboard Instructor
Development Options Model
The Teaching Cycle
Communication Styles
Chapter Two
Teaching Children
The CAP Model
Planning Childrens’ Lessons
Eight Multiple Intelligences
Equipment Considerations for Children
Chapter Three
The Snowboard Turn
Turn Size
Turn Shape
Turn Type
Phases of the Turn
Chapter Four
Movements of Snowboarding
Forces Acting on the Rider
Centre of Mass
Stance and Balance
Vertical Movements
Lateral Movements
Longitudinal Movements
Rotational Movements
Performance Outcomes
Principles of Form
This chapter is a general guide to snowboard instruction. It is intended to
increase your knowledge and understanding of the sport and give you the
tools needed to teach it.
As Snowboard Instructors our job is not just teaching snowboarding, but
rather to teach snowboarding to people. Instructors are largely responsible
for introducing hundreds of people to snowboarding each year and we play
an important role in developing and shaping the sport’s future.
Instructors are often seen as both
a friend and a guide throughout the
learning process. If you enjoy teaching
the lesson, your students will enjoy
learning. When teaching, we must
always provide a safe, fun and
enjoyable environment. We must also
learn to understand our students’
capabilities, limitations and goals.
The ‘fun’ we create in our lessons helps
to keep our students interested and
motivated, providing
them with a healthy and stress-free
environment in which to learn.
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Keeping students safe is our number one priority as snowboard instructors.
As instructors, students entrust us with their safety in an often hostile and
unfamiliar environment. In New Zealand resorts we encounter a number of
hazards depending on the terrain we are riding.
The Mountain Environment
• Cold - make certain your students are adequately dressed and check if
they are becoming cold.
• Harsh exposure to the sun (sunburn or snow blindness) - ensure that
students wear sunscreen and goggles.
• Disorientation (getting lost) - stop and count students often, and have a
meeting point if students get lost.
• These points are especially important when teaching children!
BEginnEr SlopE
• High traffic zone.
• Students in beginner areas often lack control of speed or direction.
• Flat areas can be dangerous due to the potential of catching an edge.
• Lift machinery presents a hazard to long hair or loose clothing.
• Protective gear, such as wrist guards and helmets are recommended.
inTErMEdiaTE TErrain
• Loading and unloading chair lifts and T-bars.
• Traffic in these areas tends to move faster.
• Grooming and snowmaking machinery.
• Natural hazards such as ice, rocks and cliffs.
• Adverse weather conditions including snow, white-out and blizzard.
advancEd TErrain
• Avalanche/backcountry danger.
• Natural terrain hazards.
• Steeper terrain.
• Students riding at higher speeds.
Just like driving a car, riding a snowboard uses a set of rules to ensure all
trail users stay safe and in control at all times. These rules, known as the
responsibility code, are generally common sense, but should be displayed
throughout your lessons and encouraged among your students.
1. Stay in control at all times.
2. People below you have the right of way.
3. Obey all ski area signage.
4. Look before you leap.
5. Stop where you can be seen.
6. Don’t lose what you use.
7. Stay on scene.
8. Respect gets respect.
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The development options model demonstrates phases that your students
will pass through as they develop. As their skills, awareness and abilities
increase they will move through the three different phases.
The labels on the left of the diagram specify the level of student and the
labels on the right specify the level of instructor. The main content of the
diagram shows the skills developed within each phase.
A first-time snowboarder needs to learn the ‘fundamentals’. Within this phase
we teach students the skills necessary to make their first turns.
When the student reaches the ‘exploration’ phase they are led to explore
the fundamental skills. Students here have reached a level where they
are competently linking their turns but now want to be given options for
improvement. At this point we can begin to offer them the three options in
snowboard development: freestyle, freeriding and carving.
Each of the development options are linked together through skill
development. For a rider to develop towards the ‘performance’ phase they
will need skills from the other development options. This phase concentrates
on fine tuning high-end skills to create a high level of performance in varying
situations and terrain.
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The teaching cycle is the foundation of snowboard instruction. It helps us to
deliver information in simple, logical and effective terms. The teaching cycle
is a guide to instructing. It builds a structure for presenting information. The
teaching cycle is by no means set in stone and as you gain experience as an
instructor, you will find yourself changing the order of the cycle to best suit
your students.
We can view a teaching cycle in the same way we view a story. Every
good story has a beginning, middle and end. In our case the beginning
(introduction) and end (summary) are always present. The middle will
take twists and turns, is unpredictable, complex or simple, and is often
determined by the needs of the student. Below is a diagram of the teaching
cycle the Snowboard Division uses.
Rider a
Lesson plan
Guided pract
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The most important part of the lesson is the beginning; we introduce
ourselves, meet our students and learn about their backgrounds. As you
move around the group collecting tickets you’ll have the chance to connect
with each person within the group. Try to find out a little about each person’s
Find out how active the students are by asking questions about their past,
e.g. favorite sports, hobbies and interests. This will help to give you the vital
information on which to base your lesson. Remember to introduce yourself,
offer some interesting information about your snowboarding background and
what you enjoy about the sport. Just as you are making assumptions about
your students, they are doing the same about you.
A positive first impression from the instructor is vital. When teaching group
lessons it is important to involve everyone and develop a team spirit. This will
make everyone feel comfortable and valued, and therefore aid the speed of
their learning.
Rider Analysis
Rider analysis is one of the most important jobs of a Snowboard Instructor
or Coach. It is the process of observing your students whilst riding, and then
describing relevant movements they made with their body and what effect it
had on the board’s performance.
Assessing the students’ riding ability will give you the base from which
to plan a lesson to help achieve the students’ goals. We do this with a
combination of the following:
1. Verbally
Talk to the students to find out how much experience they’ve had, when,
where and what they achieved, and whether or not they’ve taken a lesson.
Find out what their skill base is, rather than just where or what they are
riding. By simply talking we can gain an insight based on age, sex, physical
make-up and fitness. These assumptions help us to tailor the lesson
according to an individual’s needs.
2. Visually
Watching our students ride is the most effective form of analysis. It gives
us insight into their technical capabilities and helps us to plan the lesson
according to individual needs within the group. To be an effective instructor,
we must analyse the strengths and weaknesses in our students’ riding, so
we can improve their performance by offering feedback.
Analysis is a skill that is developed through experience. It is difficult when
first starting out to pin-point inefficiencies and correct them in a logical order.
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When observing your students there are many ways to watch them.
Consider what they are doing or what they may be trying to do, or what
specific movement you may be looking for, and then decide the best
perspective or vantage point to watch from.
You can go down the hill and watch them come down to you. You may want
to watch them ride away, staying where you are and giving them a point to
ride to. You might prefer to go half way down the hill and have them ride past
you to a predetermined point. Or you may want to follow them, riding behind
and along-side of them.
There are also different ways to look at the whole picture:
1. You may find it easier to look at them from the head down to the board.
2. You may find it easier to look at them from their board up to their head.
3. You may even try to look at them from their centre of mass outward to
their board or head.
Whichever vantage point you watch them from and whatever way you
choose to look at them, be sure you take in the complete picture.
Note: Refer to the SBINZ web site for the latest rider analysis exam format
and practice footage.
determining Goals
We need to set goals in our lesson so that we have an outcome to work
towards and can measure our success at the end of the day.
We first need to establish the goals of our students and then combine
the information gained during analysis to set realistic, achievable and
measurable goals. We can set goals that are common to the group and the
individual, depending on the similarity of the group’s technical ability.
It is often difficult to balance the student’s goals with the instructor’s goals,
e.g. a student who wants to jump (their goal), but cannot yet turn (our goal).
This student’s goal is not yet realistic, but it is our job to keep them inspired
and interested while making small steps toward their goal. Remember we
need to keep the lesson safe, fun, interesting and informative.
A seemingly unachievable goal can be broken down into a series of smaller
achievable goals and adapted to the lesson, e.g. your student would like
to learn how to turn, but first they must learn to be comfortable with simple
mobility, straight running and J-turns, before the overall goal is achieved.
Impatient students take short-cuts that can be both dangerous and
detrimental to the learning process.
Also worth considering when setting goals is the SMART goal system:
• Specific - do they have a specific outcome?
• Measurable - is it easy to see whether they have been achieved?
• Achievable - are they within easy reach of the student?
• Realistic - can you create a more realistic version of their goal?
• Timed - have you outlined when they should aim to achieve it by?
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Lesson Planning
You are now ready to plan the structure of the lesson, based on all the
information you have gathered. A lesson plan gives you an outline or guide
to follow as you develop your students’ skill bases. A lesson plan will often
need to be re-evaluated and changed based on the students’ progression or
other external considerations.
To create a lesson that is well structured and easy for the student to
understand we can use the ‘four step plan’. This will help develop a new
skill or fix the cause of a riding inefficiency using either exercises from a
progression, or movement focuses, or a combination of the two.
1. Stationary - introduce a new movement with the board off or with one foot
strapped in. Be sure to choose flat terrain with minimal traffic.
2. Simple - now try doing that same movement whilst moving very slowly
with two feet strapped in. It’s often best to do this utilising an easy traverse.
Be sure to choose a low traffic zone.
3. More Complex - now it’s time to coordinate the new movement within a
turn. Use a few isolated turns with the addition of the new movement. Focus
on the timing of when your students add the new movement as this is the
key when implementing it during turns.
4. Freeride - practice time! Have your students play with the new movement
pattern whilst exploring different turn sizes and shapes. It may also be fun to
challenge your students with new terrain once they are feeling comfortable.
There are a number of other considerations when planning a lesson...
Time Management
Now that our goals have been established, we can plan the structure of the
lesson. We may have one student or six, but we must cater for all. Make
sure your lesson progresses in linear steps. Keep it simple and pace it
according to the group’s needs, rather than your own. Be flexible enough to
change the progression depending on the individual needs of the group. If
you set strict timelines for your students, you could very well set them up for
disappointment if they are not achieved. Discuss what is achievable within
the lesson, rather than when they will achieve it.
Slope Selection
Terrain choice is extremely important during any lesson. The incorrect choice
can easily deter your students from learning through fear, or alternatively, it
can hinder the progression. It is essential that you use appropriate terrain,
which best suits the level of your students and the exercise you are teaching.
Make sure you are familiar with your chosen teaching terrain and be aware
of how your students may see it. The most common obstacles in New
Zealand are humans, rocks and tussock. Students see these obstacles
as a deterrent to performing given tasks and may develop bad habits. The
weather also plays a large part within our lessons. Unpleasant weather
will add external factors of cold, wind, snow and/or rain, making it difficult
to focus on the task at hand. Try to keep your class moving, especially in
poor weather conditions, and regularly check if your students are okay.
Ensuring your students have appropriate gloves, hats and goggles can
greatly increase the positive experience your students will have. If it’s hot,
drinking plenty of water will keep your group hydrated, and ensure they use
sunscreen and wear appropriate eye protection.
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Presenting Information
When you present information make it clear, concise and well organised.
The students must understand why they are being asked to perform a
certain task. Use a mixture of teaching styles relative to the lesson. Good
demonstrations are vital. Think about learning barriers, which could be cold,
fear, boredom, language difficulties or self-consciousness. There are a
number of considerations when presenting information:
Verbal Communication
From the beginning of the lesson you need to be aware of the way you
communicate with the group. Here are some basic rules which always apply:
• Explain your point clearly and simply.
• Recognise that your students will have different backgrounds and
• Avoid jargon and slang.
• Encourage and listen to feedback.
Non-verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication is an aspect of your lesson you must be aware
of. The reaction of your group may be affected by many things such as tone
of voice, smile, eye contact, etc.
If we have a tightly closed mouth and a frown because we are thinking or
shy, others may think we don’t like them. A smile helps put people at ease
and lets them know that we are willing to help them.
Tone of Voice
We can give many different meanings to one word, just by the way we say it.
A cold tone of voice will give the opposite message to a friendly one.
Eye Contact
Good eye contact shows we are interested in our students, but it is natural
to look away from others’ eyes from time to time; this helps the person feel
comfortable. There are cultural differences about eye contact. Awareness of
these will help avoid misunderstandings. Goggles, face masks and hair over
the face are often a major barrier to open communication.
An open posture, with hands away from the mouth, arms and legs
uncrossed, leaning slightly forward and smiling, will encourage others to
approach us.
Personal space is the physical distance we keep from others when we are
interacting. Comfort levels differ in different cultures and between genders.
How well we know someone can also influence this.
Teaching Styles
If you, the instructor, understand how your students learn new skills, you can
begin to dictate the format of the lesson by using different teaching styles.
The teaching style chosen will also relate to the size and knowledge of the
class or student. It is a way for the instructor to present information and
provide feedback and encouragement.
Learning Styles
It is vital for instructors to have the knowledge and understanding of how
people take in new information. Styles of learning are complex and there are
many different learning theories.
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Checking for understanding
Checking for understanding is important throughout the lesson. Ask simple
questions like; “Can you show me that movement before we start off?”, “Can
you describe some feelings or pressure points from the new movement?”,
“What do you notice about the shape of that turn compared with the last?”,
“What did you notice about the board then?”, or “What might happen if we
did this...?”
Questions will check for understanding and also keep the student involved
and interested in the lesson. This will help you, the instructor, to understand
how your students learn, so that you can teach them in the way most suited
to their learning style.
If you don’t check, how will you know if they have grasped the skills you have
taught them? Lack of understanding is often a reflection on the instructor,
rather than the students.
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). The simpler the information delivered, the
easier it will be absorbed.
Guided Practice
Perfect practice makes perfect! It is important to guide our students through
their entire learning process, including the practice.
This will ensure the student will be more inclined to master the skill and
commit it to muscle memory in their early stages of learning. We don’t want
to fill our students’ heads with valuable information and send them away
unaware of the outcome. As their skills improve, small adjustments will be
made. Terrain choice for the practice is key to success.
Practice should be the main focus in your lesson, i.e. twenty percent
talking and eighty percent practice. Give positive feedback to
encourage your students as they develop new skills.
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When giving feedback to your students, it needs to be given straight after
they have tried the task that you have set for them. This way it will be more
relevant to them, as they will still have memories of their run. However, do
not rush into verbal feedback after the first try, allow your students time to
gain experience. Experiencing a task or movement a few times will provide
the students an opportunity for feedback created by self-learning (providing
the situation is safe).
Verbal feedback should be precise, focussing on one particular movement
or option at a time. Be specific as to exactly which body parts need to be
moved to gain the desired outcome. When giving feedback, phrase it in
a positive way. Suggest which movement would be a better option rather
than focussing on the movement issue. When describing your students’
performances there are three key points to consider:
1. Prioritise
Prior to giving your students feedback you need to prioritise which
movements they made and which had the biggest impact on their
performance. When describing these movements to your students try not to
overwhelm them by telling them everything you saw.
2. Simplify
While describing the movements to your students it is important to simplify
using language that your students can understand. Remember it’s like
teaching or presenting a task; it’s not what you say, but what your student
perceives. It’s also very easy as instructors to place judgment on what you
saw - stick to describing what you saw rather than placing a judgement on it.
3. Clarify
It’s very important that your students understand what you are saying, so
be sure to check for understanding. You can clarify with your students by
showing them how these movements can effect their performance. You may
want to ask your students how they think this movement felt or how they
think it may effect the end result of what they are trying to achieve.
Every lesson ends with a summary. Re-capping your lesson will help
your students remember everything that you covered. There are a
number of things that you should try to include in a summary:
• Review the lesson content.
• Re-cap the goals and successes in reaching them.
• Preview the next learning steps and encourage further development.
• Establish some independent practice guidelines for each student.
• Invite them to return for another lesson.
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If you, the instructor, understand how your students learn, you can begin to
determine the format of the lesson by using different teaching styles. The
teaching style chosen will also relate to the size and knowledge of the class
or student. It is a way for the instructor to present information and provide
feedback and encouragement. Here are some of the most common styles
This style of teaching is used when the instructor takes control of the
learning process. This is an instructor-oriented situation where the instructor
controls all variables, specifying where and how, and delivering all feedback.
An example of when this format is most effective is during the beginner
lesson, where all skills learned are new to the student.
Task / Practice
Similar to command style but less instructor-oriented. Students are given a
task and allowed to practise it individually, at their own speed and in their
chosen location. This allows for independence away from the instructor to
develop skills.
Guided Discovery
This is a more student-centred approach to the lesson. The instructor
guides the student towards a specific goal or outcome, without providing the
answers. The instructor should use questions or clues to lead the student
towards the desired goal.
Problem Solving
Also a student-centred approach, the difference being the instructor presents
the student with a specific problem that may have several solutions. This
type of teaching style is used when an instructor wishes to emphasize
a variety of solutions to a specific problem. It promotes exploration,
experimentation and versatility.
In this student-centred approach, the instructor pairs individuals together
and assigns them a task. Performance of the task, observation and feedback
takes place between the individuals. This learning style is most effective
when there is a certain amount of knowledge already developed in the
The most common mistake made by inexperienced instructors, is to teach
according to their own personal communication and learning styles. This
leaves some students wondering what the whole point of the lesson was.
An instructor who is experienced and professional will match their style
of teaching to best fit the situation, resulting in an informative, fun and
memorable lesson.
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Every individual learns slightly differently. There are many in-depth theories
around learning styles out there. VAK (visual-audio-kinesthetic) is a simple
framework for helping us to present information in three different ways and
cover all three general styles of learning.
These students learn through observation and visual stimuli. They will pay
particular attention to demonstrations and diagrams drawn in the snow.
Accurate demonstrations are of particular importance to the visual learner.
These students learn through hearing a clear and concise verbal
explanation. This type of learner might ask a lot of questions. They will
often be the last ones to practise something, as they will be processing the
information in their heads.
This type of learner is generally more aware of the mechanics of the body
and tends to learn through experimentation. Analogies to similar movement
patterns from other sports and day-to-day skills will help these learners.
Manipulating body parts into the desired position while stationary will also
be helpful. Students will often be standing still, practising the movement with
their eyes closed, feeling which parts are moving. They are generally the first
ones in the group to practise the exercise.
One of the major groups of people we teach in snowboarding is children.
We may have different ideas on how to interact with children, because
at one time we were all kids ourselves. This chapter will give you some
understanding as to why we should interact with children in many different
ways. In order to understand how to interact with children, we must first
understand the different mental and physical stages of development as
children grow.
To understand how children develop, we can divide their areas of
development into three categories: cognitive, affective and psychomotor
(CAP). The CAP model helps to give a greater understanding of children’s
different stages of development. This helps instructors to have appropriate
expectations for each child.
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When teaching children, watch the child and develop an understanding
of their abilities in the three categories of the CAP model. Keep in mind
that each area will be different for each child, as each child will develop
differently. Most important is that you let their level of development dictate
your lesson plan.
The ‘C’ in the CAP model refers to the child’s cognitive stage of
development. This is how a child thinks. The ‘A’ refers to the child’s affective
stage of development. This is how they develop emotionally, or rather how
they interact with themselves and how they interact with others. The ‘P’
refers to the child’s physical or psychomotor stage of development. This is
how a child will move based on their physical growth.
This is the ‘C’ in the CAP model and it refers to how a child thinks. The
instructor needs to be aware of the child’s mental capacity and keep the new
information simple enough for the child to understand. Just like teaching
adults, it is very important to check for understanding. This can be done
verbally or simply by watching to see if the child performs the set task.
The different aspects of a child’s cognitive development that need to be
considered include:
• Verbal capabilities
• Visual capabilities
• Specific concepts and understanding
• Following directions
Swiss Child Psychologist Jean Piaget theorised it best with four stages of
cognitive development. These four stages are as follows:
1. Sensori-motor - birth to 2 years. Children use their senses of touch, taste,
smell, sight, and hearing to help them learn. Allowing your students to simply
lay down and play in the snow will help them to asses their environment.
2. Pre-operational - 2 to 7 years. In this stage children believe that the world
revolves around them and what they want to do is the most important thing.
A child in this stage may cry when told that they can’t do what they want.
Children may also have a tough time with spatial awareness and they may
run into each other at times.
3. Concrete operational - 7 to 11 years. Children in this stage tend not to
believe in fictional characters anymore, such as the Tooth Fairy. However,
they are capable of hypothetical thinking, such as “you are on a roller
coaster and have to stay on the track”. Be aware that older children in this
stage may not buy into using their imagination in this way and may prefer to
use visualisation techniques of their own riding.
4. Formal operational - 11 years and older. This final stage is when people
show the ability to think abstractly and can reason logically. It has been said
that some children will never actually ever reach this stage and that they
remain thinking in the concrete operational stage.
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This is the ‘A’ in the CAP model and it refers to how the child develops
emotionally. In order for the instructor to be successful, they will need to
understand what that child’s emotional needs are to then enhance their
motivation levels throughout the lesson.
We can categorise the affective development into four stages, thanks
to American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. These stages illustrate
how a child’s growing sense of right and wrong effects how they conduct
themselves and others. These four stages are as follows:
1. Good is good, bad is bad - 3 to 6 years. In this stage children like to
please others and know what is right and wrong in it’s most simple form. It’s
good to reinforce good behaviour as well as what Mum and Dad would like.
2. Clever as a fox - 7 to 11. This tends to be a difficult stage as children may
challenge authority, even if they respect and understand it. They believe that
they know a better way of doing it and may try to out-wit you.
3. All in favor say “aye” - 12 to 17. This is where peer pressure with teens
is most evident. It is important to be accepted as part of the group. Keep in
mind that while all children in this age category will want to be part of a group
it is important not to lose their individuality.
4. Listen to your conscience - 18 to adulthood. The individuals here get more
involved with creating the rules and they truly understand the process of
fairness and equality for the success of everyone in the group.
The different aspects of affective development that need to be considered
include identity and self-esteem, humour, social interaction, and moral values.
To satisfy a child’s emotional needs and create a positive learning
environment, Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs that we use
to help guide our understanding of the affective growth in children. The five
stages are as follows:
1. Physiological needs - this is the need for food and shelter or the need
to survive physically. This means if a child is hungry, cold, fatigued, or just
uncomfortable, the learning process will not happen.
2. Safety and security - this means if the child feels as if they are in danger,
they may not want to proceed with the set task. This is why we never teach a
new drill on new terrain, we teach it to them on terrain they are very familiar
with. Children also need to feel safe with you as the instructor, so try to build
trust with them.
3. Belonging - it is important to make everyone feel as though they’re a part
of the group. Using team games to involve everyone will help create team
spirit and a positive atmosphere. Look out for children isolating themselves
from the group and try to get them involved.
4. Self esteem - not only does the child need to feel as though they belong,
but also they need to feel good about themselves. This is why it is crucial
that when you are developing your lesson goals, you keep them safe,
attainable, challenging, and most importantly, realistic.
5. Self-actualisation - this only comes when you have successfully fulfilled all
the other needs. Some people will never reach this stage. Those that do are
the people who understand what they need in order to perform any task to the
best of their ability. That is why these people tend to be leaders.
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This is the ‘P’ in the CAP model and it refers to how a child will move based
on their physical growth. The main focuses are a child’s centre of mass and
their development of motor skills from gross to fine.
Imagine giving a 4 year old child a crayon. They draw using their whole
arm clutching the crayon in their fist. Then you give a crayon to a 12 year
old child; they draw using the movement of their fingers, holding the crayon
between their index finger, second finger and their thumb.
There are a number of things to consider within a child’s psychomotor
Muscular and Skeletal Growth
To better understand a child’s limitations in movement, we must first explore
their muscular and skeletal development. We also need to be aware of the
child’s centre of mass and where it may be located as they grow.
Centre of Mass
In young children their head will tend to be larger in proportion to the rest of
their body (0-6 years of age). This places their centre of mass near the top
of their torso. Children may use a different stance in an effort to find their
balance. These younger children may balance by moving their hips over their
back leg. When children reach the age of about seven or eight, their centre
of mass will tend to move down closer to their belly button. This will allow
them to use a more efficient stance.
Skeletal Growth
Young children will develop from the torso outward. This means they will
generally utilise larger muscle and bone structures to perform different
tasks. Children from aged 3 to 6 will have a tendency to stack themselves
upon their skeleton in an effort to help keep themselves upright. They will
often brace themselves against their boots or high-backs, meaning children
typically have more success with heel edge tasks than toe edge.
Co-ordination can be divided into three stages: initial, elementary and
mature. In the initial stage (ages 2 to 3) the child is just focused on whether
movement is happening or not, rather than the quality of the movement. At
this stage you may see your students looking down at their feet to see if the
movements are happening. In the elementary stage (ages 3 to 8), children
learn more about their bodies by exploring new terrain and reacting to the
environment around them. In the mature stage (ages 8 to adulthood), the
child has more muscular and skeletal development and will begin to make
well co-ordinated, efficient movements.
Locomotor, Non-Locomotor and Manipulative Movements
The development of movements can be divided into three different types.
The first movement is locomotor. These are travelling movements such as
walking, running and jumping. Then there are non-locomotor movements,
which are stationary movements such as bending and twisting. Finally there
are manipulative movements, which are movements that use other objects
such as balls and racquets. By understanding these three movement types,
we can create a lesson-plan utilising a step-by-step progression, starting with
a non-locomotor movement, working on flexion extension. Then you could
use a locomotor movement, such as flexion/extension in a traverse. Finally
you could add a manipulative movement to the flexion/extension, such as
rotation, to create turns around specific points or objects.
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With a better understanding of children you can develop a SAFE and FUN
environment that is condusive to LEARNING. The best way to do this is to
create a plan for the day. We can plan our day in four simple steps:
1. Play - start the lesson with a meet-and-greet and keep the focus on fun.
While assessing the children, tell them a bit about yourself, as well as getting
to know them. Once you know their interests, set a theme for the lesson to
make it more fun and help create a team spirit.
2. Drill - when introducing new skills and movements, keep it simple, clear
and concise. Create drills that are fun, challenging and keep everyone
3. Adventure - now allow students to take that new skill and apply it to
other aspects of the mountain. Mileage is the key to ownership of the new
4. Summary - throughout the lesson, keep reinforcing the new things they
have learned that day. At the end of the lesson, involve the child in the
discussion with their parents as to what he or she achieved.
As an instructor your role is to make the new and sometimes confusing
information fun and creative. For example, in step one you could play
several different name games. Then when explaining your drill in step two,
you could create a mystery to solve, or some other sort of fun challenge or
team-building activity.
Then in step three the children could have to achieve some sort of mission
together such as, “How many turns can we make?”. This will allow them to
get mileage and practice time.
Finally in the fourth step, you could encourage the child to show their parents
the best thing they leart that day as you ride down towards them.
For another way of delivering a creative lesson try utilising the method of
spider webbing. Spider webbing is a method of creative problem solving,
where the problem is whatever you are attempting to teach your class. There
are four major roles to play when spider webbing, they are as follows:
1. The Explorer - this is when you and your group gather information about
the situation or brainstorm.
2. The Artist - this is when you transform those ideas and solutions into
3. The Judge - this person decides which ideas or solutions are best and
should be acted on.
4. The Warrior - this person puts those ideas and solutions into action on
This is a great process to work through with your class to help gain respect
and ownership of new concepts. Do not be afraid to work through a bit of trial
and error here as that will add to the fun factor.
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Howard Gardner, a Harvard researcher and psychologist, developed a
concept that through the inner workings of the brain children have many
different intelligences.
Even though children develop all of their intelligences by about the age of
3, by the age of 6 they already start to favor for certain intelligences. They
use these intelligences to help solve problems and therefore learn, so it is
important to understand how to identify and then facilitate learning through
these multiple intelligences.
While getting to know your group try to identify each child’s preferred
intelligence. The following characteristics could be witnessed in these
multiple intelligences:
Linguistic (word-smart)
These children like to hear stories and enjoy reading and writing. With these
children try telling them a story about you learning something new.
Logical-Mathematical (number or logic-smart)
These children have the ability to reason and like things to have a logical
pattern. They may also be into counting things such as the number of runs
or chairlifts. When teaching these kids use counting exercises or a scale
system for explaining things.
Spatial (picture-smart)
These children tend to like pictures and images to process information. It’s
useful to use drawings in the snow to help get your point across.
Bodily-Kinesthetic (body or sport-smart)
These children have great body awareness. Even though they may not have
developed fine motor skills yet, they can still feel things in their body to grasp
a better understanding. Encourage these kids to touch their hands to the
body part they are trying to move whilst riding.
Musical (music-smart)
These children are tuned into different sounds and can relate them to
rhythmic movements. Play with whistling or humming different tunes to
different size turns.
Naturalistic (nature-smart)
These children have a good understanding of the environment and use this
to make decisions. They generally have a better understanding for how
different animals move so you may want to use this as you teach them new
movement patterns.
Interpersonal (people-smart)
These children like to seek the support and ideas of others. They enjoy
working through problems with others in the group. Focus on group activities
where everyone has a role. Feel free to partner these children up with others
as that will enhance the learning situation.
Intrapersonal (self-smart)
These children like to work through things in their own heads and come to
their own conclusions. Utilise problem solving or allow them to make their
own decisions.
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Likes to...
Is good at...
Learns best
Draw, build,
design, create,
daydream, watch
movies (etc).
Visual arts,
puzzles, map,
imagining and
sensing changes.
working with
images, drawing,
Do experiments,
use numbers,
ask questions,
explore patterns.
Maths, science,
reasoning, logic
and problem
Working with
Move around,
touch and
talk, use body
activities, sports,
Using body
creative drama,
Sing, hum,
tap, listen to
music, play an
Rhythm, melody,
songs, dance,
music, sound
Picking up
keeping time,
noticing pitches.
Talk, read, write,
tell stories.
Written and oral
Reading, writing,
names and
Spend time
outside, learn
about the
environment and
other species, do
outdoor sports.
Sensing patterns
in nature,
observing and
changes in
Interacting with
utilizing sensory
Have lots of
friends, join
groups, talk to
leading others,
Work alone,
pursue own
interests, reflect
on feelings.
self, focusing
on feelings,
intuition, being
Working alone
and intuitively,
There are several equipment issues to be aware of. Remember that children
grow fast and equipment is very expensive. Some parents will choose to buy
equipment to grow into or they hold onto it too long and the children grow
out of it. Sometimes it may be handed down by older siblings. Whatever the
reason, you will often see a child in your lesson with poorly fitted equipment.
If the boots are too small most children will let you know right away. However,
if they are too big or too loose children won’t usually say anything as they feel
comfortable. Check that the children’s boots have been done up tightly, just
like you would with adults. Also, check to see if their inner laces are drawn
tight. As most children play a sport they will understand that their boots should
have a similar tight fit to their other sports shoes.
This is where you tend to see big and heavy boards on smaller children.
There are some great options these days with reverse-camber softer boards
that children can flex easily. Be aware of boards that are too long and stiff as
these can be tricky for children to use. This is particularly relevant for children
going through growth spurts with long limbs and limited muscle mass. Also, be
aware of boards that are too wide or too narrow.
For smaller children make sure they have bindings that are easy to use, as
they don’t have the strength and coordination to use the more elaborate
bindings. For teenagers make sure that the straps are extended long enough
to fit their larger boots. Utilise some forward lean to encourage flex in the
ankles and knees, and make sure you check both angles and stance width.
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Snowboarders can dramatically change their path down the mountain by
making turns of different sizes.
Put simply, the longer the board spends in the fall-line, the larger the turn,
therefore the greater the rider’s rate of descent. When we examine the size
of the turn we study the length and radius of the arc: small, medium or large.
The size of our turn will vary depending on slope selection and the type of
turn we choose to make.
A rider’s rate of descent down the mountain is controlled mainly by the
shape of their turns relative to the fall-line. The shape of these turns can
be described as open and closed, or unfinished and finished. A closed turn
is where the rider ends the completion phase of the turn with their board
perpendicular to the fall-line. This type of turn will easily allow the rider to
control both their forward momentum and rate of descent. Closed turns are
used on steeper pitches, or faster conditions, to keep forward momentum
An open turn is where the rider completes the turn at any angle less than
perpendicular to the fall-line. Open turns are used on flatter pitches, or
slower conditions, to maintain forward momentum. It is also a handy
technique that snowboarders use on cat tracks.
If riders find their rate of descent increasing too quickly, they have to finish
their turns more across the fall-line in order to control their speed.
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To initiate a turn in its simplest form, we need to release the uphill edge
at the tip and allow gravity to pull us into the fall-line. Using smaller levers
closer to the board is more efficient and faster, conversely using larger levers
is slower but can be more powerful.
Once we have changed edges, we can apply pressure through the control
and completion phases of the turn. At slower speeds and without the stability
of forward momentum, the rider needs to pressure the edge without moving
the centre of mass too far from the snowboard’s point of contact.
So when making a turn there are two general ways release pressure as we
move towards an edge change - we can either extend vertically and move
laterally or flex vertically and move laterally.
The first way a rider can release edge pressure is by extending, meaning the
rider will be at their most extended at edge change. This is known as up unweighting.
The second way a rider can release edge pressure is by flexing, meaning
the rider will be at their most flexed at edge change. This can happen in a
number of ways: down un-weighting, retraction, terrain un-weighting, and
Up un-weighted turns are turns where the rider extends to release edge
pressure at the initiation of the turn. The rider is at their most extended as
the edge change occurs.
While this turn type is used to introduce turning to first time snowboarders,
it can also produce and manage large amounts of pressure at high speeds.
Up un-weighted turns also place the ‘centre of mass’ (COM) low and stable
at the control and completion phase of the turn. For these reasons up unweighted turns are commonly used for large high speed turns on-piste and in
GS racing. Up un-weighted turns can be skidded or carved, small, medium
or large.
This is where the COM is lowered towards the board to aid un-weighting.
Like the up un-weighted turn, the down un-weighted turn has very controlled
smooth movements. However, in a down un-weighted turn the rider is lower
and stable at the initiation phase of the turn. This is often used to make the
first turn in steeper terrain from a standing start or through rough terrain that
threatens the rider’s balance at initiation.
Similar to the down un-weighted the rider is flexed at edge change but with
retraction turns the board is physically retracted towards the COM, by pulling
the legs in. This turn provides a very quick and stable initiation and edge
change; it is useful for small closed turns, riding powder, bumps, carved
turns, etc.
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This is where the legs are softened as terrain features are ridden (e.g. a
bump), causing the legs to flex or extend under the COM. This un-weights
the board and enables the edge change to take place. It is important to
note that terrain un-weighting can place the rider either flexed or extended
at edge change. If terrain is dropping away at initiation the rider will be
extended at edge change and need to flex through the control phase.
However, if the terrain is rising at the edge change then the rider can use
the terrain to be flexed at edge change and then extend through the control
phase. Terrain un-weighted turns are used most commonly in the bumps but
also necessary when managing any changing terrain to maintain flow down
the slope.
REbOund TuRnS
This is where the legs are extended to build pressure and bend the board,
the legs are then softened, allowing the board’s rebound to flex the legs,
bringing it back underneath the COM for the edge change. The more
pressure built through the board, the greater the rebound. Rebound turns are
useful for small carved turns, hop turns and riding powder at higher speeds.
Note: When riding over variable terrain we are dealing with an unpredictable
and rapidly changing environment. Riding the mountain will require the use
of all the turn types listed above or indeed a blending of the turn types.
Here we break the turn down into three phases: the initiation (or beginning);
the control (or body); and the completion/preparation (or end) phase.
Note that the phases of the turn are very apparent in slower, low-level turns
but become very blended and more difficult to see as the turns become
smaller and the speed increases. However, the phases of the turn are
always present and we can use them to communicate the sequence of
events throughout a turn.
At the beginning of the turn, the uphill edge is released and the tip of the
board moves into the arc of the new turn. Movements here may include
extending or flexing to aid un-weighting, stopping the rotation (from the old
turn), releasing tension created in the torso and hips (anticipation/release),
and gently steering the body into the new direction.
This refers to the ‘belly’ of the turn, where the board is guided down the
hill, through the fall-line and towards the finish of the turn. Movements
here consist of progressive edging, pressuring and steering to resist the
increasing forces acting on the rider.
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This phase is where the rider is completing the present turn while preparing
to initiate the next turn. Completion movements here consist of rotating to
help finish more closed turns, whilst increasing the edge angle as the board
moves across the fall-line.
At some point these movements cease to resist the forces pulling the rider
out of the turn and consist of slower rotation and a decrease in edge angle
in order to prepare for the next turn. Preparation movements include looking
down the hill at the approaching terrain, rotating the upper body in the new
direction, and possibly building tension in the torso and hips. At higher levels
it is especially important that as we move into heel-side turns we prepare the
upper body rotationally, so we can maintain balance and see through to the
end of that turn.
(and preparation)
(and preparation)
Snowboarding is unusual in that unlike other sports, where speed and
forward movement is attained by internal, muscular strength and forces, the
main source of speed and forward motion is gravity. An efficient rider knows
this and works with gravity rather than against it to travel down the mountain.
As we ride down a mountain, our descent is modified by the terrain ridden.
If we allow gravity alone to dictate our descent, we will take the most direct
route down the hill, which is directly down the fall-line. To alter this path, we
apply forces using our body and board. When our board is placed on edge,
we are able to apply force through our body towards the centre of our turn,
this is centripetal force. The higher the edge angle, the stronger the platform
we create below us, thus the greater the centripetal force we are able to
The force pulling us towards the outside of our turn is centrifugal force. If
edge angle is low and speed is high during a turn, centrifugal force will cause
the board to lose its grip on the snow and we ‘wash out’.
Looking at it simply, at the beginning of the turn the forces acting upon us
pull us ‘into the turn’ and we must be patient and move with these forces. At
the end of a turn, the forces combine to pull us ‘out of the turn’ and we must
be correctly aligned and balanced over our edge to resist these forces.
1. 47
All bodies have a centre of mass (COM). This is the 3-dimensional balance
point of the object. Gravity acts on the centre of mass, pulling it towards the
centre of the Earth.
The COM is not a fixed point. It will move if the object changes shape.
The aim of every efficient snowboarder is to make the downhill path of the
COM as smooth as possible.
Biomechanics is the study of the human body in motion. It combines
mechanics (the physics of forces and objects in motion) and anatomical
function (our muscles, bones and joints). Here we will look at: movement
in four directions (vertical, lateral, longitudinal and rotational); a basic
biomechanical breakdown of movement within these directions while
snowboarding (movement options); and the outcome of these movements as
they affect our snowboard (board performance).
Our bodies’ movements within these directions are referred to in relateation
to the snowboard.
It is essential that we have a balanced, action-ready stance to move from in
each of the four directions. A strong stance provides muscular and skeletal
efficiency, maximises movement options within the directions and optimises
board performance.
Bio-mechanically efficient, a neutral aligned stance is supported by the
skeleton and frees the muscle groups to deal with the ever-changing
requirements of turning and remaining balanced in variable terrain. Poor
stance will affect every other element of a rider’s performance and this must
be dealt with before exploring any of the other directions of movement.
An action-ready stance consists of:
• Even weight distribution.
• Ankles, knees and hip joints relaxed and slightly flexed.
• Hips and shoulders in alignment with the position of the feet.
• Torso upright, arms relaxed and by the side.
• Head and eyes turned and looking in the direction of travel.
1. 49
Vertical movements occur perpendicular to the snowboard and are referred
to as flexion and extension. This refers to the bending or straightening of one
or more of the joints.
The limbs involved move closer to one another as joints flex, and away from
each other as the joints extend or straighten. These movements occur in the
ankles, knees, hips and spine.
Flexion or extension is primarily used to manage pressure, although it also
aids edging and steering. The main effects on our board’s performance will
be in the form of flex and rebound.
We may flex our board in order to tighten the radius of a carved turn. We
utilise rebound to derive ‘pop’ or spring from our board as we hit a jump.
We flex or extend to manage sudden pressure changes caused by bumps,
compressions etc. Managing these pressure changes to keep our board in
contact with the snow is known as absorption. During absorption, our legs
act like the shock-absorbers in cars or mountain bikes.
Flexing can also be used to aid steering or pivoting movements. Try standing
tall (extended) and rotating your body towards your heel-side. Now flex as
you apply the same rotary movements and feel how much more powerful
this rotation becomes.
Vertical movement is used continuously throughout our turns. It can be
coordinated and timed in two different ways:
1. In up un-weighted turns we release pressure by extending early in the
turn, usually during the initiation phase. We create energy and manage
pressure by flexing later in the turn, usually through the control and
completion phases.
2. In down un-weighted or retraction turns, the timing of the vertical
movement reverses. We extend vertically to create energy and manage
pressure earlier in the turn, predominantly through the control phase, and
we flex later in the turn to release the pressure, usually in the completion/
preparation phase.
To remain balanced over our board, we must flex and extend through several
joints simultaneously. Flexing only through our knees, will cause the COM to
move towards the heel edge, while flexing only through our ankles or hips,
will cause the COM to move towards our toe edge.
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Lateral movements exist across the width of the snowboard, which can
also be described as movements from edge to edge.
Lateral movements are commonly referred to as edging or tilting movements.
The degree to which our board is tilted is measured as edge angle. We can
vary the amount of edge angle by moving our COM laterally.
Edge angle, or tilt, is created by moving the levers (bones) in our body
through the lateral plane. This can occur as:
1. A movement of the knee, bending it over the toes or straightening it and
pulling the lower leg against the high-back. This uses the tibia and fibula (the
two main boanes in the lower leg) as levers and is a quick movement.
2. A movement of the hip/spine laterally across the board’s width. This uses
the femurs (in the upper leg) in addition to the tibia/fibulas as levers. This
longer lever is able to impart greater force, although it is slower than using
smaller levers.
3. A movement of the entire body. This is the largest most powerful lever,
although as it involves moving the body’s mass across the board, it is slow.
This move relies on the skeleton for support, rather than the muscles.
The ankle joint can also be used to create edge angle. This uses the
smallest levers (the bones in the foot), pushing and pulling the toes towards
and away from the knees (this movement occurs in the vertical plane). The
smaller levers (ankle and knee) are used for quick, fine-tuning adjustments,
as they are located closest to the board and don’t involve moving the COM.
Greater leverage is created through the hips, spine and entire body and this
is utilised to counteract the increased forces encountered at higher speeds
and during larger turns.
This is when we move our COM across the board with our body in a fixed
stance. This stance can be extended or flexed but will not change as the
body leans across using the bones of the entire body as a lever.
In this position the COM balances well inside the turn, past the edge.
This is when we move the COM across the snowboard by coordinating
flexion or extension of the ankles, knees and hips. To move over the toe
edge the rider would evenly flex the ankles and knees, and on the heel side
by flexing evenly through the knees and hips. Due to the upper body being
more upright the COM is balanced more over the edge.
Note that some degree of inclination is required to create edge angle during
1. 53
By moving the front foot/leg and back foot/leg independently across the
board we can torsionally twist the board. This movement is used to decrease
edge angle at one end of the board, while maintaining edge angle at the
These movements are the same as those used to create edge angle
(lateral), only in this case, the legs work in sequence rather than
The most common use of this torsional flexion involves releasing the uphill
edge at the tip. This allows gravity to pull the front of the board towards the
fall-line. This is the most efficient way to initiate a floating leaf, garland or
Longitudinal movements exist along the length of the snowboard.
Movements in these directions are commonly referred to as fore and aft
movements and are used to direct pressure.
Remaining balanced fore/aft while riding involves dealing with a complex
medium. Terrain can be flat or steep, smooth or bumpy; snow conditions
fast (ice) or slow (powder); and the forces in action can tend to accelerate or
brake us.
A centred stance fore/aft is optimal for most conditions. A board pressured
evenly utilises the entire edge length to grip the snow and when tilted will
carve smoothly. Pressure shifted forward during initiation will help guide the
tip of the board into the fall-line. Keeping weight forward throughout the turn
though, could result in the tail washing out.
Pressure shifted back slightly is appropriate for riding powder and allows the
rider to remain balanced while the board is ‘trimmed up’ to aid float. Turns
attempted with the weight too far back will be dificult to initiate and often
resemle L-shapes. The board will tend to track straight and accelerate.
1. 55
As with lateral movements, we can use small levers for quick fine-tuning
adjustments or larger levers for more powerful, slower pressure shifts.
Movements in the ankle, consist of rolling the foot inwards or outwards to
shift pressure to the leading or trailing edge of the boot and bindings. This is
a quick, but weak movement.
Moving the knees towards the nose or tail, used alongside the corresponding
movement in the ankles, will provide a quick means of applying pressure
Moving the hips towards the nose or tail uses longer levers and thus
provides more leverage. We use this movement when attempting ollies, nose
rolls, riding powder, etc.
Moving the whole body fore or aft is our longest lever and thus the most
powerful and the slowest. This is used for nose/tail press, back flips, etc.
In addition to these options, we can flex and extend the legs in opposition
to one another to shift the pressure fore or aft. When riding powder for
example, we can actively pull up the front leg to aid flotation and keep the
nose up. This move is also used when performing an ollie.
As well as moving the body fore/aft over the board, we can achieve the
same effect by sliding the board underneath us. Because this doesn’t involve
moving the COM, this movement is quick and efficient.
Rotational movements exist around a vertical axis (our spine). Rotary force
is applied through a lever arm and can be in a clockwise or anti-clockwise
direction (although for snowboarding purposes we often relate it to the toe or
heel-side edge).
Rotary movements are commonly referred to as steering movements, as
they control the direction in which our boards are orientated (which way they
are pointed). The snowboard itself pivots on the snow’s surface. The pivot
point can vary along the board’s length depending on where the COM is
situated longitudinally.
We are able to pivot the board to the greatest extent when the edge angle is
low as the board will slide and skid easier. For example, during skidded turns
the focus is more on rotation, whereas during stronger edged or carved turns
the focus is more on pressure and edging.
1. 57
We can utilise four distinct rotary mechanisms to steer our snowboard:
Here we rotate the upper body (or part of it) in the desired direction against
the board’s grip on the snow, and the stored energy is transmitted through the
lower body into the board. Before this energy transmission can occur though,
two things must happen. Firstly, the upper body must slow down or stop and
secondly, some form of un-weighting must occur.
The further away from the board the upper body rotation originates, the slower
the transmission of the energy will be. Although slow, this movement can
generate considerable power and is often utilised for spins, both on snow and
in the air.
This occurs where the feet and legs rotate with a stabilised upper body.
These movements occur close to the board and utilise the large muscles and
bones of the legs and hips. Lower body steering is both quick and powerful.
This movement can come from the feet and lower leg (with a stabilised
knee), which is very quick. Or the movement can come from the whole leg
rotating in the hip joint. This utilises a greater range of movement rotationally
and is more powerful.
These leg steering movements are the quickest and most efficient options
to steer the snowboard and can be used in a variety of situations from first
turns to retraction turns in the steeps.
Both sections of the body move simultaneously (although in opposite
directions) and stop simultaneously. This movement option is used to quickly
pivot an un-weighted board or one with a relatively low edge angle.
This is most often utilised by advanced riders in a speed check and in
various freestyle tricks. It can also be seen in the riding of many self-taught
beginner/intermediate riders who initiate strongly with their upper body and
the result is counter-rotation in the second half of their turn.
It is also possible to use the body as a whole to aid steering through a turn.
Whole body rotation is only effective once the board is on an edge and
moving through a turn.
This form of rotation can be the most powerful through a turn as it combines
the efficiency of the lower body and power of the middle and upper body.
1. 59
When teaching our students to make their first turns we encourage them to
keep the upper and lower body moving together to steer the snowboard. This
is to maintain alignment and aid balance (stopping them from throwing their
bodies all over the place!). In reality though, they cannot rotate the whole
body simultaneously, unless the turning forces on the board are from an
external force.
Imagine a rider in a straight run tilting their board onto edge. They are able
to rotate the entire body (maintaining alignment), because it is the board’s
side-cut that is turning the board. To turn the board by rotation though, one
section of the body would have to brace against and become separated
(even slightly) from the other, in order to store energy.
Again, we discourage the beginner/ intermediate rider from riding with their
upper and lower body in a separated position. However, the advanced rider
can utilise the energy created by stretching the muscles of the hips and torso
in a separated position. If channelled correctly, when this energy is released
it creates a powerful rotational force especially useful for short turns.
When this energy is created at the completion of a turn it is known as
anticipation. This anticipated position is to prepare for the next turn and can
be achieved by turning the upper body towards the new turn or turning the
lower body and board away from the new turn.
This anticipation/release move is used during smaller up un-weighted and
down un-weighted turns and is useful particularly in the bumps and steeps.
When riding in steep terrain we may need to use anticipation to see where
we are going as we move into the heel-side turn.
Performance Outcomes refer to the actual outcome a rider is trying to
achieve from the snowboard. As we have seen above when we move our
bodies laterally, rotationally, vertically or longitudinally our board will tilt, pivot,
twist and pressure.
If we take this one step further by using performance outcomes we can
describe exactly what we are trying to achieve on the board. Tilt and twist
will effect the edging of the board. Pivot will create steering or spin. Pressure
itself is a performance outcome, but can be described as increasing,
decreasing, maintaining or directing pressure.
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We can also describe the sequence of the performance outcomes to help
riders understand the chain of events that will need to happen to make the
correct turn or learn a new trick. For example, in any turn a rider must first
make movements to initiate the edge change then pressure the new edge
and finally steer the board to create an effective turn.
If the sequence of the performance outcomes is altered, we will see large
changes and probably inefficiencies in the performance of the turn. The
same can be said in a sequence for freestyle tricks.
As students progress they begin to ride faster, encounter steeper and more
varied terrain, and thus become subject to greater forces acting upon them.
*please refer to chapter 4 - page 1.46 for forces acting on the rider
To enable our students to deal with the increased forces and situations
encountered during higher level riding, we refer to the principles of form.
These principles expand beyond references to simple mechanics within the
directions of movement.
The principles of form provide the additional information the student needs
when applying movement options at higher levels and allows the instructor
to quantify/qualify the movements required. Questions such as “How do I
control my speed in steeper terrain?” or “When do I engage the new edge
while carving?” can be explored using the principles below:
• Power
• Timing
• Range of Movement
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This is the physical energy we put into each movement. The energy is
transferred from our body through our equipment to the snow’s surface. This
energy can be stored in the board as flex and released as rebound.
The amount of power required to successfully complete a task depends on
the task being attempted, the terrain being ridden and the snow conditions
present. For example, during high speed dynamic carves, powerful extension
movements are required through the legs. When attempting aerial spins,
powerful rotary movements are required. The more powerful the movement,
the greater the rotation possible. When riding chopped up snow at speed,
power is needed to maintain stability through the rider’s core muscles, to
maintain balance over the bouncing board.
Snow conditions and terrain play a part in how the power must be applied.
Softer, consistent snow conditions and flatter (green/blue) terrain allow more
powerful movements. In powder we can slash to create a huge spray. On
packed blue groomers we can execute dynamic carves, loading up the board
and then allowing the rebound to pop the board into the air for the edge
change. In these conditions we can apply power aggressively and explosively.
When riding hardpack, steeper or inconsistent snow, a different approach
is required. We must be more economical with our application of power.
Exerting excess energy on hard, steep snow will result in a loss of edge grip.
Being too strong or heavy while riding crud may cause the board to punch
through the snow’s crust and lead to a fall. In these conditions power must
be applied progressively and smoothly.
The aim when applying power in most situations is efficiency of movement,
applying just enough power to achieve the desired result. Efficient riders
look smooth and relaxed, and by conserving energy are able to ride
longer, get more hits in the pipe, or save enough juice for the final rounds
of competition. Effective freeriding is smooth and flowing. Inefficient
movements, on the other hand, stand out as jerky and staggered actions.
These movements waste energy. Elite athletes are often able to make
explosive, powerful movements on icy race courses or halfpipes, but for
most of us efficient riding is the goal.
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We can separate timing into two descriptions that are both relevant to
1. Duration - the duration of a movement can be set or recorded by a simple
count. For example, you may ask your student to flex and rotate for a count
of five. By changing the duration of the movements, you can change the
size of the turn. Flexing and rotating for a count of three then, would lead to
smaller turns. This counting method can be used to encourage rhythm and
flow in a student’s riding. The movements can be synchronised to a verbal or
mental count or to the rider’s breathing.
2. Sequence - here we are referring to where the application of a movement
occurs in relation to other factors. The phases of the turn provide us with
a sequenced series of events. The timing of the initiation, control and
completion of every turn can be varied relative to the turn size and shape
required. The phases of the turn may also have to be in sequence with
external factors such as gates (racing), other riders (synchro), or terrain and
man-made features, such as boxes or jumps. The timing of the edge change
provides us with a good example: during a simple beginner’s turn with low
forward momentum, the board’s uphill edge must be released (initiation) and
rotation applied to guide the board into the fall-line (control), before the edge
change can occur. With an increase in forward momentum, the rider is able
to release the uphill edge and move the centre of mass across the board
earlier, engaging the new edge with the board across the fall-line.
This is the extent and direction of the four movements: vertical, lateral,
longitudinal and rotational. Range of movement varies in every rider,
depending on the amount of strength and flexibility the rider has, therefore
determining how far their bodies can move in a certain direction.
Warming up and stretching will enable riders to utilise more their full range
of movement (often referred to simply as ‘range’). Utilising this full range is
important for the instructor in both their riding and demonstrations. A larger
movement presents a clearer visual picture to a student’s untrained eye and
therefore ensures an effective demonstration.
A movement often has to be exaggerated for demonstration purposes far
beyond the extent to which it is usually utilised in a freeriding situation. When
riding, we should aim for constant gradual movement through our full range.
The fewer breaks between movements in our riding, the more efficient the
technique will be. Static, tense muscles are slower to react than warm,
constantly firing ones.
Extremes In Range Of Movement
It is useful for both students and instructors to fully explore the extremes
of range through the four movements to help gain an understanding of the
body’s capabilities.
Example: Tall vs Small
A fully extended body position relies on the bones for support and expends
almost no energy. However, because the body is supported by the skeleton
which has little flexibility and is at the limit of its range, it is not able to react
to terrain variations and keep the board in contact with the snow.
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A fully flexed body position on the other hand, relies on the muscles for
support and takes a great deal of energy to hold. When fully flexed you
are at the opposite end of your range and again are barely able to react to
changes in terrain.
In most situations our effective range of movement is well inside these
extremes. In softer consistent conditions, the support provided by the snow
enables us to more fully utilise our range. Conversely at higher speeds or
on icier terrain, we will reduce the range used and remain within our comfort
zone, typically low and flexed.
Although not a principle of form, speed has a major effect on our
snowboarding, as it increases and decreases the forces acting on the rider.
Speed should always be taken into consideration when an instructor is
introducing new terrain, tasks or tricks.
Speed can be interpreted in two ways:
1. The first is the rider’s forward momentum, which is the speed at which
they would be recorded on a radar gun.
2. The second is the rate at which the rider descends the slope; that is the
rate they travel down the hill, say between two lift towers.
The rider’s speed can be controlled in the following ways:
• The shape of the turn
• The amount of skid in the turn (steering angle)
• The size of the turn
To control speed, we must finish the turn in a traverse across the hill or
continue the turn back up the hill and allow gravity’s pull to slow us (until
the desired speed is reached and the next turn is initiated). Open turns
down a constant pitch will increase the rider’s forward momentum and rate
of descent. Because carved turns lack any skid, speed control is achieved
solely through turn-shape.
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In addition, the size of the turn must be considered. Larger turns, where the
board spends longer in the fall-line, will lead to higher speeds than during
smaller turns. Typically then, smaller turns will be more suitable to steeper
terrain where greater speed control is required.
Steering angle, or the amount of skid in a turn, controls speed through the
friction created between the board’s edge and the snow. Steering angle is
controlled through edging and rotation. The stronger the rotation and the
lower the edge angle, the more the board will drift or skid through the turn. A
speed check is a rapid application of steering angle.
Snow conditions also play a big part in the speed of a rider. For exmaple,
deep powder creates more friction against our board, bindings and lower
leg, which slows us down. On flatter terrain open, larger turns are required to
avoid getting stuck. Conversely, when riding ice, which is hard and slippery,
a smaller, closed turn is required to keep speed under control.