How To Use A Balance Rail To Improve Your Snowboarding

I’ve put together a simple video showing how I’m currently using the balance rail I built, to improve my snowboarding. The balance rail can help primarily with your jibbing: rails and boxes. You can work on your body position and balance on the rail as well as the movements used to get on and off. However, the balance and rotational movements used in jibbing rails will transfer to the other areas of your freestyle snowboarding, including flat land jibs, side hits and riding kickers.

I’m not claiming to be an expert at this. It’s an idea I picked up from the Snowboard Addiction lessons and I’m just playing around with some of the things that they cover. You’ll see in the video that I can’t do all of the things that I’m trying, my body position isn’t always correct, etc. So this isn’t coaching, it’s more like a demo of using a balance rail.

There is some commentary included 🙂 Sorry about the background noise, which makes it hard to hear some of what I’m saying. If you want to ask any questions, as usual, just drop a comment below…

18 Comments

  • Reply June 2, 2010

    theFunction

    Nice. Does this actually help, then? How can you be sure you’re not just gonna catch an edge when you do it for real?

  • Reply June 2, 2010

    Dan

    Cheers Gavin, I never really got the point of balance rails until now.

  • Reply June 3, 2010

    aalion

    Looking sweet, I’d love to try and make some spins on it 😛

  • Reply June 3, 2010

    Gavin

    Hey guys,

    glad you like it.

    Mal, I can’t be sure I aint gonna catch an edge for real, I’ve done that enough times to know I’ll be doing it again. But just using it I can tell you that it helps with putting the board down flat.

    When you land on the rail you can feel when it sets down nicely and when it doesn’t. My theory is that the more you practice the motion the more natural it feels.

    Good example is looking down. Whenever I try frontboards I’m always looking down at the box/rail. That’s something I can work on with the balance rail!

    Put it this way, I’ll be shredding at cas’ sometime soon, and I’ll let you know how much it helped!

  • Reply June 11, 2010

    Snowboard Tools

    Thanks for the tips Galvin, although it was never easy to use a balance rail to improve my snowboarding, I find this video of yours realistic and tempting to try. Will give you info when I succeed.

  • Reply June 14, 2010

    dave

    The thing is, you’re not going to catch your edges if you keep the board flat on the rail. Getting your body position dialled before you try it on a rail is going to help you keep the board flat. The hard thing is adjusting your body position when it’s a down rail. Your body should stay at 90 degrees to the rail.

    These really help to learn rotation, counter rotation and body position. I use a skateboard deck with two inner tubes from bike tyres. It makes it much less tiring.

    Cool vid though mate, nice one.

  • Reply June 15, 2010

    Gavin

    Hey cheers Dave,

    it is tiring isn’t it 🙂 I think you can see there are parts in the video where I’m a little out of breath. I think you’ve got to actually try it to understand that it’s hard work when strapped in to a snowboard…

  • Reply October 22, 2010

    Reneator

    And i thought: “Hm hey pretty doenst look exhausted at all, so i must be doin something wrong!” xD.
    Because i build me something like that today, can send you a picture of it.
    I began at 4 O’clock (16:00) and ended at 8 O’clock in the evening. I not just made a Rail of a old wood, i walked in a “materialmarket” and bought a big wood with the measures 72x96x3000 mm (means i had a 3 meter long “balance Rail”). I cutted it to 2 m (with dad’s help :D). and we rounded up the edges. I have a 3 cm broad flat standing on the rail, to the side its rounded. So i can use it as a Balance rail in summer, and in Winter as a little “park addition” in my smally garden 😀 *fuck yeah*

    cheers Reneator

  • Reply October 22, 2010

    Reneator

    Going to try it today 😀 (had no time left today, went already dark…)

  • Reply October 22, 2010

    Gavin

    Hey Ren,

    nice work! I’d defo like to see a picture 🙂 And, I like the sounds of a little “park addition” to the garden in the winter. Bring it! Let me know how you get on with it once you’ve given it a go.

    Cheers, Gav

  • Reply August 5, 2011

    Chas

    I can see this also with a length of PVC pipe embedded, 1-2″, or just rounding the top of the 4×4, hummm? Great vid, thanx

  • Reply August 7, 2011

    Gavin

    Hey Chas,

    for sure. Either of those options would give you a round rail/gas-pipe rail to practice on. Would be that little bit harder than the level 4×4 that I’ve got – letting you practice balance and position on a “rounded” rail.

    Cheers, Gavin

  • Reply August 10, 2011

    Chas

    Have you ever tried to elevate one end and slide?

  • Reply August 10, 2011

    Gavin

    No – but the thought has crossed my mind several times 😉

    With a bit of prep I’m sure the board would slide on the wood. I guess practically, it’s still quite short and the “leg” might get in the way of the drop off, given the speed I’d get…

    But… you can see in the video a little step down at the bottom of the grass, I had considered trying it there…

  • Reply December 15, 2011

    Adrian

    I’m curious as to what, if any, damage is being done to the bottom of the snowboard by practicing with a balance rail. Should we be trying this with our main boards or perhaps only with a spare?

  • Reply December 27, 2011

    Gavin

    Hey Adrian,

    the balance rail that I built is made from fairly soft wood – certainly softer than a metal rail or box. In that way, it’s probably doing less harm than riding rail features in the park, so if you use your main board for that, I don’t see how it would be any different to using it on the balance rail.

    That said, I am using a spare board here – because I’ve got one. It’s jumping around on the grass etc, plus the way that I look at it is, anything I can do to prolong the life of my on-hill board, I’ll do it.

    Overall I’d say using your main board is fine, if you’re on grass. If you’ve got a spare, use that instead.

    Cheers,
    Gavin

  • Reply April 12, 2012

    Skola

    Nice idea / vid.

    My only issue is with the rail being made of wood.

    You have a lot more friction between the board and the wood than you do on most boxes and especially rails, so when you jump on your rail you really ‘stick’ to it.

    You might not notice you are learning some bad habbits eg if you jump on a BS 5050 leaning away from the rail you wont slip out on your toe edge.

    Same thing applies with pretty much every trick, you ideally need a low friction surface to make sure you are landing on the rail with your weight distributed in the right way.

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Gavin

    Hey Skola,

    thanks for dropping a comment. You’re right about the wooden rail not being like the “real thing” – there is much more friction.

    That said, for someone without the ability to easily practice on real rails and boxes, I still think the balance rail can offer a lot…

    Body position, rotation, just the feel of being on the rail. What’s more, if someone is watching they can point out mistakes – as you have done 😉 – and there is the opportunity to correct them before getting to the actual hill.

    Thanks again,
    Gavin

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