A textual description on a blog isn’t the best means of learning to butter, nevertheless, this approach with the help of a few pictures may help you out. You can learn from your friends, from an instructor, or from some of the many videos online that show how to butter. I’ll offer my own recommendation later on. But to begin with, this is how I was taught and it worked well for me – it’s also how I help my friends.
Practice the “butter” position. You can practice the butter “position” on your board, on the flat, which also means you can try it in your living room if you really want to.
Stand in your normal stance with your shoulders level. Shift your upper body and hips toward one end of the board, a little. Keep your shoulders level. Your hips and waist “drop”, and you should be bending at the knee on the leg that you’re moving over.
The aim here is to move your centre of gravity away from the middle of the board (in your normal stance), toward one of the ends – whilst staying balanced. Note that you’re not just leaning back. Think about:
- Your shoulders being level and you looking straight ahead
- You should be able to hold this position
- The other end of the board might be lifting off the floor/snow a little. Don’t worry if it isn’t 6″ in the air. Just a couple of inches is fine to start with. Balance is important here
To begin with, aim for something between the first picture above, and this next one. The more comfortable you get, be more like this position:
Dynamic practice. You can try hopping from one butter position to the other, for example, from having the weight over your nose, to having the weight over the tail.
It’s useful to try this because doing so will ensure that you’re balanced in the butter position. If you’re not, you’ll fall over 😉 What’s more, if you play around with this, it’s good practice for “popping” out of the butter position, which is something you’ll want to do as you progress.
Again – you can try this on the flat to begin with, at home if you want to. Just don’t tear up the carpet!
Basic butter on the snow. Start with having your weight over the tail. Just riding straight down the hill, shift your weight into the butter position and hold it. You should be balanced, allowing you to hold this position. Again, don’t worry if it feels like the board is hardly off the snow – that will come with practice.
If you can’t keep the board going straight, then you’re applying pressure to either the toe or heel edge, and probably skidding out of the butter. Keep your shoulders parallel with the board, and just turn your head to look down the slope. Arms and shoulders parallel with your board:
Add in some pop. If you’re getting this ok, here are two things to try:
- Do a little nollie into the butter. Just a little pop off the nose, landing on the tail, in the butter position. It’s a good way to enter the butter
- Do a little ollie out of the butter. When you’re in the butter position and ready, try popping off the tail to land square on both feet. It’s a good way to exit the butter
Experiment with rotation. Do a basic tail butter, going straight down the slope. Turn your upper body to open your shoulders to the down-hill direction – so your chest is pointing down hill. As you do this, you should feel the nose of the board spin around in the same way. (You can turn your shoulders the other way too, so your chest starts to point back up the hill).
When you’re experimenting with this “turning” from the butter position, there are some nice things you can do. Your board will follow the direction of your head and shoulders, so try taking the rotation all of the way ’round. First, 180 degrees and ride away switch. If you get that, try a full 360 degree rotated-butter.
You can also try popping out of the rotation. Get the board to turning and when you get to 90 degrees, pop up to do the next 90 in the air. So in the first example of opening your shoulders to the down hill direction, you butter ’round 90 degrees and then pop out; you’ll be landing switch.
Caution: edge control required. Be aware that once you start to rotate in the butter position, one of your edges, the downhill edge, has the opportunity to “catch”. Just as is the case with normal riding and edge-pressure, you need a bit of pressure on the uphill edge to prevent the down-hill edge from digging in. This should happen naturally as you initiate the rotation with your head/shoulders – but just be aware 😉
Experiment with landing in a butter. Just like above where you can start the butter with a little nollie into it, you can do other things like a 180 into the butter.
Try a littler flat land, frontside 180 and land in the butter position (now, it will be over your nose). Then pop out. If you can keep the rotation going, you can pop out another 180, back to regular. You might find a frontside 180 easier to start with, but if you can do a little backside 180 into the butter, popping the second 180 out from that position should be easier. At least it’s that way for me.
Some visual aid?
If you’re new to something (like buttering), reading a description of something to try doesn’t always translate well into actions. I’ve supplemented the above with the images from Snowboard Addiction’s Intro to Buttering video. As is customary with their instructional videos, they cover everything you need to know in exceptional detail.
If you’d like to see a bunch of buttering-related exercises and tips, as well as an Advanced Buttering video, you should check out the SA website. As a part of their freestyle program, I’d definitely recommend their videos. For a taster for what’s included in the introductory video, here’s a short trailer: