What Are You Doing to Improve Your Snowboarding?

Snowboarding is about having fun, but we all like to improve, right? I know I do. If you’re eager on the progression curve, the outline below of what I’m trying to achieve, and how, might be of interest. So read on…

The Target

I was going to start this post with my plan, but it makes more sense to first state some of the things I’m aiming for. Goals first, plan later.

From CasVegas to Park Lane…

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to experience riding a “long” snowboard park. One with loads of hits, where you can get some nice rhythm going. Hopefully get that stoke from stomping a number of tricks in a row. Scoping out the numerous parks at Breckenridge, it seems Park Lane should be the target for that…

But looking at the hits in the Park Lane terrain park – a bunch of them, maybe the majority of them, are beyond my current means.

They call it a “medium park”. So by time I get there in January, I don’t want the rails and boxes to be out of reach. I want to be able to make a half-decent run through the park. That’s half-decent by my own standards; I’ll know if I’ve gotten to where I want to be.

CasVegas is the affectionate name given to the Xscape snowdome at the Castleford. I want to progress there – then take my improved riding to the parks in Breckenridge. That’s my core goal.


Specific tricks?

I don’t really have a trick-list as such, but there are some general areas that I want to focus on:

  • Frontside boardslide. I can do these now at a fairly basic level – but I want them on lock, I want to be able to do them on harder features. It’s ongoing.
  • Change-ups. Again, I’ve experimented with these at a (very) basic level; I want to be able to do different combinations.
  • Nose and tail grabs on 1s and 3s. I’ve got the nose grab fairly comfortable now. What I’d like is to add this to some spins. But it’s going to take some experimentation to find the combinations that work for me. Frontside 3 nose seems to appeal.
  • Shifty 180. Frontside and backside.
  • 540. Either will do.
  • 180s in and out of rails/boxes
  • 270 out. Doesn’t have to be spectacular, I just want to get a feeling for it on a basic level

The Plan

So how am I going to get there? A while ago, when I wasn’t able to snowboard, I said that I wanted to put two “learning tools” into practice once I was back on a snowboard… So, here’s the plan:

1. Castleford – I’m back on the board

I’m snowboarding again. Awesome. I’ve shredded at CasVegas the last three Fridays, and I’ll be riding there tonight. I’ve never done four weeks in a row before. The way the weekends are panning out, I’ve got the option to get a fair a number of sessions in before the end of the year. This will be my training ground.

When I’m riding at Castleford I tend to concentrate on rails and boxes; the kickers are a bit hit and miss so I feel I can get more consistent progression on the jibs.

Will Halifax fit in? When it comes to my local snowboarding in the UK, Halifax is a better option for hitting kickers. Right now I’m in a bit of a groove for travelling to Castleford. I’d love to fit a few days in at Halifax and rider the kicker there; it’s just less certain. That’s part of the reason for the bias towards rails and boxes in the The Target above.


2. Snowboard Addiction tutorials

During the out-of-action period, the first “tool” that I wanted to put to use was the freestyle program from Snowboard Addiction. Regular readers will be aware that I’m a big fan of their instructional material. Big trick coverage, great presentation, blah blah blah. I’ve said it all before. If you’re interested, read the review I wrote.

More relevant to my personal plan, some of the “trick-tips” have led to me making nose grabs and front boards feel comfortable, tricks I’d failed to do in the past (I don’t want to get ahead of myself with the front boards there). So I’m still positive about the program.

As per the list above, I’m interested in a lot of the rail and box tricks. But, I do really want to try putting shiftys into spins, shifty-180 to start with, and I’d also like to (finally) dial in a 540. It seems like ages ago when I was getting close – then it’s just faded away. I’ll revisit the jumping lessons…


3. The Snowboard Jedi program

The second “tool”. This is something that I’m less sure about. The Snowboard Jedi program is an audio-based, “mental training” course. Understanding the psychology of snowboarding (at a wider level, sports performance), then using your mind to improve.

So why am I unsure? After reading and listening, it sounds like something that could help snowboarders, maybe help my own progression. I don’t doubt the power of a strong mental approach to sports/competition/tasks… At the same time, the techniques themselves require practice; it’s not like I’m familiar with relaxation, hypnosis and visualisation methods. This isn’t some silver bullet affair.

Here’s an example. Last session at Castleford, I wanted to front-board the long, 10m rail. So, on the lift ride up, I started visualising myself stomping it – both associated and disassociated. I didn’t suddenly lock onto the rail and execute a smooth front board all the way to the end. I did however feel confident trying it.

Would I have been confident anyway? I don’t know; but that’s the point. I’m unsure because I haven’t connected with the ideas yet. I haven’t associated a positive result on the snow with something in the program – for example, in the way that I did with the Snowboard Addiction lessons and nose grabs… “oh, that’s how you do it.”

I’ve literally spent 20 minutes on a handful of nights over the last two weeks listening to some of the audios. I’m just starting out. At this point it’s not something that I’d recommend…

It’s kinda expensive at $97 and not particularly polished. In the back of my mind, I get the impression you might be able to get much of the benefit of this “approach”, if you even wanted to, by doing your own research. Then again, one of the plus points for the Jedi program is that it packages it all up for you, in a snowboard specific way. For a more comprehensive take on this, read the review.

Having said all of that, I’m going to give it a go, test it out. I remain interested.


What about you?

So what are you doing to push your own, personal envelope? Do you have a target or goal – and what about a plan to get there? If either or those things above seem interesting, go check them out. Why not drop a comment with your plans for this season…


  • Reply October 28, 2011


    I’ve been following your blog for a while now Gavin, keep up the good work, I look forward to your updates.
    I’m commenting for the first time because I think our goals are pretty similar, like I can do a Frontboard on a rail, but I’m not really comfortable doing it on a large gas pipe for instance.
    I was wondering what you find is the easiest change-up? I find usually a Frontboard to a boardslide on my tail, with counter-rotation rather than rotation my easiest (hard to describe in text it seems) or a switch boardslide to regular frontboard.
    So my main goals atm are just locking in all my grinds, and trying to get that 270 out . I also really struggle coming out fakie for some reason, so thats something I want sorted. Trying to lock down a backside 180 out of the rail as well, and then getting my 360’s locked down. I feel a bit like you, its been a while since I’ve done them, and I was getting close to getting a 540, and now I just seem to have lost it. I think part of the problem is I get through the first 180, and seem to pause in my rotation, which with the size of the jump at UK indoor slopes leaves me then struggling for time to get that last 180 round, and I’m landing sketchy, I don’t think it helped that the landing was a bit short/not steep enough and too close to the kicker, but do you have any tips?

    Anyway glad to see you’re finally getting back into snowboarding after your injury, I know how you feel after breaking my collar bone 3 weeks ago (got 3 plates in it now) can’t wait to get back on my board.

  • Reply October 30, 2011


    Hey Cal,

    thanks for commenting, and for reading/enjoying the site 😉

    Easiest change up – it’s the same as yours. I start with frontboard then counter rotate to boardslide. Although the boardslide is usually over my front foot rather than on tail. I’m confident enough trying them on a flat-down, or something like an up-flat-down etc.

    The other one that I’ve spent most time on, is going front board but then rotating in the same direction to boardslide. As long as I look over my shoulder, the change-up part comes really easily – body just wants to keep rotating round. I’ve been doing them on a “rookie” box – but on friday night just gone, took it to the longer/higher box at Cas.

    I’m same with frontboard confidence also – although I don’t make it to the end of the long rail, I do try them. Haven’t really moved it to something like a gas pipe, or the narrow flat down rail.

    Backside 180s out of rails – so stoked I started to make these more competently on Friday night. Actually managed a switch boardslide to 50-50 to bs 180 out on the flat down box. Felt so good!

    I defo agree about the kickers on indoor slopes. They’re not always consistent and it’s not always good for getting enough time to rotate. Which slope do you ride by the way? Are you close to a snowflex kicker? In a few sessions at Halifax I came on leaps and bounds for kicker riding. It’s just quite far from where I live…

    I also have the trouble of getting the last 180 round on fs 3. Is it FS for you btw? Because I find the rotation on backside easier, although the take off less natural. Weird.

    Two things might help:
    – work on switch, backside 180s. It’s the second part of a front 3, so might help with spotting the landing etc.
    – with a front 3, I find that I don’t turn my head as much as I do for a back 3. With bs, you kinda have to. But with fs, there’s the fact that you’re looking forwards through the first part of the rotation, and that can prevent you from “turning away”. If I condition myself to really turn my head at the start, it seems to help…

    * really sorry to hear about your collar bone. Hope that doesn’t keep you out for too long!


  • Reply November 1, 2011


    I had my first experience on a snowboard in mid-March. I felt I picked it up well at the start. I flipped from thinking that ‘freestyle is for these crazy kids’ to thinking ‘I want to have a go at everything freestyle!’ By early July, I wrote down goals to be achieved by the end of planned week in Les Arcs this coming January. Since, I have a few ups and downs. In retrospect, it is too ambitious for a noob! Here it is (with my present level in brackets).

    The targets
    * Able to carve and do red pistes (I think I can carve in the indoor slope but really this goal will have to wait until the week in Les Arcs)
    * Medium kickers (not sure what I really meant, must have picked it from one of the sites, there are no proper big snow kickers in Tamworth, I’ve done straight airs on some of the HH ones, no idea if they are medium, green, blue etc)
    * All the 180’s flatland and on kickers (I can do all 8 180’s flatland, BS180 on the kicker)
    * 360’s on the kickers (That’s pushing too far! I can do BS360 flatland though)
    * Two grabs (already done Indy, mute and tail)
    * Both boardslides on the box (BS BS is now fine with out reg or switch, FS BS is not consistent yet – still to flex the knees a bit more)
    * Presses on the box ( Can do tailpress reg and switch, can’t do nosepress yet)
    * tail/nosepress 180s (I’m still crap at buttering, I’ve not really tried enough)
    * Quarter-pipe turns ( the QP is closed off most of the time but I’ve done BS180)
    Strangely, I did not write down my aims for switch riding (doing 50-50s and tailpresses on box and straight airs off the kicker), waddle (I’ve struggled but I’m getting faster), bigger ollies/nollies (still not big enough) and buttering (been a bit of a blind spot)

    My plan:
    Weekly visit to snowdome
    Watch snowboard addiction and other instructional videos
    Intermittent coaching both for general riding and freestyle (tried Snowboardcoach UK, GFC and Definition so far)
    Now getting to know a few mates at the Snowdome with the similar aims
    Read the Afterbang blog regularly 🙂 !

    Just over 2 months to go!

  • Reply November 3, 2011


    Hey dewei,

    loving the written plan there 😉 Not to mention, the positive progress so far.

    A couple of points about your trip to Les Arcs:
    – defo good time to work on the carving
    – also a good time to work on the buttering, especially if you’re riding around with family? You can try that any time.

    -360 on kickers. I know you’ve got the bs180 down. I think that when you’re away in Les Arcs, if you start getting comfortable doing bs3 on side hits and the like, seems as though you’ve got them on the flat, you might find notching it up to the kicker do-able.

    Can’t fault the plan 😉

    Really glad you’re enjoying the snowboarding so much!

  • Reply January 13, 2012


    I’m back from a tremendous week at Les Arcs. I had huge expectations for that week which turned out totally different from what I had planned. I still had awesome riding. Essentially heavy snowfall with whiteout/blizzard conditions meant the park and higher runs were mostly closed. However we had fresh and deep pow off- and on-piste! I am now reporting on my targets I described above!

    The targets
    * Able to carve and do red pistes (Done that easily, reached the point where mogul fields were less of a scare but more of a fun challenging, still having falls, carving needs to be more consistent though, would have tried black runs if the weather allowed)
    * Medium kickers (a disappointment, just did the green line once, didn’t get to go back)
    * All the 180′s flatland and on kickers (I can do all 8 180′s flatland, BS180/FS180 on the kicker)
    * 360′s on the kickers (Still stalling)
    * Two grabs (already done Indy, mute and tail)
    * Both boardslides on the box (BS BS is now fine with out reg or switch, switch BSBS, FS BS with out reg and switch but stance needs improvement, **180 in and out on the box**, BSBS on rail and rainbow box)
    * Presses on the box ( Can do tailpress reg and switch, nosepress reg)
    * tail/nosepress 180s (I’m still crap at buttering, I’ve not really tried enough)
    * Quarter-pipe turns ( the QP is closed off most of the time but I’ve done BS180)

    ^switch riding (doing 50-50s and tailpresses on box and straight airs off the kicker),
    ^waddle (much better),
    ^bigger ollies/nollies (still not big enough)
    ^Other buttering (still a bit of a blind spot)

    Unexpected improvement was getting to ride powder and reaching the point that I was semi-competent in deep powder between trees in the steep slopes off the red pistes bends.

    Further plans
    I have underachieved in buttering and jumps but have done very well on boxes. I really need to get these 360s on the kicker and basic butters. I have yet to try side on entry into jib features and I’ll need to try more rails and pipes. I am very excited with my recent 180in180out on the box – it seems to me that opens the door to many other tricks. As for the mountain, can I get another trip sorted this season? Powder riding and mogul fields and actually incorporating fun tricks in my piste riding ( it’s difficult to get out of the survival or bombing down mode) are my first thoughts.

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