Are you ready to take your snowboarding to the next step? Of course you are! After all, progression is one of the best parts of snowboarding. However… rails in particular can be pretty intimidating. So let’s talk about how to hit rails on a snowboard for the first time.
Follow these steps to hit a snowboard rail:
- Visualize the trick.
- Get your stance right.
- Do a dummy run.
- Build up speed.
- Jump onto the rail.
- Land on the rail.
- Don’t look down!
- Stick the landing.
- Claim it!
Sounds easy right? Unfortunately there’s a little more to it than that. Keep reading for an in-depth explanation of how you can hit your first rail on a snowboard. I believe in you!
Which Trick Should You Try First On A Snowboard Rail?
It’s super important to choose the right trick. Preferably before you find yourself hurtling towards a rail!
Here are some basic snowboarding rail tricks:
My strong recommendation is… start with the 50/50 (pictured).
This is done by riding straight onto the rail in your normal riding stance, with the rail centred in the middle of your board.
The 50-50 can be done frontside (approached from toe edge) or backside (approached from heel edge).
You’ll probably find it easier to approach slightly from the frontside as you’ll see the rail in front of you throughout. This means that your first snowboarding rail trick is going to be the FS 50-50.
An alternative is the board slide, but this is certainly more technically tricky. It requires a 90-degree turn, as per the image at the top of this post.
Which Snowboard Rail To Use For Your Try First
Before charging straight at a gnarly metal rail, you really should hone your skills on a box.
These are basically ride-on plastic boxes that are wider and have a little more give
if when you fall on them.
To perform a 50-50 on a box, all you need to do is ride onto the box with your snowboard base flat. Once you’ve got this down… it’s time to hit a real snowboard rail.
For this, choose one low to the ground with a nice large flat surface. Ideally, it would be one that you can ride-onto, rather than needing to clear a large gap first.
A Guide To Hitting Rails On A Snowboard
Let’s dive right into how to hit rails on a snowboard. I’ve broken it down into 9 simple steps for you.
1. Visualize the Trick
As always, when you’re attempting a trick for the first time, you should visualize doing it before attempting it.
Think about where you need to stand to complete the trick and where you are going to jump on and off the rail. This will allow you to anticipate what’s coming, building your confidence for the trick.
2. Get Your Stance Right
The next step is to get your stance right. You’ll need to have your feet in the correct position before hitting the rail to keep your balance and stick the landing. The basic stance for snowboarding is typically the same you’ll use when attempting to hit a rail.
For the beginners reading this piece, the basic snowboarding stance is feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your knees bent and your weight distributed evenly across your legs. It’s essential to keep your back straight, so you can comfortably steer the board.
3. Do a Dummy Run
Once you’ve got your feet in the right place and can visualize your attempt, you might need to do a practice run before the real thing. Follow these steps below:
- Go up the slope and line up for the trick.
- Ride down the hill in the line that you plan to follow on your trick.
- Pull out just before the spot you would normally jump onto the rail.
This allows you to clearly see the path that you’re going to take to hit the rail and to also assess your speed. This is called a dummy run. It helps build your confidence and get a feel for the build-up to the trick.
4. Build Up Speed
In the next step, you’ll need to go back to the starting point of your dummy run. Start hiking my friend!
Now it’s time to start your first attempt at hitting a rail. Go down the slope along the same line you followed on your dummy run. If you were too slow the first time, start a little higher up the slope.
Pro Tip: I know you don’t believe me, but speed is your friend (within reason). Going too slow is the number one mistake beginners make. This leads to higher impact on the rail and makes it incredibly hard to stay lined up.
Building up enough speed will allow your momentum to carry you over the entire rail and safely to the ground on the other side. If you don’t build up enough speed on your descent, you’ll likely fall off on the way over the rail. As a general rule, the faster, the better for hitting a rail successfully on a snowboard.
Just remember, don’t go faster than you can safely ride your snowboard.
5. Jump Onto the Rail
At this point, you’re speeding down the slope towards the rail. Next, you’ll need to jump with your snowboard up onto the rail. You must land on the rail with the bottom of the board landing flat on the rail.
This allows you to control yourself on the rail and maintain your balance as you slide across. If your snowboard is not flat when you make your jump, you’ll almost certainly lose your balance.
Pro Tip: Some beginner rails don’t require a jump as the on-ramp is designed to smoothly alight with the rail. Always check this before hitting the tail – even a small unexpected lip can lead to a pretty big fall.
6. Land on the Rail
After you’ve made your jump and the base of your snowboard is flat, it’s time to land on the rail. As you can on the rail, try to land with your feet centred over the rail to help you keep your balance. As you land, keep your knees bent and your back straight. If you maintain the proper stance and you’re in a good position to balance, your speed will do the rest of the work.
7. Don’t Look Down!
As you slide across the rail on your snowboard, you must maintain your focus directly in front of you. Watch the end of the rail… as that’s where you’re aiming for!
If you look down as you’re hitting the rail, your head will move and alter your center of gravity. This will make balance incredibly difficult, especially for a novice.
Instead, focus on the very end of the rail. This will ensure that you maintain a clear focus and a proper body position for balancing. Remember, your speed carries you over the railing, so all you have to do is control your balance and direction.
8. Stick the Landing
This step is the simplest of the entire process. However, sticking the landing is also where most people fall when hitting a rail. To stick the landing, stay focused on the end of the rail and let your momentum carry you to the end.
Remember to land on a flat surface with your knees bent, and you should have no problems sticking the landing and impressing your friends.
Pro Tip: Most beginner rails allow you to simply ride off at them at end. This allows you to concentrate on the landing. Once you have the rail a little more dialled in, it’s super helpful to pop off the end of the rail a little. This better aligns you for the landing and also looks a lot better.
9. Claim it!
You’ve just learned how to hit rails on a snowboard! Don’t be afraid to claim it. This can be in the form of a loud whoop, a heavy degree of after bang, or simply riding away smoothly.
How To Do Your First Snowboard Rail (Video)
Now that we know the core principles, let’s put it all together and check out some helpful footage:
Learning how to hit a rail on a snowboard is easy when you follow the above steps. You’ll likely need to make a couple of attempts before getting it right; however, with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Just remember these key points:
- Visualize and get your feet right
- Take a dummy run
- Build speed before jumping
- Land on the rail with the board flat
- Watch the end of the rail and keep your knees bent
- Stick the landing
If you found this post helpful, stick around and learn some more snowboarding gems!