You’ll often hear snowboarders talk about frontside and backside: “a frontside 360”, “a backside 180” or “a frontside boardslide”. But if these terms are new to you, the whole thing can seem quite confusing!
Read on for the answers…
Snowboard Jumps and Spins
For jumps, frontside and backside refer to the direction of the spin – but that’s relative to your stance (regular or goofy).
Wherever you are now, try going through the motion of a frontside spin:
- Stand up in your snowboarding stance, facing forward/downhill, so that you’re looking over your leading shoulder
- Keeping your feet on the floor, turn your head more, to look over and past your leading shoulder, then let your shoulders turn in the same direction
- Notice how the front side of your body, your chest, is turning to face the direction that is downhill, as the spin starts
- That’s frontside… and here’s a frontside pic:
A backside spin is simply the opposite, but you can still try one; it will help you quickly recognise a spin when you see other riders pulling tricks:
- Get back into in your snowboard stance, head turned to face forward/downhill
- Keeping your feet on the floor, turn your head as if you were looking back up the hill, in the direction of your trailing shoulder. Then let your shoulders turn in this direction
- Notice that it’s now the back side of your body that turns to point in the downhill direction, as the spin starts
- That’s backside
Once you’ve worked that out in your head, you should be able to:
(a) Understand what spin you’re trying to do (or want to do).
(b) be able to spot what tricks other riders are doing, even though some of them will be riding regular, and some of them will be riding goofy.
Frontside and Backside Diagram
In the (highly likely) circumstance that I’ve confused you even further, check out my diagram below.
Snowboard Rails and Boxes
For rails and boxes you might have noticed that things seem to be the other way around.
So what’s going on?
The first thing to clear up is the term boardslide. To be clear, when someone says “boardslide” – as far as the trick terminology goes, they’re actually referring to a “backside boardslide”. It’s just common to drop the “backside” part.
So it’s: frontside boardslide vs. (backside) boardslide.
So imagine you’re doing one of these “boardslides” down a box. Once you’re on the box you’re facing dead-ahead, with your chest pointing downhill and your back is facing the start of the box.
How did you get into this position on the box?
You had to spin 90 degrees in the frontside direction – like a “frontside 90”. So that’s a frontside boardslide, right?
Actually, no… That’s a backside boardslide.
Frontside and Backside Rail Tricks
With rails and boxes, the frontside/backside tag does not come from the spin that you used to get on the box.
Although this might seem confusing to begin with, the frontside/backside tag refers to which side of the rail/box you were on as you started the trick.
This might seem strange, especially as a lot of the rails and boxes that snowboarders encounter are ride-on, where you start off straight on, and not from one side or the other…
However, when you consider that many of the snowboard tricks, and terminology, originated from skateboarding, it starts to make more sense. On a skateboard, it’s more natural to approach a rail from one side, even when you’re starting out.
Consider this video that explains the basics of a frontside boardslide:
You can see that with a frontside boardslide – it’s the rider’s “front” that faces the rail. Notice also that the skater mentions you’ll be rotating backside, when doing a frontside boardslide.
Well it’s exactly the same on a snowboard – it’s based on the part of your body that faces the rail on approach, just before you get on the rail, while the board is still parallel with the rail.
If you’re still thinking: “yeah, but I’m hitting the rail/box straight on, I’m not getting on from the side” – just imagine a rail like the following, where it’s designed to ollie on from the side:
The same terminology can be used for the 50-50. In the case of the 50-50, there’s a good chance that you’ll hit the rail/box straight on, in which case you can call it a “50-50”.
But if it is one of those rails, like the one above, where you ollie on from one side – then it’s either a frontside 50-50 or a backside 50-50…
Confusing? A little, yes.
Things are different again when it comes to lip-slides on rails and boxes. But don’t worry, if you’re doing advanced rail tricks like lip-slides, you’ll know all about the trick names.
Hopefully that’s made things a little clearer.
A few readers have had difficulty with their rotations in general, and I’ve since discovered that their boards were simply far too big for them. For this reason, I’ve built a snowboard size calculator tool. I highly recommend checking you’re on the right board!
This article is part of the Guide to Snowboard Tricks – here are some of the hardest tricks in the world!