You might be in the position where you’re wondering if a different board will help you with learning tricks – will a freestyle board help? The short answer is “yes”. Here’s why…
A shorter board. Your freestyle board will be shorter than an all-mountain or freeride counterpart. “Shorter” brings a few benefits when it comes to learning freestyle.
With a shorter board it’s easier to initiate turns and in general, manoeuvre the board. This makes setting up for rails and boxes easier; a more nimble board is better for jibbing.
A shorter board is also easier to spin, both on the snow and in the air. Buttery tricks on the ground are easier to learn with a less cumbersome board. When you’re spinning in the air, a shorter board will have less resistance, so it will be easier to initiate and complete the rotation.
A lighter board. In part, this a direct consequence of the board being shorter, but freestyle boards are made from different materials with different design goals, which also have an effect. Like being shorter, a lighter board is also easier to move, which makes a freestyle board more agile and easier to get off the snow.
Getting off the ground, or, ‘getting air’ is what you’re going to need with a lot of your freestyle moves: height from your ollies, popping out of a butter, getting that grab – will all benefit from a lighter board.
A softer board. Freestyle boards have a softer flex. When you’re learning the technique of things like ollies, nollies and presses, it helps to be able to achieve board flex with less effort. A stiffer, more aggressive board will have more ‘potential’ in its pop – but will require greater effort and skill to use.
Not only will a softer flex will help you learn – it is generally better suited to jibbing around with things like butters. The flex of a freestyle board is also designed to work well on features like boxes and rails – they absorb the impact when you land on the feature and give greater control once you’re on. You’re more likely to make a mistake on a stiffer, less forgiving board.
Twin-tip and twin-flex. A freestyle board is most likely going to be a twin-tip design, with a twin-flex. This symmetrical setup will make it easier for all-things-switch. Landing switch, setting up switch, nollies, nose presses etc. This is all part and parcel of freestyle snowboarding.
A less agressive side-cut. A freestyle board will have a less agressive side-cut compare with an all-mountain or freeride board – that’s the profile of the board’s edges. This design is another feature that makes the board easier to manoeuvre at slower speeds and with less effort. You don’t need to flex the board as much to engage the edge; it’s more mellow, which is good for learning and practicing freestyle moves.
Learning freestyle isn’t exclusive to “freestyle” boards…
You can learn freestyle on other boards – all-mountain boards and even freeride boards. It’s just going to be harder – it will take longer to get initial results. Kind of like the reason learner drivers start in small cars: they’re easier to control and manoeuvre, making them a better vehicle better for learning.
A freestyle board will make it easier to learn – but once you’ve attained a grounding in freestyle, you have that foundation, a freestyle board is still better suited to freestyle snowboarding. You can do tricks on almost any board, but snowboard manufacturers put a lot of effort into making boards specific to certains jobs – that’s why this category of snowboard exists.
What do you want from your board?
It’s a balance – decide what you want most from your riding. If it’s predominantly freestyle, then yes, a freestyle board is exactly what you want. It will be easier to learn tricks – the board will perform better for this task.
This article is part of the afterbang Guide to Learning Snowboard Tricks. You may also be interested in the article: How Important Is Having The “Right” Board For Buttering?
If the decision of what type of board, or “how many boards” is playing on your mind – you might be interested in the article: How Many Snowboards Do You Need?
Get hooked up with a freestyle board
If you’re adding a freestyle board to your setup – try looking here: The Best Snowboard Brands Ever!