How to Turn a Snowboard on Steep Terrain to Control your Speed

It’s easier than you think….

What is? 

To stop falling and Control your Speed when you turn on a snowboard.

Not understanding the turning process on a snowboard will always leave you feeling confused and frustrated with your ability shred it up on the mountain.

Today I am going to give you the low down on how to turn your snowboard smooth and pain free every time.

I am assuming you can stand up and can complete Linked Skidded Turns on Green and Blue Trails.

Let’s start with the turn sizes and what they do.

Here we have 3 different turn sizes:


As your snowboarding progress, you will start to utilize different turn’s sizes for different types of terrain.

For example:

I wouldn’t use a large turn size on black runs as I would more than likely pick up too much speed, there are exceptions to the rule but for arguments sake, let’s just say I wouldn’t.

Depending on the terrain and conditions of the snow, my turn size and shape will change dramatically. Put simply, the longer the board spends in the fall-line, the larger the turn, therefore the greater the rider’s rate of descent. 

For the situation at hand, if you’re struggling to turn easily and consistently on Blue trails then I would suggest dropping down to green runs and practicing some Small closed turns shapes.

As you gain confidence, you can start experimenting with your turn size...

What are closed turn’s you ask?

Let me show you.

Not only are there small, Medium and Large turns, we also have Open and Closed turn shapes.

As you can see on the left, we have an open turn shape, we would spend more time with our snowboard facing down the hill, and therefore we would be generating more speed.

Situations where you would use this turn:

-Flat surface to get more speed
-Powder runs, speed is your friend on powder days
-Terrain Park

And basically anywhere you would feel comfortable using them as long as you maintained control over the snowboard.

losing control on a snowboard

To Get the full Video Series Step by Step Progression to Riding Steeps.... Click Here

Now, Onto the closed turn shape...

This type of turn shape is extremely good for controlling our speed, by closing the turn off we are able to wash away our excess speed we generated during the edge change. (Turn)

Situations where you would use this:

  • Steeps
  • Trees
  • Blue/Black runs
  • Moguls
  • Bumpy Conditions
  • Ice

Anywhere you are not comfortable with going fast.

It’s plain and simple... control your speed and make it easier on yourself (while you’re learning) “Close your turns off!”

So, now that you understand our turn shape and sizes, from now on, when you are riding steep terrain, I want you to focus on Small to Medium closed turns.

I’ll say it again,

“Small/Medium CLOSED turns”

It is extremely important to control your speed while learning to turn, this increases your confidence and more importantly keeps your Basic stance in check!

Sweet, let’s talk about the actual movements of the turn itself!

There are 3 Stages to the Turn:

  1. Initiation
  2. Control
  3. Completion

Turn phases

Initiation stage of the snowboard turn

The initiation is where we set up for the turn, in this section of the turn you would be thinking about releasing the energy in either the toe/heel side edge.

To do this we would extend our body up into a taller standing position, this will release tension created from our torso and hip, making it easier for the snowboard to naturally come down into the fall line.

This is where a lot of people go wrong, they keep pressure on the edge and find it difficult to steer the board down into the fall line easily.

To Get the full Video Series Step by Step Progression to Riding Steeps.... Click Here

Control Phase of the turn:

At this stage of the turn we will have our board facing down the fall line and will be changing onto the opposite edge of the snowboard.

It is important you maintain the basic stance and keep looking in the direction you want to go, back across the hill. (Closed turn)

Completion Phase of the turn:

Once you have changed edges, slowly start applying pressure back on to the edge of the snowboard by flexing down into the snowboard itself.

Here you would be steering your board back across the fall line (uphill if necessary) to wash away the speed that was generated.

RELATED: How to Snowboard

NOTE: Want to learn how to stay balanced and controlled when Riding steeps on a snowboard? Simply download this bad habits cheat sheet to gain an unfair advantage on the hill. Learn what bad habits snowboarders make so you can AVOID them to progress faster and maintain balance and control easier…check it out now!

tree riding on a snowboard

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Logan is the founder of Online Snowboard coach and has been coaching people how to snowboard for over 12 years...

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