Toe Edge and Heel Edge snowboard S Turns…

How to make Toe edge and Heel edge snowboard s turns?

It’s The age old question, if only it was as easy as in explaining it as in doing it.

The interesting thing about learning how to make s turns on a snowboard is that unfortunately there are 3 levels of the turn you need to master before you can truly begin to ride the mountain with style and grace.

Typically, you’ll struggle at the beginner stage of snowboarding, just even learning how to make some turns can be challenging for some people..

Once you get past this stage and into the intermediate progression, things start changing pretty fast and before you know it you’ll be heading down the mountain like a runaway train with no brakes whatsoever….

During this progression, expect to come across many challenges and unless you fully understand the phases of the turn, don’t expect your Beginner Green terrain turns will be sufficient.

Once you finally get through the intermediate stages of snowboarding, next you need to learn about turning on steeps and black diamond trials.

It’s at this stage that all your extra work in mastering the turns in the intermediate progression that you should a relatively smooth transition to becoming an advanced snowboarder.

Expect to start learning about stronger pivot turns and better anticipation with a general bigger range of movement throughout the entire body.

With that in mind, let’s start at the beginning so you have a strong foundation to build from.

The phases of the turn.

Here we break the turn down into three phases:

1) INITIATION PHASE OF THE Snowboard TURN (or beginning);

2) CONTROL Phase of the Snowboard Turn (or body)

3)  COMPLETION/PREPERATION (or end) Phase of the S Turn

how to turn on a snowboard

Note that the phases of the turn are very apparent in slower, low-level turns but become very blended and more difficult to see as the turns become smaller and the speed increases. However, the phases of the turn are always present and we can use them to communicate the sequence of events throughout the entire turn.


At the beginning of the turn, the uphill edge is released and the tip of the board moves into the arc of the new turn. Movements here may include extending or flexing to aid un-weighting, stopping the rotation (from the old turn), releasing tension created in the torso and hips (anticipation/release), and gently steering the body into the new direction.


This refers to the ‘belly’ of the turn, where the board is guided down the hill, through the fall-line and towards the finish of the turn. Movements here consist of progressive edging, pressuring and steering to resist the increasing forces.


This phase is where you’re completing the present turn while preparing to initiate the next turn.

Completion movements here consist of rotating to help finish more closed turns, whilst increasing the edge angle as the board moves across the fall-line.

At some point these movements cease to resist the forces pulling the rider out of the turn and consist of slower rotation and a decrease in edge angle in order to prepare for the next turn.

Preparation movements include looking down the hill at the approaching terrain, rotating the upper body in the new direction, and possibly building tension in the torso and hips. At higher levels it is especially important that as we move into heel-side turns we prepare the upper body rotationally, so we can maintain balance and see through to the end of that turn.

losing control on a snowboard

So that’s the phases of the turn…it’s extremely important to understand all movements of the turn if you ever want to master the art of riding steeps.


…to make toe and heel edge snowboard s turns, you need to think about the following body movements:

Where is your head looking?

What are your shoulders doing?

What are your arms doing?

Are your hips twisted or aligned with the snowboard?

And finally, are you stiff in the legs or are your knees and feet relaxed and slightly flexed?

Each of the steps below, contain a specific technique of movements for that exact body part mentioned.

Make sure you understand each step and start thinking about how you are riding in a more conscious style of snowboarding.

Start visualizing your body making the movements before you are even on the snow, The body always follows the mind so it must see the visual image (in the third eye) before it can implement the movements.

And most important, relax and enjoy the turning process…

  1. Head

When turning on a snowboard, most people (90%) forget to use their head! This is one of the most important aspects of turning…You can get away with poor head steering on green slopes, but as soon as you hit blue and black trails, you lack or skill will quickly show!

Develop the correct habit of ALWAYS looking UP and In the direction of Travel!

  • Keep your head up
  • Look in your riding direction
  • Don’t look down at your feet/Snow or down the hill – Look across to where you are going!

NOTE: Before you start you next turn, scope the anticipated line out before you begin your heel or toe edge s turn.

  1. Shoulders (Aligned or Twisted)

The shoulders and the snowboard work closely together, you can either use them in your favour as a tight niched unit or create a lot of tension and frustration during the turning phases.

In general, your shoulders should always be in alignment with your snowboard and help with some anticipation into the new turn, the key is to make sure you realign upper and lower body parts before entering the next turn

NOTE: MOST of the ability to turn our snowboard comes from the lower body, the upper body just complements the lower body movements.

Look and Turn your head and shoulders in the direction you want to Travel, then…

  • Use your Lower body movements to turn the snowboard under you.
  • Control the speed of your turn by steering your board back across the hill.


losing control on a snowboard

  1. Hips

It is important to keep your hips in alignment with your snowboard, This will help stop counter rotation into new turns and aid in torsional twist for generating a quick edge change:

  • Make some smooth turns and feel how your hips are working
  • Keep the hips over the centred of the snowboard, moving in rotational motions
  1. Knees

Try and stay soft in knees always, this will help with flexion and extension and aid in absorption of different snow conditions. ALWAYS keep your knees flexed, even at your highest point of extension (in the legs) you knees should still be slightly flexed….


The easiest way to get the knees turning is to:

  • While riding your heel side edge you will have greater range of movement
  • Expect your toe side edge to be smaller with range of movement
  • Try and ride cowboy stance
  1. Feet

The movement of the feet makes a huge impact on your riding, as the feet are directly mounted to the snowboard.

Standing in a stationary position, Practice paddling your feet while turning on your snowboard. Think about initiating the turn with pressure on the front foot.

Keep weight forward when learning how to turn, as you progress through the various levels, you can start manipulating the snowboard in different ways through different longitudinal movements.


  • Keep your head up, looking over your shoulder
  • Straight back and hips in alignment with snowboard
  • Weight over the front foot
  • Try and steer the front knee through the turn (cowboy stance)

intermediate snowboarding tutorials

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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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