Riding sideways is my favourite way to ride, however it does come with many challenges. This article will address asymmetry in snowboarding and how instructors can use this knowledge to their teaching advantage. The main points of this article will be how asymmetry effects beginners and advanced riders alike. These points can both help to improve our own snowboarding as well as aid in analysis and improvement skills.

A large percentage of beginners learn how to turn from their toe side edge to their heel side edge (heel side turn) first. There are many reasons for this such as; beginners like to look down the hill which rotates their head, shoulders and hips into the direction of the turn. In the neutral position the hips are situated over the heel side edge aiding in the lateral movement down the hill. The Heel side to toe side turn (toe side turn) seems to be more difficult. The beginner rider looks straight down the hill, no rotational momentum is created. Rotating down the hill is difficult as the hips and center of mass are stuck over the heel side edge. Beginners tend to stand tall and tip into their toe side turn using their side cut to initiate the rotational movement which often leads to them falling into the hill.

Asymmetry affects advanced riders in a similar way. The heel side turn in steep or icy terrain can be challenging. As the riders head rotates down the hill, the shoulders and hips follow; this movement can often occur before the rider commits to the new edge. As the rider moves through the turn the hips move over the front foot and the rider losses control of the back of their snowboard. Toe side turns are often initiated with a tip from the front shoulder. Rotating the hip over the toe edge happens less naturally so the shoulder is used instead to get weight inside the turn. Riders rely more heavily on inclination to initiate the toe side turn rather than a rotational movement coming from the hip and knee.

Analysis and improvement can be a daunting task to accomplish. Understanding how the human body moves kinetically can be a big help. Knowing which inefficiencies to look for in a snowboarder can give the instructor an advantage. Once we start to find these patterns of inefficiency we can start to plan lessons around them and analysis can be more precise and well thought out. More often that not an advanced rider will use too much twisting too early in the heel side turn. The toe side seems to be the opposite; riders will often rely on tipping into the turn and the twisting of the hip and knee is minimal.
Looking at symmetry of the turns is a great place to start. Are both turns equal or does one have a larger radius? Which turn is more completed? I hope these tips can improve your riding as well as your analysis and improvement skills.


Breen Trott
CASI Level 4 Evaluator
National Technical Team Member