How to Ride Switch on a Snowboard?

It’s an essential skill for all types of riding. If you’re new, switch riding is essentially riding backward on your snowboard with the opposite foot forward than you would normally ride with. So, if you usually ride left foot forward riding switch would be riding goofy or with the right foot forward and vice versa if you usually ride with the right foot forward.

Now I don’t care what your ability level is. If you’re spinning in and out, launching over 80-foot jumps, or just cruising down your favorite blue square. If you don’t know how to ride switch you’re not utilizing your snowboard to its full potential and you’re at a massive disadvantage and at greater risk for wrecking.

In this article, I’m going to talk about a couple of rules that are going to massively improve your ability to ride both directions on a snowboard.

Do you really need to know how to ride switch? If you want access to 90% of what’s possible on a snowboard then the answer is yes. Half the fun of snowboarding is that you can go both ways. You can butter, spin, and grind either way. You can take off switch, lane switch, and revert mid-rail. Finally, you can save yourself from a fall by being quick on your feet and avoiding disaster in the trees by being versatile and being able to switch back and forth.

The ability to ride switch is essential to becoming a well-rounded rider. It’s a stepping stone to 180s 540s 900s half cabs and more.

So why don’t most people do it? Simply put, people like to do things they’re good at and most of us are horrible at riding switch. It’s like learning to snowboard all over again complete with the wrecking, the humiliation, and the bruised kneecaps. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable in order to get good at riding switch. Not only that, but you have to make it a rule for yourself.

When I first started to learn to ride switch, I couldn’t figure it out. I’d try it out halfway down the run, struggle to turn, and just go back to my regular way of riding until I found the ultimate hack. Someone told me I needed to never miss a switch day. What that means is one day a week you just go up and ride switch the entire day, no exceptions.

Eero Ettala, one of the greatest snowboarders of all time is notorious for adhering to switch days. He also won the X Games doing a switch double wildcat over the biggest jump on the course. That’s not a coincidence.

So I went up to the mountain for my first switch day and on the first run, I was horrible. But a couple of hours later, I wasn’t so bad. In a couple of weeks of doing switch days every week and I could actually ride switch.

It turns out if you already know how to snowboard, it doesn’t take nearly as long to learn how to ride switch.

Start out learning to stop toeside and heel side switch and then progress to small s-turns and then bigger carves across the slope. Stick to a mellow slope until you get a little more comfortable. When I stuck with it for a while, I improved much faster than I thought.

These days, I forced myself to ride switch in all situations. I hit jump switch, I ride onto rail switch and I even challenge myself to ride moguls and trees switch. I’m still working on that one.

The key here is to attack what makes you uncomfortable. If you can’t turn the toeside switch, make it a rule that you’re only allowed to turn the toeside switch. Practice it over and over again until it’s not as uncomfortable. You will be surprised by how fast you progress. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says everything is reps.

In addition to one switch day a week you should ride at least one run switch every day you ride. I try to ride switch every single run. Back in the day, there was a pro snowboarder named Travis Parker who has since retired from the game. But one season he announced that he was switching to regular after being goofy his entire snowboard career. At the time I thought this was ridiculous but now I’m actually considering switching to being goofy for an entire season. I think you could get to the point where you don’t have a natural stance even on jumps and rails.

I ride switch about half the time right now but I’m still much better at riding regular especially in super steep or bumpy moguls, trees, and stuff like that. I’m so uncomfortable switch but I think I could get to the point where I’m not.

Now some people think they need to get better at riding in their natural stance before learning to ride switch. I’m beginning to think everyone should be learning to ride both directions from the beginning. The caveat here is I’m not supporting you only doing falling leaf and never turning toeside and just riding heel side regular and then heel side goofy. I’m talking about full turns in both directions. The more you do it the easier it becomes.

Some of you might worry that you need to ride a twin tip or a snowboard that is symmetrical on the nose and the tail but you can ride switch with a directional board, no problem. For years, I only rode a twin tip board with a perfectly symmetrical stance because I thought I needed it to ride switch. But once I switched to a directional board and set my stance back a bit, I didn’t mind it at all.

One thing I do to make it easier ride switch is I ride a duck stance with a negative angle on my back foot. My personal preference is 18 degrees on the front foot and negative 15 on the back.

One common mistake to watch out for when riding a switch is riding your snowboard like it’s backward. Keep your shoulders squared up towards the back of your board. We don’t want to actually ride backward when we ride switch. Practice switch ollies and other tricks that you would do regularly. This is going to help us treat it like it’s its own way of riding rather than just riding backward. Take note of your body and leg positioning and how you weigh your front and your back foot when you’re riding regularly and try to mimic that switch.

Keep in mind that your muscles haven’t been trained to switch so it’s going to feel weird and you might be weak at first. Like anything you’ll build muscle and get stronger the more, you do it. When you start riding switch and your friends aren’t, they’re going to be much faster and much better than you are riding down the slope and you’re going to be tempted to just switch back to your regular stance and catch up with your friends. You have to learn to be okay with being seen as not as good as other people and eventually you’ll be much better than everyone else in both directions.

So that’s it. Schedule a switch day for one out of five days you ride and ride switch the entire day with no exceptions. You already know how to snowboard. I don’t need to tell you how to ride the switch. It’s the same as riding regularly. The big thing is you have to actually make yourself do it even when it’s uncomfortable. Get out there, ride switch and show the skiers what they’re missing out on.

To summarize here’s the entire article in a nutshell, how does one get good at riding switch? Ride switch, the end.