The Keys to landing Frontside 180's on a snowboard
This is the big one for people venturing into rotations, so common errors in peoples riding come to the forefront very quickly. Below we’ve listed four main issues that people have with this form of rotation and some drills to try at home or on the slopes to help correct these and help you on the road to great spins. These tips focus on those riders attempting a frontside (turn left for regular, right for goofy) 180 off the heelside edge.
Back arm blocking rotation
This is the by far the most common issue with people attempting frontside 180s. It is primarily caused by riders having an open stance, i.e. their shoulders slightly turned downhill. I cover this issue in more detail via this article — Is your back arm killing your freestyle? Here are a few drills to help towards your arms assisting the rotation.
Traverse glove passing
Start on your heel edge in a traverse. Initiate a flatbase 180 without your board leaving the ground by passing a glove from your back hand to your front hand. Aim for the movement to be very smooth with the glove pass taking place just as your board starts to rotate. Aim to keep your shoulders moving with your board and not being left behind.
Once in switch carry out a toe to heel turn. When on your heels pass the glove from the back hand to your front hand again. This will enable you to work on your cab (switch) as well as regular frontside 180’s and combine some switch riding. If you’re in doubt of how the sequence works. Carry out the drill without your board on and walk through the movements.
Off board static jumps
Carry out a frontside 180 rotation off the board by working on initiating the rotation with your hip, shoulders and back arm in one fluid movement. Focus on your pre-wind with your back arm being just behind your back hip. Aim to bend your knees to gain height for the rotation rather than bending at the waist. Pay attention to how your back arm is moving. Does it jump backwards as you rotate, or do you feel tightness in your chest as the muscles are worked by your arm moving backwards during the rotation. Try to jump with your eyes closed to feel how your whole body works through the rotation. Aim to initiate the rotation with your back arm, and as it gets to your hip, that acts as a trigger for the rest of your body to flow with the rotation. Once you feel comfortable with that rotation try it with your board on.
Tap that Ass
Riding into the kicker with your shoulders slightly open will often cause the arm to block in the second 90 degrees of the rotation. When riding into the jump be patient and focus on your back arm tapping your butt cheek just before you go up the transition of the kicker. Aim to leave the jump very straight with the rotation being initiated from the ground up (Board, knees, hips, arms, shoulders and head), where each part of your body works as a unit with a split second between each part helping the spin, and you do not leave your shoulders behind your board.
Pre-rotation on the jump
This is when you turn/spin too early up the face of the jump. The typical results are reduced speed (knuckle landing) and drifting off the landing. Worst case it results in a toe edge catch, broken arm and a helicopter ride.
Fall line spin
On a mellow pitch of snow initiate a frontside rotation off your heels with a gradual reduction in the amount of rotation you place on the board prior to the spin. This form of rotation will be harder on the piste than a kicker, but it will enable you to tone down the spin on a jump and will show you that you do not need to pre-spin as much to make the 180.
Late edge change
Look to initiate the heel edge for the rotation just as you go up the jump. As soon as you go tilt onto your heels, you’ll be rotating/turning, so the earlier you start this the more pre-rotation you’ll have on the jump. Your goal is to leave the jump as straight as possible with a slight ollie off the tail to assist in lift.
Lack of lateral movement
Lateral movement is the board moving underneath the torso, like a pendulum of a clock. Many riders find this movement difficult. With a frontside 180 you’re aiming to take off on your heels and then land on your toes for total control. Quite often riders shoulders will stay over the heels on a frontside 180 and they will land on their heel edge. It’s ok to start like that, especially if your switch riding is a bit shady, but long term you’re trying to move toward and toe edge landing.
If riders over power the rotation and they stay over their heels, then the board will generally slip out. Speed and line will do most of the work for 180. It’s not a power move. Imagine a heel to toe edge turn/180 across the slope without the board leaving the ground. Thats the amount of power you’ll most likely need.
Off board hill jump from heels to toes
Stand on a steep pitch of snow and dig your heels into the ground so you have a platform. Carry out a frontside 180 rotation and land on your toes in a balanced posture. Your arms and overall posture should help you to rotate, not block the movement.
Traverse heel to toe/toe to heel jumps
Hold a clean edge traveling across a medium pitch slope. Aim to pop from your heels, land on your toes whilst still traversing, then pop back again. Complete a turn and then jump from toes to heels. Choose your terrain carefully for this as there is a high chance of falling during the drill.
Pivot around front leg
Often riders have issues with lifting the front leg during this rotation, and therefore dip the front shoulder and pivot around the front leg, resulting in a uneven landing. You’re aiming for a clean ollie/rotation that brings both legs up into the body helping to keep a nice balanced position in the air, helping you land back on your toes in a stacked posture. This is quite often caused by going too slow into the jump. You’ve committed to the rotation so you throw it around even through you’re too slow for it to flow properly. The heelside 180 has a slight bias to the back foot (approx 65%) on the initiation of the rotation (the pop/ollie). This bias should not be happening as your riding into the jump.
Popping over snow lumps
Look for small lumps of snow where you can traverse close to them (backside) and practice popping and lifting the front leg over the snow.
Traverse Ollie 180s
If you have your ollies in place, work into a clean traverse 180’s working the tail of the board and getting good lift from the front foot. Aim to land as even weight as possible.
Have fun with these, as once you get them, it will open up a whole new world of spins.