In search of the female snowboard ollie

Could the physiology of female riders be limiting some freestyle progression? I’ve noticed very few female riders that have a strong ollie. I see a lot more popping (even weight extension of legs), and I do not think it comes down to strength as an effective ollie is really just correct placement of weight combined with blend of fore and aft movements. I feel that the skeleton makeup of females could be hindered the shifting of weight to assist ollies.

See how Natalie does not ollie that much

There is something called a Q angle. Technically this refers to the “angle formed by a line drawn from the anterior superior iliac spine through the centre of the patella and a line drawn from the centre of the patella to the centre of the tibial tubercle.”

Female Q Angle

Female Q Angle

In simple terms females generally have wider hips than males, and therefore their legs come in at a steeper angle to sit evenly under their torso. The picture to the left highlights this in more detail. Q angle for women is generally 4.6° greater than that for men. It could be even greater depending on the individuals skeletal make up.

Agliettis et. al. Clin. Ortho 1983: Normal males: Q angle = 14 deg (+/- 3). Normal females: Q angle = 17 deg (+/- 3)

When you’re trying to ollie your aiming to shift your weight over the tail of the board and then push against the snow getting a reaction from the tail that assists in springing you upwards and gaining airtime.

The Q Angle effect on Landing & Takeoff

The Q Angle effect on Landing & Takeoff

If you look at the trick tip video below you can notice how the male riders back knee naturally pushes out towards the tail of the board maximises the power he can attain through the tail of the board.

The Q angle exaggerated through a tucked back knee can also effect both male and female riders in their normal snowboarding. Quite often if you ride with your shoulders facing down the slope, you will tuck your back knee inwards. This was mentioned in one of my recent blog posts in relation to riding kickers. To create a stronger platform on your board you’ll want to be conscious of the back knee and aim to push it out creating a more even weight distribution between both feet. This balance will change as you initiate tricks or turns, but you need to have the ability to get back to the centre (balanced) of your board when you finish each turn or trick. Quite often I refer to this as a sequence of:

Start balanced (centred)— Do the trick (generally out of centre) — Land balanced (back to centre).

In relation to improving ollies for both male and female riders I would pay attention to how the back knee is working during the ollie. If you notice it is pressing or flexing towards the centre of the board, aim to push the knee out a little to help distribute the power more towards the tail of the board and look to move the point at which the board leaves the ground from just outside the back foot to further towards the last bit of the tail of the board.

How effective an Ollie can be — Especially on her Cab 270 at 1:22

Sure an ollie is not the centre of the universe for snowboarding, but it can make things a whole lot more entertaining and easier to progress to more technical movements, so it’s well worth working on towards a decent one.

James Streater is the Head Coach and Founder of Maverix Snow Ltd, a snowboard coaching company that “Helps you look and feel great on snow” James dips into his 17 years of snowsports experience to comment on the industry and ways to improve your on slope experience. Follow him on Instagram @maverixsnow