The keys to landing Backside 180's on a snowboard

The backside 180 is an iconic snowboard trick. It feels great and always looks stylish when performed well. However, a number of things can go wrong, as this trick as it’s often attempted without the key foundation riding skills. Here are a few keys issues and how you can resolve them with some simple to follow drills.

Stay looking downhill causing body separation

Traverse backside pops off toes

If you’re able to find the centre of your board through and cut a clean line in the snow as you traverse then start to add in a series of even weight pops. Pay particular attention to the alignment of your shoulders and placement of your arms as they will influence the board whilst in the air. If you’re not aligned the board will want to rotate or you’ll land with more weight on one particular foot. Once you have this skill in place. Look to pop and rotate 90° backside and maintain a strong tilted edge on landing. The board should be able to slide a little as you travel backwards. You do not want the board to jam into the snow and throw you over, or bounce you too much. Focus on keeping your eyes looking up hill following the rotation or on your front foot (new back foot) as you take off to avoid the downhill stare.

Static off board jumps

Carry out a backside 180° rotation off the board by working on initiating the rotation with your hips and shoulders in one fluid movement. Focus on a small pre-wind with your front arm being just behind your front hip and you back arm in front of your chest. Try not to leave your front arm in front of you the whole time. Aim to bend your knees to gain height for the rotation rather than bending at the waist. Pay attention to how your arms are moving. Do they assist or hold back your rotation? You should aim to do the jump with your eyes closed and feel that your whole body working together floating into the rotation. Once you feel comfortable with that rotation try it with your board on.

Reverse J-turns

Carry out a wide turn across the slope and head back up hill. Once you stop moving, let the board drop into switch and hold in a straight run as long as is safe and comfortable. This will allow you to work on the landing position and trust your riding abilities as you ride in switch. You can then add in a pop as you come to stop in the up hill position to test your skills.

Straight Run Backside 180

Ride down hill on a very mellow slope straight and work in a small ollie or even weight pop to aid the rotation. Aim to keep the shoulders, and knees over the toe edge of the board helping you maintain a powerful position. Aim to keep your head looking backwards or at your normal front foot (now back foot) to help maintain a longer run in switch.

Not stacked over the board

Traverse backside pops off toes

If you’re able to find the centre of your board through working on a clean edge traverse drill then start to add in a series of even weight pops. Pay particular attention to the alignment of your shoulders and placement of your arms as that will influence the board whilst in the air. If you’re not aligned the board will want to rotate or land on either the front or back foot first. Once you have this drill in place. Look to pop and rotate 90° backside and maintain and strong tilted edge on landing. Focus on keeping your eyes looking up hill following the rotation or on your front foot as you take off to avoid downhill stare.

Up hill pops/hops

Aim to create a clean line in the snow by tilting your board as your traverse across the slope. Once you can maintain a clean edge look to firstly jump up and down (pop) as your traversing. This should be an even weight pop with no preference to one particular leg. Once the pops are solid aim to jump up hill on both heels and toes during the traverse. If moving and popping is an issue start on your toes looking up hill, with no movement and do little jumps up hill. If that works also try it on your heel edge. Heel edge is a lot tougher as you’ll need to try and avoid breaking or bending at the waist.

Back arm lift

If there is a regular break at the waist when you take off aim to keep your back arm lifted and parallel with the slope. As you pop that will help keep you more upright and inline with your board as you rotate.

Lateral movement to heels

Quite often through the rotation the shoulders will transfer from being over the toes to the heels, leaving you unbalanced on landing. This can be caused by a full extension of the legs at take-off engaging the highbacks and moving the board forward/in front of you. It also happens if you throw your upper body too much into the rotation at take-off. The approach should lead you into the rotation, so you do not need to work too hard with your body to assist in the spin.

Up hill pops/hops

Aim to create a clean line in the snow by tilting your board as your traverse across the slope. Once you can maintain a clean edge look to firstly jump up and down (pop) as your traversing. This should be an even weight pop with no preference to one particular leg. Once the pops are solid aim to jump up hill on both heels and toes during the traverse. If moving and popping is an issue start on your toes looking up hill, with no movement and do little jumps up hill. If that works also try it on your heel edge. Heel edge is a lot tougher as you’ll need to try and avoid breaking or bending at the waist.

Frontside shifty prior to rotation

If your not balanced on your board as you initiate a pop to rotate the board will do a slight frontside rotation prior to take-off. This often results in a frontside shifty. I refer to this as the ‘kicking football effect’. The main issues with this is that you’ll be un balanced at take-off and you’ll be increasing the amount of rotation required to complete a 180 spin. You’ll want to hold as clean an edge as possible all the way through to take-off.

Pop to fall line — toes to toes

Traverse across the slope and pop off a clean edge landing once again on the toes and holding the edge. As the angle of the slope shallows slowly bring the take off more towards the fall line.

Holding switch run out

A great way to show your control and skill level is your ability to land the backside 180 and hold a solid switch run out. The key way to hold this is to have a toe side takeoff and a toe side landing. On the landing you’ll need to have the ability to hold a strong, but shallow tilt on the board, so the force of the landing does not throw your weight over to your heels and therefore sliding round towards a 360. Try the traverse backside pops off the toes to help develop the skills required for this.