ATML — The Key to breaking down freestyle snowboard moves

A handy way to help break down freestyle tricks into manageable chunks is the ATML model.

A lot of times riders will focus on the trick its self, but if you could improve the way to approach a kicker or rail you can dramatically improve your chances of success. I recently discussed how to improve a riders kicker approach here. I find the best results come from working through each phase, refining one element and then improving the next until you finish refining the landing phase.

In this article I’ll discuss the ATML method, so you can work on improving your own moves and above all remember to simplify things. You want to look and feel as great as possible with the least amount of effort.



This phase includes everything the rider does before jumping, grinding the rail, or dropping into the halfpipe. In this zone you set the speed and stance to use a feature. Look at other riders and their lines in the snow to see how other riders are and have approached the feature so you can gauge speed and turn shape and how to edge as you ride in. You’re aiming to implement some solid tactics to improve your chances of trick success. This article gives you a little more information on this phase for kickers.


In this phase the rider enters the ‘action zone’ transitioning from preparation to actual manoeuvre. This might entail airing over a gap, jumping on a rail, or boosting out of the pipe. This is where you setup and prepare for the trick. Think about what you need to do with your body to improve your chances of success. Do you pre-wind? Do you put in a certain turn at a certain point? Where you do look? What edge are you on? It all has an impact on your level of success.

Takeoff — Look at the lines in the snow that are set to help make spinning easier

Takeoff — Look at the lines in the snow that are set to help make spinning easier


This phase, as you might expect, is where the rider does the actual trick, which requires style, control, and planned movement regardless of whether the goal is a straight run on a box or a high launch and spin in the superpipe. Be clear in the results you want. Do not be riding in still deciding what trick you want to achieve. Think about how the trick should look. See yourself doing the trick and mull over what you want it to look like. Watch videos or check out other local riders doing that trick, and steal their technique and style. Learn from other peoples mistakes, so you make less.


In this phase, the rider seeks to come back to earth balanced, and with the absorption and speed control that sets up the next move, whether it’s another hit in the pipe or a clean ride away from the rail or jump. In most instances you’re going to want to land in a solid even weight stance, so you can be stable for riding away. Yet there are extra things to consider. What edge do you want to land on? Where on the slope do you want to land? What’s your plan after landing?

James Waterman showing us the phases of ATML in Les Deux Alpes

James Waterman showing us the phases of ATML in Les Deux Alpes

In all this do not get fixated just on the trick, there is a lot around it that can dramatically improve your chances of dialling the trick in a safe and controlled way.

Source: AASI Park & Pipe Instructors Guide