Is flatland & buttering holding back your freestyle snowboarding

Flatland is a great way to develop your snowboard agility as well as boost your fun on the piste, but if you want to apply those skills in the park you’ll want to pay attention to the time you invest in developing your flatland skills vs the time you spend applying those skills in the park.

Flatland can act as a stepping stone towards improving your skills in the park, but it does not mimic the full feeling and stresses that are applied when you try those tricks on features. 

You should aim to apply and refine those moves as close as possible after working them on the piste. That way the muscle memory is in place with a higher level of confidence. 

If you leave a big gap between the flatland drills and the park then you’ll start to loose all the positive energy you’ve built up. That can result in an over reliance on developing the flatland tricks and you could start to avoid applying the moves in the park. 

I have seen it with a number riders. They start on a path of developing their flatland for the park, but get caught in loop and over work the flatland side thinking the better they are at flatland the better they will be in the park. Agility on the board will certainly help in the park, but you need to be able to apply those skills at very specific moments in very defined spaces. Park confidence is perishable. The more time you spend out of it the more the atmosphere, features and flow of the park will intimidate you. 

Using the piste to prepare for the park

Using the piste to prepare for the park

During our last summer camps in Les Deux Alpes our day would be shaped around our goals in the park. This meant even our morning warm-up before we put our boards on would develop the movements required in the park. We’d then work a series of flatland drills that would build on the warm-up. Once in the park we would hammer the movements with a lot of feedback and support to keep everybody stoked and confidence high until they could finish with a new dialled trick. 

It’s a lot easier for me as a coach to shape a day like that as I know a lot of drills to get people ready for features. You guys can also do the same in the UK or in the mountains. For instance if I’m going to be working some 180’s or 360’s I’ll try a few on the way down to the jump. I’ll get a feeling for the pop and power level required and get my body ready for action. I then get stuck in and spin on the jumps. I don’t want to get too hooked on doing the spins on the piste before I apply them to the kickers as it does feel different. 

At the end of the day you might not even be interested in hitting the park and therefore flatland is a great way to keep you buzzing on snowboarding and having fun, but if your end goal is achieving some results in the park then do not leave it too long before you test out those new found skills.

If you want to improve your flatland skills for the piste or park check out our flatland courses or our private coaching.  

James Streater is the head coach and owner of Maverix Snow Ltd, providing year round snowboard instruction, coaching and personal development. He is part of a select group of professionals who hold the worlds highest snowsport qualification ISTD. Follow him on Instagram @maverixsnow