How To Learn To Ride Switch

Alright, so maybe you don’t intend to do switch double corks like the guys in the video above, but learning switch riding is still an important step if you intend to learn freestyle tricks such as a 180.

For those who aren’t aware, riding switch simply means riding a snowboard or skis in your reverse direction (backwards for skiers or your back foot forward for snowboarders).

Why learn to ride switch?

Well, if you have no desire to learn tricks or freestyle, you don’t need to learn to ride switch. However, if you do intend to learn tricks, learning switch is important in order to get used to landing switch and initiating tricks while riding switch.

When should I start learning to ride switch?

Generally, the earlier you start learning switch riding, the easier it will be for you later. However, it’s useful if you have the ability to ride regular on blue runs first, since you can use your experience to learn switch quicker.

How do I learn to ride switch?

Start from the basics and work your way up. It’s no different from learning regular riding, except you can take advantage of your knowledge and previous experience to help you understand the body movements.

1) Go back to green runs and just get used to the feeling riding switch while doing simple, gentle turns. It will feel very awkward at first and you won’t be able to go very fast, but speed will come with time.

2) Move on to carving and practice rolling on your edges. All of this is to get you more used to the movements of riding switch.

3) You just need to keep upping the level of difficulty. Start doing more sharp turns and get used to really taking control of your snowboard and as you get more comfortable, start riding switch on more difficult runs.

4) Once you feel comfortable turning and carving on blue runs, start trying to hit very small jumps and rails switch. You’ll also notice that riding up to jumps/rails switch and spinning back to regular is really easy and feels natural. This is because your body wants to be riding regular again.

Don’t get discouraged if things seem hard while riding switch. Even very experienced riders are scared to do certain things switch, it’s all about pushing past that feeling and forcing your body to ride switch.

Some extra tips

I know it feels incredibly awkward and it’s not fun feeling like a beginner again, but if you want to learn to ride switch, you have to push through and keep riding switch. You need to force yourself to do it and push past that awkwardness.

I recommend doing at least a few switch runs every time you’re on the slopes, especially if you want to learn 180s. It helps to slowly build up your muscle memory and help your body get used to riding switch.

One more thing, cat tracks suck. It’ll take a while to get used to riding switch on cat tracks and that’s completely normal. Cat tracks force you to use a lot of tiny adjustments and they really test how comfortable you are at making small balance/edge changes as you ride.

Good luck and watch out for those cat tracks!

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  1. Hi Jed!

    Just found your blogposts and are soaking up the good common sense advices! I feel hit by quite a few of your points I must admit. I started snowboarding back in the days when snowboards still had skateboard trucks on them, aka the Salaznek, and just recently took the sport up again after a 20 year or so “break”.

    A lot has changed, both with gear, slopes and the insane ability level that kids today have. And I find myself fussing about board stance, angles, board profile, boots stiffness and the likes, as well as being a bit shy on the hill as these kids that I could have fathered triple cork past me high up in the sky, or something like that.

    I consider myself a decent rider as I can tackle more or less all conditions on a black slope if I have to, or want to lay in some long carves. But I want to progress a bit further than that to become a competent rider that can utilize the whole mountain if I so feel like. Minus the mega park, the rug rats can keep those.

    I am trying to get my barring doing 180s in the slope and balancing presses for more than a few meters. The goal is to some day bringing that to more medium kickers for some nice airs with long grabs and maybe late tweaked spins for good measure, all the while buttering and playing around on natural features on the hill. Classic, stylish really old school stuff basically.

    So I am writing down some of your views behind the ears, such as “ride more, baby steps, screw whatever everybody else thinks or have of gear, and remember to dare to face plant every now and again”.

    I am now actually considering paying for an instructor, yeah didn’t see that coming, as I am trying to master riding switch, which is turning out to make me feel like I am a total beginner again. Toe side to heel side right turn is doable, heel side to toe side left turn is a mystery. Cant seem to initiate the turn, maybe it is due to poor heel side edge control. But I have made it a rule to ride a bit switch every time I am in the slope, and it is slowly getting a bit better, and less awkward.

    Thanks again Jed, keep up the good work!

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