Do You *Have* To Learn Switch To Advance Your Snowboarding?

Today’s reader question:

I’m learning to hit the terrain park, but I’m not doing spins of fancy tricks. Just 50/50s and straight airs. Do I still need to learn to ride switch?

Well, you don’t *HAVE* to learn switch, although it’s a good idea. Let me explain…

Who doesn’t need to learn to ride switch?

If you’re someone who never wants to do any freestyle tricks and is happy with just riding down groomed runs, hitting tree runs and riding deep powder filled bowls, you don’t need to learn switch.

I know a few people like that who are good snowboarders, but horrible switch riders. For them, they don’t care because they never have any real need to ride switch. They are perfectly happy just riding regular all the time and staying out of the park and staying away from freestyle.

Who needs to learn to ride switch?

If you have any intention to progress your freestyle tricks past the most basic straight airs and 50/50s, you have to learn switch. You simply can’t go far in freestyle without being able to ride switch.

Even just being able to ride switch on a very mellow blue run is enough for a start, but you do need to make this start to get into freestyle tricks like 180s and boardslides to fakie which both require switch riding.

Not to mention the countless other tricks and spins that require good switch carving.

Why you should learn to ride switch either way:

The thing I’ve always said about switch riding is that the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to learn switch. Maybe you don’t want to do any freestyle tricks now, but who knows, down the line you might.

Maybe you never want to do jumps, but who knows, maybe one day you’ll see someone do a simple 180 butter trick on a green run and think “That looks fun… I want to do that!” then suddenly you’ll realize you need to learn to ride switch.

Let’s say that by then you’re a confident snowboarder hitting double black tree runs at mach 5 when you realize you want to learn switch. It’s going to suck for you to go from your insanely confident regular riding to falling on green runs trying to make switch turns.

The longer you leave it, the bigger the skill gap grows between your regular and switch riding and the more awkward it’ll feel for you to learn switch later.

So even if you don’t intend to get into freestyle, just getting your switch riding to a level where you can do basic green/blue runs is pretty much always a smart idea.

– Jed

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  1. Switch riding also greatly helps to last longer on slopes – for example, my front foot generally gets much more tired, especially in the park, so I go switch on the drag lift. And after a long difficult run in the mountains switching is almost the same as sitting for a couple of minutes – I guess that’s because different muscles start working.

  2. You’re right. And even down the slopes you can find yourself in a situation where you rotate, loose balance or what not and find yourself going switch down the mountain. It’s always nice you can recover from a mistake by riding it out switch.
    Plus it’s chill if you go down a run at full speed, do a carve, pop a nice 180, continue at that same speed or do some pressing and go back to regular after several more carves.

    Switch riding just makes you a more all round rider.

    • Yep, basically no downside to learning switch and everything to gain.

      • A friend told me a good trick to learn switch the fun way.
        When going down the slopes hit as many 180’s as you can (front- and backside) on small bumps and side hits but don’t immediately go back to regular. Keep riding switch until you come across another bump and only then you can go back to regular by doing a 180 (front- and backside).
        This trick actually teaches many different things in 1 run: basic rotation in all directions, riding out switch after a landing and of course switch riding itself 🙂

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