I was reading a post on a snowboarding forum talking about hitting jumps and the topic of undershooting vs overshooting on a jump came up.
The question is, which is worse? Would you rather undershoot or overshoot the landing of the jump?
Let’s dive deeper into this and find out.
First, let’s get the basics covered…
What’s an overshoot?
It’s when you go too fast and land past the sweet spot of a jump. It looks like this (although unlike this rider you don’t typically overshoot it this badly then proceed to stomp the landing like a boss):
What’s an undershoot (knuckle)?
You can already guess that undershooting is the opposite. You go too slow and come up short on the landing.
It’s called ‘knuckling’ if you go a little bit too slow and land on the sloped hump just before the downslope of the landing. Oh, and it’s called really screwing up if you go even slower and do this:
So which is worse?
I’d say it really depends on the jump shape and size, but in general, knuckling is worse on the condition you’re able to stay calm and stay in control if you overshoot.
If it’s a tiny jump (5-10 foot), I don’t think either is a big deal since you can usually ride it out either way unless you seriously went off balanced on the jump and end up landing upside down or something like that.
In general though, I’ll always rather overshoot a jump than undershoot a jump. Here’s why.
Why undershoots usually hurt more
When you undershoot a jump you can’t do a whole lot about it. It’s going to hurt and the best you can do is relax and try to absorb the impact as best you can with your legs and body without falling awkwardly on any body parts.
If it’s a minor undershoot where you just scrape the knuckle on landing, it’s not usually too bad, but anything more than a scrape and you start to really feel the impact on your body.
If it’s a major undershoot where you land in no man’s land before the knuckle like the video above, you are going to feel it. Major undershoots are basically when you call it a day and hope you didn’t break anything.
Why I prefer overshooting
Now obviously I’d rather land with perfect speed and not overshoot or undershoot, but if you gave me a choice I’ll almost always take overshooting vs. undershooting a jump.
With most overshoots you can still stick the landing or at least do something to reduce the damage on your body.
It’s basic science, when you overshoot a jump you typically still have some slope to land on which will help keep your momentum going forward as oppose to undershooting and not having a slope to lessen the impact.
Heck, if you stay calm in the air and stay balance you can land a lot of overshoots and people will just say “Dam you went really deep on that jump!”
The exception to this rule is obviously if you do a Simon Dumont style overshoot where you overshoot the entire slope by 100 feet. That is almost always very bad, but thankfully those types of overshoots are very rare:
The bottom line:
With small jumps, it doesn’t matter that much, but the better you get at staying balance and calm in the air, the more a slight overshoot becomes a nicer option than eating it on the knuckle of the jump.
I’d rather do a slight overshoot on a jump any day of the week vs. hitting the knuckle.
That all said, I’d also rather land in the sweet spot and not overshoot or undershoot :p