Muscle memory is incredibly important to landing our tricks, do lets have a brief look at it and how we can train it better.
What is muscle memory?
Muscle memory is the ability for your muscles to remember a set of movements. When you catch a ball, you’re relying on your muscle memory. The same goes for snowboarding.
If you spin a 360, you’re telling your muscles to go back into their memory banks and execute all the movements needed to execute a 360.
Why is muscle memory important?
Your muscles will remember whatever you teach them. So the better and more correct your muscle memory is, the more often you’ll be able to land your tricks.
Tips for training your muscle memory
Your muscles take time to remember the movements of each technique. Just like you had to learn to walk, your muscles have to learn how to snowboard. Every technique you want to learn has to be repeated until your muscles remember the movements.
The best way to get your muscles to remember is to practice. Practice a lot and practice often. There’s a famous quote that still holds true to this day:
Practice beats talent when talent doesn’t practice
2) Quality technique
You want to train your muscles to remember the right movements. This means, whenever you find a fault in your technique, go back and fix it. The longer you leave a fault, the longer it becomes part of your muscle memory.
You don’t want bad habits to become part of your muscle memory, or you may find yourself having trouble getting rid of them later.
Visualize your technique before you do it. The ability to close your eyes and picture every single movement is an important step to making your muscles do the right thing. Mental practice can be just as effective as physical practice.
Remember, go through every step. This means if you’re picturing a 360, you’d picture everything from approaching the jump to your setup turns and your wind up, knee bend and release.
4) Make it a habit
Before executing a technique, stop yourself and try to develop a routine that goes through each step. Go from visualization to executing the technique exactly the same every time. Do everything the same. You want your movements to be identical every time you perform the same technique.
You may have seen athletes on TV doing strange things before they execute a repetitive technique. This is because it’s become part of their habit. Every step, movement or gesture they make leading up to the technique has become part of their muscle memory.
For example: A common habit for most freestyle riders is to stand at the top of the jump, visualize what they’re about to do, think about each step of the movement, then execute it.
If you want a stranger example, I usually never adjust my bindings after I’m strapped in, unless they come loose. I’ve got a weird routine going where I do my bindings up the exact same tightness every time I strap in at the top of a chairlift. Strange I know, but it’s part of my habit.
5) Look for and utilize ‘cheats’ to remember techniques
‘Cheats’ are what I call the little tricks that every rider uses to help train their body movements. Here are a couple of examples:
Look back up the mountain on a backside 180 to stop your rotation
This applies not just to backside 180’s but pretty much every spin where the final 180 rotation is similar to executing backside 180. This works because your body movements follow your eyes, which means you don’t want your eyes to keep continuing the rotation and forcing your body to over rotate your spin.
Corked backside spins – front shoulder to back binding
This is a pretty common ‘cheat’ that many riders use to remember how to initiate a corked backside spin. It’s as simple as it sounds, you spin by throwing your front shoulder into your back binding to send yourself into a corked spin.
There’s a lot more ‘cheats’ out there and you should always feel free to ask any experienced riders for theirs. Most tricks have one and you’ll be surprised how much difference some simple body tricks will do for your technique.
What about you, got any ‘cheats’ for figuring out tricks?