Snowboarding Tricks [Step by Step Guide for All Levels]
If you’re reading this, it probably means we share at least one thing in common: We think snowboarding is out of this world fun.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or a board master, few things – if any – can compare to that feeling of ripping up a slope on a board. But for many of us, the basic experience might not be enough. After a while, you want to learn something even more exciting.
You want to learn snowboarding tricks. And who could blame you?
The adrenaline rush, right?
But you may wonder what constitutes a snowboarding trick. It’s obviously more than merely going down a slope.
The fact is that many things can be considered a trick. In essence, it can be any manipulation of your snowboard and body that leads to an unexpected movement. Of course, that movement needs to be deliberate, precise, and hopefully end with you standing upright on the board.
Performing a trick will involve lifting the snowboard off the surface partially or completely, rotating while in motion, or a combination of both.
There are simpler, more advanced, and pro tricks, and we’ll cover each category here.
Safety always comes first when you start attempting tricks on a snowboard. Wiping out can be a painful experience. No matter how well you can control your falls, you still have to deal with impacts, which means protecting your body.
Rippl Impact Shorts
Rippl’s impact shorts protect you with high-performance padding throughout. This padding absorbs the shock of a fall, guarding your hips and tailbone in the process. Whether on the slopes or in a terrain park, impact shorts allow you to ride more comfortably and speed up your progress.
You wear them snuggly underneath your snowboard pants, and they’re designed to flex easily with your body.
Rippl Impact Knee Pads
Rippl’s Impact Knee Pads feature high-performance padding that absorbs most the impact on your knees. They offer a snug and secure fit, they are made with breathable materials and dry off quickly if they get too wet.
>> Read our full guide: Essential Snowboarding Protective Gear [Ultimate Guide Before You Ride] <<
Beginners, Start Here (Intermediates, You Already Know This Stuff – Move Down)
If you’ve just started snowboarding and gotten the hang of the basics, that doesn’t mean you can’t put some great tricks under your belt. Besides being fun to do, these beginner tricks will also become your foundation for more advanced stuff. Here’s what you can start learning right away.
You’ll be surprised at how many tricks snowboarding beginners can do with some practice. You can learn surface, aerial, and even rail tricks, including:
- Nose or tail press
- Air to fakie
How to Do Beginner Tricks
Nose or tail press
Presses aren’t so much tricks as they are an essential technique. A press means you’re shifting your balance on the board, pressing one end into the ground.
To practice presses, start on flat ground. For the nose press, bend the front knee and lean forward until your hip is over the board nose. At the same time, keep the back leg straight, lifting the tail end of the board slightly.
The tail press will function the same way, only you’ll be bending the back leg and straightening and lifting the front.
Once you can do both presses with confidence, start shifting from tail to nose press and vice versa. The main thing here will be to keep your balance during the movement. This should also be done on flat ground.
Finally, when you’re completely confident, practice presses on a slope. Make sure to start with gentle slopes.
After mastering the press, you’ll be much better prepared for the wheelie.
A wheelie is when you’re riding the board with one end of it in the air. This is a basic trick that might not look as impressive as others but will do wonders for your snowboarding technique.
Learning wheelies build up your balance and power. Here’s how you do it:
First, find a good place to practice. You should choose a slope that isn’t too steep and doesn’t have much traffic. Once you start riding in preparation for the wheelie, go straight and keep your speed moderate.
Next, get ready to perform a tail wheelie. Bend your knees slightly and lean back.
Shift all your weight on the back foot, lifting the front. The nose of your board should lift off the ground. Try to keep your balance and stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable.
Start shifting your balance forward until the nose of the board is back on the ground. That’s it – perform these steps, and you’ll successfully do a wheelie.
Note that falling backward is completely normal on your first attempts, which is why you should never go too fast while practicing wheelies. It takes some time to find that balance sweet spot.
Once you get the hang of the tail wheelie, you can start practicing the nose wheelie. It will include the same types of moves as the tail variant, but your balance will shift forward to perform the trick.
Butters are turns where your board is in contact with the ground. You’ll essentially be performing a 180 turn either on the nose or tail of your board.
It’s best to start practicing this trick on a very mild slope. You should also start doing butters only when you’re capable of maintaining a wheelie for at least three seconds.
Begin with a wheelie but only lift one end of the board slightly. Start to turn your chest towards the slope and your board will follow the upper body movement. Keep shifting until the tail and nose switch positions, i.e., until you turn 180 degrees.
As your back foot is getting forward, gradually shift your balance to the other foot. Once you’ve completed the rotation, shift further until the entire board is on the ground.
Note that after doing a 180-degree turn, you’ll end up riding switch. This means your back foot will now be at the front. If you don’t feel comfortable in this position, you’ll need to do another 180 to get back into the initial position.
However, it would be much better if you took the hard way and actually continued to ride switch. Of all snowboarding skills, this one will bring you the most benefits.
Riding switch will help you develop both sides of your body equally and play a crucial role in performing many tricks, from beginner to advanced level. That’s why you should learn the technique as soon as possible.
Here’s an awesome video on how to get comfortable riding switch:
An Ollie will be the first aerial trick you’ll learn. It’s the first time your entire snowboard will get off the ground – the basic jump.
Note that you should already be very stable on the board before attempting an Ollie.
While moving on a gentle slope, gradually shift weight to the back foot. At the same time, go down into a slight crouch. Shift your weight to the back until there’s no pressure on the front foot. When the board nose starts lifting off the ground, spring from the tail to jump.
Immediately after getting in the air, bend your knees towards the chest. Your board should be level with the ground and aligned to the center of your body.
When landing, try to get both feet on the ground simultaneously while straightening the knees. However, don’t get your knees completely straight – keep them slightly bent when contacting the ground to absorb some of the impact.
Once you’re comfortable landing with both feet, practice landing nose-first.
Best Type of Snowboard for a Beginner
If you want to perform beginner tricks reliably, you’ll need the right snowboard for the job.
The best type of snowboard for beginners will have the following:
- Flat to Rocker or Hybrid camber profile
- Soft flex
- Standard or slightly smaller length
- True twin shape
- Centered stance
- Extruded base
What does all this mean, though?
The camber profile determines how stable your feet are on the board. A Flat to Rocker variant is, as the name implies, flat under the foot, while a hybrid will feature a camber. Both types will provide great stability, ideal for beginners.
The board flex will make it easier or harder to bend and manipulate. Stiffer flexes achieve greater speeds, which you won’t need when just starting out. But a soft flex will come in quite handy when learning those butters and wheelies.
In terms of length, the standard will be determined according to your height. Ideally, you should opt for a slightly shorter board – literally an inch or two smaller than standard. This will give you just the right amount of stability and control.
Boards with true twin shape are symmetrical, which will make it easy to master riding switch early on. This shape will also improve your balance even further.
The stance refers to where your foot bindings are relative to the middle of the board. You’ll want to choose a centered stance rather than a setback. Similar to the shape, this will provide greater balance.
Finally, snowboard bases can be extruded and sintered. In essence, extruded bases are easier to maintain, less likely to damage, and slower than sintered.
As an intermediate snowboarder, you have little issues with balance and stability. You’ve mastered your wheelies, butters, and Ollies to the point where you’re starting to itch for more. Luckily, there’s plenty to learn still.
Intermediate Snowboard Tricks
Intermediate tricks will require you to use a combination of previous skills and start getting familiar with one of the snowboarder’s best friends: the rail. Here’s what you can master as an intermediate:
- Air to fakie
- 180 grind
How to Do Intermediate Tricks
Air to fakie
Air to fakie is a compound movement that requires you to master all the previous techniques. It will incorporate elements of the press, wheelie, riding switch, butter, and Ollie. The result will be you performing a 180 turn in the air.
Riding straight on a gentle slope, you’ll need to do three things nearly at the same time:
- Start twisting your shoulders and hips
- Crouch while shifting weight to the back foot
- Lift the nose of your board
Using the Ollie technique, spring off the ground. The moment you jump, your chest still shouldn’t face the slope completely.
Once airborne, continue twisting your shoulders until you complete the 180 degrees rotation. Prepare to land similar to the Ollie. The main difference will be that you’ll always land on both feet in an air to fakie – never on the board nose.
This trick will require plenty of fine-tuning, so try not to get frustrated if you don’t get it immediately. By now, you’ll be used to jumping in a straight line and doing 180 turns with one end of the board on the ground. However, making all that come together in a precise airborne 180 turn will be a completely different beast.
Here’s what a good air to fakie should look like:
If you’ve only done tricks on the ground so far, the 50/50 will be your introduction to the rail. There are two things to note about the 50/50:
First, don’t expect too much from it. In terms of flashiness and the cool factor, the 50/50 might rank lower than a really good butter. It definitely won’t be as impressive as an air to fakie. However, it will be the foundation for every other rail trick.
Second, don’t underestimate the 50/50. While it might seem like a piece of cake, chances are you’ll get a bit weak in the knees when attempting your first 50/50. This isn’t your usual ride on a wide slope – it’s a precision rail move that needs to be executed perfectly.
A 50/50 consists of riding nose-first in a straight line over a rail or a box. The main challenge here is to maintain your balance and direction to stay on track and not fall off.
To achieve perfect accuracy, you can start by drawing a box and trying to keep your snowboard completely flat while going over the drawn shape. The box should be about as wide as three snowboards stacked one beside another.
When you can confidently ride this drawn box without veering off to either edge, progress to the real deal.
You should choose a relatively short and wide box for your first attempt. Also, make sure there’s a ride-on to allow you to get on the box – you won’t want to jump on it immediately.
If you’ve achieved sufficient balance and precision, riding over the box shouldn’t present a huge challenge. Riding off the box will be the most delicate part. Here, you’ll need to keep your eyes on the edge and your landing point. When you get to the end of the box, tuck your knees slightly and land with both feet.
After you’ve mastered the basics of the 50/50, you can take it up a level or two. First, start with thinner and longer boxes. Then, once you’re comfortable, you can add presses or even Ollies.
The rock-n-roll will be your introduction to the real fun and excitement of rail grinding.
This trick involves riding the box with your chest turned front. The only part of the board in contact with the box will be the center, while the ends will go out from both sides of the box.
There will be three things to consider here: speed, how you turn coming on and off the box, and your balance.
As with the 50/50, it would be best to start with a shorter and relatively wide box. Approaching the box, you’ll need to develop enough speed to cover its entire length. You’ll need a couple of attempts to nail the right speed, so muster your patience and take your time.
When you get to the box, you’ll need to do a 90-degree turn. If the box has a ride-on (strongly recommended for first tries), the rotation will be similar to a butter turn. When you progress to a box without a ride-on, you’ll essentially do a half-air to fakie, which will also be the case when jumping off the box.
Finally, achieving balance will be something of a challenge, especially when you get on longer and thinner boxes. Ideally, you should be straight over the central axis of your body, not leaning too far back or forward.
You should be happy with your rock-n-roll grind once it looks like this:
If you want to do a 180 grind, you’ll have to become a master of the 180-degree turn on regular slopes first.
After you can do the turn without issues every time, you’ll be ready to take it to the box. Timing will be everything here as you’ll need to perform the turn just before getting on the box and right after getting off.
While timing your turn will be the most delicate part, you’ll also have to be precise enough. Unlike the regular surface, you can’t end the rotation at the approximate right direction. When you land, your board needs to be aligned with the box precisely.
The best way to do a successful 180 grind will be to turn your chest forward as you approach the box. Then, relax your legs, allowing them to follow the rotation of the upper body. Continue to twist the board until it aligns with the box and follow the movement through with your shoulders and chest.
It should go without saying that you likely won’t nail this trick on your first try. It’s also quite hard to practice it at very low speeds – you’ll need to move at a moderate pace to get across the box.
Best Snowboard to Do Tricks for Intermediates
A goof intermediate snowboard should have a directional shape, sintered base, slight setback, hybrid camber profile, and medium flex.
Directional shape means that the nose of the board is slightly longer and softer than the tail. You could also choose tapered directional or directional twin according to your preference, but we feel it would be best to start with standard directional.
Sintered base, the setback, and medium flex should all give you more speed than a beginner board. Getting the flex medium – not harder or softer – is particularly important since it will provide speed while maintaining enough stability for tricks. Finally, the hybrid camber will make the board more stable.
Have you honed your snowboarding skill to a fine edge? If you’ve progressed so far that smooth turns, basic jumps and grabs, and riding switch are second nature and you feel as comfortable freestyling as you are in the park, it’s time for the next level.
Advanced Snowboard Tricks
Advanced tricks will build up on the strong foundation you’ve gained so far and test your skills to the maximum. Some of these won’t be just fun and exciting – they’ll leave everyone around you breathless:
- Method grab
- Stalefish grab
- Frontside 360
How to Do Advanced Tricks
If there was an official international flag for snowboarders, it would probably picture a board master performing a method.
You might think that this iconic grab isn’t so difficult – people seem to perform it all over the place. But the difference between a barely pulled-off method and one done right is huge. If you want to rate snowboarders by skill level, compare their methods, that one grab will tell you everything you need to know.
To really nail a method grab, you’ll need to do the following:
- Jump sufficiently high
- Grab your board like a melon grab
- Perform a flawless backside shiftie
The combination of the shiftie and the melon grab is largely what makes a method. To get the most out of this trick, you’ll want to maximize your shiftie. After all, the melon grab looks terrible on its own, and you should do everything to get as far away from it as possible.
For the ultimate shiftie, slightly round your back leaning forward just before you jump. This will give you the momentum to rotate more. Then, once airborne, extend the back leg as much as you can. Ideally, the back leg should be higher than the front, or at least parallel to it.
Finally, while you’re doing the method, push your hips in the direction of movement and arch your back. The further you can do these two, the better your method will look.
The stalefish grab requires plenty of balance, power, and flexibility. In this grab, you’re holding the board to the heel edge with your trailing hand. The trick is to get your hand right behind the rear foot.
To perform this grab, you’ll need to shift your balance back while bending the back knee and keeping your front leg straight. This should allow you to reach the board. At the same time, your other hand should be extended straight up.
The board should be parallel to the ground, ideally creating a 90-degree angle with the extended arm.
This trick doesn’t seem like much as you’re practicing the position on the ground. But as soon as you try doing it in the air, you’ll see that it’s a real challenge.
Imagine doing a classic 180 in the air, then performing another 180 right after the first one. That’s pretty much what a frontside 360 is.
As an advanced snowboarder, you’re probably proficient in 180 turns, so the first part won’t be an issue. But once you’re airborne, you won’t have the opportunity to add momentum to the rotation. Instead, you’ll need to account for it before you jump.
This is the main trick with the frontside 360 – getting the 360-degree turn right.
Splitting the trick into two 180s might be helpful in terms of orientation. Since you know how it feels to do that turn, you can use it to measure your rotation. However, don’t get confused and start to relax your knees halfway through – you’ll need to keep them bent until you land.
Best Snowboard to Do Tricks for Advanced Riders
If you’re ready for some heavy-duty snowboarding, you should choose a board with a rocker or directional camber profile. The shape should also be directional – either tapered or twin. You should also go for medium flex or eventually stiff if you’re planning on getting some serious mph.
These features will allow you to manipulate the board perfectly. At the same time, you’ll get more than enough speed and sharpness of movement for higher jumps and razor-edge turns. When it comes to the base, most advanced snowboards are sintered.
If everything you’ve read so far seems like child’s play, you might be on the verge of joining the big leagues. In that case, it’ll take something truly special to impress you.
Why not look to some of the champions of snowboarding for inspiration? Here are only some of our picks.
Best Shaun White Tricks
Who else would we feature here than the legendary Shaun White? As a snowboarding champion who pushed the edge throughout his career, White did plenty of amazing tricks, including:
- The Doubleback Rodeo
- The Tomahawk
- Switch Backside 900
- Cab Double Cork 1080
If you want to see White at the top of his game, here’s his 2012 run at the Winter X Games that scored the historical 100:
Best Travis Rice Tricks
Another absolute legend of snowboarding, Travis Rice became famous after doing a 117-foot gap jump with a backside rodeo. He was only 18 at the time and, like a fine wine, only grew better with age.
See the video below for some of Rice’s most hardcore moments.
Best Snowboard to Do Tricks for More Advanced Pros
Pro snowboards come in various shapes and sizes. For instance, twin shape might be a go-to universal option since it allows for riding either in regular or goofy stance. But if you’re more interested in developing insane speeds and cutting through the powder, you might want to go directional.
The flex should be at least medium if not stiff. You’ll need plenty of speed for some of the most advanced tricks. In terms of profile, rocker or camber will always do a good job for easier-but-powerful turns.
Pro boards often boast some unusual features, too, like reinforced edges and carbon fiber construction. If you’re at the pro level, there’s no reason not to opt for these additions – they’ll only help make your snowboarding game god-tier.