Snowboard Tricks - The Ultimate Series
Once you've got the basics of snowboarding a natural progression is to start trying tricks.
Or, maybe you’re well past that level. You’ve already mastered a few basic tricks and want to take on something a little more complicated.
Whether you are a jerry or a seasoned pro, that’s where this guide comes in as we look at the gear, the preparations, and some fun tricks for you to try. As a bonus, we’ll also recommend some parks for you to try these tricks. Plus, there’s a special little something at the end for people who enjoy a good wipe out.
Before we start though here are some essential kit.
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] <<
What's in this article [quick start guide]
Do you know when you bend your knees and really start picking up speed on the slope? It feels great, right? But as much as the adrenaline starts coursing through your veins when you speed up, going fast isn’t a trick. It’s just something you can do on a snowboard that feels cool.
Tricks are more complicated. They involve developing the ability to manipulate your body and board, so either or both do something unexpected. Tricks are showy. They’re fun. And they come with a higher chance of you wiping out.
We can separate snowboard tricks into five general categories.
Category 1 – Jumps
If the board comes off the ground, you’re doing a jump trick. Many basic snowboard tricks fit into this category, including nollies and ollies. But you’re also likely going to start with a jump, or some way of getting air, for a lot of more advanced tricks as you start developing your skills.
Category 2 – Presses
These tricks usually involve you pressing one end of your snowboard into the snow while lifting the other end. Think of them the same way as doing wheelies on a bike. They’re among the simplest tricks, but they look pretty impressive.
Category 3 – Rotations
As Dead or Alive once put it, “You spin me right round baby, right round” with these tricks. Well, you spin you. Not us. You get the point.
Rotation tricks are any that involve spinning your board on the ground or in the air. Naturally, the more rotations you do, the harder the trick becomes.
Category 4 – Grabs
Grabs are usually combined with a jump or used when you go flying off a ramp. More advanced snowboarders will even mix a grab into a rotation trick. The trick is simply anything that involves you grabbing your board when you’re in the air. It sounds simple but grabbing requires plenty of coordination.
Category 5 – Rail Tricks
This is where you start moving into the complicated stuff. These tricks involve sliding on a rail, which means you need to master accurate jumping and keep your balance when your board is on a fairly thin surface. The best snowboarders can even mix other moves, such as jumps and rotations, into the rail tricks. But wiping out on a rail is not a pleasant experience.
You’ve got the gear, and feel ready to try a few tricks. You have the basics down, so what’s the harm in trying an ollie or two when you’re on the slope? As it happens, a lot of harm can come from even the simplest of tricks if you haven’t prepared your mind and body before your attempt.
There are several things you should do before you think about attempting a trick on your board.
Executing tricks is as much of a mental game as a physical one. Even the smallest moment of doubt can lead to you overthinking to the point where you make mistakes. And those little mistakes lead to you wiping out.
Mental preparation should start before the upcoming season. If you haven’t had a chance to get on your board in a while, you’re likely not in the mental zone you need to be in to execute tricks. Start thinking about snowboarding before you get on the slope, so you’re in the right headspace when the time comes.
Your preparation goes a little deeper when you start thinking about the tricks you want to pull off. This is where visualization comes in. For example, let’s say that your goal during your next ride is to pull off an ollie. Try to picture that ollie in your head. What does it look like when you execute the trick perfectly? Think about your body’s movements and what the board should be doing. Do the trick over and over in your head.
How does that help?
Visualizing tricks in your head helps to reaffirm the steps you’ve got to take to execute the move. It also helps with your confidence by getting you into the mindset of pulling off the trick successfully.
Don’t think about wiping out. That’s not what you want to happen. Visualize pulling off the trick perfectly. When it’s time to make an actual attempt, you’ll be mentally ready for the challenge.
Stretch and Warm Up
You’re going to use a lot of muscle groups when attempting tricks.
Take a grab as an example. You need your leg and core muscles to maintain your position leading up to the grab. When you go for it, you’ll extend your core and arms, in addition to twisting your back. If those muscle groups aren’t loose and limber, you could end up hurting yourself.
Stretches are vital because they reduce the risk of injuring yourself while executing your trick. Focus on stretches that work your core, back, arms, hamstrings, calves, and quads. You’ll need all of them. Practicing yoga and keeping good posture also helps you gain flexibility and keep your main muscle groups strong.
Get Your Cardio In
Poor cardio leads to you feeling exhausted before you can even try a trick. You’re constantly working your body when you’re snowboarding. If you aren’t at a certain fitness level, you’ll have a rough time trying to execute tricks because your body may not do what you want it to do. Fatigue is dangerous on the slopes.
Aim to do about 30 minutes of cardio two or three times per week in the weeks leading up to your trick attempt. Plan ahead here. It’s no good starting your cardio routine the week before you get on the slopes. You want at least six weeks of cardio preparation to ensure you’re ready.
As for the exercises you can do, anything that gets you breathing and your blood circulating does the trick. Biking, hiking, swimming, and running are great for cardio. If you want to reduce the risk of knee injuries, consider using an elliptical machine.
Practice Tricks at Home
You don’t have to be on your board to practice snowboard tricks. When you boil them down, tricks are just bodily movements that happen to involve a board. You can nail those movements down before you get on the slopes.
Think of practicing at home as an accompaniment to your visualization. You can see how you should execute the trick in your head. Physically doing it in your living room allows you to confirm that you’re physically capable, which increases your confidence when you get on your board.
If you want to know how to get started with practicing tricks from home, check out the below video from Tommie Bennett. He runs through drills for the tail press, backside 180, and stacked 180, all of which you can practice in the comfort of your living room.
You’re mentally and physically prepared to try a trick. So, you pack up your board and gear, head to the slopes, and start snowboarding. And that’s when it hits you:
You don’t know any tricks!
We’ve got you covered there as we’re going to run through a couple of tricks in this section. We’ll give you something simple for beginners and go through the steps for the hardest trick we can recall. But before we do that, we’re going to look at the craziest trick we’ve ever seen a professional snowboarder pull off.
The Craziest Snowboard Trick We’ve Ever Seen
Picture the scene.
British Olympian Billy Morgan is catapulting at high speed toward a ramp. He hits the ramp perfectly and goes flying 133 feet over the snow. As he’s in the air, Morgan starts rotating. And he just keeps going. In the space of three seconds, he rotates 1,800 degrees, pulling off the quad cork 1800 for the very first time.
That was the craziest trick we’ve ever seen a snowboarder pull off. But how did Morgan do it? We’re pretty sure he had to take these steps to land this mind-blowing trick:
- Accelerate down a large slope toward a ramp. Morgan likely hit approximately 40mph before he hit the ramp.
- As you come off the ramp, crunch your abdominals and start twisting. Rely on your speed to keep you spinning.
- Crouch and grab the board as you spiral. Aim for the smallest tuck possible to rotate faster. You may need to throw an arm out to adjust your rotational direction here.
- Pull your arms into your chest to pick up your spinning pace. You’re going for five full rotations here.
- After completing the last cork, straighten your body and extend your arms. This slows the rotation and allows you to brace yourself for hitting the ground at about 50mph.
- Land at a 14-degree angle and bend your knees as you touch down.
The Easiest Snowboard Trick to Learn for Beginners
The quad cork 1800 is insane. It’s an extremely challenging trick for even the best pros to land. But what about somebody who’s only just gotten to grips with staying balanced on the board? Of course, you’re going to start with something a lot simpler.
Every snowboarder starts with small tricks, and there’s one that we believe is the easiest for beginners to learn:
This is a simple jumping trick that’s easy to execute and doesn’t require you to do a lot of complicated spins or grabs. Better yet, the ollie is the basis of a lot of other tricks. It’s what you’ll use to jump over obstacles and onto rails. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand in your regular stance while maintaining a moderate pace. When you’re ready for the trick, crouch down and keep your eyes focused straight ahead.
- Lean back a little to load your board up, allowing it to pop off the ground.
- Spring off your back leg while bringing your knees into your chest.
- Level out as you bring your knees up to ensure a flat landing.
- As you start to descend, straighten your legs out slightly to meet the ground.
- Bend your knees as you make contact with the ground to absorb the impact. Never land without bending your knees.
The Hardest Snowboard Trick Ever
What is the hardest snowboard trick ever pulled off?
That’s such a subjective question. You could ask 10 different snowboarders, and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. We could argue that the quad cork 1800 is the hardest just because of how rare it is and how crazy fast you have to be moving to pull it off.
But if we’re going to pick one that may be even harder, we have to go for the triple cork 1440 executed on a half-pipe. This trick is rarely landed and is dangerous if you wipe out. Just ask Shaun White. This is the trick that landed him in the hospital when he tried it in 2013. It’s also a trick that he’s never managed to land at an event.
Sounds pretty tough to us. And even now, the steps for executing it are a little difficult to map out. But we’ll give it our best shot.
- Build up a little speed in the pipe. It might help to land a few smaller jumps first, both to get your momentum up and to build confidence in your ability to land.
- As you approach the pipe’s lip, start twisting your body to the right while holding an upright posture with slightly bent knees.
- When you come off the lip, extend both arms to help create momentum for the rotations.
- Bend down as low as possible and grab each side of the board with your hands. You should be rotating quickly. Hold this position as you go through four rotations.
- Keep your knees bent as you approach the lip and try to straighten out your board. Your arms should come out to help you balance as you land.
Beyond those steps, just pray to the snowboarding gods that you’ll be able to land this one without injury. Of course, these three tips are just a smattering of what you can execute on your board. For a more in-depth guide containing more tricks for all levels:
Check out our main snowboard tricks post:
You know what trick you want to try. Next up, you need to find the right snow park to do it in.
A complicated intro is unnecessary here. We’re just going to point you toward five great parks every snowboarder needs to try out. And if you want to learn about more parks:
- Check out our full guide to snowboard parks in our blog.
Park No. 1 – Buttermilk (Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado, USA)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the park that’s hosted a bunch of Winter X games makes the list. Buttermilk is actually a collection of five parks, all of which have a crazy number of lines for you to play around with.
The main Buttermilk park has a two-mile line that really tests your stamina. It also has four jump lines for the more advanced boarders who want to get some real air. The Olympic size half-pipe is also great for anybody who wants to test their skills against the pros. In all, Buttermilk has plenty of lines for beginners and experts.
Park No. 2 – Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia, Canada)
With 150 obstacles for boarders to tackle, Whistler Blackcomb offers a bunch of different challenges. Like Buttermilk, it’s divided into five parks that can test everybody from beginners to experts. It’s also the perfect park for people who want to practice rail tricks as it has 90 rails ready for your experimentation.
Add banked turns, wallrides, boxes, kickers, and rollers into the mix, and you have the perfect playground for snowboarders who love busting out tricks.
Park No. 3 - Glacier Park Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun, Austria)
Combining easy and medium parks, Glacier Park Kitzsteinhorn is ideal for beginners who want to practice some tricks without worrying about getting shown up by the pros. The Easy Park opens in December and contains some basic obstacles ideal for practicing jump and rail tricks.
Central Park opens a month later, with South Central Park following that in February. South Central is particularly fun because it has an array of 20 obstacles you can take on in a row, almost like a snowboarding obstacle course. Add a 150-meter long and 6.5-meter high superpipe into the mix, and you get a great snow park.
Park No. 4 – Bear Mountain (California, USA)
Sunny Southern California may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of snow parks. But Bear Mountain has everything that a trickster could want. This park is built with freestylers in mind, with over 120 jumps and 80 rails for you to practice on.
Beginners will also love the Skill Builder Park. The park has a set of progressive lines that are great for newbies, designed to help novices hone their skills. Once you’ve mastered the Skill Builder Park, you can move up to Red Bull Plaza, which features a bunch of street-inspired rails and jumps to master.
Park No. 5 – The Classic (Avoriaz, France)
One of Europe’s first freestyle snow parks is also one of its best. The Classic caters to snowboarders of all skill levels, with its parks divided into XS, S, M, and L categories so you can cater your experience to your skill level. The pros will also love the Burton Stash Park, which features several woodland elements to create some trickier lines.
The Classic is also great if you have kids you want to introduce to snowboarding. Its Lil’ Stash and Burton Kids Parkway parks offer plenty of smaller obstacles. Add a pair of half-pipes, including a 120-meter superpipe, into the mix, and you have a park that provides plenty of variety.
We all love seeing somebody land an impressive trick.
But let’s face it…
We also love seeing people wipe out.
Some snowboard fails are so epic that they’re almost as impressive as actual tricks. Others are more like blunders that would barely make a blooper reel. If you want to check out our top snowboard fails and wipeouts, we have a whole post dedicated to them. For now, we’re just going to give you four that show you just how dangerous snowboarding tricks can be.
Shaun White’s Triple Cork Crash
We mentioned it earlier in the article, so it has to go into this list. Snowboarding legend Shaun White came within inches of pulling off a triple cork, only for the move to end in a near-disaster.
During his training for the 2014 Winter Olympics, White attempted the triple cork during a practice run. This is how it turned out:
Seeing his back bend over the lip like that still makes us wince. The wipeout left White in the hospital and caused some serious issues with his hips and tailbone. Watch this video if you ever doubt the need for safety gear.
Frank Spencer’s Battle With a Drag Lift
We go from a potentially life-threatening wipeout to an attempt at using a drag lift that goes wrong again and again. Apparently, this poor guy, Frank Spencer, just can’t get the hang of the lift and ends up falling a bunch of times. Check it out here:
This one is hilarious!
We think it’s the cackling from the camerawoman that really makes this video. And Frank just keeps trying until he gets it right. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Wiping Out on a Street Jump
This video is pretty simple. A random guy sees a street slope and wants to give it a go. The problem is that he’s clearly never taken on a slope like this one before. The guy seems to lose control of his entire body as he starts the jump, leading to him crashing into the snow without any control:
Thankfully, it looks like the snowboarder didn’t experience any serious injuries from this fail. He’s up on his feet pretty quickly and hopefully ready to try again.
Lucas Foster’s Beijing 2022 Crash
Lucas Foster’s half-pipe run at the Beijing 2022 Olympics started so well. He pulls off a cool double cork 1080, which he follows up with another nice trick. Then, he goes for his third trick. And he comes down horribly, landing his board directly on the pipe’s edge. The impact from the crash bounces Foster up and into an uncontrolled spin that could have caused a serious injury:
Miraculously, Foster came away from this wipeout unscathed. That’s amazing, given that Foster bounced from the top of a 7.1-meter pipe all the way to the bottom. Unfortunately, the wipeout cost Foster the run, though we’re sure he’s just happy to come away from it without any severe injuries.
As a responsible safety-based snowboarding company, we have to advise you to read this really boring research on snowboard accidents (our lawyers said so). This does NOT mean you should not be going out there and pulling off the best tricks you can. But at the very least, check out our Rippl Impact Shorts and knee pads to protect yourself – don’t be a Jerry!
How common are snowboarding injuries?
US national library of medicine research on snowboarding accidents
We take no responsibility for the tricks we advise you do in this article. Every trick is done so at your own risk. We are purely here to help you have fun safely.