By Rob Pirog
Doing 360s doesnt
have to be what you see in all the videos and magazines. This is a simple
progression that will get you doing spins and having fun, without having to
leave the ground!
All you need to be able to do is turn in both directions, keep your head and shoulders moving in one direction, and feel comfortable with changing your edges (toe to heel and vice-versa).
Before performing your first flat spin, you need to be comfortable with turning (forward) on your toes and heels.
Be sure to find a piece of hill that has enough pitch to slide at least at a slow pace, but not so steep where you have to tip your board up with a high edge angle.
Starting with your board across the hill (nose and tail oriented to either side of the trail) and on your toe edge, make one forward turn on to your heel edge. You should try to do this in the shortest time distance possible, and when you end that turn, the nose and tail of your board should be oriented back across the hill (opposite direction from what they were before) and you should be balancing on your heel edge.
Repeat the same process, turning off of your heels on to your toes, with your board oriented across the hill. You have just done two 180s. It is also important (as a frame of reference) to remember that in doing those 180s, it was the nose of your snowboard that turned down the hill. In the next steps, you will be experimenting with the nose of your board turning up the hill (or, for reference, the tail of your board will turn down the hill). In each 360, the nose of your board will turn down the hill and up the hill.
The next steps are where you must be sure you can make relatively quick and comfortable transitions from one edge to the next.
Starting on your toe edge again, with your board across the hill, make another forward turn, and stop with your board across the hill and standing on your heel edge. If you are a regular footed rider (left foot forward), that turn was counter-clockwise.
From that point, your are going to continue the counter-clockwise turn. You will need to turn your head and shoulders in that direction. It is also important to keep your weight evenly distributed on both legs and your stance stay centered over the center of your board.
In this turn, the nose of your board will turn up the hill and the tail of the board will turn down the hill. Once both are oriented across the hill again, you should find yourself standing on your toe edge again.
Congratulations: you just did your first 360!
To repeat this in a clockwise direction, start things off on your heel edge. Make a forward turn on to your toe edge, with the board back across the hill. Then, continue the clockwise rotation by turning your head and shoulders in that direction.
Remember to keep you weight centered and even, and dont try to change edges unless the board is oriented into the fall line (straight up and down the hill).
Dont worry if one direction seems easier to do than another. Its perfectly natural for people to favor one direction over another. If you find yourself having some difficulty completing the spins, try flexing your knees and ankles a little more, as that will help with stability and edging.
As always, dont forget to wear your protective gear, and have fun. Well see you on the hill!
Rob Pirog has been snowboarding for years and is the director of the Smugglers' Notch Snow Sport University. http://www.smuggs.com/