Hi everyone...Im new to snowboarding..I finally decided to do it after 26 years haha..anyway, Ive been boarding a few times now, things have come very natural to me,i even went onto a moderate trail on my first day..The problem is that I'm still having difficulty making strong turns left or right..someone pointed out that the positioning of my bindings can make some things easier or more difficult depending on the rider.. Now, my friend put the front side binding on straight(like a natural standing position on a skate board), but the tail side binding he put on an angle towards the tail..do you think binding positioning could have anything to do with my control issues?..or am i just a non weight-distributing dumb ass? haha..thanks
Binding position, angle and setup make an enourmous difference. Here are two recent blog posts that I hope you will find helpful.
The Boarder's Blog - Our Angle on Snowboard Stance
The Boarder's Blog - Snowboard Binding Adjustment - Get Your Tweak On
If you live long enough, you get to hear some mighty strange things. If you live long enough where it snows, you get to hear some mighty strange things about snowboard stance. Does it seem like no one agrees with each other? Sure it does. So...there is always some hesitation to write down anything about stance, because whatever you say will certainly not please everyone. With that in mind, let's do it anyways. Let's talk about the elements of stance, what the options are and what you gain and lose from each.
Starting right in at the most basic question for new riders, "how do I know if I am regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward)"? There are about 30 different ways of trying to establish this, and everyone thinks their method is best. Close your eyes and get pushed forward, Pushing a refrigerator, running race start, etc. etc. So how do you tell? The sure money way only applies if you have experience in another side-ride sport like surfing, skateboarding or wakeboarding. If you do, simply choose the stance that you ride for that sport. In other words, if you skate right foot forward, you are going to snowboard right foot forward. OK, OK, we hear you. You have never done any of those sports, what now? Our favorite test is the run and slide. If you run and slide on ice, or in socks on a Lenoleum floor, which foot goes out in front? Whichever foot it is will be your front foot when snowboarding.
Relatively painless so far, but things are about to get ugly. "So, how do I choose the correct stance width"? "My park buddy told me that that I need a 23 inch stance but my other friend says I should use the closest together inserts". The fact is that every rider has a different body type and riding style. Leg length, flexibilty, and hip structure all effect what is going to feel comfortable for you. The best piece of advice we can give is do not be talked into a riding stance that feels uncomfortable, no matter how KOOL it is. You will always ride better with a stance that feels good on the body. With all of that said, here are the argued benefits of wide and narrow stances:
Wider stance proponents will tell you that a big spread will increase your control over the nose and tail of the board. For freestyle riding this can add up to better presses, more stability on the rail, and a wider sweet spot between your bindings for grinding...anything. Some will say it also allows more immediate pop and boost for forced airs and is more stable for big landings. Narrow stance advocates will claim better edge control, easier rail to rail transitions and an ability to maintain speed better in harsh conditions.
Fine, but how about for a new rider who doesn't have a preference or a riding style yet? There we can help you, because there is (a little) more agreement on that issue. Start at shoulder width. Set your bindings (or have them set) so that your feet fall so that the outside of each foot is directly under the outside of that shoulder. This is a great starting point and although it is not right for everyone, it is typically a good middle ground in the stance war and a comfortable first position for most riders. Also, a recent poll of all snowboarders that have been riding for 3 years or more showed that the majority (56%) ride at, or within 1 inch of, shoulder width.
Now on to angle. Are you protected? Do you have on some armor or at least a football helmet? Things might get thrown here so you may want to hide behind your desk when we talk about this one. Disagreeing with someone's stance angle preference is kind of like insulting their Mom. You gotta watch what you say. Even so, maybe we can relate what the common wisdom is for each school and then make some beginner suggestions. You have 3 basic options (with many variations of each) in setting stance angle: Forward angles, Straight On (zero degree), or Duck Foot (forward facing front foot, back facing rear foot). The arguments:
Forward angles allow a more natural body position. They make it easier to keep your upper body facing downhill. Try this test: Stand with your feet facing straight out in front of you. Now twist at the waist so that your upper body faces off to the side that would be downhill for you (for example, if you are regular, this will be twisting to the left). Feel how "locked up" you are at the waist? Now angle both feet slightly toward that downhill side. Does some of that "locked up" feeling get relieved? This the reasoning used by those who promote forward angles. This less stressed body position allows better edge control, more precise transitions and better flow at speed.
Wait a minute though, the Duck Stance guys are about to pound you. They may even use that "locked up" stuff against you. What about riding switch. Get back into that forward stance position but now try to rotate your upper body the opposite way. Now you are doubly locked up. So when it comes to freestyle, park, pipe, etc. the case could be made that Duck Stance is way better.
How about straight stance? Oh, C'mon, get off the fence and take a side already! Just kidding. Straight stance is comfortable for some riders, and if so, that is fine, but it does come at the expense of additional board width. Riding a straight stance means that you will need the widest board that would be in your size range, and maximum width brings with it some negative characteristics, so unless necessarry, choose another stance.
For new riders we suggest starting with a moderate forward stance, with the back foot at 8 to 12 degrees and the front foot at 10-18 degrees. It will be easy to change to duck if / when you start riding switch. It should also be noted that most experienced riders (63%) ride with both feet forward.
What about tip to tail centering though? My board came with a bunch of insert options. Which ones should I use? Should I be centered or backstanced? This depends largely on the design of the board. Having your bindings mounted so that your stance is centered on the board is excellent for stability and is equally good for riding in either direction. Centered is the preferred stance of many park and pipe riders as well as all mountain freestylers. Backstance (or offset back) positions the stance further towards the tail of the board than the nose. The idea is that this results in better tracking, better control at speed, and a board that "rides up" in powder or crud.
It is very important, however, that you not forget the design of the board when making this centering/backstance decision. Many freeride boards come with the inserts already backstanced, so that if you choose the center option on each of the two insert clusters, you will already be backstanced. On pure twin boards, the inserts are always centered. Remember that the manufacturer chose to place the insert clusters where they did in relation to the sidecut of the board and its flex zones. Moving your stance too far from the boards design can result in really bad performance. A common example is when riders try to get a centered stance on a board that was designed to be ridden backstanced.
As a general rule for new riders. Try to stay as centered as possible on the insert cluster. If perfectly centered on the cluster is not an option, always opt for slightly backstanced over forestanced.
One thing almost everyone agrees on (whew! finally) is heel to toe centering. You will want to be as perfectly centered as possible, with an equal amount of toe and heel overhang. It is important to note that just because your bindings are centered on the board, does not mean that your boots will be centered. Getting this just right may take some trial and error in setup and some fine tuning after the first few rides. This can make or break your riding experience and we highly suggest that you take the time to get this perfect.
Of course, these are all generalizations, and many riders are not either / or on any of these factors. For instance, the same rider's park board may be set up at a centered 22 inches, duck at +8 degrees and -8 degrees while their freeride board may be setup at backstanced 1.5 inches, 21 inches for width, +15 and +8 for angles.
Well, now you are part of the debate. Get out there, experiment with all of this, and then come back and tell us how wrong we were