Snowboarders generally make use of heelside turns and toeside turns when carving turns along a slope. Heelside turns are a lot more common for the simple reason that they are easier to master and come naturally to most snowboarders. All you have to do is keep your weight on the heels, keep the lower body bent and the upper body positioned in the direction you are going.
In contrast, toeside turns are a lot trickier and require significantly more practice time to master. Toeside turns, as their name suggests, are when you shift your body weight onto the toes and then drift downhill, carving the turns without shifting weight on to your heels.
Toeside turns are harder for a number of reasons. The first and foremost is that you have to move away from the standard snowboarding stance when doing a toeside turn. Instead of bending your body with a backward lean, you have to bend it with a slightly forward lean when doing a toeside turn. This balance requires some effort.
Here are handy tips to get you started on the path to mastering toeside turns.
Start Slow and Easy
If you are learning toeside turns, find an area of the hill slope that has a very gentle decline. This is the perfect place for you to practice the toeside turns. Start slow, shifting your weight on to your toes and letting the snowboard slip smoothly across the snow.
The good thing about a gentle slope is that the snowboard will not catch too much speed and you can conveniently experiment with finding the right stance for toeside turns.
Keep your heels in the air
This is the obvious part but one that is most often missed by beginners. Toeside is meant to give you a gentle and smooth glide across the snow. It is almost like flying across snow weightlessly.
If you let your heels touch the snowboard during a toeside turn, this will immediately add weight to the rear of the board. As a result, the snowboard will likely catch an edge. Of course, you will have to practice keeping your heels in the air and it will be some time before you master this stance.
Turn your entire body
A common mistake made by snowboarders during toeside turns is that they turn the lower half of their body along the direction of the toes but forget to turn the upper half in that direction as well.
The general rule of thumb is that your entire body must turn in the direction you are moving or want to move. The same applies to toeside turns. Make sure you turn your upper half in the direction of the toes when doing a toeside turn.
Try toeside snowboard control
Before you get into taking toeside turns using your snowboard, it is advisable that you side back and forth on the slope with toeside controls. Switch your weight between the two feet to control the direction of the snowboard. Doing a few simple runs on the slope will help you get the hang and balance of the toeside riding before you try your hands at toeside turns.
Practice small turns
Once you have mastered how to toeside control the snowboard, it is time to try your hands on actual toeside turns. Start by taking a downhill run for a short distance and then try coming to a stop using a toeside turn.
You can do this by simply riding downhill, directing the snowboard using your dominant foot, and then turning the board using toeside control so that you face the slope. This will slow down the snowboard or stop it, depending on your own preferences.
Do not panic
This is a vitally important tip when trying toeside turns. If you are unable to master them immediately, do not panic. Keep trying and practicing. In time, you will be able to master the basic movement. And if you keep practicing the basic movement, you will eventually become an expert at toeside turns.
Once you have reached the expert level, it is time to try toeside turns on steeper slopes. The real fun is when you go from a straight run to a toeside turn when bringing a snowboard to a halt or slowing it down.
When you take a toeside turn in such a case, the snowboard may glide some distance over the slope before it slows down or stops. Again, do not panic. It is perfectly normal. For your part, make sure that the upper and lower body remains aligned to the board’s movement when turning and that your weight is poised on the toes.
Toeside turns are a lot of fun but once you have perfectly mastered them, you can spice things up with a bit of creativity. For instance, you can link up toeside turns with heelside turns and rapidly switch between the two during a downhill run.