Introduction: How to Backside 360 on a Snowboard

Snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies that I have been doing since I was young. I was fortunate enough to have a ski resort essentially located in my backyard. When I’m on the mountain, I enjoy performing various tricks including one of my favorites, the backside 360. A backside 360 is one complete spin where you turn the front of your body into the rotation first. This means that a regular rider would spin once in the clockwise direction. The following document outlines several steps that need to be taken to perform a proper backside 360 on a snowboard. This trick would most likely be categorized as a basic to intermediate level difficulty. Some snowboard experience is likely required to master this trick.

Step 1: Identify Your Riding Stance

There are only two ways you can ride down on a snowboard properly. The two stances are Regular and Goofy. Regular riders have their left foot facing forward while Goofy riders have their right foot facing forward. Regardless of the names, either way is an acceptable stance. The easiest way to determine your stance is to give both a try. After taking several runs it’s likely that one stance will feel more comfortable. More advanced riders are usually able to master riding both ways.

Step 2: Analyze the Feature

This is one of the most important steps when performing any trick. Before you even can attempt a trick you must analyze your surroundings and the features that you will be hitting. Features include jumps, rails, boxes, half pipes, etc. The main point of this step is to keep safety in mind. As with many extreme sports, snowboarding can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. You should be properly equipped with a helmet at all times when on the mountain as head injuries are one of the more serious risks.

It is important to be aware of the rules on the mountain. Take some time to read the safety signs that the mountain will provide to you. Signs will be located in the lift lines and on the trails as well. Each trail is marked with a level of difficulty (Figure 3) and trails with terrain parks will exhibit signs that include the rules to the park (Figure 4).

Make sure you know your skill level before you try anything too courageous. When performing a trick on a feature you must analyze the feature first. Take a few runs through the terrain park and check out all the features. Although snowboarding may be dangerous, it can be safe and extremely fun if you know what you’re doing.

In the case of performing a backside 360, you’re most likely going to attempt the trick off of a jump. Jumps come in all different sizes so it’s best to start small and gradually work your way up. Snowboarding is like many other sports and takes a lot of practice to excel at.

Step 3: Approach

Unfortunately, snowboarding isn’t as simple as just launching of a jump and twisting in the air. Since your feet are restricted to one board, your freedom in the air is limited. Much of the trick is performed in the approach to the jump. It’s important to take the proper path leading up to the jump to have the correct trajectory in the air. Figure 5 above shows an aerial view of the ideal path for a regular rider to perform a backside 360. The purpose of the turns leading up to the jump is to gain momentum to spin around one full time. The first turn is slightly to the right and is done by leaning on your toe edge. You then must lean back on your heal edge back towards the center of the jump. Finally, it’s important to be on your toe edge when you hit the lip of the jump. Also notice in Figure 5 that your board should be facing perpendicular to the lip of the jump upon takeoff. This will ensure a straight path in the air to the middle of the landing. Be sure you have enough speed to clear the landing.

Figure 6 above displays an incorrect approach to take towards a jump. This approach begins the series of turns too early. The result is an improper launch point since the snowboard would not be perpendicular to the lip of the jump. This would cause you to travel sideways through the air and you may not even make it all the way to the landing.

Not only is the path you take important, but also your body positioning and movements prior to takeoff play a role in how you travel through the air. It’s important to have your knees bent slightly while approaching the jump to keep your balance. Also, your upper body plays a major role in gaining the momentum to spin around in the air. Right before the lip of the jump you want to throw your lead shoulder towards the front of your body, which will initiate the rotation for your 360. In Figure 7 above, notice how the lead shoulder dips towards the front of my body as I am leaving the jump. Also, my snowboard is perpendicular to the lip of the jump upon takeoff.

Step 4: Maintain Control in the Air

For the first few attempts, it’s recommended that you first get down the rotation of the spin. Once you get comfortable with the rotation, you can add some stability in the air by grabbing your board. Grabs help to maintain balance in the air and make the trick look smoother. One of my favorite grabs is the tail grab, which is performed by grabbing the tail of you board with your back hand. There are a variety of different grabs you can perform on a snowboard and it’s completely up to you which one to choose.

Step 5: Landing the Trick

Landing the trick may take quite a bit of practice. At first it may seem a little hard to track yourself in the air when you’re spinning around. It’s important to get your head around fairly quickly so you can spot your landing while still in the air. In Figure 9, you can see my head is already turned looking for the landing before my board has even completed the full rotation.

If you did the trick properly, you should have cleared the landing with the nose of your board facing forward. Make sure you brace yourself for the landing by keeping your knees bent (Figure 10). If all goes well, you will ride away having performed a backside 360.