Snowboarding isn’t a simple sport, though. Beyond balance, coordination, and pure skill, there’s also the necessary (and often challenging) component of knowing the different terminology—an aspect that must be understood in order to really get into or follow the sport at a higher level.
From understanding the basics of your feet placement on the board to the complex movements of snowboard tricks and jumps, learning how things are described is half the challenge!
Especially when some trick slang sounds more like items on a menu than anything else.
Whether you’ve been toying with the idea of snowboarding for the first time, been dabbling with the sport on and off for a few seasons, or are ready to really learn the slang and hang with the best of them, here is everything you need to know about snowboarding, the names of tricks, and how to start this upcoming season with confidence.
The Basics: Your Stance
Before getting into snowboard tricks and their crazy names, you first have to understand the basics. There are two types of snowboard stances, defined by which foot you have first on the board.
Regular: If you’re ‘Regular,’ you ride with your left foot forward on the board.
Goofy: If you’re ‘Goofy,’ you ride with your right foot forward.
Your back foot will then be the foot that comes out of your bindings and helps you move around when you’re not going down the mountain.
If you’re not sure what stance works best for you, stand up straight with your feet in a natural stance, shoulder-width apart. Have a friend stand behind you and give you a light push. Whichever foot steps first to break the fall is the foot you should have forward on your snowboard.
When you get your snowboarding boots, make sure to tell the person fitting you whether you’re Regular or Goofy to ensure your bindings are positioned correctly.
Switch Stance or ‘Fakie’: These two terms are often used interchangeably in snowboarding, although they don’t quite mean the same thing. ‘Switch’ refers to any time a snowboarder does a trick with their back foot forward (switching their natural stance).
You might also hear the term ‘riding switch’ which is the same thing (using opposite foot forward) but refers to regular movement rather than a trick.
‘Fakie’ has its origins with skateboarding, where you can move your feet position on the skateboard to right at the edge, or opposite of your normal stance. In snowboarding, since you’re stuck to the bindings, there really isn’t the ability to ride ‘fakie’ like you would in skateboarding. This is why you’ll often hear ‘switch’ used more than ‘fakie.’ But it’s good to know both.
The Basics: Your Direction
Frontside is when your chest is facing forward as you go down the mountain. Backside is when your back faces forward.
Frontside and backside also identify the direction of a spin’s rotation. For example, if a snowboarder (riding regular) is doing a frontside spin, he or she would open the body counterclockwise so that the “front side” is coming first off the jump and into the spin.
If the snowboarder (riding regular) is doing a backside spin, he or she would rotate the body clockwise so that the “back side” is the first side going forward off the jump and into the spin.
Frontside and backside also refer to the direction a rider approaches a jump or obstacle. If a regular rider approaches from the left, with his or her “front side” facing the rail, then it’s considered a frontside trick. If that same rider is approaching from the right, it’s backside because the “back side” is the side that’s facing the rail.
It would be switch frontside or switch backside if the rider is goofy.
Before understanding the different snowboard tricks, you have to understand the type of snowboard movements and types in general.
Freeriding: This is the casual, all-around style that most beginners start with. You have the independence to ride on any terrain and it’s more about enjoyment than learning tricks or technical movements.
Freestyle: Probably the most popular style of snowboarding, freestyle is focused on different tricks and jumps. It’s better for a more advanced rider as it’s focused more on technique—especially jumps that are in the air.
Freecarve: This style is all about speed and getting through more advanced terrain. It’s less about tricks and more about maneuvering at high velocities.
Splitboarding: This is an advanced type of snowboarding that uses specialized equipment. The board for this style looks like a regular snowboard, but breaks into two pieces to function like skis. This allows for versatility between both snowboarding and ‘skiing’ in one combined sport.
There are several styles of snowboarding, all of which have specific snowboarding names. Once you have a grasp of these names, understanding the trick slang is even easier because you’ll know what people are referring to and what direction they’re facing.
Jibbing: This is a technical name for any style of movement that involves non-standard surfaces. Tricks that involve boxes, rails, benches, etc. are all involved. The style means jumping on/off, sliding down, spinning on, or riding across these objects.
Slopestyle: This refers to any trick that’s performed while going downhill. On most courses there are obstacles and slopestyle is all about choosing your route and terrain to do these tricks.
Big Air: Big air tricks are exactly how they sound. They require big ramps or jumps where you can do tricks while in the air. Outside of the tricks themselves, it’s all about perfecting the landing at the end.
Half-Pipe: Similar to skateboarding, this style is where tricks are performed on (often man-made) ramps of snow by going from one side to another, as well as in the air above the sides.
Types of Jibbing
Jibbing is one of the most common snowboard tricks. It involves jumping onto obstacles and making movements on/off and around them.
Boardslide: When the nose (front) of your board goes over the obstacle.
Lipslide: When the tail (back) end of your board goes over the obstacle.
Nose Press: When you balance just the nose of your board (and the board goes parallel).
Tail Press: When you’re balancing on the tail (end) of your board as you go down parallel.
Noseslide: Essentially Boardslide movement, but when you’re centered over front foot/nose only.
Tallslide: Same as a Noseslide, but using the back foot/tail only.
Bluntside: A more advanced move where you jump fully across the box/obstacle and land on the tail of your board.
Pretzel: When you’re in Boardslide or Lipslide (only one end of your board on the obstacle) and jump off into a spin the opposite direction of what you originally jumped on.
Bagel (Same Way): Like the Pretzel, but when you spin off in the same direction that you originally jumped on.
Specific Types of Snowboard Tricks
Okay, now that you have the majority of the basic lingo out of the way, it’s time to learn a bit more about specific snowboard tricks and their names.
Trick slang can be difficult, but once you have the main types down, learning the specifics is about understanding how many rotations or degrees the snowboarder has in their trick and direction that he or she is riding.
Here are the ‘straight air’ tricks:
Ollie: Where the snowboarder springs from the tail of the board into the air.
Nollie: Opposite of the Ollie—snowboarder jumps from nose end of the board.
Switch Ollie: An Ollie while riding switch (opposite).
Fake Ollie (Or Switch Nollie): When riding switch the snowboarder jumps from their ‘new nose’ into the air. It’s essentially a Nollie, but the snowboarder is riding switch.
Shifty: When the snowboarder twists his or her body and rotates the board 90 degrees, then rotates it back all in the air before landing. This is something that can be done frontside, backside, or with other tricks.
Nosegrab: Grabbing the front of the board with your leading hand.
Cork: A flip where the rider rotates off-axis (essentially an inversion).
Air-to-Fakie: Jumping into the air (from a halfpipe, for example) and then re-entering fakie without rotating your body.
Poptart: Jumping into the air from fakie to forward without rotating your body.
Snowboard tricks (especially if you’re watching the Olympics or more advanced competitions) explain tricks and movements with numbers. In order to understand what the numbers mean, you have to understand turns.
All rotations are measured in degrees. A 360-degree turn is a full turn (because it’s a full circle). Most tricks end with a number that can be divided by 360 because it’s all about counting the rider’s number of turns in the trick. So, for example, a ‘1400’ has four complete rotations.
Snowboard Trick Slang
Menu item or snowboarding move? You’ve probably heard a few of the strange snowboard trick names, but now that you have an understanding of the basics, it may be easier to actually know what’s going on.
Here are a few more advanced trick names and what they mean:
Chicken Salad: When the snowboarder uses his or her rear hand to reach between the legs and grab the heel of the board while the front leg is straight (or ‘boned’).
Roast Beef: Like Chicken Salad, but the rear leg is boned.
Melon: Front hand is reaching between to grab the heel edge of the board.
Mute: Front hand is reaching between to grab the toe-side of the board.
Japan: Similar to Mute, but the front knee is pulled into the board.
Indy: Rear hand is reaching to grab the toe-side of the board.
How Tricks Get Their Slang Names
Tricks are often referred to by their technical names, for example, “backside triple 1440 nosegrab,” which is when a snowboarder has the heel-side of the snowboard facing down the hill or obstacle, does three inversions (triple/triple cork) and four complete 360 degree spins, with a nosegrab (grabbing the front of the board with the leading hand) at the end.
Whew! That’s a lot.
If a snowboarder is the first to land a trick successfully, he or she gets to name it. For example, Mike McGill coined the ‘McTwist’ after his 1984 move.
Now You’re Ready to Ride
Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport. Some may argue that learning the technical and slang terms and descriptions is even harder! Whether you’re just starting out or heading into your first few seasons, getting the hang of the snowboard tricks and their names will be a challenge—but a rewarding one.
From ollies to nosegrabs, triple corks to the Roast Beef there’s a lot of snowboard terminology to grasp, but the most important thing is getting out there and having fun. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs of the tricks and names to get down the mountain.
You just have to be willing to try your best and have fun.
For more information about snowboarding, tips, tricks and the gear you need to make the most of your adventures, click here.