Completing a spin on a snowboard is one of the most satisfying and exciting parts of the sport. The first, big stepping stone for young athletes who want to do spins is the 360 spin. A "360" is a 360 degree turn: One full rotation. Professional snowboarders make it seem easy, but working up to 360s is a process and a big step in a young snowboarder's growth. In fact, Shaun White, the professional snowboarder, managed to spin 1260 degrees in one jump. That's three and a half complete spins! But let's slow down. Before any riders can think about maxing out their rotations, they have to master the basic 360.
Before taking on the 360, its a good idea for young or new riders to get a hang of the 180, which is a half spin. First, practice the 180 without jumping by quickly sliding one foot back and one foot forward while moving, then riding "switch". You can also practice your 180 on flats by jumping up and twisting your board 180 degrees. Once you get the hang of it, you can work on doing them off jumps. There are two types of 180s just as there are two types of 360s, the frontside spin and the backside spin. The frontside spin is easier, but its important to try both so you get comfortable with rotating in the air. If you can execute the 180 easily, the 360 should be no problem.
The approach for the 360 is very important. It can make or break your trick. When first learning to 360, you want to use smaller, more manageable jumps. There is a chance that you will fall and you're much better off falling on a small jump than a kicker. If you have a regular snowboard
stance (left foot forward) you want to arc your approach coming from left to right, and vice-versa for goofy riders. Know how much speed you need to complete the jump because when you go too fast or too slow you're more likely to wipe out. The key moment of the approach is when you reach the lip of the jump. As you prepare to jump, you should lean onto your heel side, pulling your body in the opposite direction of where you were headed. The quick turn allows you to begin your rotation. When the nose of your board reaches the lip, jump!
The approach provides most of the rotation you'll need to complete the 360, but you can't sit back and wait to land. When you pop off the jump, you should swing your arms in the direction of the spin and look over your front-spinning shoulder. These techniques will help keep you spinning and maintain your balance.
If you follow the steps above you should be in line for an easy landing. The tough part of the landing is seeing it, because sometimes its hard to tell when you are going to land when your mid-rotation. If you are looking over your shoulder, you can usually prepare yourself for impact. Make sure you have your knees bent and land equally on each foot. If you can do that, then you can complete the 360.
Once you can comfortably 360, you may want to step up to more advanced jumps. You can add grabs and tweaks to your 360 and eventually step up to 540's and 720's. These tricks have all sorts of new complications that you need to manage, but the 360 provides you with a foundation for all of them. Get out on the slopes and good luck!
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