Heelside and Toeside Snowboard Turns (Snowboard Beginner Skills)

Learning the two major turns on a snowboard may seem daunting at first but it really doesn’t take long to become competent at heelside and toeside snowboard turns. If you are struggling with your snowboard turns then give this a through read and you’ll be sure to pick up some tips that can help you out on the slopes. You can then take those and practice.

It will be long before you are moving up to linking turns and improving your overall riding skills

Advanced snowboarder snowing deep heelside turn.
Advanced rider showing deep heelside turn.

How Do You Turn on a Beginner Snowboard?

The two basic turns on a snowboard are the heelside turn and the toeside turn. To make a turn on a beginner snowboard or any snowboard, start off with the heelside turn. Your goal is to ride across the mountain using your heels in the shape of a half “C”. Then you transition to the toeside turn to come back across and make an “S” shape. That will complete one full turn.

But how do we get there? Let’s back up a steep and take a deep dive on the two snowboard turns we need to learn a little more about.

Snowboard Turns for Beginners

What is a Heelside Turn?

Starting out, you are going to want to learn the heelside turn on your snowboard. A heel side turn is when you use your ankles to lift of the front of the snowboard while balancing on the heel edge of the snowboard and riding it across the mountain.

A heelside turn is always on the edge to the back of the snowboard bindings, the heel edge. If you have carpet at home, one good way to practice is to strap yourself in and lift up your toes at home. You should be able to balance on your heel edge with some practice.

Get used to the feel of lifting up, engaging and then setting back down.

How to Do a Heelside Turn on a Snowboard

  1. To start a heel side turn if you are riding regular, you need to turn your head and start looking over your left shoulder.
  2. It is so important that your chest stays inline and your shoulders are straight. Don’t be leaning forward or backwards. You can really do a heelside turn with your butt and legs.
  3. Drop your butt some and start to lift up slowly with your toes. Think about driving your little toe in your front boot up, out and to the left inside the boot itself. This will start engaging your turn.
  4. Squat your butt some and ride the heelside edge across the slope. You should be able to ride it all the way until you come to a stop on the left side of the slope. This will happen when your board is horizontal on the slope.
Coming to a full stop at the end of a heelside turn.
Coming to a full stop at the end of a heelside turn.

Peak Seeker Pro Tip: You don’t need to be extremely squatted down to control your board in a heelside turn. You can find a lot of control using your hips, butt, and ankles.

What is a Toeside Turn?

Simply a toeside turn is when you dig in the edge of the snowboard using your toe edge to make a turn. It uses the side closest to the front side of the bindings and not the heel.

Beginners often find the toeside turn to be the harder of the two turns. Let’s get into the steps to successfully complete a toeside turn.

How to Do a Toeside Turn on a Snowboard

Toeside turns are pretty much the opposite of a heelside turn. If you ride regular then the turn will be towards your right.

Snowboarder doing riding a toeside turn.
  1. Point your board downhill and start looking towards your right.
  2. Squat down into an athletic position and use toes to dig the toeside edge.
  3. It takes some balance but you should start going across the mountain and be looking up hill. The flatter you go across the slope, the more it will slow you down.
  4. Right before you come to a complete stop, go back into your heelside turn.

How Can I Improve My Snowboard Turns?

Snowboarding Toeside Tips

We get it, toeside turns can be a hard beginner skill to learn. Some key snowboarding toeside tips include focusing on quads when looking up the mountain and always looking in the direction you want to turn.

First we will start with looking in the direction you want to turn. Your body mechanics will follow your eyes instinctively. Get your head turning, not your shoulders and you will find it easier to engage in toeside turns.

Secondly, use those quads! They are big muscles and you can use them to control and stabilize your board in a toeside turn. Along with dropping your hips, you’ll find that focusing on using these parts of your body can help throughout the toeside turn.

I’m Falling A Lot… Here’s How to Get up on a Snowboard

So you are on the slopes and, “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Well technically we will take it that you aren’t hurt but just need the steps to stand back up on your snowboard.

  1. First roll over so that your snowboard is horizontal to the mountain and you are looking up the mountain.
  2. Make a base position on all fours with your hands and knees.
  3. Once you have made sure that no traffic is coming down the slope, push up with your arms and balance on your edge.
  4. Finally move the tip of your board so it starts facing downhill again.

Standing back up on a snowboard after a fall is a quick skill to learn and you’ll surely get the hang of it when learning your turns.

Final Thoughts on Heelside and Toeside Snowboard Turns

You can’t really do any snowboarding until you master the heelside and toeside turns. It is tough in the beginning but this is the barrier. You start unlocking a whole new experience in snowboarding when you can confidently execute your turns.

While heelside is usually easier, you shouldn’t neglect the toeside turn. You’ll need both to really be able to shred the mountain. If you pay attention to the steps and tips then you should be well on your way to learning both turns quickly on your snowboard!

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