How to Stop in Snowboarding: Essential Beginner Snowboard Skills

One beginner snowboard skill that people should at least have an idea of before their first lesson is how to stop in snowboarding. It is a skill that is going to be carried with you for your entire snowboarding journey so mastering it early is important. It isn’t hard if you know the right technique and once you get it, it will be intuitive.

Read on before you get on the slopes so you know how to stop a snowboard, use the proper technique and eventually you’ll be onto snowboarding like a pro.

Girl showing how to stop on snowboard.
Demonstrating how to stop on a snowboard. Photo Credit: Bigbirdz (Flickr CC )

Why Do You Need to Learn How to Stop In Snowboarding

By following the steps on how to stop your snowboard, beginners should grasp the technique of stopping a snowboard by their 4th trip to the mountain, if not before.

Imagine you are flying down the slope and another skier or snowboarder cuts in front of you. If you can’t stop your snowboard, you could have a serious day ending collision. The same is true when you get to the end of your run. Not able to stop your snowboard and you’ll be colliding into people at the bottom of the hill.

Once you learn how to stop on a snowboard, you’ll also see how the maneuver can help you control snowboard speed as well. The same principles and movement apply. Let’s dive into learning how do to heel stop snowboarding.

How Do You Heel Stop Snowboarding

To learn the heel stop in snowboarding, start with a gentle slope. Keep your knees bent and use your ankle to lift the board off of the snow. As your front edge lifts up and your board is parallel to the mountain, keep your weight balanced while sitting into your hips. It is no different than the steps we outline below for how to stop snowboarding.

Steps for How to Stop in Snowboarding

Step 1 – The first step in a snowboarding heel stop is to look up and see where you are going. Judge what is in front of you and how long it will take to stop. You shouldn’t be looking down at your snowboard when trying to stop.

Step 2 – Turn your snowboard so your heel edge is parallel to the mountain and you are looking down the mountain.

Step 3 – Start lifting up with your toes while your knees are bent and apply weight through your hips into the heel edge of the snowboard. (You should start to feel your heel edge digging in.)

Person demonstrating how to stop on a snowboard.
Proper way to heelside stop on snowboard. Photo Credit: Eli Duke (Flickr CC, annotations added )

Step 4 – While maintaining your balance, keep the front edge up and drive your weight into the heel edge. As long as you maintain your balance, you’ll come to a stop.

How to Stop on a Snowboard Going Fast

Stopping on a snowboard, while traveling fast, is one of the most difficult things to do. It isn’t much different from stopping when going slow but you will need to focus more to transfer weight into the heel edge of the snowboard. This is seemingly easier on intermediate slopes where the grade is a bit steeper.

Using the same technique as a basic stop, you’ll need to work on balance and control when learning how to stop on a snowboard when going fast. As you progress to more difficult trails, this is going to be a skill that you are going to want to spend time on and improve.

Key Takeaway: Stopping fast on a snowboard is much like a regular heel stop. More pressure should be applied to the heel edge and a bit better balance control is need to reduce your speed quickly.

Avoiding the Common Snowboarding Mistakes for Stopping

There are a few common snowboarding mistakes when it comes to stopping. One of the biggest issues is balance. Having your balance too far forward and you won’t get enough of the heel edge to dig in. This is the common pitfall of hunching forward. To avoid this pitfall, the shoulders need to be straighter and inline.

Man showing bad snowboard form and body position.
Poor snowboard form by hunching over. Photo Credit: Rick (Flickr CC)

Oppositely lean too far back and you are likely to lose control and fall. So how do you avoid leaning back when snowboarding? It is all about the stance.

How to Avoid Leaning Back When Snowboarding

To avoid leaning back when snowboarding, try using these coaching points.

  • Keep your core engaged and chest upright
  • Push your weight down into your heels instead of leaning backwards
  • Squat in an athletic position while keeping that chest straight

You should be able to put a yardstick across your chest and find that the shoulders are not twisted but inline. If you continue to work on your stance then before long you’ll be able to avoid and get rid of any bad habits of leaning back too far when snowboarding.

Final Thoughts on How to Stop a Snowboard

Learning how to stop on a snowboard might seem hard for a beginner but after a few trips to the mountain, you’ll have it figured out. At most by the 3rd or 4th time to the slopes, beginners should have it figured out. If you don’t have it figured out by then, come back and review what you are doing incorrectly.

Paying attention to the steps above and work on them one by one. You will master stopping on a snowboard before you know it!

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