Originally Published on SnowboarderGuide.com
Learning to grab your board is a big step from airing over jumps, but it’s a great way to improve your style when you’re in the air. Before you start grabbing, you should be comfortable going over jumps, getting some air, and landing. This article will go through some of the basic steps and teach you some of the terminology you’ll want to know. Soon you’ll be grabbing like a pro, and you’ll even know which grabs you’re doing.
Before we get to the different grabs, it’s important to know some of the terminology these instructions will refer to.
Front/Back Hand/Foot: When approaching a jump, the leading, or downhill, hand and foot is your front hand and foot; the trailing, or uphill, hand and foot is your back hand or foot. For example, if you are a regular rider your left hand is your front hand, and your right foot is your back foot; while a goofy rider is opposite with the right hand as the front hand, and the left foot as the back foot.
For purposes of tricks, the definition of front hand and foot is determined by the direction you are facing when you leave a jump. For example, if a regular rider approaches the jump switch (or right hand pointed down hill), all tricks are defined based on the goofy stance, not their regular stance. To re-state this, what matters is not your normal stance for snowboarding, but in the moment you’re leaving the jump, which side of your body is down the hill.
Nose and Tail: The board’s nose is the tip of the board that is pointing in the direction of travel. The board’s tail is the trailing tip.
Toe and Heel Edge: Snowboards have two edges, the toe edge is the edge underneath the rider’s toes; the heel edge is below the rider’s heels.
The Six Primary Grabs
These grabs will make up the bulk of your grabbing, especially when you are first learning. Get to know them well, Nose:, Mute, Indy, Tail, Stalefish, and Lien.
Grabs with the front hand:
Nose: As you leave the launch, flex your front knee and pull the nose of the board up towards your front hand. Reach with your front hand and grab the board’s nose. Straighten your back leg to help push the board into your hand.
Lien: As you leave the launch, pull the board up, flexing your front knee slightly more than your back knee. Reach around the outside of your front foot with your front hand, and grab the heel edge of your board between your feet or on the heel edge of your front binding.
Mute: As you leave the jump, pull the board up, flexing your front knee slightly more than your back knee. With your front hand, grab the toe edge between your feet or on the toe edge of your front binding.
Grabs with the back hand:
Tail: As you leave the launch, flex your back knee and pull the tail of the board up towards your back hand. Reach with your back hand and grab the board’s tail. Straighten your front leg to help push the board into your hand.
Indy: As you leave the jump, pull the board up, flexing your back knee slightly more than your front knee. With your back hand, grab the toe edge between your feet or on the toe edge of your back binding.
Stalefish: As you leave the launch, pull the board up, flexing your back knee slightly more than your front knee. Reach around the outside of your back foot with your back hand, and grab the heel edge of your board between your feet or on the heel edge of your back binding.
Get a feel for these grabs on the ground before you take them to the air. Find a flat area, and strap both feet into the bindings. Crouch down and try a couple of the grabs. You’ll find that bending your knees makes a huge difference in reaching different areas on the board. At first, you can look at the board as you reach for the grab, but once you have a basic idea of where the board is beneath you, start trying to touch the zones of your board for the different grabs while looking towards the imaginary landing of a jump. (When you get to the point that you try these grabs going off jumps, when you are in the air you will need to be able to grab without looking at the board.)
Another way that you can practice grabs before hitting a jump is to strap in both feet and lie down on the ground with your back on the ground and your feet in the air. You’ll look like a flipped over beetle, but if you can suck up the pride-factor, this is one of the better ways to feel the grabs off-snow.
When ready, head to your favorite jump and do a safety run. When you’re comfortable with the feature and are ready to try a grab, approach it like you normally do. As you leave the lip of the jump, start pulling your knees up towards your upper body, and reach down with your arm to the grab; Indy and Mute are usually the easiest to start with. For your first couple of tries, just tap the edge of your board with your fingers, don’t actually grab it. This will make for a more comfortable attempt because it lets you feel the movement and timing, without needing as much air. After you’ve tapped the edge a few times, try grabbing the edge briefly. Once you’re styling with the Indy and Mute grab, move on to try grabbing Nose, Tail, Melon, or Stalefish.
Your progress and the size of jumps you go off of is up to you. This article will not explain the learning process for extremely advanced freestyle. However, some of the terminology is discussed in the next section.
When riding in the park and working on freestyle progression you put yourself at a higher risk for injury than when you’re just cruising around the mountain. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while learning these moves.
- Pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride: Always do a run past whatever feature (be it natural or man-made) that you hope to jump off of. This is an opportunity to look at the launch and landing (which you may not be able to see clearly from your starting area). You can assess many things in a quick run past, including how icy the landing is. On your second run you can carefully hit the feature to get a feel for the jump. Once you’re comfortable riding the feature you can freeride it comfortably.
- When you’re in the park always be on the lookout for others. Assume that your safety is in your own hands, you cannot trust that someone you see going off a jump is aware of who and what is around them, or that they will be able to land the jump properly. Keeping clear of features that you are scouting is critical.
- Once you have done a safety scout run, hit the jump without trying anything fancy- especially if it is one you have never gone off of. Take your time to get the feel of that particular feature before you try to work on new stuff.
No Grab Zones
Certain areas of your board are “no grab zones.” A vital piece of grab-education is knowing where not to grab, to avoid looking like a gaper. Here are the areas you don’t want to grab.
Naming differences for the halfpipe
The naming convention for grabs is different in the pipe. Any air performed on the backside wall of the halfpipe can be called a backside air, and any air on the frontside wall can be called a frontside air. You never call it a Frontside Indy- it is just called a Frontside Air.
There are a few variations of these grabs that style them out and make them “steezy.” Some of the variation grabs have names of their own.
Shifty: Before you attempt any tweaked grabs, start with shifties. A shifty is a trick where you move the board out of alignment from your body, without grabbing. You can do all sorts of shifties, get creative and see how you can tweak the board without grabbing.
Tweak: To “tweak” a grab is to really emphasize the grab and push all movements to the max, styling out the trick. The grab should contort the body to some extent, ankles, knees, and other joints should appear fully bent or extended.
Bone: To “bone” a grab is to fully straighten either leg during a grab. If you boned your front leg while grabbing Indy, you would call it an Indy Nose Bone.
Stiffy: Variation of any grab where you bone both legs.
Double Grab: Name given to a jump that includes two separate grabs. Grab your board one way, release and grab another way. Some combinations look better than others, try varying front hand grab to back hand grab.
Meloncholy: Grab Lien, but straighten (or bone) your front leg.
Method: Grab Lien, but pull the board up behind your back.
Crossbone Method: A Method combined with a backside shifty.