Read this article and learn how to do snowboard grabs, get some height and impress your crew with your new and advanced trick list.
Snowboard grabs are the fundamental tricks used to look cool on your board, be confident on a jump and are the foundation of other advanced skills. Doing your first snowboard grabs may seem a little intimidating, but with practice and a positive attitude, you will be nailing them in no time. Of course, practice is vital, but before you pick up the board, you need to learn the theory behind the grabs. There are many types of grabs that you can add to your trick list, so read this article for instructions on how to do them each with style.
The core element of any grab is simply to hold on to a part of the board with one or both hands. Grabs are used during a jump, and sometimes during a spin, too. Snowboard grabs are a stylish addition to your trick list and are not only used for style, but also for stability too.
There are many places that you can grab the board, therefore, and as such, there are many different types of grabs, all with differing levels of complexity and difficulty. Grabs can either be done with the front or back hand while riding your natural way, or in switch, and involve taking hold of the board with one, or both hands in various positions. Where and how you grab the board determines the type of grab you’re doing. Using your back hand to grab the tail of your board is called a ‘tail grab’, but using your front hand to grab the tail of your board by reaching across your body, is called a ‘seatbelt’, for example!
Although grabs are stylish and show confidence on the board, they are also fundamentally used to gain stability and balance during a jump or spin. By grabbing the board, you can enhance or nullify spins, speed up rotations and flips, and generally keep yourself from going off-axis while in the air. They also help to get rid of unneeded flailing! We all do it when we start off, but a simple indy or tail grab can alleviate it almost immediately. Thank goodness!
Although you may feel confident on your board and ready to hit the jumps, it’s always best to prepare and practice before taking flight, as learning and perfecting the basics will set you up for success.
If you have access to one, try grabbing on a trampoline, first without your board, where you jump and bring your knees up to your torso and get the feeling of reaching down to touch your toes and heels by reaching down between your knees for the toes, and around the backs of your calves for the heels. Once perfected, strap on your board and practice. It’s quite common for snowboarders to practice this with a skateboard and normal shoes first, as snowboards are relatively heavy. But whatever works! It’s all good practice.
Before practising spins or jumps with your knees bent, make sure you nail simple straight airs, where you can gain height and control the landing. Then try a straight air with your knees up. Again, focus on balance, height and a controlled and a well-timed release and landing. Remember, as you’re coming up to a jump, soften your knees and crouch a little, with your front and back hands over the tips of your board. Shift your weight back, lift the nose and then push it forward to initiate a smooth ollie — let the jump do the work! Then in the air, align the base of your board to the pitch of the landing, and absorb the impact smoothly. Landing with an even base will make stomping grabs and spins much easier. But a straight air is the foundation here. Once you have that, work on adding in a full ‘tuck’ while in the air, by bringing your knees up to your chest. This is your ‘neutral’ grab position, and almost any grab should be possible to reach from here!
All tricks require confidence, and the only way to get this is from experience. Ace the simple tricks, such as an ollie, a nollie, shifties, and front and back one-eighties. These tricks help you to gain confidence in your board and more awareness of your edges and base, all necessary things for understanding balance and stability and how to execute grabs without getting out of shape. Different grabs require different input — for example, an indy doesn’t require any kind of rotation, but a stalefish is much much easier with the employment of a backside shifty! Some grabs, like the stalefish or melon, are really simple to integrate into a 180 because the board naturally turns, and being able to execute shifties and rotations, along with smooth pops, all contributes towards grab progression without heightening the risk of injury!
While the world of snowboard grabs is always evolving (now with 40+ variations!), it’s pretty much agreed there are six fundamental grabs that serve the majority of riders really well, and act as a gateway into other grabs and more complex tricks! So, let’s go over them one at a time, explaining what they are, how to do them, our tips for nailing them, and of course, how to tweak and bone them out for extra style on the slopes.
The indy grab is arguably the simplest grab to do and the first one most people learn. Ride up to the jump in your natural stance, pop straight, and tuck into the neutral grab position. With your back hand, reach between the bindings just inside the back foot, and take hold of the toe edge of the board. Release with enough time to land comfortably.
Tweak it out: Tweaking or poking a grab is a way to augment a grab that’s in progress for extra style! This is an easy way to make your grabs look extra stylish, and with an indy, all you need to do is push your lead leg as straight as you can, and tuck your back leg up tighter to create extra tilt in your board! You can also make it look ultra-stylish by reaching outside your back knee and grabbing inside your back binding by reaching over your back foot. Ultimate style points for that one.
Grabbing Weddle, formerly known as the mute grab, is named after pro skater Chris Weddle. This is the second grab to learn, and is the mirror image of the indy. With your front hand, reach between the bindings, and grab the toe side of your board. This is much easier to do when performing a frontside shifty, as when performed straight, you’ll turn your shoulder away from the landing, and be landing blind if you don’t release in time. Performing the frontside shifty, while keeping your shoulders straight, means you can spot your landing and prevent an unwanted backside 180. But If you don’t want to do a frontside shifty to counteract this half rotation, then you can combine the Weddle grab with a backside 180 and allow the grab to guide the rotation all the way around.
Tweak it out: Similar to the indy, you can tweak the grab by straightening your back leg and tucking your front leg, as well as reaching around the knee and in between the bindings if you want that super tweak.
The tail grab is another simple trick to learn, and is arguably easier than the indy, depending on who you ask. The tail grab, however, requires you to lift the tail of your board, but keep the nose down. This can be tricky at first, as instead of reaching down, you bring the tail up to meet your waiting hand. Resist the urge to look back (as it unbalances you), but instead, holding your back hand out straight, hand flat, and move it downwards as your tail comes up. Go for taps to begin with before going for a full hold to get the movement down! Once you do, a tail tap is a great trick to throw when you don’t have time for more substantial grabs. The tail grab is also a great trick for when you’re hucking off a roller or cat track onto a sloped landing, as your board is already nose-down for the landing!
Tweak it out: Once you have full hold of the tail, really pull it up behind you to get the board to bend. Straighten the front leg as much as possible and with the front hand, reach forward to really open your body up for a full poke.
The nose grab is the opposite of the tail grab, and involves bringing the nose of the board up to meet your waiting lead hand. This one will be a little tougher to master and feels strange to do as you’re moving the angle of the board away from the angle of the landing. Scary! Focus on straightening your back leg first, and tucking just the front to get it to your hand. This trick is super useful to learn if you’re practising side-hit 180s, as you can easily align the board with the slope of the hill, making a technical trick a bit easier to master.
Tweak it out: Once you have the nose grab dialled, really straighten that back leg, and then reach up and grab the nose with your back hand, too, turning your nose grab into the super slick rocket air!
The stalefish is arguably the hardest of the six fundamental grabs. The reason for this is because, like the Weddle grab, it requires a shifty. As your upper body rotates in the same direction, turning your lead shoulder over the front of your board, and potentially setting you up for a blinder landing or unwanted 180, it’s important to initiate a frontside shifty first, and then bring your legs up after your back knee passes under your back hand. From this position, reach down and grab the heel edge of your board between the bindings. This is a tough grab to go for, and the best way to progress to this is to set up your shifty, and then reach down and touch the highback of your back binding. This is your first step, and with each jump, work on sliding your hand down your highback until you can grab your heel cup or heel, and then just work on moving it over and down until you get your edge. Remember to stretch first!
Tweak it out: The stalefish is already a super slick trick to pull, but can be made cooler by throwing out your front hand in front of you. If you want to really up the difficulty and style, then release the grab, unwind the shifty, and then rotate your board into a late backside 180 using that momentum. This is a tough move to nail, but a shifty stalefish to late 180 is one of the coolest tricks to pull on small to medium features.
The melon grab is a true favourite of every progressing rider for two reasons. Firstly, it’s pretty simple to do, and it’s easy to tweak in a number of ways. Pop straight, tuck like as would for an indy or Weddle, and then reach with your front hand behind your front leg, and grab between the bindings. This can take a few tries, but is a great trick that opens up two amazing tweaks!
Tweak it out: Boning out or straightening your back leg is an awesome way to tweak the melon grab. But, if you want to get super stylish, then lock in your melon grab, and then extend both legs, allowing them to bend at the knees. By pushing your board out behind you, your body will naturally arch. With your back hand, reach over your head, the final piece of the unique puzzle that is the famous method grab.
That wraps up our guide on how to execute the six basic snowboard grabs, and tweak them out! We can’t stress enough that it’s important to be comfortable in the air, both popping and landing without issue, before attempting these grabs! Being able to shifty and 180 is also going to help your grabs, as will stretching before you attempt them. Some will come more naturally than others, and some may feel really awkward. But just like everything, it takes practice. Start with indy and tail, and work your way up. There’s a whole wide world out there, and always another season of snow just over the horizon. So limber up, practice those movements, and enjoy the process. It’s a fun one!