When I try a new snowboard I will ultimately find myself adjusting the snowboard stance. There really is no right or wrong snowboard stance because it really depends upon what settings work the best for each individual. Just as no one person is created alike, the same principles apply to stance settings on a snowboard. More importantly, the settings that may feel and work the best for me may not feel and work the best for you. Remember that despite the fact that a specific setting may feel most comfortable to you, by simply adjusting the stance setback, width, and/or angle you can ultimately open new doors to various snowboarding tricks and improve your overall snowboarding experience. As such, that is why it is important to understand how to adjust your snowboard stance.
This article will demonstrate how you can determine the best snowboard stance settings for your particular boarding style. By simply adjusting the setback, width, and angle of your snowboard stance you will be able to adapt and ride many various styles and in different snowboarding conditions.
Snowboard Stance Components
Essentially there are three components to your snowboard stance, and any adjustments should be made in the following order:
- Stance Setback
- Stance Width
- Stance Angle
Snowboard Stance Setback
The stance setback is the distance between the center of the two snowboard bindings in relation to the center of the snowboard. For example, a Zero stance setback means the center of your bindings align with the center of your snowboard.
Generally most snowboards come with metal or composite inserts that have several holes and are used for mounting your bindings onto the snowboard. This usually means that they are not centered in the middle of the snowboard, but set a little towards the tail of the snowboard. Therefore, even if you put your bindings in the center holes they will still be offset towards the snowboard’s tail. No matter what boarding style you prefer you’ll always need some setback, and since there’s setback designed into the board, in most cases you simply mount the bindings in the center holes and you can be on your way down the slopes. So what if you feel you need to change them, and when is it essential to have more or less stance setback?
Essentially, the more stance setback there is, the more a snowboarder’s weight shifts toward the back of the snowboard. The longer nose provides better stability at higher speeds in addition to more control in powder. For example, a “Free Ride” snowboard will usually have stance setback, while a “Free Style” snowboard will not. In no case should you have a stance setback such that your bindings are closer to the nose than to the tail.
Some of the general stance setback options are:
- “0” stance setback or centered stance – your snowboard turns much easier and you will have more board control.
- “1 inch” (2.5 cm) stance setback – your snowboard will have a shorter tail; allowing more aggressive turns, higher Ollies, and better float in the powder.
- “2 inch” (5 cm) stance setback – your snowboard will have an even shorter tail; allowing for deep powder riding but limiting your turning and overall board control.
Snowboard Stance Width
The stance width is the distance between the two bindings. Because the stance width affects your ease of turning and board control, riding too narrow or to wide will just make you uncomfortable and you’ll likely feel pain in the side of your legs when it is not set properly. Although stance width is usually determined by your height, generally it should be set approximately “1 inch” (2.5 cm) wider than your shoulders.
To initially set your stance width, leave the bindings off of your board and center yourself on the board. Put your feet where they feel the most comfortable and squat and stand up; just as you would if you were turning down the mountain. This will give you a good idea of what is a good width (and angle) for you.
- “Wider stance” – more stability, harder turn transitions, better for freestyle riding.
- “Narrow stance” – less stability, easier turn transitions, better for free riding.
Snowboard Stance Angle
Stance angle is the angle at which the binding is mounted on to the snowboard. However, before you can establish the proper angle you must first determine whether your snowboarding stance is “Regular” or “Goofy”?
Snowboarding stance is determined by the leg that you have forward on the snowboard. “Regular” stance is when your left foot is forward on the board, while “Goofy” stance is when your right foot is forward. One method that probably works best to make an accurate determination of your snowboarding stance is to simply run across a smooth floor with socks on; sliding across the floor then trying to stop yourself. The foot that naturally creeps its way in front will be the foot that you will want to place at the tip of your snowboard. Having the correct foot forward is very important and should not be determined by what others say or recommend. Once you have made this determination you are ready to determine your proper stance angles.
Stance Angle Options:
There are three general stance angles to which you can base your stance angle adjustments:
- Alpine stance
- Forward stance
- Duck stance
Alpine stance is a setup used for race/carve snowboards, that are so narrow that small angles will cause overhang. Large angles combined with hard boots allow you to carve aggressively. For better control in short turns, there should be some angle difference between the two bindings.
Forward stance is the stance used by most of the free ride snowboarders. Both snowboard bindings have positive stance angles but they are much smaller than with alpine stance. Since these snowboards are much wider than alpine boards, overhang isn’t an issue.
Duck stance is a stance where the front binding angle is positive and the back binding angle is negative, thus each foot faces a different direction – kind of like duck feet. Duck stance gives you more stability as your body is aligned with the snowboard and is useful for park and freestyle riding. With duck stance, the front angle is anywhere between 30° and 0° degrees while the rear angle is negative, between -1° and -20°. Keep the angles apart by at least 8-10 degrees. Personally, I use this and my stance angles are +12° and -12°.
Stance Angle Adjustment Variations:
- Zero Stance Angle: When the snowboard binding is completely perpendicular to the snowboard.
- Positive Stance Angle: When the front of the binding (your toes) is angled towards the nose of the snowboard.
- Negative Stance Angle: When the front of the binding (your toes) is angled towards the tail of the snowboard.
Snowboard bindings usually have different stance angles. The angles are normally written like +15°/+6°, meaning the front binding is set at 15 degrees (positive stance angle) and the back binding is set at 6 degrees (positive stance angle).
One important rule to keep in mind is that the rear binding angle should never be larger than the front binding angle as this will put strain on your knees!