How to Find Your Snowboarding Stance
Benjamin Beddow – December 28th, 2021
Finding your natural snowboard stance is important to maximizing your riding potential and, at the same time, ensuring that you’re comfortable riding for a whole day on the mountain. Sorting out your snowboard stance, a.k.a. snowboard feet placement, is not a difficult process but it does take a little bit of time.
Once you know all the basic elements that affect your snowboarding stance it is easy to adjust them to suit your individual body type as well as your preferred riding style.
Here we’re going to go through every element that can affect your snowboarding stance, and how it does so. We’re also going to discuss the different types of riders and what snowboarding stance riders in those categories typically prefer so you can determine your snowboard stance.
What is Your Snowboard Stance?
Your snowboard stance can be broken down into specific elements, all of which we will discuss here. These elements are:
- Which foot is your back foot
- The width of your stance
- The direction in which each of your boots is pointing, known as the “angle”
- The position of your boots on the board
- The angle of your high-backs against your boots
To maximize your riding ability and experience it is important that you find your “natural” snowboarding stance. This is the stance in which you’re most comfortable, that allows you the greatest range of motion, and enhances your natural riding ability.
Everyone’s natural stance is specific to their unique body and what they like to do on the mountain. Finding your natural stance requires experimenting with different stances to find what suits you best.
As you work through this guide you’ll learn the principles of the different elements of snowboarding stances and will be able to apply them to you and your setup, discover your own natural stance, and maximize your riding potential.
How to Find Your Snowboard Stance
If you’re entirely unsure as to which foot is your dominant foot then fear not! There are many tricks for working out which is your dominant and back foot for when you’re riding a snowboard. Here are two of the best tricks for discovering which might be your dominant foot.
The Step Test
Simply, which foot do you put first when stepping up or down a set of stairs? If it’s your left then you’re left foot dominant and your left foot will be your back foot, if it’s your right then that’s your dominant foot.
The Slide Test
Get yourself a pair of socks on your feet and a slick floor, hardwood is the best but tile and other materials also work. Take a short run up and jump into a slide on the slick floor. Whichever foot you lead with will determine your snowboarding stance. If you lead with your left foot you are regular. If you lead with your right foot you are goofy.
When finding your snowboard stance the first thing you need to do is to work out which is your dominant foot and from that you’ll know whether you ride regular or goofy snowboard. Your dominant foot will be your back foot because your back foot is the foot you use to transfer your weight and power into your turns.
If you surf or skate, or have in the past, then you probably know which is your dominant foot and your snowboarding stance is likely to mimic that of your surfing or skating stance. It is also said that right-handed people are more likely to have their right foot as their dominant and rear foot and left-handed people are more likely to have their left foot as their dominant and rear foot. This, though, is not a hard and fast rule.
Are You Regular or Goofy?
Regular vs goofy snowboard stance are the two types of stance available for a rider and they are defined by which foot is your dominant foot.
A regular snowboard stance is the stance where the rider’s right foot is their dominant foot and, therefore, their rear foot. Their left foot is then their front foot. This means that they’ll be facing to the right as they ride down the mountain.
A goofy snowboard stance is where the rider has their right foot at the front foot and their left foot in the back. This means that they will be facing to the left as they ride down the mountain.
Choosing a Stance Width
Your stance width is exactly what you’re probably thinking: it is how far apart your feet are on the snowboard. Your snowboarding stance helps to determine your balance on the board as well as your turning ability. It can also affect other elements of your ride too.
There are several theories for when it comes to determining your snowboard stance width, but it will ultimately be determined by what is comfortable for your unique body, and what best suits your riding style.
The most common way to start is to place your bindings a little more than shoulder width apart. This position offers the rider a good amount of stability and a powerful jumping position.
The chart below can help determine the width of an individual’s starting stance in reference to their height.
|5'1" / 155cm||17-19" / 43-48 cm|
|5'2"-5'4" / 156-163 cm||19-21" / 48-54 cm|
|5'5"-5'8" / 164-172 cm||20-22" / 48-56 cm|
|5'9"-6' / 173-184 cm||21-23" / 53-58 cm|
|6'1"-6'4" / 185-193 cm||22-24" / 56-61 cm|
|>6'4" / 193 cm||23-25" / 58-63.5 cm|
Your stance can also be determined in a more practical kind of way. Place your snowboard, without bindings, on the floor and then stand on the board with your feet just over shoulder width apart. Now move your feet in and out.
This will make your knees bend and your legs straighten and allow you to test out what is most comfortable for your body.
Once you feel like you’ve settled on a stance width then measure from the middle of one foot to the middle of the other. This is going to be the distance from the middle of one binding to the middle of the other when you attach them to the board.
This is a great way to begin and to find what is most comfortable for you and your body. But as you grow into your riding style you may find that you want a wider or narrower stance that can help give you that performance edge on the mountain.
Here are the pros and cons of picking a wider or a narrower stance, along with the type of riders the commonly choose them:
Wider Snowboarding Stance
A wider snowboard stance is preferred by freeriders and lovers of the park because the benefits suit what they love to do on the mountain.
- Greater balance overall
- Balance for landings
- Better stability when ripping down the mountain
- Less agile (i.e.) less maneuverability
- Reduced control on groomers
Narrower Snowboarding Stance
A narrower snowboarding stance is often preferred by surf style riders and longboarders. A narrower stance keeps your hips in and allows you to pivot your weight quicker between edges.
- More responsive
- Quicker edge to edge
- More agile (i.e.) greater maneuverability
- Less stability at higher speeds
- Less stability when landing
As a final note on stance, it is worth noting that each snowboard has a reference stance that is marked on the top sheet of the board, right where the bindings go.
Each board is designed around its reference stance, and this is the best binding placement on snowboard, and using this stance the rider can get the greatest performance out of their board because they’re setting it up how it was be set up relative to that particular board’s effective edge.
You don’t have to use the reference stance on a board if it doesn’t suit your body or your riding style but it does bring the best out of that board. The maximum stance width of each board is 1.6” (4cm) wider than the reference stance, whilst the minimum stance width for each board is 3.1” (8cm) narrower than the reference stance.
Setting yourself back from the reference stance, i.e. moving the bindings back from the reference stance is designated as a more “set back” stance and this shifts the riders weight back and leaves more surface area of the board increasing its ability to float in powder; making riding in powder easier.
Stance Angles (Binding Angles)
Preferences on snowboard stance angles vary wildly from rider to rider and are determined by what suits a rider and their style of riding the best. In the baseplate of a binding is a disc, the disc through which screws go to attach the bindings to the snowboard. It is by rotating this disc, before attaching the bindings to the board, that you can choose your binding angle. The angles are marked on the edges of these discs in increments of 3º. An angle of 0º means that your feet are pointed straight out in front of you, perpendicular to the board.
The angles of your bindings play a hugely important role in how you can move your body over your snowboard and this is the part of your snowboarding stance that takes the longest amount of time to get right. Getting it right is accomplished through trial and error until you find the angles that just click for you!
Every rider, bar maybe one or two outliers, will want their front foot pointing toward the nose of the board and in the direction of travel.
Angling a binding toward the nose of the board like this is called a positive angle, angling a binding toward the tail of the board is known as a negative angle.
When you give your front foot a positive angle it allows you to more actively engage your front foot by putting pressure on it, and then you can use it to help you drive into a turn.
A front foot angle of +15-21º is the most favorable by riders of all styles, with racers and more surf-style, carving focused riders regularly going more extreme with their front foot angle, past +21º. Doing this opens up their hips more and allows them to ride deeper into their toe-side carves.
Whilst there may be universal agreement on your front binding angle the jury is still out on back binding angle. You will find that back binding angles will swing across a large range, typically between -15º (pointing toward the tail of the board) and +12º (pointing toward the nose).
This variation is partially down to personal preference but is also hugely influenced by riding style. In order to provide the best overview of how varying the back binding angle can influence your ride it is best to discuss them in relation to the angle of the front bindings.
Positive/positive make it so that the front binding is angled toward the nose, as is most common, and the rear binding is also pointing toward the nose of the board.
Whilst the front binding can often be set to an aggressive +21º the back binding is almost never this aggressive, usually coming in at +3-6º.
- Aligns your knees and points them forward
- Allows you to make much more aggressive toe-side turns
- Makes riding switch much more challenging
- Gives that “crossed up” feel riding switch because both your knees are pointing in the wrong direction.
This cons associated with riding switch can be overcome with experience but most riders who ride with a positive/positive stance usually ride directional boards that are not designed to be ridden switch.
In this setup the front binding is, again, angled toward the nose, at up to or exceeding an aggressive +21º, whilst the rear binding is flat, with angle of 0º. This is quite a common stance.
- Can still lean hard into toe-side turns
- Can ride switch without feeling like your knees are too crossed
- Still not the most comfortable position in which to ride switch
- Depending on the size of the rider’s boots compared to the board it is possible to experience toe drag
Setting your back foot at 0º is a great place to start when you’re experimenting with your front angle and experimenting with your optimum stance width.
Positive/Negative (Duck Stance)
Here the front binding is angled positively, toward the nose, and the rear binding is angled negatively, toward the tail.
This is a more natural stance for a human being, can often be called a neutral snowboard stance, and those who ride switch a lot, specifically park riders and freeriders, often prefer a duck stance.
It is highly popular with park riders. as it enhances their ability to spin and to balance on rails and boxes.
- Enhances your ability to spin and to balance on rails and boxes
- Improves stability when landing switch
- Riding switch feels much more natural
- Can’t lean into toe-side turns as aggressively
Typically, those riders who ride a duck stance snowboard only use a few degrees of negative in the back binding, -3-6º, but some folks do go much more aggressively up to the -12-18º range.
Just a few degrees of negative angle can seriously improve your stability when landing switch and can also help your body look, and feel, less “crossed-up” when you’re riding switch.
It is not recommended to put an angle greater than -21º on your rear binding as this is not the most comfortable, nor is it the best for your knees.
Flat Stance (0/0)
A flat stance is probably the least common of all stances as it can often result in toe and heel drag for the rider, unless they’ve chosen a sufficiently wide board.
A flat stance is not recommended for any rider as it can often cause pain in the ankles and calves when turning.
What Snowboard Binding Angles Should I Use?
Some riders change their angles depending on which board they use, others always keep the same stance no matter what board they’re on. Alongside what “feels” right your stance will also be governed by what type of riding you’re doing and, slightly, by the type of snowboard you have. Here we discuss the different types of riding and the stance that suits them best.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to how to set a snowboard up for a beginner. If a beginner is unsure of whether they are goofy or regular it is recommended to set their board up with an equal duck stance of +12/-12 or +15/-15, with their feet a little more than shoulder width apart.
An alternative stance for beginners is the positive/zero stance i.e. 0º for the back foot and having the front foot at a +12-15º angle. This is preferable if you already know whether you are regular or goofy, however beginners who already know whether they are regular or goofy can still learn with a duck footed stance if they are more comfortable that way.
Freestyle Stance (Park Stance)
The preferred choice of stance for freestyle and park riders is a duck stance, often set wider rather than narrower. This provides the best riding for both switch and normal riding and also provides extra stability when landing jumps and spins as well as for when they’re taking on boxes and rails.
Freeriders usually opt for a more set back stance, which provides better floating potential in powder conditions. These riders will usually ride with a positive/positive binding setup, allowing them to get deep into their toe-side turns.
Finally, freeriders often prefer a wider stance as this offers more control over the board at high speeds and greater stability when landing big drops.
All Mountain Stance
All Mountain riders often prefer a centered stance as this gives them better control when riding switch although it is not uncommon for an all mountain rider to ride with their binding slightly set back.
All mountain riders will ride with a slight duck stance, -3-6º on their back foot and +12-15 on their front foot, but some will ride with a slightly positive/positive stance. If you’re an all mountain rider and you like to ride switch then a duck stance will suit you best.
The high-backs are the part of your binding that the back of your boots press against. The angle on these tilts forward toward the toe edge of the board and can be changed and, as always, how far they lean forward is up to your personal preference and comfort.
When you’re snowboarding you don’t want to be too upright. You want your knees bent a little bit and putting your high-backs at a larger angle pushes your calves forward and makes you bend your knees. This shouldn’t be an aggressive push and should help to push your knees into a bent, yet still relaxed, forward position. This has the dual effect of lowering your center of gravity and helps to give you a more responsive control in your turns.
Fine tuning your snowboard stance is not something that can happen in just a run or two and it will more than likely take a few sessions on the mountain to tune your stance to exactly what you want. But once you’ve found the sweet spot you will not only have a more comfortable ride but it will also have an overall positive effect on your riding ability too!
Is Duck Stance Bad for your Knees?
Duck is one of the most common snowboard stance choices. As you move you feet apart they naturally gravitate toward a duck-style stance and the argument then is that duck stance is the most natural stance.
That being said, there is a supposed limit to what is considered “healthy” for your knees. going greater than -12/+12 is argued that it could have a negative effect on your knees. The jury is really out on this one and its best to adjust your stance with how your body feels.
If you ride with a duck stance but you are getting pains in your knees then adjust your angle inwards to relieve that stress and make your riding more enjoyable.
Is Goofy Footed More Common?
The numbers vary with each survey taken, ranging from 30% goofy to an almost 50/50 split between goofy and regular; although the majority determined that regular is more common than goofy.
Many ask “what is goofy in snowboarding?” but the good thing to remember is that goofy is just a name, there’s nothing goofy about it!
How Much Boot Overhang is Ok on a Snowboard?
1 – 1.25 inches is deemed to be the maximum amount of overhang you may want. Anymore than that and you’re in danger of dragging your heels or toes on the snow as you carve. 0.5-0.75 inches is considered an optimal overhang.
Boot overhang is not considered a bad thing on a snowboard, so long as it’s the right amount. Having some boot overhang helps the rider to quickly transfer the power from their movements into carving turns.