Counter-rotation: what it is and why it’s bad


I definitely see where Jez is comin from in regards to this!!!!!

You can see it on the hill with many riders counter rotating in their turns!!!!! They “skid” down the hill, as opposed to hold a clean line!!!!! (I’m very guilty of this)

I’ve been consciously trying to draw out my turns more by keeping aligned, and it really does make a dramatic difference to your edge hold!!!!!

I think both methods have their use, but I can definitely see the benefits in “training” yourself in the alignment method!!!!!

In regards to buttering, I think that opening your upper body is the correct way to “steer” your rotation when you wanna spin your butters!!!!! (Correct me if I’m wrong)

And I think this is where the head (looking in the direction where you want to rotate to) plays a huge part in the counter rotation!!!!!


Interesting topic indeed.

As the creator of the video I definitely agree when Andy says:

Everyone has seen videos of people euro carving, are they aligned with their board? Nope.
One reason for this - look at the two pictures above. If they were both walking on a tight rope, who would be more balanced? The guy with his arms in line with the rope or the guy with his arms across the rope for balance? The guy on the left.
So isn’t balancing on an edge just like balancing on a tight rope?
We call this lateral balance (the balance required to lean towards your toe or heel edge) and it becomes more important the faster we go and the more we have to lean into our turns.

Back in 1994 when I was a camper at Windells… the head coach had us watch the snowboard racers and try to replicate riding like them to improve our carving.  For me it helped tremendously and I’ve advocated that since then for sure.

BUT, I’ve never taught beginners… so perhaps having the shoulders lined up with the board indeed could help them make their first turns and carves and such easier. 

A couple other things I think about for good reasons of using an open stance:

1.  Often the gnarliest extreme riders (not my area of expertise) have their arms way out to the sides while going mach speeds down a line… and its’ pretty easy to envision why they’d want em out to the sides for the extra balance while going down crazy terrain.

2.  The open stance allows you to look over to your side and up the hill during a heelside carve to make sure no one is going to run into you.  Even though the downhill skier has the right of way.. I’d have been hit 100’s of times if it weren’t for me taking this quick look to the left (regular footer) as I start a heelside turn across the hill. 

Perhaps indeed it is just a matter of where you’re at in you own riding to determine if you should have your shoulders to the sides or opening to the front.

Luckily the funnest way to find out what is good for you is just trying both out and getting to know how each way feels for you and see if it helps or hurts your riding.  smile



so basically you guys are saying:

1. beginners need to keep their upper body aligned with their lower body until…

2. .. as advanced riders they have learned to decouple their lower body and use it for steering, at which point the upper body can be “opened” to face forwards without causing unwanted interference?


In a nutshell, yes.

There’s a difference between counter-rotation on toeside turns for novice snowboarding, and counter-rotation as a useful tool for advanced riding. Counter-rotation has a negative impact at the early stages of progression because it’s how a novice snowboarder actually turns—using their upper body to initiate the turn!

Once you can turn efficiently through lower body steering, you can use counter-rotation to your advantage in a range of different applications. Ryan’s video is a great example of this, but it must be noted that this is very advanced riding!

This was the reason I said in the first paragraph of the article:

For the purpose of this article, I am only talking in reference to beginner and intermediate snowboarding; counter-rotation is not good during these stages of your progression—however it can be used to your benefit later on.

I am still of the firm belief that you need to become aware of counter-rotation and get out of the habit of using it to turn and also as a safety mechanism. As you progress and understand the finer skills of snowboarding, you can start using it with much greater control and benefit. But you first need to learn to ride without counter-rotation.

Mudhoney - 29 July 2014 02:29 PM

so basically you guys are saying:

1. beginners need to keep their upper body aligned with their lower body until…

2. .. as advanced riders they have learned to decouple their lower body and use it for steering, at which point the upper body can be “opened” to face forwards without causing unwanted interference?

As far as turning goes, you’ve summed it up really nicely. Although I would like to say:
1. beginners need to keep their shoulders and hips aligned with their board until…
2. ......

Of course it takes a few more words to explain all the “why’s”. But if you just remember you’re own summary there, you’ll do great. Advanced riders have the skills to use their lower joints independently to their upper body. When most beginners try this (except some very talented gymnasts/surfers/skaters etc) it will have all sorts of negative effects on their riding (like the “do not’s” in Ryan’s video, but with more stacks shut eye ). Usually because their shoulders are open but their hips are not, or they lack the control to keep the shoulders in line with the hips and end up counter rotating like crazy.

I’m with rider on this one. When I get a longer term student, I will almost always teach them to do turns, aligned with their board until it becomes natural to them. When they are ready, I’ll turn their hips to face a little more forward and let their shoulders stay in line with their new hip position and tell them to keep riding just as we have been doing. It’s a really small adjustment and you should still feel like you’re riding the same way. Turning the lower joints in the direction you want to go, upper body just chillin.


I’ve got nothing to say that hasn’t already been said except for.

Counter rotation = toe side edge catches.


Tobi and I talked about this thread the other day while riding the Village Quad. When we dropped in for our next run, we concentrated on doing what Jez had suggested in the first post (it was the only post when I read this thread) We both commented that it really improved our style, making us carve turn, rather than skid. I guess you could say we are advanced riders, so by taking this step back, it made us more polished. I could certainly see the difference in Tobi’s riding and feel it in mine, until I really started macking it and found that I was opening my body up and using from the hips down to turn.

I then popped around to switch, I found my switch riding was really good when I made myself use this style. Yet I still suck at it confused

Thanks guys, great thread.


This has been a very interesting thread it’s great to hear from a few new members too.  I really liked the way in Ryan’s video he links core riding skills with buttery freestyle tricks.  I think a lot of people see them as unrelated styles of riding. 

On a side note it’s great to see someone not having to skid round their nose butter fives!

There seems to me to be two main points that are getting mixed a little.  Different default stances, ie. (aligned vs slightly open) and counter rotation.  I haven’t had a chance to ride with much of an open stance as the certification body I took exams with advocated alignment in the most part.  Some of my Aussie qualified friends ride with a more open stance and ride well, and the point about aiding lateral balance makes a lot of sense. 

I don’t think anyone suggests getting into a twisted position (shoulders and hips going different ways) should be part of someones default riding style and one of the most important challenges teaching beginners is to avoid or correct big jerky movements with the shoulders to produce turns.

I wish I could go snowboarding tomorrow and give both stances a spin on different terrain types, alas not much chance of that in southern england.


Just to be clear, an open stance doesn’t mean you have to have a forward stance (both angles positive). You can have a duck stance and have an open stance.


Just wanna say again, this thread is dope!

Basically made my switch skills go up a billion.. And it’s allowed me to spin better.. Also think my weight on my board is better which has improved my style (all about the steeze).

My turns at speed now are more precise and I haven’t caught an edge since…


That’s so awesome and it makes me feel great that threads like this actually help people improve their riding. That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for letting us know.


@Ryan I def see it was just too much too soon for me. I hope to someday progress to be able to follow ur tutorials. Super inspiring! cheers:)

rider26 - 29 July 2014 10:44 AM

In all honestly, where are you at with your progression? Can you comfortably link turns on intermediate terrain using the upper body rotation technique? Can you do this while staying aligned and balanced? If so, start thinking about using your upper body less, and introduce your hips and knees to help “steer” and drive the turns. Anyway, please let us know where you’re at exactly and we can give you some advice for your stage of progression.

@Jez I started of with some upper body steering lessons for the first couple of days, but ended up following youtube vids from SnowProffesor, somewhat feet steering using board torsional twists to turn by following through in alignment with the board. I guess I was comfortable regular turns on red (europe) slopes and turns switch on beginner slopes.
In my naivety I thought this made me a low body steerer and that I could now learn to carve as well as in an open stance. The openstance seemed more natural to me, because of skateboarding days as a teen. But in reality I think I totally neglected my novice hips and knees. I had no idea why I would twist up, and go out of control. This was in the beginning of this season, with a new board and also bailed hard got a black eye, lost a bunch of confidence and struggled to understand why i felt like it was day 1 again.
Anyways glad to know my new board isn’t possessed with a demon too, its summer now so can’t get back out there just yet, but can’t wait.