Learning to jump on a snowboard is essential for any freestyle rider from park to big mountain. Jumping is a fundamental skill that is a building block for everything else you’ll learn in freestyle snowboarding. Before attempting to hit a jump, be sure you’re very comfortable with basic board skills. This involves toeside and heelside carves as well as riding at high speeds. You should also be able to ride flat based, as this is how you will take off and land a jump. You don’t spend much time flat based before you carve onto an edge, but it’s important to be comfortable flat based and not feel like you’re going to catch an edge.
I always prefer park jumps for learning because they are perfectly built and there should be a variety of sizes to choose from depending what mountain you’re riding. Natural features work as well, but it tends to be harder to find a good beginner hit. When first learning, start on the smallest jump you can find and work your way up. There are a few factors that go into jumping on a snowboard: speed, body position, and pop.
All 3 of these factors play a big role in successfully hitting a jump on your snowboard. For small jumps, speed should be easy to judge. It becomes harder as you start hitting bigger features. Coming up short on a jump, or “knuckling”, is no fun and is hard to ride away from. If you can follow someone into the jump who has hit it before and match their speed, do so. Once you have a good idea of the speed required, you’re ready to hit the jump. Approach the jump with mellow carves. As you reach the takeoff, transition to your flat base and bend your knees. As you leave the takeoff, extend your knees slightly to get “pop”, which helps you gain height and clear the jump. Keep your body relaxed and don’t stiffen up.
As you hit the landing, put your board down flat based. Once you have control of yourself, immediately carve onto an edge to keep yourself in control and prevent yourself from catching an edge. Bend your knees to absorb the impact. As you become more comfortable, you can begin hitting bigger jumps as well as learning freestyle tricks. Also, grabbing your board can help keep you locked in and calm in the air. One of the easiest beginner grabs is the indy grab, which is your back hand between your bindings on your front edge.
Once you learn to hit jumps on your snowboard, endless possibilities are created. The mountain becomes your playground as everything starts to look like a jump takeoff. Have fun and comment below with questions or progress!