Snowboard Stance 101

Trying to figure out how to pick the perfect snowboard stance and the binding settings to go with it? Start here with this simple explainer.

Photo by Markos Mant
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The stance a snowboarder chooses when setting up their bindings makes a huge difference in whether or not they are prepared for that particular day on the mountain. But it can be hard to know how to get started. There are many factors one must consider when deciding on which kind of stance their binding should be set to: Which foot do you want in the lead? How far apart should your feet be? Set back or centered? Is there a right answer or is it all about personal preference?

In this article, I’ll explain the positives and negatives in each typical option a rider has when making this decision.

A snowboarder in a blue, white, and dark red jumpsuit leans back into the hill
Photo by Patrick Hodskins

Goofy or Regular

If you’re new to snowboarding the first thing you need to figure out is whether or not your stance is goofy or regular. This just means which foot will be strapped in front of the other on the board. Goofy means your right foot will be in front, and regular means left foot. There is no benefit to being one or the other - it’s simply a matter of which is more naturally comfortable for you.

Oftentimes, if you are right-handed you will be regular, and left-handed goofy. However, there are exceptions to that so it’s always good to double check before setting up your board. There are a few ways to go about finding this information, but my favorite is the socks test. Put on a pair of socks, get a bit of speed, and slide on a wood floor. The foot you naturally put forward is the same one that should go forward while snowboarding. Another way you can figure this out is the push test. Close your eyes and have a friend (lightly!) push you forward. The foot that you naturally step forward on indicates what your stance should be.

Knowing whether you’re goofy or regular is huge because learning with the wrong stance is going to be way more difficult, kind of like learning how to write with your non-dominant hand. So make sure you know which you are!

Stance Width

Another huge factor in figuring out your ideal snowboarding stance is the actual stance width, which is the distance between each binding. A general rule of thumb is to set them slightly wider than your shoulder width. If you aren’t the most experienced rider, I’d definitely recommend sticking with this width because that’s probably what you’re already used to and messing with it could throw your balance off.

But once you feel confident with your riding abilities and want to start pursuing more technical terrain or maneuvers, it’s a good idea to experiment a bit with a wider or narrower stance. Someone looking for a slightly increased amount of stability at high speeds could try widening their stance. Conversely, if you’re looking for more maneuverability, you could move the bindings closer. I personally like to have my bindings slightly closer together, because I’ve found it allows for an easier and bigger ollie due to the increased amount of surface area of the board available to be manipulated for pop.

When you first change the width it’s going to feel a bit awkward, but not unrideable. Give it a few runs, and soon, you won’t notice the difference. The slight benefits gained from these small changes could be all the difference in stomping that backcountry booter or nailing that new trick you’ve been working on. This is more of a personal choice to make, and the best way to go finding your ideal setup is to test out the various options. Just remember to not be too drastic with either option because too wide a stance and you’ll have trouble maneuvering, and too close a stance will make you feel unstable.

A snowboarder executes a jump off of a wooden platform
Photo by Visit Almaty

Binding Angles

You’ve probably noticed that your bindings allow you to change the angle of which they are placed on your board. Similar to the stance width, this sort of adjustment is done to favor the various kinds of riding one can pursue. Thanks to the countless possible angle configurations available, this is the most customizable of the various tweakable aspects to figuring out your ideal stance. However, there are some tried and true angle combinations that you can test out and if you decide to take it one step further you can make adjustments to them as need be.

The first I’ll touch on is the forward stance. The forward stance suits general snowboarding - cruising on groomers, off-piste riding, and beginner riders. This stance has both bindings angled forward. The front binding will usually be somewhere between +30 and +12 degrees and the back binding between +12 and 0 degrees. This stance points your body forward which is more comfortable for your neck since you aren’t looking over your shoulder as acutely.

The forward stance is not the best for riding switch, though, and that’s where the duck stance comes into play. The duck-footed stance is popular among freestyle riders because the bindings are equally angled towards the nose and tail, making riding switch more of a seamless maneuver. Typically, the front binding will be set to +15 and the back binding to -15. Duck stance can be slightly less comfortable, but the increased stability while riding switch can be quite useful for anyone, not just park rats.

Now, just like with stance width, I’m not trying to say that adjusting your binding angles to a certain degree is a make or break sort of thing. You’ll still be able to get down the mountain just fine with the binding angles you’re accustomed to. However, slight improvements like these will add up!

Set Back or Centered?

The final factor to consider when deciding on how to set up your stance is whether or not the bindings are set back or centered.

A centered stance is when the bindings are both an equal distance from either ends of the board. This stance is pretty equally balanced, making it great for everything from getting the basics of the sport under your belt to terrain park riding to just cruising around on some groomers. A centered stance is the more widely used of the two options, and in most cases will be the ideal way to set the bindings.

A set back stance is when the bindings are still an equal distance from each other, but set closer to the tail. This stance is really only used on powder days because it distributes the rider’s weight towards the tail of the board, which helps them keep the nose up, allowing them to float on all that fresh snow. The set back stance configuration can be done on any board, which is great for someone who doesn’t ride often enough to warrant owning a powder board. It’s not going to completely replicate the experience of using a powder board in deep snow by any means, but it will still be a noticeable improvement from a centered stance. Most powder boards will have a longer and wider nose than tail even if the bindings are centered, because they are designed to be used primarily on powder days. However, you can still set the bindings back on powder boards for really deep days to accentuate these floatation features.

A person in black snowboards
Photo by Fede Roveda

Some people never mess with their snowboard stance and are still great riders. But if you want to use your board to the best of its abilities for the given scenario, stance adjustments are definitely something to consider!

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Written By
I've been an avid rider for around 12 years. I grew up on the east coast, mostly riding in Vermont, but I now reside in Oregon. I have plenty of experience riding in all types of conditions from ice to deep powder and everything in between. I would say that I'm a bit of a jack of all trades when it...

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