205 Stance and Balance

205 Stance and balance

Understand the pros and cons of different stance options, and how they will affect a riders ability to function

“It’s all a matter of personal preference”.  Oft heard statement pertaining to binding set-up.  If personal preference includes willfully hindering your development as a snowboarding athlete, then I suppose this statement has validity.  If, however, you wish to excel as a rider, than there are a few things you should consider when setting up a snowboard.

1.    Wide stances and low or duck angles are good for spinning, riding backwards, riding rails, etc.  They are less effective for all mountain riding, carving turns, or anything involving subtle edge-to-edge movements.

2.    Steep forward angles are good for carving turns with hardboots and plate bindings.  Ankle dexterity is optimized, at the expense of rotational strength.  Not good for riding backwards (unless you are an owl or Linda Blair) or freestyle type movements.

3.    Moderate forward angles are good for all-mountain riding.  Edge to edge power of low angles with some of the dexterity of steep angles.  Riding backwards is not unduly compromised, yet riding forward can be optimized.

4.    Way too much emphasis is placed on riding ‘switch’.  Why should you compromise your ability to ride forward, which you will spend most of your time doing, just so you can be more proficient riding backwards?  Better to learn how to ride forwards proficiently, than to ride poorly in both directions.

The goal in binding setup is to preserve joint mobility while under load.  (Standing two-footed, evenly weighted, with minimal muscle activity, at an angle to the board that optimizes the ability to articulate the joints laterally).

Muscles under tension can effectively lock the affected joint.

A bit on balance.

Balance, by definition, refers to a state of equilibrium.  Unless a rider is actually falling down, they are in balance.  They may not have any agility, but they are in balance.  If a rider is agile, they will present a fairly relaxed posture.  The absence of muscular tension is difficult to see, but, it is an indication of musculo-skeletal efficiency.  If this efficiency is present in a highly dynamic context, then the rider in question is fairly accomplished.

Good riders have quiet upper bodies.  Maintaining a quiet upper body will not make a rider good.  (A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square).  Far too much emphasis is placed on creating the appearance of proficiency without understanding why proficiency looks the way it does.  Enforcing a posture for any reason other than for a specific drill does nothing other than create muscular dissonance and interfere with intuitive balancing mechanisms.