360 airs are a wicked maneuver that is easily identified. A 360 air is what it sounds like, spinning 360 degrees while in the air. Because of the vast number of possible variations of 360 airs it is reasonable to call a 360 air the most important and noticeable trick for snowboarding.
The key to performing a 360 air is the build up of potential energy in your body and being able to control the release of the energy. This is easier to do than it sounds thanks to the physics of the human body. In order to build up the required energy for the spin you need to pre-load or twist certain points of your body. If you fail to pre-load your body it is unlikely that you will ever be able to complete a 360 air.
The first step in performing a 360 air is to launch into the air. Due to the number of variations possible the method for launching into the air will vary. Perhaps you will Ollie, launch off a jump or from the lip of a snow park ramp. Regardless of how you get into the air you must ensure that you are aloft long enough to spin 360 degrees. This can be ensured by either launching at a low rate of speed straight up into the air or launching at a high rate of speed but with only minimal height.
As you approach you launch point you will want to crouch down as low as possible. This will allow you to spring higher into the air as you launch thus giving you more time to complete the 360 Air. Yes this does mean that most 360 airs are launched in Ollie style regardless of where and when you decide to do one.
The most important thing to do before launching is to pre-load your body after you crouch down. While each person is a little different the pivot point for pre-loading your body is your hips. You must twist your hips and shoulders in the direction that you wish to turn in the air before you launch. This pre-loading of your body will allow you to spin quickly and decisively.
Once you are in the air you need to control your spin. This is done very easily with the help of your eyes and head. All you need to do is constantly look at where you wish to land. Your body will naturally turn to face the direction that you are looking thus allowing you to control how far you spin with out having to think about doing it.
The last part to master is the landing. There is nothing special about landing the 360 Air as long as you are facing forward. Just like any other landing you need to bend your knees to absorb the impact and be sure to be centered on your board to help keep you balanced.
As mentioned the 360 Air is the backbone of many tricks due to the number of variations possible. For this reason it is important for all snowboarders to master this trick. Practice as much as you can and you too will look like a pro on the slopes.