Switch riding, or riding Fakie, is an essential part of mastering freestyle snowboarding. Riding Fakie is simply the art of riding your snowboard backwards. The concept is simple, the art of making it look natural and graceful is not.
Learning to ride Fakie makes learning freestyle tricks much easier to learn. For starters, when you are proficient at riding Fakie most people will not be able to tell if you ride goofy or regular footed. More importantly, you will be able to land a trick with your snowboard pointing in either direction and execute a trick while riding in any direction. Of course maneuvering and stopping also becomes easier when you have total control regardless of the direction you are facing.
When learning to ride Fakie you must go back to the basics and start all over again. This means riding on a bunny hill for a while. You will also want to change the way your bindings are mounted on your snowboard.
Riding Fakie: The basics
To begin riding Fakie easier you will want to have your bindings set to a zero angle, or very close to it. The angle of your bindings changes the stance of your feet, which in turn points your hips and shoulders. The more your hips and shoulders are pointing forward, the tougher it is to look and move backwards. If your bindings are set to 0 degrees you will find it easy to ride Fakie as your hips are square with your snowboard and thus which end your snowboard is facing forward is irrelevant since you can easily turn and face any direction.
Once you have your bindings set to a neutral position you can begin to practice riding Fakie. The best place to start is to simply become familiar with the feeling of it. Start at the top of the hill and ride down the slope in a fashion that would be backwards. With your bindings zeroed you will get the hang of this quickly.
Now comes the fun part, learning all of your basic skills over again. As you know your lead foot and weighting plays an important role in how you control your snowboard. When riding Fakie everything is going to be backwards. Now you will have to practice over coming your instinct to weight your right foot and weight your left foot instead. The best place to start is with the most basic of all actions, turning and skidded turns. Once you get the hang of it, progress to linked turns. After which you can do all the other tricks that you normally do.
As you can imagine, with a little practice you will soon be able to execute any maneuver in any direction and even change directions while riding down a slope. This ability will make you a much better snowboarder as you will now be able to look natural regardless of which direction you snowboard is pointing when landing or launching a trick.