Why Do Snowboarders Pump Their Arms? | Logical Explanation

What are the reasons for snowboarders’ wild arm movements when falling from a big jump? Is it for regaining balance on the snowboard or just a natural reaction of the human body? It is also known by the term “rolling down the windows.”

Snowboarders pump their arms to regain balance when they lift off the snow from a jump. It is an attempt to control the direction of the snowboard and avoid a sudden crash and minimize damage. Due to the laws of physics, the technique does not work. But there are a few methods to prevent falling.

Beginners to snowboarding often experience many falls when learning the sport, and “rolling down the windows” is a coping mechanism to avoid accidents.

Rolling Down the Windows

The term “rolling down the windows” refers to the snowboarders’ movement in which they rotate their arms widely in the air in an attempt to regain balance mid-air.

This movement gained the name as you move your arms in a similar motion to winding down the windows in an old school car.

But can this movement help snowboarders regain their balance, or is it just a failed attempt to avoid a sudden crash?

Let’s first cover some basics before explaining why this movement will not save you from an accident.

When a snowboarder rides down the slope, there is an energy conversion happening. The gravitational force is converted into kinetic energy.

Still, sometimes the mountains can be too steep, and the snowboarder must be careful not to go too fast, or they’ll lose control of their board.

Hence, snowboarders ride in a zig-zag pattern.

The friction caused by this movement stops the cruising from reaching dangerous speed levels when shredding around the hill.

Following the laws of physics, as soon as the snowboard lifts off the ground from a jump, it is near impossible to control its direction.

As the snowboard still has the energy from different forces of nature, ‘rolling down the windows’ will do little to regain your balance mid-air.

Yet, sometimes it’s a natural body reaction to restore balance.

Rolling Down the Windows

Things You Can Do to Minimize Falling

Generally, the less experienced freestyle snowboarders pump their arms to regain balance while falling.

Hence, as a beginner, there are things that you can do for an enjoyable snowboarding experience, reducing your chances of unfortunate falling accidents.

1. Pace Your Snowboarding Journey

You might be familiar with sports closely related to snowboarding, such as skiing or surfing, yet snowboarding is slightly different.

It takes time to learn and perfect. However, it is achievable if you dedicate your time to the sport.

Once your skill improves, the chances of facing an accident reduce drastically as you have the required experience to withstand many obstacles thrown your way.

Hence, give yourself the liberty of time when learning the ride. It won’t happen overnight.

2. Protect Yourself With Your Snowboarding Gear

Protective gear is important! Groms and newbie snowboarders sometimes ignore their equipment while riding, which usually doesn’t end well.

If you’re going to try new jumps, it’s essential that you have a helmet on to protect you from any potential head trauma.

If you’re a beginner, you can also purchase impact shorts, which are padded shorts that go underneath your snowboard pants to protect your tailbone from repeated falls.

Knee pads and wrist guards are also advisable if you’re just starting out, as kneecap and wrist fractures are very common for beginners.

Remember to layer up to protect yourself from the cold too!

3. Learn from Professionals

There are several options if you’re trying to learn to snowboard.

But by far, the easiest and quickest way to learn is through direct coaching from snowboarding instructors.

Instructors will teach you the basic skills you need to know to get around the mountain while keeping yourself safe.

Alternatively, you can join your friends and ride with them to help learn the basics.

You might be tempted to learn everything by yourself and make the same mistakes many beginners make.

Learning on your own does not work! In my humble opinion, professionals are the way to learn fundamental skills and improve snowboarding techniques.

4. Go Against Your Instinct and Don’t Use Your Hand During a Fall

When snowboarding for the first few times, it is best to be prepared for everything. The chance of falling on the run is very high for beginners.

Accidents happen! But a cautionary action can save you from spending time in the hospital. During a fall, don’t use your hands to stop the fall.

Instead, pull your hands and arms close to your body and try to fall on your bum or the fleshy part of your upper arm.

It is usually a much safer alternative to a fracture.  

5. The Fitter You Are, the Easier It Gets

Snowboarding is a sport that requires physical fitness to maintain balance and ride.

Yet, for someone new to the sport, it might look like the snowboarder is cruising through the slope without real effort.

But the fact is, a snowboarder needs strong muscles to shift their weight, turn, and balance the snowboard on the hill.

Hence, being physically fit can help you meet the stamina and strength requirements required for shredding.

6. Practice During the Weekdays

Try your best to schedule practicing during the weekdays. This way, the mountain is not as crowded as on weekends.

This gives you the freedom to learn and practice without the fear of collisions with other riders. Of course, you still must be mindful of jumps and other obstacles.

But practicing during the week removes some stress while riding, and you will likely learn faster when not under pressure.

Practice During the Weekdays

7. Sit, Strap In, Then Ride

Experienced snowboarders fasten their strappings while standing up on the snowboard.

Copying this method of strapping in is one of the common mistakes for beginners and will likely result in a fall.

It is advisable to sit down when strapping in before riding until you are a more advanced rider.

This will help you maintain your balance and avoid any unnecessary accidents that might cause you harm, even before you hit the slopes.

8. Slog It Through

Trial and error are part of the game. Sure, snowboarding might not be the most straightforward sport to learn, but it is far from being the most difficult one.

Experiment with what works and what does not work for your style.

The initial experience can sometimes be bitter, but you must never forget that your snowboarding friends and fellow riders probably made the same mistakes when they hit the hill for the first time.

You are likely to fall many times while learning to snowboard, but this is all part of the learning experience. Stay strong, and you will endure!

Final Thoughts

​​Remember, “rolling down the windows” is the wild movements of hands to regain control and balance when the snowboarder is off balance.

This often happens when a snowboarder loses control mid-air, as the natural forces acting on the snowboard and rider make it hard to control during a jump.

To reduce pumping your arms while snowboarding, learn the basics from snowboard instructors and protect yourself from falls by learning to fall correctly and wearing protective gear.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not digging my head deep into the world of snowboarding, tricks, techniques, and related safety measures.

Recent Posts