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Ground Spins - 180s & 360s
Basic ground spins and how they are used in everyday riding.

Number of posts: 2

LTF Feedback
User: bmoore
This is a quick tip on ground spins: Just this year I was going off a large jump and landed and had to revert out (ground spin after you land). I started to ride away and decided to look back uphill to see where I had landed. My board still had some spin momentum and wanted to keep spinning. Instead of going with the spin momentum, I decided to look anyway. I ended up in a pile due to an edge catch.

Rule of thumb - pay attention until you are done spinning, then if you need to, go ahead and look uphill.
User: bmoore
This is some teaser text from the LTF CD-ROM.

Trick 2 - Ground Spins - 180's & 360's

Ground spins are essential for any kind of tricks that use rotation. A few rotation tricks are 180's, 360's, multi spins (540 plus spins), rails to switch, spins on rails, butters, etc.

Ground spins are considered tricks by themselves. They are also used as set-ups for advanced tricks and as recovery moves from any rotation trick. When doing a ground spin, you will use the center (between your feet) of your board as the pivot point.


Basic Riding Skills

Before trying ground spins, you should have the basic riding skills down. Make sure you can link turns down steeper runs and feel comfortable on both your toe and heel edges. A good edge awareness will help you initiate the spins and come out of ground spins in a controlled manner.

Basic Switch Turns

You should have your basic switch riding skills down before trying ground spins. Make sure you can link multiple turns down steeper runs and feel comfortable on both your toe and heel edges in the switch position. This will help you initiate and come out of ground spins in a controlled manner.

When coming out of a ground spin, you will probably end up riding switch at some point. Be sure to have the skills to handle the situation.

Moving Bunny Hops

Bunny hops are sometimes used as correction moves when doing ground spins. It is very common, especially when learning, to hop a little bit in order to avoid catching your edges. As your skills increase, it is a good idea to eliminate these hops completely.


Edging and Edge Control

Knowing where your edges are is the most important skill for ground spins. It is a good idea to play with both the toe and heel edge and see what it takes to make them stop and go. When practicing edging, push it to the extremes to see what happens with too much edge angle, as well as, too little edge angle. Be prepared to spend some time in the snow before you get it right. It's part of the sport.

Tip: Ground spins and other spin tricks require fine muscle movements of the ankles and lower legs. Big upper body movements take more time to affect the board. Start at the source (the board, feet, and ankles).

Slow Pivot Spins (180's)

Pivot spins are 90 degree pivots with some edging in the middle. You end up doing a 180, but it is broken up into small 90 degree pivots.

Make sure that you can do switch turns before attempting any spins tricks. Practice on green or light-blue runs. Also be aware that persons above you on the hill may not know that you are going to start spinning. Give yourself some space and find an uncrowded slope.

Basic Moves

Frontside 180 Spins

This is one of the most common spins. You will use this trick multiple times a day if you do any switch riding.

Start out by riding regular (forward) and make a heelside turn. Keep it going in such a way that the nose of your board turns uphill. This is a fairly slow movement and you should come out of the trick riding backwards (fakie).

Backside 180 Spins

The backside 180 ground spin is usually harder than a frontside 180 spin for most people. The reason it is more difficult is because you are blind to what is happening downhill for a small period of time. Give yourself enough space on the run to compensate for the blind spot in this trick.

Initiate a ground spin by doing a toeside turn or carve and letting the nose of the board keep turning until it is facing uphill. Your should be looking uphill at this point. You will come out of this trick moving backwards (fakie or switch). For timing, count one full second before turning your head.

Caution: Do not turn your head too soon or too hard. This is a good way to go into multiple spins or catch an edge. Keep your movements slow and smooth.

Switch Frontside 180 Spins

You will use this spin time and time again in everyday riding. Similar to the normal frontside 180 ground spin, you will be able to see downhill throughout the entire spin.

Start by riding in switch and making a heelside turn or carve. Continue the turn until your true tail (the leading tip) is pointing uphill. You come out of this spin in your regular forward stance.

This spin is the most common way to come out of switch riding. This trick is often called a switch 180 instead of a switch frontside 180 spin.

Switch Backside 180 Spins

The switch backside 180 spin is one of the hardest 180 ground spins to do. The reason is that you start backwards and spin or rotate towards your toe edge or towards the blind side. For some people this is a double negative (in this case the double negative doesn't make a positive). This trick has one of the coolest feelings when you pull it off and do it in the middle of a run.

Before you start this spin, look downhill and make sure you have space and time as you will be riding blind for a small period. Start by going switch and make a toeside turn so that you are starting to look uphill. Continue looking uphill until the board is pointing straight ahead in a normal riding position. Wait for a full second before turning to look where you are going.

Intermediate Moves

Frontside Ground 360's

This trick takes the frontside 180 ground spin to the next level. You can do this move as a stand-alone trick, as a great recovery skill, and as a set-up move for more advanced spins. This move is also a prerequisite for flatland or aerial spin tricks.

If done correctly, this trick is very smooth and almost effortless. Start with a heelside turn and over rotate so that your board points straight uphill. At this point, you can ride away (frontside 180 ground spin) or you can keep looking over your shoulder and turn it into a ground 360. There is an edge change that needs to happen just after the halfway point. You start on your heel edge and then end on your toe edge.

Some of the most common mistakes with ground spins are incorrect timing, not enough speed, not looking where you want to go, and staying on the heel edge too long. When you first learn this trick, try it one 360 at a time. Once you are comfortable with a single spin, go ahead and try to link back-to-back 360's. Be aware that you can get dizzy or disoriented at any time. If this happens, stop the spin and ride away or take a break.

Tip: Lead with your head and continue looking over your shoulder.

Backside Ground 360's

Backside ground 360's start out blind for the first 180 degrees and end up with a casual finish. This is a great prerequisite for butters and other ground/flatland tricks. Once you get backside ground 360's down, it's usually easier to speed them up in the backside direction than in the frontside direction.

Start out by doing a toe turn or a toe edge carve. Over rotate the turn so that the nose of your board is facing uphill. Halfway through the spin you will switch to your heel edge. Keep looking over your back shoulder and the last part of the spin should happen automatically.

As with all basic ground spins, keep your pivot point in the center of your board and let both feet rotate around the middle section.

Common Mistakes

Catching an Edge

Catching an edge is very common and is not a matter of if, but a matter of when and how many times.

Even if you are an advanced rider and have flat spins down, there is always the possibilty of catching an edge. If this happens once in awhile, don't worry about it. If it happens often, you may want to slow down and dial in the ground spin 180's. If more help is needed, take a lesson and get some one-on-one attention.

Not Leading with Eyes and Head

When learning to do spins, it is very common to only look enough to get the first 90 degrees and then you stop looking over your shoulder. This stops the spin momentum and puts you at risk of catching an edge.

Keep Spinning or Easy Way Out

If you have to revert out of a trick, keep the spinning to a minimum. Everyone spins out of tricks, but it is considered cleaner if you don't add the extra ground spins when you land. If you are in a competition, your score will be lowered due to the ground spins and reverting out.

In real life, this doesn't matter and is a necessary recovery tool. Be glad that you're not eating snow.

The word revert comes from skateboarding and is when you change directions right as you reenter the transition of the ramp (usually done in a halfpipe or quarter pipe).

Getting Ahead of the Spin

Just as you can kill your rotation by not looking (leading with your eyes and head), you can also over rotate or force a spin by looking too much. This is called forcing the spin or committing to the spin too early.

The best way to correct this problem is to slow down and wait until it feels right. Edge changes should happen when the board is facing straight uphill or straight downhill. Getting the timing down comes with practice and spending some time in the snow (catching edges).

Head Down and Not Enough Speed

When you are learning ground spins, it it very common to have your head down so that you can watch your feet and the board. This helps you to know where your edges are. Once you are more comfortable, start looking up and going by feel. Being able to look around will give you more options.

Going too slow is also a common mistake that can inhibit your spins. When you are doing a ground spin, you are actually applying the brakes the whole way around (edging). If you start out too slow, then the braking action of the spin will almost bring you to a stop. This kills any rotational momentum. Try using a medium speed and work up from there.


Ground Spins Freeride

This clip shows a number of riders doing different tricks and how they use ground spins in real life. Ground spins are a huge building block and used everyday in freeride and freestyle riding. They can help you change directions without leaving the ground.

Ground Spins in Action

This clip shows a number of athletes using ground spins to help keep them pointed in the right direction and keep them up and on their boards. These riders use ground spins as a set-up, landing, or recovery move.

Next Steps and Style Points

Speed Them Up

Once you have basic flatland spins down, you can play with speeding them up. This is a natural lead into butters and other advanced flatland tricks. Don't try this until you can do multiple spins back-to-back and feel like you are ready to step it up a notch.

Caution: It is not recommended to do more than 4 or 5 spins back-to-back without changing it up. It's really easy to get dizzy.

Go Both Ways

Another great way to have fun with flat spins is to go both backside and frontside. When you first learn this, take your time in between directions. This time lag will go away with practice.

Start to Elevate Into Butters

By doing back-to-back ground 360's, you are actually setting yourself up to move into a butter. The basic difference between ground spins and butters is the pivot point. On a ground spin, the pivot point is in between the feet (middle of the board). In a butter, the ends or tips are the pivot point. The motions are the same, the only difference is where the pivot point and pressure is located.

Tip: The actual pivot point is not on the tippy tip. Try to pivot around a basketball size area on your nose or tail, not just the last couple inches.

Eliminate the Extra Spins

It is very common to add extra spins to the end of a spin trick. This clip shows the rider keeping it clean by not adding any extra spins or reverts. This is awesome and really takes some practice. Each trick that she does could potentially go to revert (spin out), but she kept it clean.

Tip: All of us will need to use a few ground spins to recover from rotation tricks. Start working towards eliminating any extra spins after your tricks.

Go From Spins to Carves

Going from a carve into a spin move and then back into a carve is a great way to have fun and mix up your run. This is an intermediate skill and will take some practice and planning. This combination may take up the entire run (run hog) so be aware of others on the slope with you. Look downhill and make sure that you have plenty of room. Also be aware of any uphill traffic that may not know what you are doing.

Tip: If you like to feel G-forces, this is your move. It's pretty cool to watch and do.

Start Spins From Switch

Starting from switch is a great exercise for more advanced flatland tricks. As you learn, you will find that a great deal of the tricks have a switch lead-in. Get comfortable with switch initiated tricks and you'll be ready for the big time in no time.

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