Setting up your bindings differently can make a huge difference to how your snowboard will feel to ride. Getting your binding position right for your height, weight, riding preferences and the conditions is very important. There are four main things you need to consider.
1. Goofy or regular?
Your first problem to solve is to stand regular or goofy. Que? Well if you stand with your left-foot going forward first you’re ‘regular’, and if your right-foot is furthest forward then you’re goofy.
NB: Being regular or goofy has nothing to do with having a strong eye, a preferred hand, or which foot you might boot a football with. It’s simply your sliding preference.
The big question therefore is: how do you decide? One way is to stand with your feet together and have someone push you from behind. You’ll naturally put a foot out, and whichever position you end up in is the one you should use to go in a forward direction when snowboarding. If you’ve tried this and you still don’t know, try jumping up a few stairs; whichever foot leaves the floor first is your front foot.
And why the unfair names goofy and regular? No clear explanation has ever been found, but the names come from surfing.
2. STANCE WIDTH
When you stand on your board, your feet will be spread apart. Go for a wide stance and you’ll get better stability, while a narrower stance helps the board carve a turn better. Start by standing on the board in barefeet, and mark where the centre of your foot lies – this is where the centre of the binding should go. If nothing feels instantly ‘right’ in terms of stance width, fix your bindings roughly as far apart as your shoulders. With Burton’s channel system, it’s easy to set your width with millimeter precision; with the disk system, go for the nearest set of holes that fit your disk.
And as for how far forward or backwards you go on the board – again this is personal preference, but the general rule of thumb is (as Sam explains above) that if you intend to ride powder, then you need to set your stance ‘back’ an inch or so on the board, and if you wish to ride park, or at least occasionally ride your board backwards (or ‘switch’ as it’s known), then put your stance closer to the centre, if not completely centered.
If you really have no preference, try setting your board up on the ‘suggested’ stance (many boards show where this might be), and change your stance on the hill at one of the many ‘tool stations’ to see how different stances improve or detract from your riding enjoyment.
3. BINDING ANGLES
At this stage you know whether you’re regular or goofy, and where you’re going to stand on the board. Your next problem to solve is working out your binding angles. Again, stand on the board barefoot and mark where feels the most comfortable.
Now step off the board and put the bindings on, mirroring where your feet were. Turn the screws in lightly so you can still spin the bindings around. Step back into the bindings – this time with your snowboard boots on, and adjust them so your feet hang over the edges equally on your toe edge and heel edge.Here are a few basic stance options:
Duck stance: this is a very popular stance in which you angle your front binding forward, and your back foot backward, so that you’re standing bow-legged. Going duck is useful for people who like to ride switch (backwards) because it feels comfortable whichever direction you’re heading. Try a slightly shallower angle on your back foot to start with – or certainly no steeper than your front foot. Say, +18 degrees front, – 12 degrees rear.
Straight back foot: Having your back foot straight across the board (marked as zero degrees on your disc) or even angled forwards by 3, 6 or 9 degrees, can help with carving. Although it might feel strange to ride backwards, one of the world’s most legendary riders – Terje Haakonsen – rides with this kind of stance.
NB: Having your bac kfoot angled more than your front foot, or worse still angling both feet inwards (like a pigeon) is an absolute no no!
4. WHICH INSERTS ARE BEST?
You’ve got your angles, you know your stance width and you know if you want to be centred or set back on your board: now it’s time to secure your bindings tightly. Normally, this will entail putting screws into your disks with some washers (all supplied with the bindings) and tightening them into the inserts of your board. If you’ve got a Burton board, it’ll be with a triangular insert pattern – or the new channel system that’s been in place for a couple of years – and for most other brands it’ll be a four-hole pattern. If you buy your board and bindings together, then the shop will likely make sure you’ve got the right bindings for the right board. If you buy them separately, or online through eBay or similar, then make sure your board and bindings are compatable.
4-hole boards: need four hole disks (most disks work with both 3 and 4-hole patterns)
3-hole boards: Burton’s older system requires 3 hole disks (again, most disks work with both 3 and 4-hole patterns)
Channel boards: need special bindings that work with the channel system. Burton also make a special converter that put disk bindings onto the channel system.
How do I know if my stance is ‘right’?
Bindings have so many changeable parts because they’re meant to be experimented with. As Sam explains, there are a ton of other variables like forward lean, highback pivoting and canting that can make a difference to how your board feels. While you might not know what ‘your’ stance is right now, by playing with your board and bindings – both on and off the hill – you’ll quickly develop an idea of what you like and what you don’t like. Write down what those angles and measurements are, and you’ll be able to set up any board to match so you’re similarly comfortable.