Stop skating in one stance: reduce pain & injury risk with these 4 switch techniques
In the last video/article I went over how most skaters skate only in one stance and how doing so can increase injury risk, pain and negatively affect your skating.
I also dropped some exercises to work on imbalances in strength and function between each side of your body, and in this video/article I’m going to give you 4 best methods to work on imbalances when you’re actually on your board - reducing pain and injury risk and whilst improving your switch game.
Straight head, same stance
So the main goal with the different methods I'm about to go over is spending more time in a switch stance, but before we get to them I want to share one little switch push technique I’ve found to help a lot, that you can apply to the following methods.
The technique is literally just trying to keep your head straight when you're skating switch.
When we skate in our regular stance we naturally face more forwards, but more closed in our switch stance. This leads to your head also being more angled.
Now it might sound weird, but by trying to match up your head position with your normal stance, aka keeping your head facing forwards, can help your brain and body find similarities between each stance making it feel much more comfortable straight off the bat.
This simple technique can help your brain feel like a switch stance isn't so different to your regular one, instantly making you more comfortable skating switch. Keep that in mind as we go through these following methods.
1. Switch push return delivery
Ok so skate task one and one easy way to sneak switch time into your session without barely any change is the old switch cruise return delivery.
Let’s say you’re battling a trick at a specific spot with the same starting point and you’re trying some kind of noseslide variation - for example, the other day I was trying to get consistent with noseslide nollie heels so I’ll go for that - you roll up with your weight on one leg, land in the slide on one leg and cruise back in the same stance. Depending on how long the battle is, that could be hours on one leg.
A simple solution to balance out the work between sides is to just push back to the starting point switch, heavy on the opposite leg.
You roll up normal, do your trick, and just cruise back in that switch stance. It might not be a lot, but giving that leg a bit of a break can be a massive relief across a long session.
2. Stack hours cruising switch
The second task is the most obvious, the most difficult and the most important, all at the same time - something that even makes people who’ve been skating for years uncomfortable - simply spending time pushing and cruising switch.
This is a really easy way to get big chunks of time on the other leg, balancing out the work and movements each side of your body does.
Now I get it, even if you’ve been skating for years, pushing switch can make you feel like a disabled mule that started skating a week ago.
It’s uncomfortable, you feel you look weird, and maybe you even do look weird, but that’s ok. In the same way that you got to the level you’re at now after hours of practice, you can do the same with switch pushing.
On top of balancing the work between sides and getting more comfortable skating switch, probably more importantly you’ll be training your ability to withstand discomfort - an essential skill not just for skating, but also for life in general.
A couple of years ago I decided to start committing more time to skating switch in the streets and I'm not gunna lie, it was really, really... uncomfortable.
Even for someone like me who's been skating more than 20 years, it was really difficult. Everytime I'd be faced with some kind of obstacle in the street, a curb to roll off, a granny to swerve around or an acorn to pop over, I'd abort mission and swap back to my normal stance.
The problem with this isn't just that we avoid accumulating time in the other stance working on those imbalances, but also that we avoid the discomfort we need to grow and get better at switch (more on this below).
SW cruise tips
1. Start chill
If you're completely new to skating switch obviously don't learn down a busy street or outside the front door of a hospital emergency ward. Start off in a spot with nice open flat and work your way up .
2. Add some sass
Once you feel a bit more comfortable skating switch I want you to start adding some sass to the equation. Start trying to cruise in the streets and face those uncomfortable situations.
Start trying to roll off a curb, tic tac around things, pop over a crack in the ground. Start trying to challenge yourself in different ways in your other stance.
It might not seem like much, especially if you've been skating a long time, but I promise you these little things will add up. By exposing yourself to more movements switch you'll be giving your brain and body more movement options it can use when it comes down to actually working on tricks.
Funnily enough, it's these little things that often feel so much more uncomfortable than actual tricks in a switch stance. So get out there, expose yourself too these mini challenges and apply the next tip I'm about to drop.
Now as you're out pushing switch, like I said and like you know, you're going to rustle up a load of negative emotions. These emotions will create an urge to swap back to your normal stance and avoid the discomfort of the obstacle you're facing. Often this reaction is automatic and dictates our behaviour and what we do, even if it's something we don't want.
By generating some awareness of these emotions, we're able to create some separation from them and we can start to realise that we actually don't need to be pulled by them. That we actually have the option to choose a different path - aka popping over that acorn!
So as you're out in the streets and you get that urge to swap stance, do your best to observe what you’re feeling, notice the sensations in your body, objectively, without trying to change them. Maybe you feel some tension in your forehead, warmth in your chest, etc. Just observe them and if you notice any patterns you can start naming the pattern and collection of emotions.
For example, if everytime you get that urge to swap stance you feel the same things you can give the sensations the name of e.g. "the switch push abort emotions". Then in the future as you become aware of these sensations again, recognise that they're the same and categorise them with the name you chose.
As you go through this, do your best to relax, breathe deep and stay in a switch stance.
This can be really difficult in the beginning, so again, start slow and realise that over time you'll get better at it.
3. Dedicate session time to switch
Regardless of whether it’s eating well or working out, research shows that we usually overestimate what we’ve done, and I bet a lot of people overestimate how much they skate switch too.
This is why the next skate task is simply dedicating a portion of your session to skating switch. Even if it’s just 10 mins every session, overtime the amount you spend skating switch is going to accumulate.
Try either finishing your session with 10 mins, or 10 mins at the start of your session.
If you don’t really have many switch tricks dialled yet, you might want to do it after skating a bit in your normal stance to get warm and increase confidence with some lands. That added confidence should then carry over to your switch skating.
4. Add variety to your sessions
Finally, one of the best ways to not only get better at skating in general, but improve your time spent in your other stance, is to try new stuff and add variety to your sessions.
Try different tricks in both stances, try different grinds, slides and mannys with tricks on each end of your board.
Try tricks where you’re rotating your body in different ways. We all have certain rotations (fs vs bs) that feel more unnatural and as a result avoid doing tricks where we turn in that direction. Try spending some time focusing on these kinds of tricks you feel uncomfortable with.
And lastly, make sure you hit up new spots. It's easy to get stuck skating the same spots and as a result doing the same tricks and movements. Hitting different parks or getting out into the streets is an easy way to force yourself to add variety to your sessions.
I hope you liked that article and got value from it! If you missed part one which includes a load of exercises, you can check it here.