September 3, 2021

What is Buttering On a Snowboard?

Scott Kimball

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Scott Kimball

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Learning how to Butter on a snowboard turns the whole mountain into your terrain park. Buttering builds your skillset and makes any trail fun.

In general, buttering on a snowboard refers to any trick done on or near the ground with the board sliding flat on the snow at some point — spreading the board across the snow like a butter knife rather than digging the edge in. Ollies, spins, and presses can all be buttered.

Buttering is an important part of any freestyle snowboarder’s arsenal, but even if you’re not planning to enter a competition anytime soon, experimenting with buttering will make you a better snowboarder. To butter successfully, you need excellent control of your body and board and a really good understanding of the relationship between your board and the trail.

As a snowboard instructor, I’ve seen a direct correlation between students who excel at buttered tricks and those who can make the precise adjustments needed to excel on the boardercross course or in the moguls. But most importantly, buttering is just fun, which is what snowboarding is all about.

What is Buttering On a Snowboard? | Today I'm Outside

Table of Contents:

How to Butter on a Snowboard

Buttering isn’t a specific trick, it’s a whole genre of tricks. Some basic buttered tricks have names, but talented young snowboarders are constantly inventing new combinations of these moves to show off their style and skill.

The X-Games Knuckle Huck Competition is a great place to get a sense of the scope of buttered tricks out there. If you watch some of those runs in slow motion, you’ll be able to see how very complex and impressive tricks are put together with the building blocks we’re going to explore today.

When we’re just cruising on our snowboards, we spend the bulk of the time on our edges — we turn from our toe edge to our heel edge, back to our toe edge, etc. But we don’t spend too much time with the board flat on the ground. You were probably taught to stay on your edges when you were learning to snowboard so that you don’t catch one accidentally and go down hard.

We put the board flat on the ground when we’re getting on and off the chairlift, but other than that, we’re almost always on an edge. Those edges keep us safe — they help us turn, balance, and control our speed — but they also limit what’s possible: they keep us moving in one direction.

When we put the board flat on the ground to butter and don’t dig any of the edges in, suddenly the board can move in any direction. That flexibility is the heart of buttering.

Kinds of Snowboard Butter Tricks

Before we can start experimenting with specific tricks, we need to understand some of the terminology and moves that can be combined to make a great butter.

Jumping Moves

Pop — this is how snowboarders talk about a basic jump, both feet at once, up and down.

Ollie — a jump that uses the tail of the snowboard to generate pop.

Nollie — a jump that uses the nose of the snowboard to generate pop.

Pressing Moves

Tail Press — balancing weight over the tail of the board with the nose of the board in the air.

Nose Press — balancing weight over the nose of the board with the tail of the board in the air.

Spinning Moves

Frontside Spins — spins where the back foot travels in the direction its toes are pointing.

Backside Spins — spins where the back foot travels in the direction its heel is pointing.

Rotations — spins are referred to by the degrees the rider has rotated. The most common spins are 180s, 360s, 540s, and 720s. In buttering, you’ll also encounter a lot of 90s and 270s as riders like to experiment with small adjustments.

Most butter tricks involve a combination of a lot of these moves. For example, the MFM Butter, which is a classic, is a combination of a Nollie, 90, Nosepress, Tailpress, and 180. This great video breaks it down.

But the MFM is relatively rare in being that complex and having a name. Most snowboarders build their own unique butters out of this toolbox and no two are the same.

Best Beginning Snowboard Butter Tricks

If you’re ready to get out there and start developing your butter style, these are some great tricks to start with.

How To Nose-Butter 180 On a Snowboard

I recommend starting with just a Butter 180:

  • Start traveling across the trail on your toe edge looking uphill.
  • Turn downhill and come to a stop on your heel edge.
  • Then, begin riding switch on your heel-edge across the hill in the same direction you began the trick.

Do this again but don’t stop when you get to your heel edge. And then do it faster and faster so that the turn becomes a skidded spin and you carry your momentum straight across the hill instead of slowing down.

Next, try a fast Nose-Butter 180:

  • Again, start traveling across the trail on your toe edge looking uphill.
  • Twist your upper body towards your back foot 90 degrees and bend your knees.
  • Shift your weight over your front foot lifting your back foot off the snow and spin your upper body towards your front foot.
  • Hold your back foot in the air as the board spins, and land on your heel edge traveling switch across the hill.

This should be a fairly quick and efficient movement and probably won’t look too much like a trick. As you get more comfortable, try to get your weight as far over your front foot as possible in a balanced position where you can hold the Nose-Press indefinitely. Then, try to slow the spin way down so everyone has plenty of time to see how stylish your press is. This will take some time and probably a few falls, but a slow, stylish Nose-Butter 180 looks amazing.

How To Nollie-Tailpress-180 On a Snowboard

This is one of my favorite tricks to do when I’m just cruising on gentle Green terrain. At its core, it’s a Tail-Press, and the longer you can hold it, the better, but jumping in and spinning out gives the press extra style. Here’s a great video breakdown of the trick. His name for it is a little simpler — I’m trying to capture every element of the trick.

First, you’ll want to get comfortable Nollying into a Tail-Press.

  • Start riding straight downhill on a gentle slope in a balanced stance.
  • Shift your weight over your front foot by bending your front knee and straightening your back knee until the tail of the board comes off the ground.
  • Then jump off your front foot and bend both your knees to explode into the air.
  • While in the air, shift the board downhill underneath you so that your hips are over your back foot.
  • Land balanced on your back foot with your back knee bent. Your front knee should be straight and the nose of the board should be off the ground in a Tail-Press.

Landing in a Tail-Press is a challenge and takes balance and precision. Take some time to practice.

Once you’re comfortable with that, try the second half of the trick, a Tail-Press into a 180.

  • Start riding straight downhill on a gentle slope in a balanced stance.
  • Shift your weight over your back foot by bending your back knee and extending your front knee until the nose of the board comes off the ground.
  • Hold the Tail-Press for a moment — you want to be balanced and comfortable before trying the 180.
  • Bend your back knee even more and then jump off your back foot.
  • As you jump, spin 180 degrees, Frontside or Backside, and focus on bringing the board back underneath you.
  • Land on both feet at the same time in a balanced stance.

This 180 will likely be easier to spin using counter-rotation of the upper and lower body. If you’ve never done this before, try it in a regular 180 before putting the whole trick together.

Frontside Counter-Rotated 180:

  • Start riding straight downhill on a gentle slope in a balanced stance.
  • Spread your arms out and twist your shoulders so that your arms are perpendicular to your snowboard.
  • When you jump in the air, you’ll find that your body wants to spring back to a natural alignment. As you spin a 180 with your lower body, your upper body will remain fairly static, but you’ll feel like you’re unwinding and springing back into place.

Counter-rotating a spin allows your upper body to do most of the work, which is very helpful for a trick like this where you're jumping off of only one leg. Counter-rotation is used a lot on rails and boxes as well where you’re jumping on a slippery surface and can’t dig in. Backside counter-rotation is just the opposite.

Once you have all those pieces in place, you’re ready for a stylish Nollie-Tailpress-180.

  • Nollie.
  • Land in a Tail-Press.
  • Hold that Tail-Press as long as you can for extra style points.
  • Slowly counter-rotate your upper body in preparation for the spin.
  • Jump, 180, and ride away switch.
  • Prepare for compliments.
What is Buttering On a Snowboard?

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About THE AUTHOR

Scott Kimball

From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.

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