I have been skiing and boarding for quite a while now, and have no problems neither with high speed (on empty ski runs up to 80-90 km/h with ease without loosing control) nor some other kinds of ski runs (moguls, powder, off-piste, ice, I don't care). My main problem now is: as soon as I lift off (may it be on the run while going over some bumps, or going over kickers) I have extreme problems with stabilization which mostly results in a bad landing (I am able to cope with that, but's not very comfortable). This leads to a decrease of self-confidence in front of kickers, even if I know that I just have to be fast enough for being safe, which reduces my speed of approach, thus leading to a quite possible landing on the table (not preferred). So, are there any ideas how to improve confidence for being airborne?
A general tip here would be: follow some freestyle/jumping classes with a good teacher. There can be different reasons for that and a good teacher will be able to see it and guide you.
However, there are a few basic things you should think about(I learned those while snowboarding, so I'm not 100% sure if that would apply to skiing too).
- Approaching the kicker: make sure that last couple of meters you're going in a straight line and on the whole base of your snowboard(flat, so no carving/turning. If you carve/turn you might jump askew or even to the side and not be able to land on the landing anymore. We want to avoid that).
Takeoff: if you're a beginner in jumping, start with green kickers. They are (very) small, but they still provide (more than) enough possibility to learn. I'll split this part into 3 sub-parts for a) total beginner; b) advanced beginner; c) almost intermediate. They all use different takeoff techniques
2.a So you are a total beginner: start with green kickers. Approach it flat on your snowboard. Bend your legs a bit and wait until kicker throws you. That's passive takeoff.
2.b Advanced beginner: I would still recommend green kickers. Technically it's almost the same as described in 2.1, but right before the takeoff extend your legs and throw your body into the air. That's active takeoff.
2.c So now you know the difference between passive and active takeoff. Now you can try active one on the blue kickers(of course if you can successfully land on the green ones). One more takeoff that you should learn it ollie. Approaching the kicker is same as before, but now before you actually takeoff, perform an ollie(I would still suggest to practice it on a green kicker). Make sure that tail of your board reaches the end of the kicker before jumping, that will assure that you will jump far enough to reach the landing and not just the table.
In the air: after you successfully takeoff, the most difficult part is there. What you absolutely not want: uncontrollable turning/twisting, losing balance. First one can result in perpendicular landing and you will (most) probably get stuck in the snow, fall down and make a few rolls/summersaults(depending on your speed). Second one can(and most probably will) result in landing on anything but your snowboard. We really do not want it. So what should we do when we are in the air?
3.1. Make yourself small. If you watch some competitions, you will see that they (almost) always perform a grab. It doesn't only look cool, but it also makes sure you're small, so you can turn and make some corrections much faster. If you're standing straight you will have to turn your shoulders, torso, hips and legs to adjust your board. While you are small all that happens much faster. So, first thing after takeoff: bring your feet close to your body.
3.2. Keep your weight right above the snowboard. If you start shifting your weight to any side, you will start leaning more and more towards that side. Leaning forwards(towards your toes) will result in landing on your knees/stomach/chest or even face. Leaning backwards(side of your heels) will end you on your ass or back. Think about it as walking on a rope: once you lose balance it's very hard to regain it.
3.3. Keep your hands low. It's basic physiology: with your arms up it's more difficult to get low and because of that it will also get more difficult to make some adjustments. I know it's not easy and first times when you jump you will tend to swing your arms like wings, but it has no effect. Actually, it only makes your jump worse. Once again: look at the competitors, they keep their arms low(actually on the snowboard most of the time doing a grab).
3.4. Make yourself big again right before the landing. When you see you're gonna land soon, make yourself big again. Stretch your legs almost completely to be able to absorb(depreciate) the landing. At that moment your snowboard should be pointing with your nose or tail to the slope line. Yet again, keep your weight right above the snowboard! At this stage it's very crucial!
Landing: if you followed the previous steps good, you should now have almost fully stretched legs, your snowboard pointing towards the slope line and your weight right above the snowboard. The moment you touch the landing(or even a little bit earlier), start absorbing the jump! That means: start bending your legs again, putting more and more power to your quadriceps. Thing about your legs as suspension system of your car/bike. First few centimeters go down quite easy, but then it gets stiffer and stiffer. Same thing should your legs do.
So to answer your question(are there any ideas how to improve confidence for being airborne?): start jumping! Green kickers should be easy enough for you(if you can go 80-90kph without losing control I guess you're quite advanced snowboarder). There is no single way to learn something without trying it. You can compare it with bicycle: first time you got on it, you were probably scared and had zero to none balance. But after you do it more often you start getting the feel of the balance. Then you can bicycle with only 1 arm and then even without the arms! Same here: start easy, practice and slowly build up your confidence