Snowboarding is fun and is a growing sport that more and more people hop on every winter season. However, the excitement of trying something new often makes you skip steps and ignore advice from other people. That isn’t a huge deal but knowing all the best snowboard tips for beginners can significantly improve your experience and make you a better all-around snowboarder down the line. Here, I will walk you through my favorite advice that I’ve gotten through the years and have used myself over and over again until snowboarding slowly became my second nature. Now, without further ado, let’s jump straight into this!
1. Gearing up
The absolute first thing that I want to touch on is protective gear. Except for the helmet, which I consider mandatory for everyone, there are a few other pieces of gear that I’d recommend wearing unless you have no issues bouncing off the ground (a lot) during your learning stages.
The parts of your body that will take the most damage while you’re learning are the thighs, tailbone, hips, wrists, and elbows. For adults, I always recommend getting wrist guards which go unnoticed when you put them on but make a night and day different every time you fall on your hands. If you’re picking ones at a store, bring your gloves with you so that you can try how both work together. I’d recommend having longer mittens/gloves that overlap further back onto your arm which will accommodate wrist guards better than short gloves.
Bicycle or lacrosse shorts are ideal to protect your bottom section from falls. These shorts often have padding on the side, rear, and front, which will protect your thighs and behinds from impact. Additionally, you can get elbow and knee protectors if you want that extra safety net. I personally always wear knee protectors after I’ve taken a few bad falls directly onto my knees.
On your first day, you will fall a lot to the front and to the back, meaning your butt and your hands will take the most damage, which can discourage you or make you timid. That can leave you timid and afraid of further learning and curb your rookie enthusiasm really quick, trust me. For those reasons protective gear is not only for your safety but also to make you learn faster (and pain-free).
Apart from safety gear, it might be worth your time checking out proper snowboard gear, such as a good board, all-mountain bindings, boots, or snowboarding apparel.
2. Consider taking a few lessons
There is nothing wrong with being an adult and looking for someone to teach you the basics of this sport, especially since that will give you a solid foundation to work from in the future. If you’re going on a winter vacation and plan on riding a snowboard for the first time, invest the first one or two days into training and lessons. Trust me, you will never regret this choice. The remaining days of your vacation will be much easier and fun!
Lessons will give you the proper snowboarding technique, provide feedback on whether you are doing things right from the get-go or you need improvements somewhere. Snowboard instructors will also give you the most logical approach to snowboarding. A lot of people start with the harder steps and don’t really have a logical step-by-step program to better themselves. That’s exactly the teacher’s job and will be very beneficial for your progress.
3. Bend the knee(s)
I have noticed one common mistake across a lot of beginners that fall on their first tries. It is that they aren’t bending their knees, or if they are bending them, they aren’t bending them enough.
Having your knees bent will allow you to absorb bumps on the slope much better and will make your ride smoother. I am not talking about squatting on your snowboard, though, just bend the knees at an angle that feels comfortable to you and makes your feet act like an active suspension.
4. Go across the slope, not straight down
Riding across the slope will give you a couple of advantages. For starters, you won’t be able to go really fast as you would if you just went down a straight line. That is one of the best ways to learn to control your movements and speed. Going across the whole busy slope won’t be a great idea, though, as you might end up being in someone’s way, so try to minimize the zone you are covering with your turns. When the slope becomes a bit more flat, then you can try going in an almost straight line to learn to handle higher speeds. In the end, practice your stops a few times or even try hard breaking at the completely flat area.
Pro Tip: If you go across the slope and even then pick up speeds faster than you are comfortable with, try going uphill on one of your horizontal passes. That will greatly reduce your speed or make you stop altogether. Practice that on less steep slopes before progressing to the advanced ones.
5. Look at the direction in which you want to go
In snowboarding, thanks to the body’s orientation, you can easily follow the principle “you go where you look”. The eyes are leading the rest of your body in a pretty simple manner. You can do dry exercises for this principle. Stand up in your room and take a snowboarding stance. Bend your knees and look in front of you. Now look to your left rotating your head 90 degrees and notice how your center of mass changes a bit to your left leg. Your right shoulder will also rotate slightly. Now, if you keep rotating your head until you are looking almost entirely behind you, you will feel your body putting most of its weight on your heals.
All this affects the steering of your snowboard and is the basic principle taught in snowboarding lessons. It is called edge control or edging.
Edge control is what controls your turns and rotations. It begins with your eyes and ends with weight shiftings between your toes and your heels and your body’s rotation.
6. Look for the powder!
Snow conditions are absolutely important for any beginner (and advanced snowboarders for that matter). While in certain parts of the country, riding in icy conditions is a rite of passage, it is also fairly dangerous for beginners and should be generally avoided. Ice is the snowboard’s worst enemy as you lose almost all of your control and falls are almost inevitable. Still, you can more or less predict when that occurs and avoid riding in those parts of the day or year. When early spring comes, snow melts in the afternoon and when night falls it refreezes forming a thin ice layer on top of the snowy slope. So the time between later morning and early afternoon is the best to ride as it has the softest, albeit wettest, snow of the day.
While ice is a big no-no for beginners, snow powder is your best friend. It is one of the best feelings when riding a snowboard as it makes turning feel almost effortless and gives you a weightless feel as if you are riding on water. Carving through fresh snow powder is probably going to be the most sensational thing you’ve done while on your board, maybe only second to getting some air time for the first time.
As your snowboarding skills progress, keep looking for interesting untracked paths between slopes or different types of creeks and gullies. Still, always go in pairs, as you can easily get lost or stuck if you aren’t careful enough.
A well-waxed board will slide easier and faster through snow and will also perform better in the snowboard park. Click here if you want to learn more about waxing and whether or not it is really necessary on a new board.
7. Practice anywhere!
Even though it might sound funny, you can literally practice snowboarding in your living room or back yard. Apart from the body exercise I previously mentioned, you can get into full gear (or just you and your snowboard) and start training your muscle memory. Put on your boots, strap onto your board, and start practising heel to toe transitions. You can also do ollies and 180 degree jumps from standing still, which will also help your control and tricks over time. One other important thing you can practice is how to butter your board, also known as “manual”. It consists of balancing your weight on either one of the snowboards ends, lifting up either the tail or the nose in the air. Flex your board as much as you want and learn the different balance points across the range of motion required to manoeuvre!
Knowing some of the best snowboard tips for beginners rider will greatly improve the way you handle your snowboarding hobby down the road. A steady, solid foundation of skills will make it easier for you to tackle challenges as you progress. Always remember to be on the safe side of things, and most importantly – enjoy yourself while you are at it!