I took my very first snowboarding lesson a few days ago to answer the question “do I need snowboarding lessons?”
A couple of months ago I set out a plan to take lessons this season. This will be my 8th season riding and up until this point I have been self-taught.
Check out the post I wrote 2 months ago that questioned whether or not lessons were necessary to be a good snowboarder.
In that post I asked the question whether lessons were necessary or useful and also if they were necessary or useful for someone who had been riding for years without taking lessons.
So far I’ve had one lesson (a one-on-one private lesson) and the answer to that question is emphatically YES!
After just one lesson my riding has become smoother and more effortless.
There were a few main faults in my technique that meant that I wasn’t riding as smoothly or as efficiently as I could.
Now, I rate myself a decent rider. I have tackled some pretty hairy terrain and lived to tell the tale. I have learnt a few tricks over the years and can keep up with some pretty fast riders.
But as soon as my instructor had one look at my riding, he instantly spotted 3 important ways I could improve my technique.
My Flawed Technique
I still have a bit of practice to do to get this technique to become second nature but the results of fixing my flaws has been as instant success in improving my riding.
What You Should Do
Seriously if you haven’t taken lessons in the past, if you are a self-taught rider (or friend taught rider) then take at least one lesson.
I mean we spend so much on gear, lift passes and everything but so many snowboarders are very reluctant to spend anything on lessons but there’s heaps of value in it.
If you are just starting out then taking lessons is also a great idea. It will help you to start with good technique and lessen your chances of picking up bad habits. Or if you have been riding for a while but suspect you could improve your technique then lessons are going to be hugely beneficial.
Even if you think your technique is perfect I would still recommend taking a lesson – if your technique does happen to be perfect then at least you’ll know that it is for sure – and your instructor can probably show you something new that you hadn’t learnt before.
Private or Group Lessons?
I think this really depends.
Obviously group lessons are cheaper but you get a lot more out of one-on-one lessons. The private lesson is entirely focused on you. You are the whole focus for the whole lesson.
You not only get instruction whilst on the slope and get observed whilst on the slope and watch your instructor on the slope – you also get some valuable information about your technique on the lifts. This means that time riding on the slopes practicing and trying the techniques is maximized and you can get through a lot more.
If you have been riding for a while but haven’t taken any lessons, or haven’t taken any since you first started then I highly recommend splashing just that little bit more cash for a private lesson.
If you are a very beginner then a group lesson is probably going to be a better option if you’re on a budget. The private lesson in this case would still be more beneficial, but not as worth the cost because you will be learning the same things as others who are just starting out.
The next part of my experiment
For the next month I am going to practice everything I’ve learned in the 1st lesson until it’s completely natural and then I will book a follow up lesson with the same instructor.
In that 2nd lesson I’ll get him to make sure that I haven’t slipped back into any old habits and build on what he taught me – in particularly improving my technique for the jump approach, my landing technique and improving on carving technique.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading and I hope this has inspired you to take lessons. They really did make a big difference for me.
If you are interested in hearing the specific things that my technique was lacking, if you have your own lesson experience to share or if you have any other questions or comments to share, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
UPDATE: Check out the link below for the results from my second lesson
Photo by Andrew Hyde [CC BY 2.0], via Flikr
John L. says
Yes, can you please share the flaws he found in your technique and the methods you used to improve? I know we’ve spoken a bit via email about some technique questions I had, but I’d love to hear what your instructor taught you and why.
The 3 things that I tweaked in my technique were.
1. There was too much movement in my upper body. He managed to pick this up straight away and he had me hold onto my pockets for the next couple of runs (not because it stops you from twisting your upper body but because it reminds you not to). Your upper body should remain still and shoulders stay in line with hips.
2. I was kicking my back foot around on some turns. This went away when I corrected the other things.
3. I wasn’t using my body up and down properly. My knees were staying bent at roughly the same angle as I was going through a turn. This was a big cause of why I was rotating my upper body and why I was kicking my foot out. By standing up straighter when initiating a turn and bending knees more once on the new edge I was able to basically let gravity initiate my turns meaning I didn’t have to make effort with other parts of my body. This made my turning significantly smoother. The amount of bending of and straightening depends on the steepness of the terrain you’re on.
Hope this helps.
I wish I could like that comment, thought the same thing^^