If you want to get better at snowboarding it’s really important to have a plan.
You’ll improve much faster, and you’ll even improve in a way that means you’ll actually learn better, if you make a plan.
How Will a plan make me Learn Better?
Like most things in life, there is an order to the way you progress in snowboarding that is the most effective way to progress.
The end of this post will show a suggested order of progression to help with your plan.
For example if you learn how to do 180s before you’ve learned to ride switch properly then your landings and approaches (when approaching in switch) will be more difficult than they should be. This means that the technique that you develop will likely be poor.
It’s easier to get it right from the beginning than have to go back and fix bad technique.
How Will a plan make me Get Better Faster?
If you just learn random things here and there it will take longer to learn everything. Again, if you learn in the right order then you’ll have everything you need for the next thing that you are learning. There’s a natural progression taking place.
For example, if you have all the prerequisite’s for doing a 180 in place (i.e. comfortable riding switch, comfortable over jumps and landing jumps) then you will learn 180s much faster.
Also, if you have a list of things that you want to achieve then you will be more focused and motivated. If you don’t know where you want to be specifically, then you’ll likely just stick to the things that you know and not progress.
How to Design a Plan that Works
To create a plan that works you need to know three things:
- Where you currently are. What Can you do well, what needs work, what haven’t you tried at all
- Where you want to be. You want to be specific with your goals.
- How you are going to get there
Where You Currently Are
I find it’s a good idea to write out the things that you can do and assess roughly the level you are at.
If you think about a map. You need to know where you are on the map in order to make a plan to get to where you want to be. If you don’t know where you are then you could travel in the completely wrong direction to where you want to go.
For some this will be very easy. E.g. “Currently I am a very beginner. I can get down the mountain without falling down too much but only on one edge and I am not yet linking turns”.
For others it might take a bit more thought. It’s important to be as honest as you can when assessing your own skills and it can be helpful to ask others for their honest observations.
Check out the link below to see the different snowboarding skill levels.
Where You Want to Be
When you are making your goals for where you want to be it’s important to be very specific.
A goal like “I want to get better at snowboarding” is too vague.
Something like “I want to be linking C turns on green runs within the next 2 days that I’m on the mountain”
“I want to successfully land a small jump in the park with an indy grab by the end of the week”
is much better.
A Plan to Get There
Once you know where you are and where you want to be then you can make a plan to get there.
If you are “not yet able to link turns” and your goal is “I want to be linking C turns on green runs in the next 2 days” then you can take action to achieve that.
Your plan might be “I will take lessons so that a qualified Instructor can teach me this” (a very good plan by the way!).
Or it might be something like “I will master getting down on my heel edge, then I will master getting down on my toe edge so that I am comfortable on both edges. That way when I am transitioning I will be comfortable on either edge”.
Example Snowboarding Progression Plan
O.k. now that that’s out of the way! All very important parts of making a plan but now let’s see what a good progression plan might be.
This won’t show all of the details of how to do each of the things but it will show an order and this will help you with the where you want to be part of your plan. It’s important to get this part of your plan in a logical order.
This isn’t the only order you could learn in but there are certain things that you want to learn before learning other things.
- Master Snowflaking on both edges
- Get comfortable with skating (this isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for anything else but it will make your day more enjoyable if you aren’t good at this yet)
- Start linking turns in a C turn shape
- Starting linking turns in an S turn shape
- Do the above on a blue run
- Learn how to do Ollies
- Land a small jump smoothly by clearing the knuckle (without popping or spinning at all)
- Learn how to ride switch (the opposite direction from your most comfortable direction – you may need to go through the same process you did when you learnt to ride in your natural direction – i.e. snowflake, then c turns, then s turns, then ollies, then small jump)
- Learn carving
- Progress onto a black run (the reason I have this so far down the list is that it’s a good idea to get to a certain level before attempting more difficult terrain. If you hit that difficult terrain and your technique is poor or you are at a level that’s not good enough for it then you can develop poor technique [you will just invent ways of getting you down safely not smoothly] and also it can hurt your confidence)
- Land a medium jump smoothly (just straight air to start with) – this could be done before or after learning 180s if you wanted.
- Learn manuals, presses etc and other flatland tricks (these could be learned earlier too)
- Learn how to ride boxes and rails
- Learn some grabs when going over jumps
- Learn how to ride more smoothly on uneven terrain
- Venture into the backcountry
- Learn frontside 180s both from switch and your normal stance (you will want to be comfortable going over jumps, riding switch, landing switch. You can practice spinning on a flat and riding across the slope too before attempting these off a jump)
- Learn backside 180s both from switch and your normal stance
- Learn 360s
- Land a large jump (straight air)
- Try out the pipe
These are just an example of how you might progress. Your plan might very well look different. There are some things you could do in a different order and there might be some things that you’re just not interested in doing.
For example you might decide that you never want to learn jibbing, for whatever reason. Then you wouldn’t put that as part of your particular plan.
And this list isn’t exhaustive of course, there are a lot more things you can learn to do no a snowboard.
Thanks for reading
I hope this post has helped you to develop your own plan. Of course, the main thing is that you have fun. But in my opinion if you keep progressing every time you are on the mountain it makes it way more fun.
If you have any questions or anything to add to this or if there’s anything you disagree with just let me know in the comments section below.
Hello Nate, you and I had a back and forth on snowboard and binding selections back in August timeframe 2021. I wasn’t sure where to post this question, but seeing as I have a goals sheet too why not here.
I am an athletic beginner that picked it up quickly. I bought the dynamo 156 and strata bindings from your recommendations. Definitely a stiffer setup than I had before. I’m still tweaking the setup but it wasn’t hard to get used to quickly.
Yes, there is a question in all this talk. I went from a centered stance to a setback stance. Is there any difference to where my weight should be distributed both just riding and while turning?
I think knowing this I can practice to reach my goals.
Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Thanks for your message and the update.
I don’t adjust where I distribute my weight when riding a setback board. I also don’t claim to be an expert on technique, so this isn’t a qualified opinion! But I would typically have my weight more forward no groomers and a little more back when I’m in deep powder, particularly if I’m on a board that’s not that well suited to powder. Some really good powder boards you can ride powder front foot – which usually when I get on them it takes a bit of a mental shift to do it, but for most boards that aren’t made predominantly for powder, I’d be more back foot in powder, but otherwise more front foot for weight distribution. I don’t change depending on whether the board is setback, directional or twin or anything like that – rather adjust depending on conditions.
Thanks for this – I’m in what feels like a never ending ‘I’m a beginner’ journey, I really needed to read this!
I’m in resort at the moment.
Now for the rest of my few days here my aim is to do a series of S curve on a green, get a bit more speed up and then, if time allows go for S curves on the blue.
Not looking at everyone else and berating myself as to why I just ‘can’t get it’
Genuinely thank you for writing this. It’s given me the lift I needed.
Thanks for your message. You’re very welcome and you’re absolutely right, no need to berate yourself or compare to others. We’re all on our own unique journey and our progress should only compare where we came from to where we are and wanting to get to – not to what others are doing. One step at a time.
when was this revised
Hasn’t been revised for a few years now.
I found this article good from a psychological standpoint. I’ve been reverting to what I know versus what I want to learn; so actually making a plan is easier said than done. This will definitely put things into better perspective.
I spent an entire season learning to ride switch, which I can now do greens to blacks in either direction. Moguls, medium jumps, and rails, not so much. I put straight airing switch and hitting rails/boxes switch on the back burner. If you’d be so kind – I’ve been wondering if my progression has turned whack after learning how to ride regular and switch:
– I can 180 onto a box and small flat rails only coming off of my switch stance
– My backside 180s [< 10ft] off jumps, boxes, and rails, are only coming off my regular stance
– My frontside 180s [< 20ft] and 360s [< 10 ft] off jumps are only coming off my switch stance
– I can do all four 180s off side hits on trails and I can do both regular and switch frontside 360s off small side hits
…basically I have to be spinning right. An instructor pointed that out to me.
I don’t think learning switch would have negatively affected your other things there. I think most people just have a preference for spinning in one a particular way. Some in a particular direction and some prefer only frontside to backside, that kind of thing. Some prefer to land a particular direction.
In terms of straight air switch – this is actually something that actually takes a bit of courage – it’s not something I like doing at all! I can ride black runs switch – but straight airing switch – even over small jumps is more difficult for me (maybe it’s psychological?).
I’m not a professional instructor so I’m not sure the best way to train yourself to improve your other direction spins – but if you are able to do all 4 180s on side hits, it sounds like you’re part the way there. Maybe taking a lesson to improve your spinning in the left direction might be a good idea.
Hope this helps
John L says
Thanks for publishing this. I’m a big fan of progression plans and snowboarding is no exception.
Can you describe your view of the difference between C turns and S turns? My assumption is that a C turn requires you to slow down considerably, almost stopping completely, while an S turn is made with little to no loss of speed. Do you agree?
Thanks for the message.
Yeah a C turn has the c shape because you start to ride back up the slope at the end of the turn. This, like you say slows you down considerable and makes it easier to transition onto your new edge.
And S turn is a lot smoother. As you say you try to keep the speed even. You are still riding across the slope to control your speed but you don’t head back up the slope at the end of your turn so you maintain the same speed. A smooth S turn will have a relatively constant speed throughout – you can have tighter and wider S turns and that (among other things like the steepness of the slope) will determine the speed.
So yeah I agree!