Starting snowboarding can seem like a daunting task at first.
But following a few easy tips when you start out can make a big difference and you’ll be riding those slopes with confidence in no time.
Read on to find out what I think are the 9 most important snowboarding tips for beginners.
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Tip # 1: Learn to Skate Well
Learning to skate well from the beginning will make your day much easier – by skating I don’t mean on a skate board!
If you haven’t been up the mountain on a snowboard yet you may not know that you have to enter and exit the lifts with one foot out of the snowboard. Even if you didn’t have to it would be hard to approach the lift with both feet strapped in.
The lift is the most common time you’ll need to skate as a beginner but sometimes you’ll need it to move along flat points and slight up-hills as well.
When you’re skating you’ll have your front foot strapped into your binding and your back foot will be free. You use your back foot to push yourself along – hence the term skating.
Check out the link below for more about practicing skating and for getting on and off the lifts more smoothly. You’ll be spending a lot of time getting on and off the lift so if you can master skating well then you’ll be much more confident on those lifts.
Tip # 2: Take Lessons
Even if it’s just one lesson. Take at least 1 lesson – preferably more.
There are innumerable benefits to taking lessons. If you were planning on doing 10 days on the mountain this season – do 9 instead and spend the extra money on a lesson, you won’t regret it.
Lessons which teach you:
- Proper technique from the start (this is huge)
- Give you instant feedback as to whether you are doing things right (this is super important and something you can’t get from looking up how to ride online)
- Where to start: If you are teaching yourself, or your friend who may know how to ride but not how to teach is teaching you, you won’t be sure where to start. You may start trying stuff that is really hard to do if you haven’t done other stuff first. This can lead to bad technique and loss of confidence. Instructors will teach you how to do things in the most logical order.
Tip # 3: Bend Your Knees
One of the most common reasons for beginners falling, particularly on more difficult terrain, is that they aren’t bending their knees or they aren’t bending them enough.
With bent knees (and I’m not talking about squatting here!) you will absorb any bumps much more effectively.
Now, I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing if you’re falling – it probably means you are improving – but you shouldn’t fall just because you are too upright – so make sure to keep those knees bent!
Tip # 4: Ride across the Slope
A lot of beginners get out of control and build up too much speed that they can’t control – and then they either crash involuntarily or make themselves crash to stop.
If you ride across the slope, rather than straight down it, you’ll naturally check your speed. If your still picking up too much speed you can even start to go back up the slope to slow yourself down.
Tip # 5: Look Where you Want to Go
You will naturally go where you look. If you are looking down the slope when you want to ride across the slope then your body will naturally try to twist around to go down the slope.
This will put your body in a bad position and will also mean that you’ll start heading straight down the slope when you don’t want to – if you don’t fall first, because of your twisted positioning.
Look where you want to go – and you’ll get there much more smoothly.
Tip # 6: Move on from the Bunny Slope Quickly
I don’t advocate trying too much too early because it can negatively affect your technique and also your confidence.
However, most resorts have terrain that is suitable for beginners that isn’t the very bunny slope.
The easiest slope (often accompanied by a magic carpet lift) is often crowded, and not only that, it’s crowded with beginners. This means that there will be a lot of people falling and riding/skiing erratically in front of you.
This makes it hard to get into a rhythm and can get frustrating.
Once you are feeling reasonably comfortable with at least balancing on your board and getting down the bunny slopes then move onto other “green” runs around the resort.
Tip # 7: Make Sure you Have Appropriate Gear
Charlie just gave me his old snowboard for real cheap so I’m sorted for learning on that!
Wait……..not so fast – what you may not know (and what Charlie may not know – or doesn’t want to tell you because he wants an easy sale!) is that certain snowboards (and that goes for bindings and boots as well) are better for learning on than others.
If Charlie gives you his aggressive, advanced snowboard then it’s going to be super hard, and not fun, to learn on. This could slow your progression drastically – or worse, could put you off snowboarding altogether!
Check out the links below to learn the specs to look out for in snowboards, bindings and boots for beginners. It may be the case that Charlie’s old board is suitable but make sure it is before you buy it.
- How to Choose the Best Snowboard for a Beginner
- How to Choose the Best Snowboard Bindings for a Beginner
- How to Choose the Best Snowboard Boots for a Beginner
Also, it is best to move away from rental gear as soon as possible. Though it might seem logical that rental gear is easy to learn on, that’s usually not the case.
Tip # 8: Make Sure Your Gear Fits Properly
As well as making sure the gear you get is suitable for a beginner you also want to make sure that it fits how it should.
Starting with boots – boots should fit snugly. They shouldn’t cut off the circulation though. One of the great things about snowboarding is that you don’t have awkward boots to deal with – but your feet shouldn’t move around inside the boot.
If there’s too much foot movement inside the boot (and the most common for bad fitting boots is lots of heel lift) it will be harder and slower to apply pressure to the edges of the snowboard – which will not only make it harder to learn but also a lot more fatiguing.
Check out the link below for more details on getting the right boot fit.
Your bindings need to fit your boots properly – and they should also fit on your board properly too.
If your bindings are too big for your board and overhang too much they could drag in the snow when you turn – if they are too small and under-hang too much it will be harder to apply pressure to the edges of the snowboard.
Check out the link below for more details on how to get the right sized bindings.
Finally we come to snowboards. Getting the right sized snowboard is about 2 variables. Firstly you want to get the right length and secondly you want to get the right width.
Generally speaking when it comes to width the right length will have roughly the right width for you but not always.
In terms of length, the general rule is that a beginner should choose a snowboard that is shorter than an advanced rider would. This is because a shorter snowboard is easier to maneuver.
Check out the links below to learn how to make sure you get the right length and width for your snowboard.
Tip # 9: Make a plan for your Progression
You’ll progress much faster if you have a plan. A plan will also help you to keep improving and trying new things – and not just staying at the same level.
Your plan might be something like:
- Master snowflaking
- Get comfortable with skating
- Get comfortable on both toe and heel edge
- Start linking turns
- Learn C turns
- Learn S turns
- Small Jumps
- Riding Switch
- Rails and Boxes
Etc…. Whatever your plan, make it so that the progression makes sense. i.e. don’t go from snowflaking to going over X-Large jumps or into double black diamond runs!
Again, this is where lessons really help. Your instructor can lead you in the right direction and will know what order you should progress in. They can also assess how well you are doing and when you should move onto the next thing.
Thanks for Reading
I hope these tips will make your snowboarding journey move along more smoothly.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.