Are you considering teaching your child to snowboard? Wondering if they are too small to enjoy it, grasp it, worrying if they can handle the cold, the terrain or the snow?
While there isn’t a straight answer to this question because it depends the ability of a child, it’s safe to assume that the proper age to learn snowboarding is around 8 years old for the average child. Every child is different and learns at their own pace. Parents and snowboard instructors should provide proper guidance to avoid any risk.
As a snowboard instructor 10 years ago, we normally advised kids should not learn younger than 8. Trying to “teach” kids younger than this can be challenging. The thought to this was they have not developed their muscles enough, don’t have fine enough motor control and wouldn’t be able to understand the fundamentals.
I have seen several 5/6 year olds crushing it! Cruising piste with ease, hitting boxes, tubes, jumps and rails! I think it may be true they don’t understand how they are doing it, but they can for sure do it. Let’s break down the best age to start snowboarding.
Everyone Is Different, No Matter The Age
I am not saying 5 years old is a great time for any kid to learn. If you and the family have your annual snowboarding trip, only being on snow one week a year then it’s probably best not to put the littlest ones on a snowboard.
However if you’re a keen snowboarder, lucky enough to shred regularly for sure bring the little ones along. Get them started and focus on fun, no expectations. Just the goal to have some fun with your kids.
I am of the opinion the earlier you start the better. You won’t be able to traditionally “teach” them, but if you spend enough time on the board (and they enjoy it) they will soon pick it up. Their body mechanics and understand of what they’re doing is going to be very different from adults, and older kids. However as we have seen time and time again, in recent years, they can do it. And do it well.
So if you are a keen snowboarder and can expose your child to regular time on a snowboard for sure get them on a board as young as possible. I have seen toddlers side slipping about (on a leash), get out there and just have fun. They will soon over take you. But always focus on fun and never focus on “learning” and progressing.
Check out 5 year old Noah shredding hard:
Once a Year Family Shredders
If you and your family enjoy the occasional trip to the mountains, have your annual trip away and are wondering when the little ones should try snowboarding I think the kids should be a little older.
Again the number one focus should be on fun! If your kids are not so sporty and will be spending most of the days of their holiday “learning” probably best to stick with skiing till they’re a little older. As both feet are independent on skis this comes a lot more natural, they will be independent and mobile a lot quicker on skis.
Therefore, they will enjoy their week on snow more. Don’t be discouraged from them starting on skis, this will help their snowboarding in the future. It well help them learn about how the skis/snowboard slide. How the edges engage the breaks and it will allow them to spend time in the environment, on snow and in the mountains.
This is all very beneficial. Any time outdoors being active is beneficial for them, so start them off on skis and always keep that focus on fun!
So, What Is the Best Age to Start Snowboarding?
This is different for every kid, and every family depending on many factors. For me if your out snowboarding regularly, take them along and get them strapped in asap. No age is too young! Just do not be a pushy parent, allow them to have fun and help them when ever possible.
If you’re going to the mountains occasionally and are wondering if your 8/9 year old is ready then this is a question only you can answer. If they are proficient on skis and eager to snowboard for sure, get them on the board and start learning.
If they can ski already, snowboarding will be a lot easier for them to learn. If they enjoy it, peruse it, maybe they will get hooked. However maybe it will be more fun for them to stay on their skis as they are more comfortable and can cover more ground. Maybe a mix of some snowboarding and some skiing will fit best.
If your kids have never seen snow, aren’t so bothered about skiing or snowboarding and you just want to enjoy a one time trip I probably wouldn’t advise snowboarding for kids younger than 10, around 12 and up would be ideal.
How To Teach Kids To Snowboard
Again this is different for everyone. The regular snowboarder taking the toddlers out with them, put them on a leash and move around the mountain. Go for as long as the kid is having fun. If you do this regularly they will figure it out. I would advise doing very little “teaching” for kids under 7, just time on the board in the environment is the best thing for them.
7-10 Year Olds Snowboarding
If the kids are starting a little later, 7-10 age range, and you’re not so clued up on how to snowboard, then get them into a lesson. A private lesson might suit better if the kids want to learn. Want to figure out how to do it, and get going. If they just want to try it and have fun, get them in a group lesson where they can make some friends and enjoy an environment where they are all beginners together.
10 Years and Above
If your kids are a little older or in their teen years they should be able to “learn” snowboarding. Lessons will always be best, group or private will work great for both. It depends on the individual and what they want.
The older kids should be able to learn the basics and understand the fundamentals and mechanics of what they are doing, if they want to. It should take an average teenager a couple of days to progress from first time beginner to intermediate.
Depending on how eager they are for it. I have watched some kids run back up the slope for the 2 hour lesson and be proficient by the end of it. In the same lesson another kid might only take 4/5 runs, so to get the same amount of runs as the first kid they need several days.
Like anything, snowboarding is learnt by putting the hours in. As long as they are having fun and want to keep doing it, they will pick it up relatively quick. If they are not so bothered, only taking a couple of runs in a day they probably aren’t going to progress past intermediate any time soon.
Get them out there as young as possible for what works for you and your kid. Focus on having as much fun as possible. If they are out there having fun, they will pick it up in no time. Have fun! Don’t stress “learning” and progressing. Keep in mind that when looking at injuries in young snowboarders, it’s important to understand certain things about a child’s growing bones.
They tend to have more growth plate fractures (the area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones) than knee ligament injuries. These growth plate injuries may not be easy to see on X-rays because the growth plate doesn’t show up well (source).
Also, kids’ bones have a thick outer layer called the periosteum. This layer can keep a full break in the bone from getting worse early on. Kids’ bones are more flexible because they have more cartilage, which is softer than bone. This means that their bones can bend more than an adult’s before breaking (source).
So with that in mind, the point of snowboarding together, is to have fun and get quality with your kid. Always keep this your number one focus. You’re (almost) never too young or too old to learn snowboarding!
At 21, I left Scotland to travel but ended up becoming a snowboard instructor instead. For 4-5 years, I worked internationally in many countries. As my passion for park riding grew, I transitioned into building snowboard parks. I’ve gained sponsors for my snowboarding, won rail jams and small competitions, and contributed to building X Games courses. I’ve also been involved in significant park events like The Stomping Grounds project.