For some snowboarding is a hobby done a couple of weekends in the winter. For others it’s a lifestyle, moving to the mountains and getting as many days on a snowboard as possible. For some it’s an addiction and others, a reason to take a holiday to the mountains, once a winter.
Each will have very different levels of motivation and time on snow. What all snowboarders enjoy however, at any level, is the feeling of progressing. So how do we progress?
Spend as Much Time on a Snowboard as Possible
The first, and only way to properly progress, is time on the snowboard. The difference between the pro and an amateur, is the pro has failed, more times than the amateur has tried. No one is born incredible on a snowboard, or at anything. It is all time on the snowboard.
So if you get two or three days a year on snow, don’t be discouraged if you rarely improve. If you are someone that does only get a few days here and there, we have listed some key points to help you improve.
Use Video Feedback
One of the best tools readily available are cameras, for video feedback. Being able to see what you are doing instantly, out on the mountain is incredibly beneficial. If you can get a friend to film what you are doing, watching this and seeing the movements you are doing right, or wrong is very helpful.
Compare it to some footage of how it should be done, then getting to try to adjust immediately can result in fast progression. This is definitely one of the best tools to utilize, and can be very fun/rewarding when you film your trick or maneuver, how you want it.
Shred With a Buddy (Preferably Someone Better Than You)
Riding with friends is always going to be more fun. If you can get a good crew that get hyped on each others riding and push each other, progression falls into place with ease.
The group mentality of wanting to one up each other plus the added energy, getting stoked on your buddy stomping their tricks, fuels your progression. Your friend will likely have tips and feedback that can often be the missing bit of information you need to figure out the trick.
So, ride with friends, if they’re better than you, watch how they do things. Ask for feedback and get stoked on their snowboarding. If you’re riding with someone not quite as good as you, be that person to help out your buddy.
This can also benefit your riding and your friends will definitely appreciate the help. As well as being able to help teach/push each other, often the best days which result in the most progress comes when you’re just having fun with your friends. No focus on progressing, just enjoying snowboarding in the mountains with your buddy’s.
Take a Snowboard Lesson
The best way to improve your snowboarding is taking a lesson with a professional snowboard instructor. These people not only know how you should snowboard but they know how to help you get there.
They know the techniques and exercises you need to focus on and can break down any aspects of snowboarding you are struggling with. If you have something specific you want to work on, or to learn, a private lesson is going to suit you best.
This way you can focus on what you want to achieve, channel all of your energy into it and all of the instructors focus will be on your riding. If you are just looking to improve all around, a group lesson may be best for you. In a group lesson you will be given more general exercises, and feedback will only be given to you here and there.
This means it can be a bit more relaxing with a bit more focus on fun. Being in a group can also help as you watch others doing the same exercise well, or not so well, feeding off each others energy.
Try Other Boardsports and Activities
Being in good physical shape is always going to help your snowboarding. Having stronger legs to chew through bumps, berms, powder or any other obstacles is going to pay dividends. The more athletic you are, the better equipped you will be for all aspects of snowboarding.
There are also many other sports and activities that will help within your snowboarding . If you want to improve your air awareness trampolines or diving are a great way to get air time. The amount of jumps you can get on these can help boost your air awareness quickly, allowing you to try flips and spins repeatedly in a relatively safe environment.
Any other board sport, whether it’s skateboarding, wakeboarding, surfing, mountain boarding or anything else similar is going to help keep you sharp and will help towards your snowboarding. Techniques may be a little different, the first day back on the snowboard might feel a little strange, however it will improve your overall ability.
Doing other board sports is also a great way to help keep you in shape during the off season or times when you can’t snowboard so much.
Practice With Airbags
For the young guns looking to grow their bag of tricks, airbags are for sure one of the best tools at your disposal. These facilities are popping up more and more everywhere. The cushioned landing makes it one of the safest ways to learn new tricks, minimizing the danger of going inverted.
Although these are a lot safer to learn your tricks on than a traditional jump on snow, they do come with their dangers. Learning the dry ski slope jump can take time and accidents can happen on the in run or even landing wrong on the airbag.
So for sure go chuck your first flip, cork, dub or spins but be aware they do still come with their risk. One thing to note with these, they are effectively a slip and slide. Water is continually pumped onto the in run and the airbag, so you are fully soaked through after a few hits. They are super fun but being soaking wet, especially if it’s cold, is not so nice.
Visualization is a tool all athletes use in all sports. I don’t think anyone will throw a trick before they can clearly visualize it in their head. Preferably being able to see every aspect of the trick, where they will spot the landing, how it feels as it comes around, how the edge will grip on the kicker, how the boards pop will snap up out of the jump and how the board will touch down into the landing.
You want to be able to see clearly in your mind’s eye, how the trick will work and feel. To beginners or intermediate snowboarders this may seem like hocus-pocus, I can assure you however, this works and works well.
In today’s age of technology information is readily available. If you want to improve a certain aspect of your snowboarding find some online tutorials on YouTube. There are many exercises and drills you can work on to improve any aspect of your snowboarding.
Instructors will have these ready to teach you, however the need to pay for a lesson to get this information is no longer required. Find several exercises and work on these a little each time you snowboard. Make sure to know what snowboarding skills to learn first.
Repetition of an exercise is where progression will grow. Fixing or changing muscle memory can take a very long time, if you don’t see results immediately do not be discouraged. Every time you are on your snowboard you are getting better, it might be so small you don’t see your progress at first.
It may feel like you’re stuck in the same place, however I can assure you every day you are on your snowboard you are improving. It might only be by 0.01% each day, but this builds up over time. Have fun and enjoy your shredding.
If you want to improve your snowboarding, try each of the suggestions above. Identify what works best for you, repeat anything that works well, and don’t waste time on anything that didn’t work so well. Everyone learns differently, what works great for one person might not work at all for another.
If one suggestion above works well for you, do that repeatedly and ignore the rest. If they all work ok, try each of them, little and often. Remember the only point of snowboarding is to have fun, some of your biggest days of progress can be when you’re not focusing on anything, just shredding with your buddies.
The key is to find the balance between pushing your progression and cruising, having fun on the right type of snowboard. Both are needed, one more than the other depending on what you want to achieve within your 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.