I remember my first time snowboarding, it was a painful experience. I had some idea about what to do because of my experience from surfing and skateboarding. Slowing down was not one of them, basically I crashed hard on my first ride, zigged when I should’ve zagged.
Snowboarding is a blast, but starting out can be intimidating. You see the beginner snowboarder classes full of people parked on their bums while small children on skis elegantly follow their instructor down the slope after twenty minutes of instruction. But with a few beginner tips, starting isn’t as rough as you might think.
Snowboarding is great fun. However, you need to be okay with falling on your butt and looking a bit ridiculous when you start. The first few days on a snowboard do require more patience than the first few days on skis. But once you get the fundamentals down, your progression will begin to rocket. So here are our 23 tips to help you through the beginning:
- 22 Beginner Snowboarding Tips
- 1. Fitness First
- 2. Are You Goofy Or Regular?
- 3. Sign Up For Lessons
- 4. Learn To Skate Before You Take The Lift
- 5. Center Your Weight
- 6. Strap On Standing Up
- 7. All In The Knees
- 8. Don’t Ride Straight
- 9. Look And The Rest Will Follow
- 10. Powder Is Magic; Ice Is Your Nemesis
- 11. Fall And You Can Get Up
- 12. Learn Your Letters J And S
- 13. Hop On From The Bunny Slope Quick, Quick
- 14. Stretch Before And After
- 15. Water Is Your Friend
- 16. Practice Makes Perfect
- 17. Not All Boards Are The Same
- 18. Waterproof Jacket And Pants
- 19. Ten Dollar Helmet For A Ten Dollar Head
- 20. Bring Your Gloves When Buying Wrist Guards
- 21. Lacrosse Shorts Are Unseen Heroes
- 22. Have Fun
22 Beginner Snowboarding Tips
Every snowboarder you see had a first day too. But lucky for you, there is more advice out there for starting out than there was then. So thanks to the bumps and bruises that have gone before, we’ve put together 23 beginner snowboarding tips.
1. Fitness First
Snowboarding is excellent exercise. However, if you try to go directly from the coach to the slopes, you will be exhausted well before your first lesson is done. You do not have to be a triathlete. But you should be a bit active, be it working out at the gym, swimming laps, or taking regular hikes.
Snowboarding requires stamina, especially when you are learning. Core strength will also help you balance. Strong legs are useful too, as you will use them a lot.
2. Are You Goofy Or Regular?
Like surfing and skateboarding, snowboarding has a lead foot and a backfoot. Interestingly, it doesn’t always correlate to being right or left-handed. One method to determine which foot should be out front is to have a friend (gently) push you from behind. The foot that steps out first is your lead. This doesn’t always work, check our tips to see if you are Goofy Or Regular.
3. Sign Up For Lessons
It’s pretty difficult to learn how to snowboard independently. It can be a frustrating experience. Even one lesson on your first day is better than none. Yes, they can be expensive, but there are often some great deals out there if you keep an eye out. Lessons will get you moving faster, limit starting with a bunch of bad habits, and increase the fun.
4. Learn To Skate Before You Take The Lift
Learning to skate on a snowboard is a skill you want to learn as soon as possible. You can even start working on this before you take your first lesson. Skating has nothing to do with skateboards or ice skating. This is where the front foot is strapped in, and the back foot is free.
Skating is how you get on and off a lift. It is also how you motor around from point A to point B when you don’t snowboard very well. So trying it for the first time on a lift is a bad idea. As in, we know people who have tried, and they broke an arm before their first lesson had even begun. Skateboarders will benefit because skateboarding skills transfer to snowboarding.
5. Center Your Weight
When on the board, you want your weight balanced in the center. Don’t lean too far back on your rear foot, or you’ll wipe out. It is tempting to try to catch your balance by leaning back. Almost everyone tries this at least once. But believe us (and our tailbones), it doesn’t work.
6. Strap On Standing Up
Snowboarding takes up a lot of energy. Thus, it is wise to use it where you need it. Much more fun to spend your energy reserves doing the slopes than getting up from the ground after strapping into your board.
Initially, it sounds easier to strap your feet into the board when sitting down. You can’t lose your balance that way, so it makes sense. But now you’ve got to get back up with both feet strapped in. This is where much hilarity is found, and much energy is lost. It’s hard. Thus, it is worth taking a bit of extra time to learn how to strap your feet in when standing up.
7. All In The Knees
Your knees are your shock absorbers and the most vital element of keeping your balance aside from your core. Straight knees absorb very little and give you little in the way of balance. Thus, bend your knees to both be able to negotiate the bumps along the way and to maintain your balance.
There is this urge to stand when balance is being lost. You see beginner surfers do it, as well as skateboarders, ice skaters, ice hockey players, and people trying out wobble boards. But lowering your center of gravity gives you stability. You become a shaky flag pole ready to topple when you stand up.
8. Don’t Ride Straight
Yes, the fastest path in any direction is straight. But that’s exactly what your board will do if you point it straight down the hill – go fast. Really fast. Then you lose control and wipe out at speed.
However, if you cut horizontal zig-zags, much like a hiker taking switchbacks, you’ll increase your chances of staying upright and enjoying the ride the whole way down. Slower, less wild speeds will also help when you lose your balance. You can then sit down as your “fall” rather than tumbling widely into anything in your path, like a tree (ouch).
9. Look And The Rest Will Follow
One of the first rules of learning how to direct your board is looking where you want to go. Your head and gaze have a considerable influence on your direction. This is because the body usually twists with the head. So let your gaze be your guide and not the source of your downfall.
10. Powder Is Magic; Ice Is Your Nemesis
Riding powder is like a surfer finding their ultimate wave. You feel a lift and smoothness to your experience, making carving along the mountain a dream. Unfortunately, ice is not magical, especially when you fall on it. The stuff is hard to grip with your edges, and the board easily slips into directions you don’t want to go.
Yes, learning to control your board on ice is a skill that gradually needs to be learned. But the powder is much more fun to ride, and it also makes for a softer landing when you fall.
11. Fall And You Can Get Up
Falling is part of learning to snowboard. Accept it, get quality safety gear, and learn how to fall safely, so you are not scared of going down. Fear of falling will hold you back from learning new skills. It can also make you fall more because you stiffen up in your fear and lose your balance. You’ll have much more fun if you accept falling as part of the sport.
12. Learn Your Letters J And S
We all watch Olympic snowboarders do impressive stunts, but they didn’t start off doing those moves. One of the first critical skills to master after skating and the basic slide is your turns. These will give you control and stop you from flying downhill like a wild thing, slamming into anything in your way.
The first is a J turn, a slide with a little hook. It is often learned with the back foot unbuckled at first. Once the J is coming along, you link it tother with a second J, creating the S pattern.
13. Hop On From The Bunny Slope Quick, Quick
When you are starting the bunny slope feels safe and where you belong. Often, it is where you cut your snowboarding teeth. But don’t cling onto it. The area is crowded, and it is difficult to get any decent movement going.
Thus, don’t hang on to the bunny slope like a life raft. Once you get the basics, find out where there are accessible areas outside of the official bunny section that suits your level. These areas are where you’ll get some decent practice so you can start advancing to better routes.
Some of these newbie-not-bunny areas might not have the easy magic carpet lift and will require some work to get back up. But in the end, the inconvenience of having to hoof it will be worth it.
14. Stretch Before And After
Snowboarding is a sport, and stretching helps both before and after. So at the end of a session, don’t rush for post-slope drinks; take some time to stretch out. The next day, your aching muscles will be a lot worse if you don’t.
15. Water Is Your Friend
After-slope drinks are fun, but water is your best friend. Winter hydration is a thing that people overlook far too often. Stay hydrated while snowboarding and keep it up after. Proper hydration speeds up your muscle recovery and keep you away from serious medical interventions, which are no fun at all.
16. Practice Makes Perfect
Learning to snowboard is like any other sport; the more you practice, the more you’ll see positive results. Unfortunately, some people can only make it to the slopes a few times a year. But if you live locally, do yourself a favor and keep to a regular practice schedule.
Stopping and starting will frustrate you as you have to remaster the basics each time. Instead, make a commitment so you can build upon your skills. In the end, it will be loads more fun.
17. Not All Boards Are The Same
Borrowing and second-hand items can be fantastic when it is things like goggles and waterproof jackets. But buying a snowboard at a garage sale might not be the deal you think it is if you don’t know what you’re getting.
Like surfing, snowboards come in different styles and suit various skills and levels. That “great deal” you might snag might be impossible for you to stand on. You’re not going to improve if you never get off your butt. So make sure you research before buying any board. Even better, get a more seasoned snowboarding friend to check out any potential purchase.
18. Waterproof Jacket And Pants
New snowboarders and skiers are notorious for wearing jeans with leggings or thermals underneath. That might keep you warm enough when hiking around the village. But learning to snowboard means you’ll spend quality time on your butt. The snow is going to soak through those jeans in a matter of seconds.
Give yourself the gift of waterproof warmth.
19. Ten Dollar Helmet For A Ten Dollar Head
There is a lot of snowboard gear that is fine to buy used. Your helmet isn’t one of them. Nor should you be buying the cheapest you can find. Your head is where you keep your best stuff, so protect it. Helmets not only save lives but future brilliant ideas.
Also, make sure you get the correct size. If it is too small, you’ll get a headache before the fun has truly started. But a too loose helmet will come off on impact, making it nothing more than an expensive decoration. Nor will your goggles hold a helmet on that’s too big. So go in, try them on, do the shake tests, and make sure it’s perfect.
20. Bring Your Gloves When Buying Wrist Guards
Wrist guards are excellent safety gear to keep you out of a cast. However, they need to work with your mittens. So bring your mittens along with buying wrist guards. It’s just like making sure your new shoes will be compatible with your favorite socks.
21. Lacrosse Shorts Are Unseen Heroes
One of the unsung gear heroes hides under your pants: lacrosse shorts. These are a lot like bicycle shorts with hip padding. You will fall, so why not do it with as few bruises and aches as possible. Get yourself a pair because you’re worth it.
22. Have Fun
Even though snowboarding can get frustrating, it is always about having fun. Yes, it’s great to have goals, but don’t beat yourself up if you are not progressing as you’d hoped. Instead, laugh, find the lighter side of your wipeouts, and just enjoy your time out there. The fact you are making an effort means you are progressing, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Life has enough woe, don’t let snowboarding add to it. It should be an activity where you can leave your stress behind and reclaim your joy.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.