Snowy winters would be incomplete without snowboarding. This fun and thrilling winter sport is an excellent way to keep your body active even during the chilly winter months.
But as exciting as it may seem, snowboarding isn’t always easy. It requires alot of training, mastering a certain skillset, and precautions before you hit the slope.
If you’re wondering how do you snowboard properly in winters and glide through the snowy terrains like a pro, this guide is for you.
Table of Contents
Things You Will Need to Go Snowboarding
It’s only fair that we talk about the costume and accessories needed for this activity before learning the techniques:
The first thing you need is a perfect snowboarding outfit to keep you warm and minimize any chances of accidents.
Here’s a complete list of everything you need in your snowboarding outfit:
- Warm snow pants
- Snow gloves
- Snow coat or jacket
- Snowboard boots
If your feet are extra cold, go for a warm pair of socks but never pull-on double socks at once. It’ll overheat your feet and might even cause blisters.
As for the rest of the outfit, go for flexible and waterproof materials. Avoid jeans as they might restrict your physical movements and suffocate your leg when paired with snow pants.
Also, jeans aren’t waterproof. So, in case you’re stranded in the rain or wet your pants in melting snow, it’ll take a long time for the pants to dry naturally.
There’s no denying that snowboarding is fun, but it also comes with its fair share of risk, which is why protective gears like snowboard goggles and helmets are a must.
Your goggles will protect your eyes from the swooshing cold wind and dry snowflakes, and your helmet will come in handy in case you slip.
Common Snowboarding Terminologies Every Snowboarder Must Know
In this article, we’ll use quite a few expert snowboarding terminologies that beginners might have a hard time understanding. Here’s a quick glimpse into a few basic snowboarding terms:
Snowboard Bindings are integral connections constructed on your snowboard, which helps you transfer your muscle energy and movements to the board. Connected to your feet, these binders act as the steering wheels that control the board.
Edges are thin and sharp metal strips embedded under your snowboard. Just like how wheels support a car, edges support your board and help it move.
The fall line is an imaginary axis that indicates the straightest path down a hill. Whether you are traversing or gliding, you should always stick to this line when going downhill.
Backcountry snowboarding refers to ungroomed terrains not properly explored, usually located in rural regions where the population is surprisingly low. Even if you’re an experienced snowboarder, we recommend you stay away from backcountry terrains.
Catch an Edge
To catch an edge means a snowboarder has tripped and lost their balance because their board’s leading-edge was caught in the snow. This usually happens when the snow is too powdery, or you’re sliding down at a speed that is high enough to accumulate snow in front of the edge and restrict its path.
The heel side refers to the edge of the board closest to your heels.
The toe-side refers to the edge of the board closest to your toes.
Rockers are usually designed for powder snow. It gives your board a slight curve, ensuring that the central base touches the snow while the nose and the tail remain elevated.
How to Use a Snowboard?
Now that you’re dressed to hit the snowy terrains, let’s start by learning the basic skills of snowboarding.
The Snowboarding Stance
The first thing you need to learn about snowboarding is how to stand on the board.
Keep your body relaxed as you get on the board with your shoulders parallel to the longer side. Make sure your hands rest loosely on your sides, and your knees and waist are relaxed.
Keeping your joints and muscles flexible will help your body tag along with the movements of the board, giving you better control over it.
Skating on a Snowboard
Skating is one of the most basic snowboarding moves. In this position, you stand on the board and move on flat horizontal ground while using your back foot to propel you forward.
Here’s how you do it:
- Get on the board and fasten your front foot on the binder
- Bring your foot at the back slightly behind the front foot
- Use your rear foot to push your board around
Make sure the free foot you’re using to push your board never crosses the back bindings, or you might lose your balance and trip.
Gliding on a Snowboard
Gotten comfortable skating around on your snowboard? It’s now time to glide. Gliding is an important snowboarding move, especially if you want to enjoy slopes or reach the ski lift.
- Reach the edge of a slope with your front foot securely fastened on the binding
- Use your free foot to slightly push the board down the slope and immediately place it back on the board
- While gliding down, your back foot should rest on the board against the bindings but not fastened to it
- Keep steady as you glide down the slope
Your back foot should always be ready to support you in case you lose your balance. That’s why we recommend not fastening it to the binders.
Making a J-turn With a Snowboard
So you’ve mastered the art of moving in one direction. Now, you must learn to make turns to traverse through more difficult pathways or go back to your starting position.
Making a toe-side J-turn with your snowboard is pretty easy:
- Maintain a basic snowboard stance as you glide down the hill
- Slowly shift your way to the front foot when you approach the end of the slope
- Shift your hips and knees over the front foot, making an angle with the base
- Look at the turning point and align your body in that direction
Maintaining this posture will automatically start to turn your snowboard in the direction you’re headed to. For beginners, we recommend practicing this technique on a gentle slope before you hit the steep hilly terrains.
Instead of making a turn by shifting the weight on your toes, you can also try making a heel side J turn.
The process remains the same, except that you shift your weight to your heels and not on the toes of your front foot. Curve your knees and waist, so they make an angle with the base while maintaining the weight on your front foot.
This will slowly start to turn your board in the direction you’ve applied the pressure. The basic difference between the two types of J-turn is that when you shift your weight on your toes, you trace the turn facing inwards, and with your weight on the heels, you trace the turn facing outwards.
There’s not much to differentiate between the two styles as far as benefits and applications are concerned. The difference is just for people interested in trying out different turning techniques.
Once you get comfortable with short-distance gliding and skating, you might want to learn the technique of traversing across terrains without having to pause much.
Traversing is a special snowboarding technique where you learn to hold an edge and change the direction of your board on the go. Almost every snowboarding terrain would have some kind of obstacle, be it a fallen tree branch or a huge rock. So, you need to learn to dodge these obstacles as you keep gliding.
Depending on where you decide to shift your weight, there are two traversing techniques: toe-side and heel-side.
- Bring your snowboard to the edge of a slope and position it across the slope; else, it might glide down abruptly
- Slowly shift your weight towards the edge of your toes. Use your shin along with your toes to balance your weight. Remember not to stand on your tiptoes
- Slightly increase the weight on your front toe and flatten it. This will make the snowboard move with its nose facing front
If you ever want to slow down, divide the weight between both your toes and lean forward to increase the angle between your legs and the toeside edge. Increasing the toeside edge angle will automatically slow down the board.
- Keep your board across the edge and try to find your balance point – quite like the toe-side traverse
- Slightly bend your knees forward as if you’re about to sit on a chair and let your hips shift to your heelside
- Slowly increase the pressure on your front foot and flatten it out, which will make your snowboard move in the direction of the nose
- If you want to stop, increase the heelside edge angle the same way as you would in a toe-side traverse
When on the move, adjust your angles and the weight on your feet to control the direction of your snowboard. But avoid standing up straight or making significant movements as it might throw you off balance.
Traversing and Turning
It’s not always possible for you to stop your snowboard, make a J-turn and get back on with skating. Sometimes, you might want to traverse and turn without missing a beat.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Stand in the traversing stance as mentioned above and slowly start shifting your weight on your front foot
- Instead of leaning all your weight on one side of your foot, keep your feet flat. This will keep your board flat as you glide down a hill. As you do so, look for the fall line and position yourself on it
- Once you’re ready to make a turn, shift your weight on the toe or heel of your feet, and make a J-turn
- You can either stop after making the turn or continue traversing by keeping your weight on the front foot and allowing your board’s nose to take the lead
Pro Tip: Be very gentle when flattening the board and do not rush this part. You also need to keep your speed under check; otherwise, your board’s edge will be caught up in the snow, making you trip.
How to Select the Perfect Snowboard
The most important piece of equipment for snowboarding is the board itself!
Let’s take a look at the different types of snowboards to choose from and things you need to keep in mind when shopping for one.
Different Types of Snowboard
Here are the five types of snowboards you’ll come across:
These boards are light and short, designed for beginner-level snowboarding in the parks or on small terrains in winter. They’re flexible and perfect for snowboarding tricks, but if you’re planning to hit hard snow, these freestyle boards aren’t a great choice.
These boards are designed for tough, ungroomed terrains. They’re slightly stronger and sturdier than freestyle boards, making them a good choice for adventurous rides. Most of the commercial freeride boards are directional, so they can only be ridden in a single direction.
Powder snowboards are exclusively designed for deep powdered snow. After all, not everybody can glide over loose snow. The tail and nose design, placement of the binders, and rockers are all designed to keep your board floating on powdered snow.
Split boards are perfect for snowboarding enthusiasts eager to explore ungroomed backcountry terrains. They split into two halves, allowing you to climb up steep slopes.
All-mountain snowboards are versatile, all-terrain boards, be it backcountry or a gentle slope. You can either choose a directional board exclusively for riding in one direction or a twin board made for dual directional rides.
4 Factors to Determine the Perfect Snowboard For Your Riding Style
You’d agree that every snowboarder has a unique style of riding, which is an important determinant of the kind of snowboard you pick. Plus, you must consider how much experience you have with the wild snowy terrains.
Here are four factors you need to glance through while picking a snowboard for your next trip:
Camber & Reverse Camber
Camber and reverse camber describe the curve of your snowboard.
Camber refers to a snowboard where the central base is elevated while the tail and the nose come in contact with the snow. These boards are very sensitive, so only expert snowboarders should use them.
Reverse camber means that the central base will glide on the snow while the tail and the nose are elevated. These are beginner-friendly boards since they’re easier to manage and work best at a slow speed.
Your snowboard’s width will depend on your body weight and height. Ideally, it should be wide enough for your feet to be slightly over the edge without too much overhang. The best way to go here is to let a store assistant help you with their sizing chart.
A typical snowboard length can range anywhere between 90 cm (for children) to 178 cm (for adults with over 200 lbs body weight). A general rule of thumb for measuring boat length is that when you stand on the tail of a snowboard, its nose should come anywhere between your nose and chin.
Snowboards come in different shapes:
- True Twin Snowboards: Designed with identical flex, the shape of these boards’ tails and noses and their distance from the bindings are the same
- Asymmetrical Twin: The only difference between an asymmetrical twin and a true twin snowboard is a deep sidecut on the heelside of an asymmetrical board for better edge hold
- Directional: The nose is longer than the tail and has a soft flex, while the short tail has a stiff flex
- Directional Twin: The shape of the tail and nose are more or less the same, but the latter is slightly wider. The front and back binding contain a huge rocker and camber.
The shape of your snowboard affects its overall performance and your experience because it controls its movement and regulates the effect of your muscle energy on the board. Choose one that best suits your snowboarding techniques and personal preference.
We hope you now have the answer to the question: how do you snowboard?
Snowboarding is undeniably a fun winter activity, but unlike other leisure sports, it requires a great deal of practice and knowledge.
If you’re a beginner, we recommend you ride on groomed terrains that are already explored and marked. Unexplored slopes come with lots of unidentified obstacles, some of which can even be fatal.
As much as you want to enjoy snowboarding, it’s best to dot the i’s and cross the t’s with this comprehensive guide and stay safe throughout. All the best!