Snowboarding is an exhilarating sport that combines the thrill of speed and adventure with just enough danger and risk to get your adrenaline going. If you’re a beginner and you’re interested in learning how to snowboard, don’t be intimidated by the extreme videos you see on social media. Even those experts had to start somewhere.
Snowboarding can be learned by applying patience and consistency. In this article, we talk about the things beginner snowboarders should know before they decide to give it a shot.
Table of Contents
Starting with the Basics
Getting on your Snowboard
The two things you need to consider while getting on your snowboard are the bindings and the leash. The bindings are the places where your boots meet the board, while the leash is present on the board to make sure that you do not lose your snowboard if you step off or fall from it.
If your leash is not integrated with the binding, make sure you secure it to the board.
The first thing you need to figure out is your stance. Your stance decides which foot will be in front when you go down a hill. For most people, regardless of their dominant side, the left leg is in the forward position. However, if you are one of the rare ones who are more comfortable with their right foot forward, let your instructor know.
Because of the majority of people who prefer their left foot being forward, this stance is called the Regular stance. If you prefer your right leg being forward, your stance is called the Goofy stance.
Before you begin to snowboard down a slope, try to do it on flat, snow covered ground. This will give you a good initial idea of how to balance yourself on the board.
Strap only your left foot (for a regular stance, right foot if you prefer the goofy stance) on the snowboard with your other foot free. Imagine that your snowboard is a skateboard, and push forward with your free foot until you get some momentum. You can put your other foot back in the binding once you start moving.
Dealing with Ski Lifts
Once you have a decent command over your snowboard on flat ground, you’ll be ready to take on small slopes. You will have to use a ski lift to get to the top, and there are some things you should take care of to ensure that you do not have an accident.
Firstly, don’t try to stand up right as you reach the top. You should gently slide off your chair and on the board. Once you land, make sure you align the board in the direction of the slope and your upcoming movement.
This will ensure that you do not fall by giving you the right amount of balance and letting you control your speed.
Once you’re at the edge of the slope that you want to go down on, make sure that you do not immediately turn the front end of your snowboard to point downhill. Snowboarding can be done sideways as well, and you need to start off this way to ensure that you can control your speed and stop when you want.
Keep your knees slightly bent to lower the center of gravity. Keeping your back straight will give you more balance. You can also use your arms on your sides to keep your balance.
Dealing with Bumps
If the slope has bumps or similar obstacles on it that you need to go over, take care not to ram either side of the snowboard in the snow too sharply. This will cause your speed to suddenly decrease and will lead to a crash in most cases.
When it comes to turns, you can lean on the front or back of the snowboard, or you can lean to the toeside edge or the heelside edge. Speed can also be controlled by leaning forward or backward on the board.
When it comes to braking, you need to gradually make your board perpendicular to the slope of the mountain, and lean away from the direction of travel until you eventually come to a stop.
Practice this on shallower slopes first until you get the hang of it. If you brake too hard at high speeds, you might not be able to control the inertia of your body and end up crashing.
Tips For Your First Lessons
Let’s talk about some things to keep in mind before you take your first lesson. Your instructor will probably talk you through the process when you eventually strap in and are ready to go, but this beginner’s guide to snowboarding should help you get started.
Do not rush off to steep or long slopes when you’re starting your snowboarding experience. You should start with a safe area like beginner slopes. These slopes are not too steep, are small in size, and have a gradual slope that will help you maintain your balance and control your speed until you’re ready to tackle bigger ones.
Types of Snow
Depending on how much time has passed since it last snowed and its hardness, snow can be of several different types. When heavy snowfall has occurred recently, you get a low moisture content in the snow, giving you a type called Powder. Snowboarding over powder can make you feel like you’re floating on it.
Powder is the best kind of snow to be practicing on. It will also make it easier for you to learn and get more comfortable with the experience. However, make sure that you do not put too much weight on your lead foot when you’re snowboarding on powder, as it might cause the nose of your board to dig into the snow.
On the other hand, icy snow is the worst possible option to start with. It can be very dangerous to snowboard on this kind of snow. You can always check forecasts before you decide to go snowboarding to know what kind of terrain you’ll be experiencing.
Your snowboard may or may not be two-sided. This means that the shape of the head and the tail might differ. For beginner snowboards, the shape is usually the same on both sides, which means you will not have to worry about which side is forward when you’re fixing the bindings.
However, if you’re using a snowboard with a different head and tail, make sure you put your left (or more comfortable) foot forward when strapping in. There are also different snowboards for men and women. If you’re a woman who’s trying her hand at snowboarding, check out this article on the best women’s beginner snowboards to learn more.
Strapping your Feet
Most bindings on snowboards will have two straps and a back plate. The strap at the top covers the upper portion of your boot, while the strap at the bottom will help fix your toes to the board. Bindings also come with a plate at the back that provides support to your ankle and your backfoot.
Your back foot will be free when you start snowboarding, and this is the foot you will use to push yourself off from the slope. This is very similar to using a skateboard, as your free foot is used to generate speed before placing it back on the board. Once you reach the descent, strap your back foot in too, which allows you to slide down the slope without your feet leaving the board.
As a beginner, you will not be expected to go down very steep slopes. This is for your safety. Make sure you have your balance figured out before you decide to engage in activities that will involve a lot of speed, as this might cause injuries.
Center of Gravity
Your center of gravity should be low on the snowboard to ensure the best possible balance while you’re moving. To ensure this, keep your knees bent and your body low. Your hands should be in front of you and not to your side when you’re starting off.
Although you will have an instructor to guide you on your first snowboarding lessons, try to get a friend to accompany you when you’re just starting to learn the sport. It would be beneficial if your friend has some experience in snowboarding, but even if they don’t, having a partner around can make your experience safer.
Mistakes to Avoid
As a beginner snowboarder, you will make a lot of mistakes when you start off, and that is okay. However, there are certain things you can keep in mind that you should avoid, which will make your experience smoother. Some of these are general tips regarding clothing and safety, while others can be useful when you’re in the middle of the activity.
Don’t Be Hasty
While sports like skiing can be easy to get a hang of in the beginning, snowboarding is more complicated. If you try to hurry through your first lessons and do too much too soon, you might end up seriously injuring yourself. The important thing to keep in mind is to have fun while keeping your safety the top priority.
Learn to Fall
Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to fall when you’re just beginning your snowboarding journey. While your instincts may tell you to break your fall with your hands, this might cause serious injury. Instead, try to fall with as much body area hitting the ground as possible, which reduces the impact in any single point.
There is a reason you wear so much protective gear when you’re snowboarding. Spread the impact out rather than taking it all in one vulnerable spot such as your wrist.
Wear the Right Clothing
Wearing the right clothing is imperative when it comes to snowboarding. As we discussed in the earlier sections, you need base and mid layers as well as a protective, waterproof outer layer to protect you from the elements and ensure you get the most out of your snowboarding experience. The last thing you want is to be having the time of your life only to have to stop because you’re turning into a human popsicle.
Amateur Snowboarding Needs Professional Instruction
While this article can help you figure out the right equipment and get you ready for your first lesson, it is in no way a full tutorial for learning how to snowboard. Please get professional lessons as a beginner to avoid injuries and to develop the right habits that will lead to long-term success.
Don’t Give Up
While sports like skiing, football, or badminton can be picked up quickly by beginners, snowboarding is slightly more complicated. You will have to let your body get used to balancing itself on the board, as well as finding the right combination of speed and positions that work for you. A lot of people try this sport but give up quite quickly. It takes a lot of patience and consistency to master.
Improve Your Fitness
You will need to be in decent shape and have enough lower body and core strength to be able to snowboard properly without getting exhausted or injured. Some exercises you can do at home to prepare yourself include squats, lunges, pushups, planks, and side planks.
Snowboarding needs a lot of specialized gear so that you can stay safe out on the slopes. You will need to be protected from the cold and moisture as well as have the right balance and speed to be safe. For beginners, the gear you will need for snowboarding is mentioned below.
Snowboard: This is an obvious one, but there are several options when it comes to picking out the right snowboard for yourself. Check out this article about the best beginner snowboards to learn more.
Bindings: Bindings are attachments that act as connectors between your boots and your board. If you’re renting out your snowboard instead of buying it, most places offer bindings along with the board.
Boots: You need a pair of waterproof boots that are tight but also comfortable and fit the contour of your feet well. These boots will also provide protection to your feet and ankles. Check out this article on best beginner snowboard boots to learn more.
Goggles: To keep your eyes and face safe from the cold winds and snow, you need a pair of reliable snowboard goggles. Even if you wear glasses, you can get a set of goggles that can fit over them. Check out this article on goggles for glasses wearers to learn more.
Base Layers and Clothing: Snowboarding can obviously not be carried out in warm weather, so you need to make sure that your body stays warm and protected when you’re out on the slopes. This means putting on warm base layers and waterproof snowboarding clothing for a more comfortable experience. A gaiter and a scarf around your goggles and helmet will help protect your face as well.
Helmet: Beginners should definitely go for a helmet to protect their head from injury in case of an accident.
Wrist Guards: Snowboarders typically use their entire body to break their fall, but your instincts might tell you to throw your hands in front of your body. This might cause wrist injuries, and wrist guards can help prevent them.
Snowboarding is a sport that requires you to be fitter than average to get a complete experience. Lower body strength and core strength are the two things you need to focus on if you plan on snowboarding well. No matter how great your equipment is, not being in proper shape can drastically affect your performance and experience on the slopes.
Taking off and landing will employ the use of your leg muscles. Your glutes, hamstrings, quads, thighs, and calves all need to be in decent shape, even as a snowboarding beginner. Along with this, snowboarding requires stamina, which means your cardiovascular health should be better than average so that you do not get exhausted easily. Otherwise, you could end up with a short day on the mountain.
FAQs on Snowboarding for Beginners
As a newbie, it’s generally advised to get rental equipment. It’s a cheaper way of seeing if you enjoy snowboarding before making a large investment. Once you get a feel of things and understand what works best for you, you can decide to invest in your personal gear.
Some gear you need to rent for your first snowboarding lessons will include a snowboard with bindings, boots, helmet, wrist guard, and warm outerwear like a waterproof jacket and snow pants.
You need goggles, socks, thermal underwear, beanies, and gloves/mittens to snowboard. These usually aren’t rented out, so you’ll have to buy them.
Because you’ll be using your lower body a lot, exercises should focus on working your core, legs, and glutes. Incorporate planks, lunges, squats, calf raises, sit-ups, and other core strengthening exercises in your workout program.
You can try vinyasa yoga if you don’t like to do any of these exercises. It’s a dynamic form of yoga that uses slow, controlled movements to improve your core strength.
Possibly. Most beginners will fall a couple of times before they get the hang of snowboarding. Most common injuries are sprained or broken wrists, bruised tail bones, and sore knees and butts. Also, expect a lot of muscle soreness because you’ll be engaging muscles you never knew you had.
It’s rare for beginners to have more serious injuries than these because you’ll start very slowly. You can use protective gear like knee pads, helmets, wrist guards, and even butt pads to reduce your risk of injury.
Beginners often struggle to stand on a slope with both feet firmly strapped in. This is where most people encounter their first falls.
Unless you learn how to keep your balance on the board with the right technique, it will keep sliding away from you. It does get easier once you get the hang of it.
Apart from standing, most beginners also struggle with slowing down and stopping their boards. The learning process is not the same for everyone so it could be different for you. First, practice how to stand on a flat surface, then slowly work your way towards moving down a gentle slope. You can even practice your snowboarding techniques at home.
Falling is inevitable. However, you can reduce your risk of injury by learning how to fall safely. If you’re falling backward, tuck your arms in and land on your padded butt. You can spread the force of your fall further and reduce the impact on one spot by rolling a bit on your back.
If you’re falling forward, turn your hands into fists and land on your knees and forearms to spread the force of your fall. One of the most important snowboarding tips to remember is to never fall on your wrists and risk spraining (or worse, breaking) them.
If you’re hurt during a lesson with an instructor, inform them and relax while they get you help. Ski patrol will help transport you to the resort’s medical center for treatment.
It’s smart to have the ski patrol’s number on your phone if you’re out practicing on your own. Call them and give them a detailed description of your problem and location. If you don’t have it, though, don’t panic. Locate the nearest professional instructor or lift operator to you, and they’ll make the call for you.
While snowboarding may be more complicated than other sports when it comes to beginners, following the tips mentioned in this article will certainly help you prepare for it. If you put in the effort and keep at it, you can feel the exhilaration of rushing down slopes in no time.
We hope this article helped you gain a deeper understanding of how to snowboard and what you need to keep in mind as a beginner when it comes to this exciting sport. If you’re interested in similar topics about snow-based sports, please feel free to check out our other articles as well!