10 Tips that Will Make You a Better Snowboarder
Want to get ahead next time you hit the slopes? These 10 tips can help you do that.
Progression is what makes snowboarding so exhilarating. It's hard to beat the feeling of nailing a new trick, tearing up a new run or hitting a new feature for the first time. After a few seasons these moments may start to get further and further apart and you begin to worry you've hit the ceiling of your ability.
Fear not, we've consulted some of the sharpest minds in snowboarding to come up with 10 ways to take your riding to the next level. We've got everything from psychological techniques, riding backwards and an excuse to watch even more snowboarding. You'll be tearing it up again before long.
No matter if you're learning a new trick on a big jump, or are a beginner heading down a steep slope, try to stop for a moment and picturing yourself succeeding at the trick, turn, jump or run. It not only makes you think through your next move, but acts as positive reinforcement and will help you to achieve your goal.
Visualising is not just for Olympians at the top of their game, but can often help riders see the difference between being a good snowboarder and a fantastic one. Or, at the very least a bad and better one.
[part title="Bend Ze Knees"]
Straight legs on a snowboard is a recipe for gravity-fed disaster. Even if you think you’re bending them, bend them some more. This simple movement lowers your centre of gravity, allows you to absorb the bumps, and gain more control over your riding.
Gretchen Bleiler, American halfpipe snowboarder and Olympic silver medalist said, "For some reason, we always think we're bending our knees more than we are. But if you saw a photo of what you're actually doing, it's not it at all. Pretend like you're sitting on a chair to gauge how bent your knees should be."
[part title="Warm Up"]
When you’re frothing to shred some fresh lines, it’s hard to find the time to do some basic warmups. Ideally, you’ll have a set 15-minute stretching routine that you can punch out at home to take the stiffness out that causes injury.
Then with your first few runs, don’t hit it too hard, even if your mates are going for it early. By easing yourself in, you’ll get more confidence and be set for the rest of the day. On that same note, when you’re tired, take a break or call it a day. It might be the difference between riding the next day or coming down in a stretcher.
[part title="Go to the Gym"]
A strong body reacts faster, can take falls without problems and will make you feel more confident on the slopes. It's a wise investment of time to go training off the slopes. Snowboarders should concentrate on four main areas.
- Check out Five Simple Exercises to Get You Fit For Winter on Whitelines
Focus on your strength to weight ratio, here you want to increase strength but not bulk up. You also need to increase your core and leg strength, the two muscle areas used most when riding. Finally, staying supple and increasing flexibility will aid confidence and reduce the injuries which keep you off the hill.
[part title="Get the Perfect Setup"]
Are your bindings really perfectly mounted for you? Are your boards right for the type of riding you are going for? Play around with your equipment and keep evolving. If you don’t feel that you are stable when riding quickly, or when hitting bigger jumps, you could consider buying a stiffer board, or a longer and wider board.
- You can check out more snowboard gear tips on Onboard
- See Whitelines Classifieds for buying / selling snowboard gear
Or, if you have a solid all-mountain snowboard but you would like to improve your jibbing and park riding, then look at a softer more park-focused board. It takes pro snowboarders years to workout what kind of snowboard setup works best, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
[part title="Ask Advice"]
Never be afraid to ask someone better than you for advice. No one, not even Shaun White, has learned everything there is to know about snowboarding. In fact, all the pros have trainers and coaches that they constantly ask advice from.
No matter how experienced you are, a lesson never goes astray, be it an hour, a day, or a full on two-week course. Bad habits can be rectified and sometimes it’s the kick up the arse you need to think about, and improve, your snowboarding.
[part title="Ride Switch"]
Learning to ride switch not only doubles your ability to do tricks, but it will also improve your regular riding. Riding switch makes you think about your snowboarding more, as initially it often feels unnatural, and you have to think through every turn. As such, learning a trick, a turn or a grab while riding switch often takes a lot more thought and analysis.
Start by working on the tricks and turns that you can already do. Concentrate on the turns you have down natural, and then hammer them switch until you can get to the point where hopefully you don’t have a preference. Then move on. The ultimate switch goal? Riding powder.
[part title="Watch Snowboard Videos"]
Does watching snowboard videos really count? Hell yeah. Watching the best snowboarders in the world, be it in the X Games or in the Alaska backcountry cannot be bad for your own act.
Sure, you might not be popping a triple cork out of a Superpipe, or dropping into a massive spine out of a heli, but by watching the best it can help to visualise the tricks and understand the necessary movements and setup involved. And if anyone gives you grief for watching too many vids, just say you are practicing.
[part title="Video Yourself Riding"]
Sometimes it’s a rude shock to see yourself snowboarding. Your effortless style now seems ragged and your huge airs, well, they just aren’t that huge. Once you get used to the ego deflation though, it is the best way to pick up flaws in your technique and identify the parts of your riding that needs work.
- Check out more snowboarding videos
Take turns with your mates to film a few runs each, or turn on the trusty GoPro. It’s never been easier to watch yourself, and some brutal self-analysis can be a great tool in improving your time on the hill.
[part title="Hit the Trampoline"]
A tramp (not the homeless variety) can do wonders for your snowboarding. Apart from the physical benefits and core strengthening it aids in improving your spatial awareness, adds muscle memory for certain tricks, and will help you to visualise the moves you want to do in the park.
Sessions on the trampoline will also do wonders for your upper body rotation and the timing of your pop. Many of the best snowboarders have a trampoline as an essential part of their training kit. Oh, it's also a shedload of fun and sure beats a session in the gym.