Learning to snowboard - it’s hard, isn’t it? You’ve spent hours trying your hardest to stand on your feet, lean into that heel edge, work on pointing the board downhill and you’ve ended up slamming on your butt dozens of times.
Don’t panic. You’re doing well. Learning to snowboard is hard but once you work it out and it begins to click, you’ll be flying down the mountain and hucking 360s in no time at all.
We’ve got a few tips to help snowboarding beginners work out what they are supposed to be doing. Sound like something you need? Read on….
GET A PROPER SNOWBOARDING LESSONGetty Images
Many snowboarding beginners think they can teach themselves. While some people manage it, you will spend a lot more time getting frustrated because you don’t know how to snowboard properly.
Book yourself onto a snowboarding beginners lesson and the instructor will give you some helpful tips on standing up, sliding downhill, stopping and the basics of turning.
You can get snowboarding lessons from pretty cheap on a dry slope here in the UK, while learning to snowboard on real snow, say in the Alps, can be costly but essential if you want to progress quickly.
Take a look at our guide to the best places to get a beginners snowboarding lesson in the UK.
WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHING
You need to wear the correct clothing to go snowboarding. Even if you are inside a snow dome, it’s still cold, so you should be dressed appropriately.
Wear thermal base layers on your top and bottom half, followed by a jumper. Make sure you are also wearing a proper snowboarding jacket and snowboarding trousers. These will be windproof and water-resistant to prevent you getting cold and wet on the slopes.
Gloves and helmet are essential, plus goggles unless you are riding an indoor dome. The mountains can be a cold and hostile environment, so you want to be wearing the right snowboarding gear up there.
WEAR PROTECTIVE GEARGetty Images/iStockphoto
You’ve probably already discovering that being a snowboarding beginner means falling over - a lot. It might sound obvious but you can snowboarding gear to protect your body when you are learning to snowboard.
Helmet is the most obvious piece of equipment to start with. Many people still ride without a helmet, but it is becoming more popular to wear one. We would recommend wearing a helmet especially when you are learning. Hitting your head is not a fun experience and a helmet could be the difference between concussion and a hospital admittance.
Broken wrists are one of the common snowboarding injuries. Wrist guards can be bought from any good snowboarding shop. They can make your hands quite bulky, so the trick is wearing mittens to the wrist guards fit easily underneath.
Impact shorts are another good investment. They are shorts with protective padding around the tailbone area and hip bones. They are great at providing extra cushioning under your butt. I found these a lifesaver when I was learning to ride. They also stay handy when you improve and start riding in the park.
WORK OUT WHETHER YOU ARE GOOFY OR REGULAR
Working out which stance you are will determine which is your front foot and back foot on your snowboard. For example, think about the foot you would use to kick a football. This will usually be your back foot on a snowboard.
Another way to work it out is ask your friend to give you a (gentle) push from behind. The foot you automatically use to step forward first will be your front or lead foot on a snowboard.
People who ride with their left foot forward are regular footed. Those who snowboard right foot forward are goofy footed.
LEARN TO FALL PROPERLYGetty Images/iStockphoto
As we said before, snowboarding beginners will find out that they will fall over a lot. Don’t be scared of falling over, you just need to know how to fall over properly.
When you fall, try to avoid putting your hands out to break your fall. You could end up with a broken wrist. Instead, keep your hands close to your body, crossed over your chest.
LEARN TO SKATE
When you are stopped on a flat area of the mountain or you are moving towards a chair lift, you will need to unstrap one foot from your bindings and skate along the snow.
Always take your back foot out of the bindings, leaving the front foot strapped in. Bring your back foot in front of your board and push (like skateboarding). You’ll start to move forward, gliding across the snow and controlling the board with your front foot.
Keep practicing! It takes time to feel comfortable skating.
LEARN THE PISTE SYMBOLSGeorge Clerk www.georgeclerk.com
All slopes on the mountain will be graded to indicate whether they are suitable for beginners or not. Green slopes are the easiest slopes, perfect for snowboarding beginners. They are generally quite flat with a slight incline.
Blue slopes are the next slopes up. They are slightly steeper and a great incline to progress your snowboarding from beginner to intermediate.
Red slopes aren’t always marked in every country. They are included in the French system, but not in North America, for example. Red slopes are difficult blue slopes. These are often quite steep with moguls occasionally.
Black slopes are the hardest runs. They are steep, often bumpy and generally reserved for experienced snowboarders.
LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GOGetty Images
It’s tempting as a snowboarding beginner to look at the floor. Don’t do this. Keep your eyes looking forward where you want to go. Your eyes lead the rest of your body. This is the foundation for learning to control and turn your board.
LEARN EDGE CONTROLGetty Images/iStockphoto
You’ll start off learning to snowboard on your heel edge. This means digging your heel into the snow with your body facing downhill. Start easing your weight off your heel edge and begin to press down with your toes. The board will start to move downhill. To stop, press the weight back into your heels.
Snowboarding is meant to be fun, so make sure you are enjoying yourself. While you’ll find the first few days tricky and sometimes frustrating, stick with the tips your instructor has given you and practice, practice, practice. With time, you will finally get there. Once it clicks, you’ll never look back!