So, you’re thinking of giving snowboarding a try – congratulations! It’s undoubtedly some of the most fun you can have in the wintertime and is definitely a great way to stay active. However, it’s not necessarily the easiest sport to learn.
If you want to get started off on the right (or left) foot, then we have some of the best tips to get started snowboarding for you. These tips are easy to follow and will help make the most of your first experiences on the mountain.
1. Wear the Right Clothes
All other snowboarding tips pale in comparison to this one. If you’re not wearing the right clothes, you’re not only putting yourself in a very cold and wet position, but you’re also placing yourself in great potential danger such as hypothermia. I remember the first time I went up snowboarding without my parents. I thought that it would be cool to take off my jacket and leave it in the lodge – after all, if I got cold it was only one run, right?
I was so wrong! That “only one run” is forever engraved in my mind; a brutal reminder of how quickly the elements can really set in. Between the shaved ice blowing against my arms and face and the wind whipping me, I was bright red and frigid by the time I got back to the lodge.
Okay, so let’s talk about what you need to have every time you’re on the mountain:
Snowboard Pants – This one is pretty obvious. Don’t wear jeans in the snow, as they are the absolute worst material ever to wear in wet conditions. They absorb water and take forever to dry; not to mention they aren’t breathable at all, nor are they soft. Don’t wear sweats or sports pants either, for the same reasons.
You need something that has a waterproof exterior, yet enough insulation that you’ll stay warm as well. Snowboard pants cover all these bases. Plus, they look pretty cool and often come in bright colors and patterns.
Snowboard Jacket – You read my story up above. A snowboard jacket takes on the big responsibility of keeping your core warm. Not wearing one is one of the easiest and quickest ways to lose body heat – not to mention the lack of one means quite a bit of discomfort. Keep in mind layering is the way to go to keep warm. In addition to a jacket, a warm base layer is essential.
Snowboard Gloves – We all know how easy it is to hurt our fingers or for our hands to get cold. Now imagine your fingers are already freezing cold and you accidentally hit them on one of your bindings or the edge of your board. That’s a kind of pain we want to try and avoid! snowboard gloves are the easiest way to go about doing that. On top of that, many come with a grippy material on the pads of the fingers to help you hold onto things in the snow.
Snowboard Goggles – Do you like seeing? It’s pretty important, especially when it comes to flying down a snowy mountain at extremely fast speeds. If you’re not wearing snowboarding goggles, then you should prepare for snow, sun, wind, and more to potentially get into your eyes and affect your vision. High quality models won’t fog up, nor shatter upon impact like sunglasses tend to do. Moreover, they offer complete coverage along with comfortable protective padding.
2. Learn Which “Stance” You Are
Are you goofy or regular? Your mom may be partial to the former, but when it comes to snowboarding we’re talking about which foot you’ll lead with or which one will be in front when riding. If you’re a skateboarder, wakeboarder, or surfer, then you may already feel comfortable with a certain stance, but that could change on a snowboard.
Everyone has their own way of “finding out”. For me, it was when I was in the lodge looking to rent my first snowboard as a kid. The guy behind the rental counter told me to turn around and he pushed me! I landed with my left foot forward, which meant I was “regular” or would lead with my left foot. If you’re a soccer player, think about which foot you kick with.
3. Learn to Skate Well
No, I’m not talking about skateboarding (though that actually does help with balance, too). What we refer to “skating” as in the snowboarding world is how to transport yourself while on flat ground, say, to a ski lift or back to the lodge. While skating, you’ll have your front/leading foot locked into your binding, while the other is free to push yourself with your boot.
You’ll use your back foot and move it behind you to push yourself along, kind of like if you were skateboarding sideways. It definitely takes some getting used to, and is admittedly very awkward the first 10 times or so you go up to the resorts. The most difficult parts are undoubtedly when getting off the lift without crashing, but eventually you’ll know exactly where to place your rear foot and keep your balance.
4. Learn How to Stand Up
This may sound easy enough, but the truth is that when you’re first learning how to snowboard, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your butt! You may even want to consider purchasing a pair of padded lacrosse or cycling shorts to help reduce the impact.
This is why you should learn how to properly stand up from a seated position with both of your feet strapped against your board. While you’re seated, bend your knees, moving your board as close to you as possible. Then, lean forward, pushing up with your quads and using your abs to keep yourself balanced.
I recommend first trying this on flat surfaces a few times so you can master this without the added monkey wrench of sliding downhill. Some people also prefer to flip onto their knees and the toeside edge and go “backwards” as a way of getting back onto their feet.
5. Look Where You Want to Go
This isn’t just a good metaphor for your outlook on life, it’s also essential if you want to become a good snowboarder! Where our eyes go, our body naturally follows. Once you move your eyes, your head will naturally move towards what you’re looking at. Your shoulders will follow, then your hips, and eventually your entire body will be heading that direction.
Try this while snowboarding, looking all the way to the right or left until you’re looking 180 degrees over your shoulder. Once you swing back around, you’ll see your weight unloads from your heels and moves onto your toes. That is the core of all edge control. Moving from toeside to heelside and vice versa does take some practice but visualizing and practicing the concept on dry ground will help immensely.
6. Progress Accordingly
What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t waste too much time on the bunny hill, but also don’t go heading onto a black diamond run or the half pipe after your first few times out on the runs. Getting comfortable on the bunny hill can help you create bad habits but also get too much into your head. This can make you lose your confidence and even scare you from trying more challenging runs or environments.
On top of that, the beginner slopes are typically full of people crashing and sitting all over the place. This can create a kind of panic or nervousness among all of you. Not to mention, it’s hard to really start practicing your skills and getting into a rhythm when you’re worried about people riding erratically in front of and around you.
Now that you know all the best tips to get started snowboarding, do you feel confident for your first time out? I know that taking on an extreme sport can seem nerve-wracking, but I promise that it’s more than worth it and it always seems more daunting beforehand than when you start gliding down that slope for the first time. We hope our guide has helped get you better situated, but the most important thing to remember is to have fun! Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you again soon!