I started to write this as a refresher for me. I’m a snowboarding instructor in Minneapolis during the winter and I like to remind myself of things I constantly tell people when they’re learning. This blog post will contain snowboarding tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way.
As a side note, I recommend that you should always snowboard with a helmet, especially when you’re new to the sport. I’ve received multiple concussions doing this and they’re no joke. Make sure you stay safe.
The First Time You Snowboard, You’ll Be sitting a lot.
For the last 10 years I’ve taught around 10-40 people a year to shred. It really depends on how I market myself, and how much I want to teach. I’ve noticed two different mindsets in people who want to Shred.
The 1st type comes in with fear in their eyes. They want to learn, but don’t wanna ride a black diamond. They think I’ll have them on it for the first run. That shouldn’t happen, and if the instructor does this, you should get a new instructor (before you get on the chairlift). There’s a difference between pushing a student to achieve more, and putting them in danger.
The 2nd type meets me on the hill and sees the bunny hill. They think it’s stupid and don’t wanna be on it. However, if you can’t stop on a bunny hill you will die on a black diamond. Listen to your instructor and if he/she is a good instructor they’ll see your skill and match you to the proper terrain.
The Average Amount Of Times You Should Go Snowboarding
On average you have to go snowboarding 4 times to get the basics down where you can ride in relative comfort on a green run. There is always the exception to the rule. I trained 2 prodigies and they learned extremely fast. By the end of their first lesson we were shredding black diamond. Both were State Athletes, one was a swimmer and the other a gymnast.
For clothing you should dress for the temperature and a workout. I recommend wearing multiple layers and at least 1 knee pad on your dominant leg for your first few lessons. It helps brace your knee from hits, and when you’re learning toe side it’s an added blessing.
(I purchased one after my 1st learning lesson and it was perfect for that season.)
How can you protect your tail bone? A damaged one is really painful and walking around with a donut seat is embarrassing. Some of my students have mentioned butt pads. I’ve never used on, and wonder if dressing in layers would be just as good. However, if you feel adamant about protection, find something small, that doesn’t impede movement. Also make sure it isn’t noticeable.
While Strapped Into Your Snowboard, Get Comfortable On Your Heels & Toes
My first time snowboarding I didn’t know what to do. My buddy Dallas and I bought our gear and went to a local sledding hill. I didn’t watch any training videos, and new nothing of boarding. I thought if I go down a hill I’d figure it out, after all I used to skateboard, so it should be easy.
To Start out on your heels have your board sideways while you’re looking downhill. Center yourself over the board, bend your knees, and lean back on your heels. As you start to move downhill keep the board sideways by making adjustments with foot pressure. Keep Doing this until you get to the bottom without falling. Then repeat it on the Toe Side of your board.
A great way to measure heel/toe success is when you make it down a run without falling. It’s an exhilarating feeling after falling on your butt so many times.
When on your heels NEVER dig your toes in, you’ll faceplate downhill hard.
When on your toes, NEVER dig your heels in, you fall downhill backwards and could possibly hurt your head.
Snowboarding As The Falling Leaf
Once you get the feel of going downhill on heelside/toeside it’s time for you to move onto the next step. The Falling Leaf. For some reason, I’m not a fan of that term. It bugs me like the name Otis or Stanley (no offense if that’s your name). The falling leaf teaches you proper steering, and ultimately helps you carve. The falling leaf is best done on a straight, and long green. A bunny hill won’t be long enough. Start in your heel stance and begin to go down. Begin to maneuver the board so the nose begins to point downhill, then apply heel pressure and bring the board back into the heel side. Keep doing this all the way downhill. Once you get downhill the whole way without falling, switch to the toe side and do it again.
When on the toe side always know what’s below/behind you. You can’t see as well in this position so it could be dangerous. Know that you are responsible for where you ride, and slow down if you need too.
If you’re having trouble turning the board, play with foot pressure. Only let one heel dig into the snow and the other end of the board will move downhill. Also check out #4 below for more turning details.
Let Your Forward Shoulder Direct You
This is extremely important for all snowboarders whether you’re doing the falling leaf or shredding a tree run. Many people make the mistake of turning the board using their feet or hips. When doing this, you become a tangled mess and it’s a huge amount of energy with very little return.
The best way to initiate a turn is to let your shoulder direct the body. It initiates the turn, and the back, hips, and feet follow. If I’m going downhill and I want to turn right, I use my shoulder to initiate the turn and my hips & feet follow suit. It’s a natural turn that puts the full force of your body in play.
Make sure you are in a good & comfortable board stance when doing this. See #5 to learn basic board stance.
Always know what is around you when boarding, especially when turning because you might be in another persons way and cause and accident.
Proper SnowBoarding Stance
Leaning back on a snowboard seems like a good idea when you’re a novice. It’s something you do naturally because you want to brace yourself and hold yourself back from what looks like a lot of pain. In reality it lifts the front of your board causing less friction. This speeds you up and because you have less board on the snow, it slows your response time. A good fix for this is staying centered over the board. It’s extremely counterintuitive but you want to lean forward having your body centered over the board perpendicular to it or something close to that range. You’ll have better control as the board is more responsive.
Stay Centered & Do Not Lean Back
Don’t lean forward beyond perpendicular or you might dig your board into the snow on a powder day. You won’t have a good time digging yourself out.
Only ride at speeds you’re comfortable with.
Make sure you are bending your knees when riding, it really helps with response times.
More Advanced Snowboard Tips & Tricks:
The next few tips are for more advanced shredders and don’t matter as much for a beginner. I’m going to write a post soon about some of these.
What Type of Snowboarding Are you Going to Do? When buying snowboard gear you should know this so you can buy the right equipment.
Types Of Snowboards:
All Mountain Style: They ride the mountain and shred whatever may come
Freestyle/Park: They Ride the park hitting rails, jumps etc.
There are other types as well, but these terms cover the basics really well and there is a lot of overlap. Just because you ride mountains, doesn’t mean you don’t hit a rail or jump. I’m a mountain rider who loves shredding in the trees. I’ll get air from snow drifts and do tricks sometimes in the air. Also sometimes a shredder will leave the park and do some mountain riding. Just know what type of board you have and what it’s capabilities/weaknesses are. Once you do that you’ll be fine.
I hope you enjoyed my list, and hope it helps you shred a bit better. If you need some new gear check out our collections by clicking Our Snowboard Shop Collections Here. If you have questions feel free to reach out and I usually respond within 24 hours.
Don’t Forget To Read More:
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