Your first time learning to snowboard can be an exciting experience but also difficult. In general, it takes more time to learn the basics of snowboarding than it does skiing so you may be in for a long day your first time on the slopes. Below are some of the best tips for first time snowboarders to help make your first day snowboarding the best it can be.
There are three ways to learn snowboarding.
Of these, taking a lesson will be the fastest way that to learn how to snowboard. Every ski resort offers skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ages and skill levels. Group lessons are a great affordable option where you will learn the basics of snowboarding and maybe even find a riding buddy for the rest of the day. While more expensive, most ski resorts also offer private lessons which may help you learn quicker.
When you go to rent your snowboarding gear, they will ask you a question: are you regular or goofy? This isn't some weird snowboarding lingo – it just refers to which foot you have forward on the snowboard. Having your left foot forward is a regular stance and having your right foot forward is a "goofy" stance. Most people will be in a regular stance. If you are unsure though, imagine you are putting on a pair of jeans. Which foot do you put on first? That will most likely be the foot that goes on the front of your snowboard.
Unlike most ski boots, your feet should feel comfortable in your snowboard boots. Your toes shouldn't be touching the front of the boot and when you lift your foot, your heel shouldn't separate much from the back of the boot. As a whole, your snowboarding boots should be a little tight but rest assured, you will be a lot more comfortable in snowboarding boots than ski boots.
One thing beginners often forget though is to have a pair of snowboarding socks with them. Ideally, you want a pair of socks made out of merino wool in order to keep your feet warm as you snowboard. Even if it is cold, it's not a good idea to layer up on socks as this can make your snowboarding boots too tight and put pressure on different areas of your feet.
Some ski resorts are making helmets mandatory to wear on the mountain but even if they're not required, a helmet is essential for anybody learning to ski or snowboard. When you fall, the last thing you want to do is hit your head on the ice or snow and come away with a concussion. A helmet will help protect your head and keep you warm.
Knee pads and wrist guards are also commonly recommended for snowboarders because they help prevent some of the common injuries that occur when you fall. The most common injuries among snowboarders are bruised tailbones and sprained or broken wrists. As a beginner, expect to catch an edge and fall down a number of times throughout the day. Make sure you are protected by wearing knee pads and wrist guards. These will allow you to get back up quickly after a fall and continue snowboarding all day.
To go along with protective equipment, when you do fall try to not break your fall with your hands. In snowboarding, you'll typically fall forward or backward. If you fall backward, you will mostly land on your butt or if unlucky, your tailbone. If you fall forward, you want to avoid putting your hand out to break your fall. This is a common source of sprained and broken wrists in snowboarding. Instead, curl your fingers into fists and try to fall onto your knees and forearms in order to land safely.
Chairlifts aren't particularly designed for snowboarders and are a frequent source of crashes for beginners. If you are new to snowboarding and nervous about getting off of the chairlift, don't worry. Getting off the chairlift can be a simple process if you prepare.
As you approach the chairlift dismount, start shuffling sideways to allow the nose of your snowboard to point forward. As you dismount, be sure to not push off from the chairlift – it can swing back and hit you in the back of the knees which can be painful. Instead, keep your board as straight and flat as possible and let the gentle slope carry you away from the chairlift. As you glide down, keep your weight centered over the board.
Once you're on the slopes, it can be difficult to get back up after a fall. The key to standing up easily is have your snowboard horizontal across the slope. This will prevent you from moving as you stand up. Once you have your board horizontal, tuck your knees in close and place your back hand close to your butt. As you stand up, keep the front edge of your snowboard up and dig the heelside edge into the snow. This will prevent you from moving down the slope until you are ready. Once you are ready to start moving, simply point the nose of the snowboard down the hill again.
When you're first snowboarding, it can be tempting to look at the tip of your board cutting through the snow. Instead, try to look at where you want to go. When you are looking at your feet or at your board, it shifts your balance which can lead to more falls. When you look at where you want to go, the rest of your body follows your gaze making turning and carving your way down the mountain easier.
While a little harder to learn than skiing, snowboarding can be incredibly rewarding and fun. Your first day can lead you to a lifetime of snowboarding in different conditions and mountains across the world. If you're a first time snowboarder, be sure to take a lesson and follow the tips in this article to make sure you have a great first day.