How to Snowboard

I often get asked for help learning how to board.  But then we when get to the hill, the trainees insist on using a hill that is not very steep.  And the thing is that’s how they get hurt.  And that’s how their legs get super tired.  Just let gravity help you a bit.  In boarding, gravity is your friend 🙂

Learning how to snowboard is tough and isn’t really close to anything you’ve done before.  No wake boarding is not the same.  Skiing/skating/skateboarding is not the same.  There is a steep learning curve and there are some points in which new snowboarders get stuck and then they end up giving up.  My advice is to keep at it, because it is amazingly rewarding once you mastered the basics.

I figured I’d double-check my approach, and so, I found this on learning how to snowboard that seems likely to be effective:

http://www.learn-snowboard.com/

It’s a pretty good read and lots of what the author says is true.

Also for a few videos that demonstrates techniques and key concepts such as traversing, check out

http://www.abc-of-snowboarding.com/learn-snowboarding/

The Wikihow entries seem like a good way to get hurt and I would not personally go about learning how to board that way.

The following are things that I found rather obvious after 10 years of boarding…

Use the buddy system. Make sure you have a basic buddy system going and get into the habit of waiting for each other at the bottom of the last lift if you get separated.  Also have a  backup plan like setting the time to meet for lunch for example.  If you are fortunate enough to have radios, remember that it’s not always within reach and there are usually a bunch of other people on the same channels. If you are the better rider, do not leave a beginner in the middle of the hill to get down on their own unless accompanied by someone else.  You have to be patient and supportive all the way through.  The beginners need that support because they will get easily discouraged if they have difficulty learning a specific technique.

Always ride on the edge. You need to know that while snowboarding you never have your snowboard flat on the snow.  You are always on an edge. The moment you put your snowboard flat on the snow, you will wipe out.  It’s all about balance in a sense.  You are balancing your body weight on one edge of the board or another.

Toeside edge is just as important as your heelside edge.  No-one can survive a day on the hill by spending it only on their heelside edge.  Mastering the use of your edges is really what snowboarding is all about and it becomes second nature after a short while.  It’s little bit like learning where the brake and gas pedal is on a car..  you never think about where they are located, your feet just sortof finds them.  Well the edges of your board and later the board itself really becomes an extension of your body.  Boarding is nothing but pure bliss after that.

Always look where you are going. I’ve had several brutal accidents where I hit another boarder and crazy speeds just because I did not check my blind spot.  Accidents happen though and in very technical terrain checking the blind spot usually comes after the primary objective of not wrecking.  Don’t look at your board, you need to look where you are going.

Get yourself a skullcap. Just looking at the sheer number of skuffs and dents in my lid, I am just thankful that those were not my head.  It’s saved me from the brutal landings and crazy bails more than a couple of times.  You’ll thank me later.

Stretch. It’s important to warm up and cool down before and after your boarding session.  This will help prevent injuries to muscles.  You need to warm up and stretch your whole body before you get on the lift.  After you are done rinding it is easy to just plop your tired butt down.  But you have to stretch out your muscles otherwise you will feel it a lot 2 days later.

Layer up. Wear clothing that don’t restrict your movement.  Layer these up because it allows you to be prepared for weather changes such as temperature inversions or riding sunny or cloudy parts of the mountain as the days goes by.

You will learn how to bail and recover. If you ride a lot of natural terrain with drops and lots of trees there are going to be times where you are going to bail.  Learning to not be afraid of falling is important because sometimes a simple little roll can have you back on your feet and not stuck in seconds.  Learning this however takes practice.  And yes, this means lots and lots of falling.  It also means that you learn to not get hurt when you wipe out.  This is something that I certainly do not have the skill to teach.

Keep fluids, long and short term energy handy. Snowboarding is taxing on the body, and it is easy to run out of juice.  Instead of filling up just over lunchtime, ride with some form protein like granola bars and some form of candy/chocolate for the short term sugars.  I usually snack on something every hour and just have a small lunch so I don’t get that heavy stomach feeling int he afternoon.  Also make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.  You are actually sweating a lot and you need to replace the fluids to keep going.  Drinking something warm during lunch also allows your body to take a break from the cold, which also helps.   I’m not sure how valid this is but they measure that we burn around 1600 calories during a day of snowboarding.  I am sure it is more though.  At least that’s what it feels like sometimes.

Stay fit. Snowboarding can give you a crazy cardio workout so it helps if your body is used to that.   It also helps to train to strengthen your legs legs and back since those are the areas taking the most punishment during boarding.

Get out there. I recommend learning snowboarding in one season if you can.  Go as often as you can, and practice as much as you can.  The first season is the most important because your muscles end up getting used to it and this will make the next season start off much easier.  If you don’t do this, I find that people keep trying to learn every year and do not progress at all from season to season.  Better to get the skills down in the first two seasons and then take things from there.  It’s easy to keep the progression up once the initial steep learning curve is behind you, simply because snowboarding is a lot more fun when you’re in control.

Respect the Mountain. If you ride natural terrain, you have to keep in mind that the mountain is in charge.  This means that you inspect every landing before you make the jump, even if you have ridden it a thousand times on other trips.  If you don’t, the mountain will pwn you, which usually means a skidoo ride to the infirmary. in a stretcher.

Bend those knees. Boarding is all about stance.  Beding your knees helps you keep your balance and lowers you center of gravity.

Don’t use your ankles. When sliding or turning use your legs for turning, not your ankles.   Your ankles are supposed to be securely fastened in your boot.

I will update this post if I think of anything else.


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