Whether you are looking to try out a new sport, trying to fall in love with winter, or have been drawn to snowboarding for years, starting as a beginner can be intimidating! We are here to help you feel comfortable and get you excited about your first-time snowboarding.
Widely considered an extreme sport, tuning in to watch snowboarding experts shred and conquer the slopes in the Olympics, on TV, and on social media can give you the wrong idea about what the sport looks like for most. Remember, these are athletes, and many of them have been boarding since they were toddlers, and everyone starts as a beginner.
If you are ready to hit the slopes – even if it is just the bunny hill and casual greens – that is awesome! When you are just getting started with snowboarding, it is all exhilarating. It can be challenging, but do not let that stop you, it is that much more rewarding when you advance past the beginner stage!
We have gathered our favorite tips to help you learn how to snowboard as a beginner and to get comfortable. However, you will fall, slide-out, and struggle a bit to start, this is a natural part of learning, and we have ALL been there, so don’t let it get you down!
Know Your Gear
Start with your snowboard. You are probably renting, so make sure that they know you are new to the sport! They will likely select something that will give you the best chance as a beginner. If you are sure you want to commit, consider choosing a soft flexing, flat, or rocker snowboard that is targeted toward beginners, this will help with the learning curve.
Aside from your snowboard, it’s important to remember that there’s other snowboarding gear you’ll need. A few must-haves are your helmet (trust us), gloves, a jacket and snowboard pants, and a decent pair of snowboard goggles. You will upgrade and learn what you like along the way, so you do not need to have the best of the best as a beginner!
Identify Your Stance
Everyone has a preference as to which way is more comfortable to conquer the slopes, so to start out, you will want to learn your stance. Figure out whether you are “regular” or “goofy” (regular being left foot forward, goofy being right foot).
Here are some methods you can use to find out:
- The Surprise Shove – call on a friend and ask him or her to surprise you with a shove. Have your friend take note of which foot you use first when stepping forward. If it is the right, then it should be the one facing first when you ride your snowboard, if it is left, then use your left as a front leg when snowboarding.
- Tug-of-War – when playing this famous game, notice which foot is moved forward. It should be able to determine if you are a “regular” or “goofy” snowboarder.
This will help as a starting point, so start here but do not feel like you are stuck. If it does not feel right as a beginner, switch it up!
Choose a Beginner Trail
As a beginner, choose the trail with the reputation for being the easiest, one of the greens. Some resorts have a special area of terrain where beginners can learn to get a feel for their snowboard, like the bunny hill. It is highly recommended to get a start here, before venturing off to full-length runs.
Getting Off a Chairlift on a Snowboard
When you feel like you are ready for a trail, do not be intimidated by the chairlift. Always follow the direction of those guiding you onto the lift so you have the timing right. Once you are on, relax, enjoy the view!
When you get to the top, keep the nose of your snowboard up slightly, turn your body to a light angle as if you were about to ride, and as you arrive stomp your back foot down onto your board against your back binding, and glide out of the way. It is important to clear out of the way of the chairlift right away, to avoid getting hit. If you are nervous about turning left or right, talk with the others on the chairlift with you! Let them know you are a beginner snowboarder and that you would prefer to glide off going straight. People will be more than happy to help you here.
If you have difficulty getting off a chairlift with your snowboard, consider getting a stomp pad.
Get to Know Your Edges
First off, consider a lesson! For many, getting started snowboarding can come with its difficulties, a lesson can help a lot with the learning curve.
Getting comfortable with your edges can take time. To start, most people are more comfortable with their snowboard’s heel edge. It is not uncommon to see a beginner dragging heel side down the slope. Going back and forth on your heel side can help you simply learn what you are feeling and get you comfortable with momentum. However, do not get stuck here! You will quickly need to move on to toe side.
To start, take it slow. When you feel ready to make the transition from toe side to heel side and vice versa, you will have to learn to relax. As you manipulate your snowboard to begin switching, you’ll need a moment where you’re not actively controlling your board allowing it to aim down the mountain for just a moment before you initiate the other side with your body weight.
Learning to be comfortable here takes time, so do not be too hard on yourself, consider a lesson, and do not be afraid of a few tumbles, it is all a part of the process!
It also helps to know that there are certain factors on a snowboard that contribute to overall edge hold, such as the board’s flex, edge sharpness, profile, and edge technology. This is not something you need to focus on as a beginner, but as you get comfortable it can be fun and helpful to learn the difference.
Watch Where You’re Going
A note, as a beginner snowboarding it is important to remember to be aware of your surroundings. You will want to look at the area you want to go, what the terrain looks like, and if there are others in your path. Next, as you cross the slope it helps to loosen up, bend your knees, shift your weight as needed, and get a feel for it. Next thing you know, you are gliding effortlessly across the mountain!
Remember, snowboarding is supposed to be fun! So, as a beginner do not be too hard on yourself, have a positive attitude, and try your best, and you are guaranteed success.