So, you're in need of some tips for the snowboarding beginner, because the winter season is once again upon us, and it inspired you to finally learn how to snowboard. Well, it's never too late to learn something new and snowboarding is the perfect winter sport! It can help to improve your balance, foot-eye coordination, and also help to burn those calories you accumulated over the holidays. But, before you hit the slopes, read my 7 tips for the snowboarding beginner, written just for all you snowboarding beginners!
1. Learn Your Snowboard Stance
If you are completely new to the world of snowboarding, (which you obviously are if you're reading tips for the snowboarding beginner) then you need to learn what riding "goofy" or "regular" means and which is right for you. In short, riding "regular" means your left foot is forward and "goofy" means your right foot is forward. An easy way to figure out which type you are is to ask yourself how you would run and slide on ice. If you know which foot you would slide forward with, chances are this is the same foot you would snowboard forward with. You could also try having someone give you a surprise shove from behind. Whichever foot you step forward with first to balance should end up being the foot that goes in front when you get on a board. Most experienced snowboarders have mastered both stances, so whichever you choose doesn't need to be your sole riding style forever.
2. Snowboard Clothing
I'm sure you know that you are not going to get to the top of a mountain and automatically be able to elegantly glide down the mountain. You are going to fall... a lot. Because of this, appropriate clothing is essential when learning to snowboard. Girls, by that I don't mean trying to wear the latest fashions and colors! You need snowboarding clothing that will keep you safe and warm because it will enable you to enjoy the experience. Make sure all of your clothing is waterproof, especially your snow pants. Try to find a pair of snow pants that are specifically made for snowboarding, as they have extra padding in the butt to keep it dry and lessen bruising. Make sure to avoid cotton as it absorbs and retains moisture, which will make you cold.
3. Take a Lesson
You may be against taking a lesson but it is honestly the fastest way to learn. You may have a friend who says they will teach you, but snowboarding is a tedious sport to teach and unless your friend has the patience of a saint, they will not last more than an hour with you. Leave it up to the people who have been trained to teach you how to snowboard safely. It only took me two lessons before I was good enough to snowboard down a mountain at a decent rate. Once you get the hang of it you can stop the lessons and continue to improve on your own. But in the beginning, follow my advice and trust a trainer.
Learning to properly "skate" from one place to another is a necessity when it comes to snowboarding. You will have to "skate" with your snowboard when you are transferring from lift to lift or when trying to get moving again when you get caught in a slow patch on the mountain. Practicing this useful technique will also help you get the feel of gliding the board forward on a flat surface before you attempt the same motion on a slope. To "skate," attach your front foot to your snowboard bindings and leave your back foot free. Then, make a skating motion by keeping your strapped in foot in front of you while using your back foot to move forward. It may sound easy enough but it can be difficult to get a hang of in the beginning. Practice makes perfect!
5. Know the Trail Symbols
If you have never been on a mountain at all before, you may not know what the different difficulty symbols mean. A trail with a green circle symbol means it is the easiest of trails and is perfect for beginners who are ready to venture off the bunny hill. A trail with a blue square is one level up in difficulty from a green circle, in that it may be a little steeper or include a few moguls. Any trail with a black diamond is the most difficult. There are even trails that are double or triple black diamonds, which are usually extremely steep trails that run through trees, rocks, or cliffs, and should only be used by experienced riders.
6. Learn How to Fall
Nobody wants to fall, but when you're learning to snowboard, you must learn to do it properly in order to avoid injury. If possible, try to fall uphill. If not, relax yourself, and then roll with it. Fight the natural reaction to straighten out your arms to catch your forward fall, as locking your arms puts a great deal of stress on your wrists. Bend your knees to lower your center of gravity and try to land on your rear end if you're falling backwards. If you can't get your weight low in time, try to keep the back of your head from bouncing off the ice by hunching forward.
7. Riding Your Toes and Heels
If you haven't ever seen snowboarding up close then you may think snowboarders ride mountains with their boards flat. This is completely not the case. As you start learning to feel more comfortable on the mountain, you will start getting used to leaning on your toes and heels. This is how you will eventually learn to "carve" on a mountain. It's all about learning the correct way to stand and maneuver a board. Just remember to bend your knees and not be so stiff! The looser you are, the easier it will be to glide down a slope and the less you will fall.
When first learning to snowboard, it's best to not go alone. You never know what can happen on a mountain so it's wise to have someone you know with you. Also, don't try hitting jumps or rails too soon if you don't feel ready or you may end up with some broken bones. Just remember, the first day of learning is the hardest and the following day your whole body may be aching. I promise you though, that it quickly goes up from there. How many of our readers out there are proud girl snowboarders like myself?