Congratulations on your decision to learn to snowboard! You are in store for tons of fun playing in the snow! But there is a learning curve with snowboarding and hopefully these tips will make learning a little more fun and a little less painful.
- Commit to learn…when I hear people say “I want to try snowboarding this year” I get a little nervous. There are some sports that you can pick up right away and have a blast your first time out, like paddleboarding. The learning curve is small and most anyone can do it. But other sports have a bigger learning curve and require more of a commitment to learn rather than a casual, one-time venture. Snowboarding would fall into this category for most people. Surfing also comes to mind. Most people are not superstars their first time out. With time and practice, they can be, or can at least see the joy of sticking with the activity. So go into snowboarding with the mindset that you are going to learn to snowboard rather than just “give it a try”.
- Go easy on yourself…don’t beat yourself up if you are not lighting the mountain on fire your first time out. You will be if you give it time and put in the effort. We all started out on the conveyer belt learning to do falling leaf. Most of us remember it all too well, so if anyone is acting like a jerk when you fall, remember that they were there too and it’s only temporary. Little kids will go flying by you…don’t be discouraged. It’s easer to learn everything when you are a kid.
- Take a lesson (or a number of lessons)…don’t rely on your friend to teach you how to ride. Don’t rely on figuring it out yourself. There’s no reason to make the learning process more difficult than it needs to be. Your friend might be a good snowboarder, but it doesn’t mean he/she is a great teacher and it can be hard to learn from someone you know. This is especially true if you are boyfriend/girlfriend. In most cases it will just slow your progress. Most, if not all, ski resorts have teaching programs and many of them offer great deals to get you started. Private lessons are well worth the money. You will get much more out of them since they will be working with you, and only you, and will help you develop particular areas that you need help with. Talk to the ski school when you schedule and be as specific as possible with what you are looking to do and any concerns that you may have so that they can match you up with a good instructor.
- If at all possible, go during the week…weekends and holiday weeks are busy! There are more people around and more bodies to try to avoid. If you can go on a quieter day, there is less pressure and it can be more enjoyable. If weekends are all you’ve got…then don’t let that stop you.
- Wear knee pads. Some people fall on their butts all day when they are learning…some people fall on their knees. If you are a knee faller you will be VERY happy to have knee pads. They can save your knees for the rest of the season. You don’t need anything fancy, but some cushioning between your knees and the snow/ice will be nice. If you discover that you are a butt faller, you can ditch the knee pads if you want.
- If possible…go where the snow is! On the east (“ice”) coast, real snow is an exception rather than a rule. Falling on real snow is a lot less painful than falling on ice or super hard packed snow. So if you have the option, learn on actual snow.
- Dress for the weather. While getting up and falling down is very tiring and can warm you up, spending time sitting on the snow can cool you down pretty quickly. You want to make sure that you are dressed appropriately to stay warm and dry (dry is VERY important). Wool socks, wicking baselayers and waterproof outerwear and gloves will be very important for your comfort. A hat and helmet will be good for keeping your head safe and warm. Keeping your head warm is the best way to keep the rest of you warm. Also well fitting boots (which will be tough if you are renting equipment) will help you tremendously. They will make riding much easier and will make you much more comfortable.
- Keep in mind that if you are renting equipment, it will be standard, base level equipment designed for durability rather than performance. It will not be selected specifically for you and your needs as you learn. That’s perfectly fine, especially if you are not sure if snowboarding is going to be for you. But upgrading to equipment suggested by your local board shop can make a world of difference and can make learning easier and more fun.
- The most important thing is to try to have fun! It can be frustrating and it can be painful, but it’s so worth it! Try to keep a positive attitude, don’t expect too much from yourself at first…just try to have fun. The better you get, the more fun you will have. So stick with it and ENJOY!