No matter what your level of snowboarding prowess, you are probably looking for some ways to get better. Here are some tips for beginners and intermediate snowboarders to make improvements and get more enjoyment out of your riding
We all learn in different ways and at different paces. A good teacher will recognize these traits about each of us and gear the lesson toward that. So a good place to start, especially if there is something specific that you want to work on, is to take a lesson, particularly a private lesson if you can swing it. That way you can focus on exactly what you want to, get immediate feedback, and pick up tips and tricks to practice on your own.
Bend your knees! Most of us tend to stand too straight when we ride, especially when starting out. When you really get low, you will be able to feel the difference. You will have increased control and power. You will be better able to drive your turns, you will be able to absorb bumps much better, and you will be much more stable. Bending your knees will help you center your weight over your board and better control how you weight your edges. Exaggerate the bend to really get the feel for it and make sure that you are really getting low.
Learn edge control. The more familiar you become with how your edges work, the better off you will be. When you learn to use the sidecut of the board to turn rather than sliding the tail of the board around with your back foot, it will open up a whole new world for you. You can control your speed with turns and you will not need to slip slide all of the time to slow down. Learning to feel your edges will help you learn how to make quick transitions and adjustments and will give you a lot more general control over your riding. Practice carving with your edges at slow speeds then gradually go faster using more of the effective edge as you pick up speed. Use your hips and knees to drive the edges into the snow while remaining centered on the board. Don’t try to force it. Let your weight and gravity work together to engage the sidecut and contact points of your board.
Learn to flat base. This can be daunting if you are used to catching edges. Much of the time you want to have your board up on at least a slight edge, but there are other times when it is important to use the whole base of your board, and you need to keep the edges out of it. An examples of this is in the park. The last thing you want to do is put your board on edge on a box! If you are riding across ice, flat basing is also your best bet. You are much less likely to slip out if your base is flat as you cruise over it. Once you have passed the ice you can use your edges to dump speed if necessary. Start out slowly if you are uncomfortable with it. Pick a pretty flat section and just go for a short distance. Eventually you can increase the distance and pitch until you are comfortable with it. Also, flat basing is useful on flat sections of the mountain where you need to maintain your speed until you get back to a downhill pitch.
Take baby steps. If there is something that you find yourself having trouble with, break it down as much as you can and then build off of that. For example, if you want to get into the park but you are apprehensive, start off in the mini park. The mini park has (as the name would imply) small features. They are usually much lower to the ground making them less scary. If there are jumps, they will be smaller. Don’t be intimidated by it if that’s where you want to be. If you want to do some riding in the trees, find beginner or intermediate glade trails to get started. Usually these trails will have a relatively mellow pitch and the trees will be spaced a little further apart. Depending on conditions in the woods, you will have a whole host of challenges, but these are great areas to practice picking your lines and committing to them. Start off by stringing together just a couple of trees, then stop and regroup. Gradually you will be able to string more and more together and not as much stopping will be required. And oh ya, look BETWEEN the trees…not at them. You will go where you look and if you are looking at a tree, well…
Enlist help. Snowboard Addiction is an online resource with a library of instructional videos. They have videos from beginner to advanced and monthly subscriptions available, which will provide you with a new tutorial every month for a nominal fee. There is also good series of instructional Youtube videos by Ryan Knapton. These videos will give you lots of tips to improve your snowboarding including things like proper body position and how to break things down into small steps so you can build up to whatever the video is teaching you. And you can watch them on your phone so you can get help “on demand” when you are actually trying it out there.
Have someone video your riding. This could be the single biggest help. What it feels like you are doing and what you are actually doing are often further apart than you would imagine. For example, you may think you are bending your knees and when you see the video you realize you’re not getting as low as you think. It can be a great way for you to see what you are doing out there, and you can make changes accordingly.
Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. You will likely get frustrated at times. But you will find it necessary to push those boundaries. Not saying you should go out and huck 40’ jumps if you’re only used to popping off of little rollers, but push yourself just a little each time you go out and you will be amazed at what you can do. Pick something a little steeper, or trees that are a little tighter, or a jump that is a little bit bigger, or go a little bit faster. There are limitless ways to push yourself, and they will depend on your specific challenges, you will need to identify what those are and each time you go out, try a little something more.
Celebrate the little victories. Just about every time we go out riding, I find myself recounting the little things I accomplished. Many of them are VERY little, but even the little things count. And as long as I’m seeing little improvements in my snowboarding, they encourage me to keep pushing my limits and try new things.