Snowboarding is an activity that can be either recreational or competitive. To snowboard, you have to stand on a board that is attached to your feet, and descend over a slope that is covered with snow. This activity has been around since the 1920’s, and the first ever snowboards were wooden planks made from barrels or tie plywood, that were then attached to the feet with the use of clothesline and horse reins, so that you could steer yourself downhill. In 1965, snowboarding started modernizing when an engineer in Michigan invented a toy for his daughter. He fastened two skis together, and attached a rope to one end, so that his daughter would be able to control it as she stood on the board, and then gilded downhill.
There are many types of snowboarding, and it is a perfect activity to get you outside and active in colder weather. If you are a beginner, snowboarding can be pretty intimidating because there is always a little bit of a learning curve. But once you have mastered the basics, it will unlock a lifetime of fun on the mountain.
To snowboard, you first have to get the right gear for you. The next step is to learn the rules and safety before learning the proper stance. Once your front foot is strapped in, you have to be proficient in skating and gliding, then learn the turns. It can be a bit intimidating, but it is easy to master.
To know more about how to snowboard, we have listed the steps and tips on how to get started, so you can be prepared before heading out on the slopes.
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Get a board you feel comfortable with. For beginners, it is recommended to rent a board to begin with and get lessons with a certified instructor. Always remember to take it slow and trust the process. Do not rush into things in order to avoid hurting yourself or others.
Your snowboard stance
Learning the proper stance will help you balance the board and control it better for a more efficient ride. On a snowboard, you go down the mountain sideways, like on a skateboard, surfboard, or wakeboard.
This manner is called your stance, and it comes in two ways:
- Regular stance: this is when your left foot is facing forward
- Goofy stance: where your right foot is facing forward
An easy way to figure out what your stance is, is by analyzing which foot you’d rather choose to kick a ball with. This foot will then be in the back when you snowboard. For instance, if you’d rather kick with your right foot, you have a regular stance.
You should also learn the proper, relaxed body position on a snowboard to be able to control the board competently.
Steps on how to get into a basic snowboard position:
- Flex your knees and ankles, while keeping your knees tracked just over your toes.
- Make sure your shoulders and hips are in line with the snowboard.
- Just relax your arms by your side, and keep your upper body calm.
Learning how to skate
Once you are already strapped into the front binding, you have to learn how to skate — this means moving around on a flat surface with your front foot strapped in, and the back foot pushing you along. This is best used on a flat terrain, and when you get on a chairlift.
- Once your front foot is strapped into the binding, put your back foot on the heel-part of the snowboard that is slightly behind the other foot.
- You then have to use your back foot to push yourself around.
- Remember to take small steps to avoid any accidents.
- Note not to let your free foot go past the back binding, because this may cause you to do a split.
Learning how to glide
Gliding will let you move around in gentler hills on the mountain with only one foot strapped in, and the other resting on the board. Gliding is a skill that comes convenient when getting off a chairlift.
- As you get more confident skating on a flat terrain, you then have to bring your free foot onto the middle of the board, and rest it against the back binding to allow for more stability.
- You have to practice straight gliding on a flatter surface, then try it next on a gentler slope with an easy runout.
How to make a J-turn
This is one of the first skills you have to learn when riding a snowboard. The J-turn is how you can start shaping a turn. When learning this, you have to glide straight, and then turn slightly uphill in the shape of the letter J. You first have to practice this with your front foot strapped into the binding, and your rear foot resting on the top of the board.
- Glide forward by pointing your snowboard down into a gentle slope.
- Then shift your weight towards your front foot, and just over your toes. Now, move your hips over the toe-side edge while you flex your ankles and knees.
- If you get your weight over the toe-side edge, you should be able to start turning the board across the hill.
- Repeat this process and practice on a gentler slope with a flat runout.
- Glide forward by pointing your snowboard straight down a gentle slope.
- Transfer your weight toward the front foot, just over your heels. You should be able to feel your calf and boot hitting the front highback. As you flex your ankles and knees, move your hips over your heel-side edge.
- You can start to turn your board uphill if you get your weight over that heel-side edge.
- Again, you should repeat this process and practice on a gentle slope.
For J-turns, remember not to stand up tall. Keep your knees bent like if you were just sitting in a chair for your heel-side turn.
To get the most out of your equipment, you have to properly maintain your snowboard. Just like any other precision instrument, snowboards should be tuned periodically to ensure optimum performance. If you’re not sure about how to do this process, check out our guide for tuning snowboards.
Learning how to traverse
Learning how to traverse will let you balance and hold an edge to be able to travel across the slope.
- You should keep your board across the slope and on an uphill edge, so that when you stand up, you won’t slide down the hill.
- Next is to flex your knees and keep your weight distributed evenly over the toe-side edge, while finding the balance point.
- Transfer your weight toward your front foot, then let that front foot flatten a little bit. You will then start to move in the direction of the nose of your snowboard.
- To slow down, keep your weight centered between both feet, then lean more over the edge that you are standing on. Increasing the edge angle will allow you to slow down, and bring you to a stop, eventually.
Remember not to balance on tiptoes.
- First, you have to keep your board across the slope and on an uphill edge when you stand up. This way, it will prevent you from sliding down the hill.
- Remember that your hips should just be over the heel-side edge as you find the center of balance.
- You then have to bend your knees, as if you were sitting down in a chair. You should be able to feel the binding highback against your calves.
- Then, slowly transfer your weight towards your front foot, and let that front foot flatten a little bit. This way, you will be able to move in the direction of the nose of your snowboard.
- To slow down, your weight should be centered between both feet, and then lean more on the edge you are standing on. If you increase the edge angle, this will slow you down, and then eventually bring you to a stop.
One tip is to make tilting adjustments so that you can control the board. You should also avoid standing too tall or making big movements.
Learning how to traverse into a turn
Once you’ve practiced riding across the slope, you have to learn how to make your first full turn. You should try and practice this on a gentle slope with a flat runout to prevent accidents.
- Like the steps on how to traverse, you should start transferring your weight over the front foot. But you have to let the board flatten this time, so you head straight downhill into the fall line, which is the most direct route downhill.
- As you flatten your snowboard, you have to get into a centered, athletic stance while still shifting more weight on your front foot.
- On a flat board and in the fall line, start moving into your new edge in a J-turn, using either heel-side or toe-side J-turn.
- Aim for a good body position by relaxing your arms on your side, and your knees tracked over your toes. Your legs and ankles should be doing the work while your upper body remains calm.
- Now, come to a stop. And then, practice on the other side.
Remember not to flatten your board too quickly because you may catch an edge. It is also not best to rush traversing into a turn.
Once you are comfortable with the steps mentioned above, you can move on from one turn to another.
When you have turned in one direction, do not come to a stop, but rather, keep traversing across the slope, and then start making another turn in the opposite direction.
Avoid leaning too far toward the tail of the board and getting on an edge too quickly.
Tips on how to stay comfortable
- Wear sunscreen. Even if it’s overcast, the sun may still reflect up from the snow and burn your nose and face, so it is best that you put on sunscreen at the beginning of the day, and again at noon.
- Keep your phone warm, as the cold can kill phone batteries — and spoil your day. You should store your phone in a zippered pocket inside your insulated jacket to keep it warm. That way, you won’t have to worry about it.
- Be sure to keep your goggles off your forehead. Although it is a bit tempting to put them on your head, if you do that, they will fog and may never clear up, because the sweat from your skin fogs them up. So, it is best to take them all the way off and hang them on a hook in the lodge.
- Retire or quit before thinking that you are too tired to keep snowboarding. We’re telling you this because most injuries happen at the end of the day, when you’re tired and insist to go for one last run. It is always best to stop snowboarding while you’re still having fun, and save your legs for another day.
Snowboarding is an intimidating sport for most people, especially beginners. To calm your nerves a bit, try to prepare yourself as much as you can before your snowboarding trip by reading guides and watching videos on how to snowboard. It will also help if you learn the rules and safety precautions of the sport. Lastly, you should also be familiar with the gear that you are about to use.
Snowboarding has a bit of a learning curve, but once you master all the basic moves, sliding down snowy slopes will be a piece of cake for you. Once the time for you to snowboard for the first time arrives, remember what we have discussed in this article and get ready for the most exhilarating moment of your life.