Experienced snowboarders are often seen making smooth turns along steep slopes. On top of that, the movie pros make the sport look so easy. They float on snow bumps and jump through the air. However, it can be disconcerting to know how to reach this level of snowboarding.
Here at Evanela.com, my goal is to share with you tips on how to learn to snowboard for beginners.
Start by consulting my favorite snowboards to guide you in choosing the one that best suits your style.
To learn how to snowboard, you can go out with a friend and spend the day hoisting yourself up. You can learn it in a “formal” way by taking lessons.
But in this article, I propose 15 steps to help you slide effortlessly on the slopes.
1 WHERE TO LEARN
2 GET BACK IN SHAPE
4 WHICH FOOT FORWARD?
5 RENTAL EQUIPMENT
6 TAKE LESSONS FROM AN INSTRUCTOR
7 WALKING WITH A SNOWBOARD
8 BODY POSITION
9 SLIDING ON FLAT SURFACE
10 LEVER LEVER
12 SLIDING ON A SLOPE
13 MAKING TURNS
14 CONNECTING TURNS
15 LEARN TERMINOLOGY
WHERE TO LEARN
To learn how to snowboard, beginners can visit two places to take their lessons. Indoor ski slopes offer courses all year round; while ski resorts are only open in winter when snow covers the ground.
The indoor ski slopes use a wide conveyor belt that simulates sliding for snowboarders. As the slopes are inside, the experience is air-conditioned. Instead of getting wet or cold, you can focus on learning the technique.
Outdoor ski resorts depend on artificial or natural snow. Both require colder temperatures and are generally located in the mountains.
GET BACK IN SHAPE
Your first day of snowboarding will require straightening your body. Get in shape to facilitate learning and reduce your chances of getting hurt. Exercises that strengthen your heart will certainly help.
Strengthening the legs and arm strength will also contribute to your success. Beginners are advised to use their arms to get out of the snow. Stretching and improving your flexibility will also help you. If you don’t know how to train in snow sports, try this training program recommended by the Ordre professionnel de la physiothérapie du Québec.
While beginners could simply rent their snowboards, snowboard boots and helmets, most stores do not offer the rest of the necessary equipment. You will have to buy yours or borrow from a friend. To reduce costs, take a look at ski stores and sporting goods recycling stores selling used clothing and equipment.
At a minimum, you will need your own snow goggles or sunglasses to protect you from the sun’s rays. In addition, you should look for a pair of gloves, ski jacket, snow pants and a hat for days when you are not wearing a helmet.
WHICH FOOT FORWARD?
Determine what your dominant foot is before you go to the rental store. The store must equip you with a snowboard with your dominant foot in the front binding. Keep in mind that this factor varies from person to person.
The strongest foot usually corresponds to your writing hand. But this is not always the case. The dominant foot can also be the one you automatically put forward if you are pushed from behind. Another test to determine your dominant foot is to slide on the ground to see which foot you would naturally put forward. Determine it at home before you arrive at the rental store.
Consider renting equipment for your first lessons. Once you have made enough progress to become a snowboard addict, you can eventually buy your own.
You can rent equipment in the city’s shops or in mountain resorts. It is more convenient to rent your equipment from which you take your lessons. This way, you will take less equipment with you on your trips.
Rental equipment includes a snowboard, snowboard boots and helmet. Rental store technicians will ask you for information such as weight, height, age and ski level. They will also need to know which foot is dominant. This will help them choose the right equipment for you.
TAKE LESSONS FROM AN INSTRUCTOR
Sign up to take your first lessons with a professional snowboard instructor. Unlike friends and family members who may not have the patience and skills to guide you, professional snowboard instructors follow methods that make learning easier and safer.
Beginners can take classes in groups or in private. Group courses are cheaper, while the most expensive private courses are only for you.
Many resorts offer packages for beginners that combine a group lesson with rental and lift ticket. These are practical options for learning to snowboard.
WALKING WITH A SNOWBOARD
Instructors always start by introducing the equipment. When sitting on flat snow, first attach the front foot.
Before you learn to slide, you must learn to walk with only your front foot on the snowboard. It’s an uncomfortable position. But it is the best way to get on and off chairlifts or move on flat surfaces.
To move forward, slide the front foot attached to the snowboard and move the free foot forward on the snowboard side. To climb a hill, the technique changes. Place the snowboard on the slope (horizontal) with toes facing up. Then use your free foot on the uphill side of your snowboard to move forward. Using the edge of the toe to get a foothold on the slope, climb up the snowboard.
A relaxed and balanced body attitude is necessary for snowboarding. With feet slightly wider than shoulders and a soft flex in the knees, you can exert pressure on the front, back, toes or heel side of the snowboard. Shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be flexible and should not be locked in an upright and stiff position. You may feel like you are about to start a squat exercise.
Most snowboarders leave their arms at their side. In the first lessons, instructors sometimes ask students to extend their arms parallel to the snow-covered surface and snowboard to help balance. Using the front arm, point in the direction of travel. As an alternative, some snowboarders put both hands on the bent knee at the front.
Without turning your shoulders and hips, place your head in the direction of your destination. Focus your eyes on your destination rather than looking at your snowboard or snow in front of you.
SLIDING ON FLAT SURFACE
Many beginners fear their first slide. Don’t worry about it. In fact, you will learn to skate on a flat surface before you go down a slope. With the front foot in the binding, skating is the same as walking with your snowboard – only with more gliding. Technique is important when picking up and setting down chairlifts.
Start by sliding on the front foot while the other foot pushes on the snow in small steps. This front foot and bent knee will twist at an uncomfortable angle. You’ll soon get used to it. Basically, it’s like skateboarding with one foot, except for the orientation of the front foot.
To practice skating, point the right snowboard, push with your free foot and move the free foot on the board between the bindings to slide. To stop, put the toes of your free foot on the snow.
Before you take a chairlift for the first time, you must learn to get up from the snow. Start with a sitting position on the snow by tying both feet in your bindings.
To get up on the side of your toes, you have to turn around. Push with your hands while hooking the edge of the snowboard on the toe side in the snow.
Getting up on the heel side is more difficult on a flat surface. Dig the heel side of the snowboard and use one hand to get up while the other pulls the other edge of the snowboard.
A chairlift takes you to the slope. The instructors will show you how to get on and off the chairlift. Use walking or skating on one foot to get on and off the chairlift.
To get on a treadmill, take small steps with your free foot, sliding the front of your snowboard on the treadmill. Place the free foot between your fasteners to let the mat do the work. Relax and get in. At the end, use your free foot to move away from the treadmill.
Some hills for beginners have chairlifts.
At the top, when your snowboard touches the snow, place your free foot between your bindings and stand straight to slide immediately from the chair. After slowing down or stopping, use your free foot to go.
SLIDE ON A SLOPE
The pleasure begins when you reach the top of your first hill. Most likely, the instructor will start with the dead leaf technique. This is part of the learning progression, where you drag one direction and vice versa to drag the other direction.
Practice the dead leaf technique on both sides of the board. Point your arm in front of where you want to go and look in the same direction. Put some weight on your front foot.
As you slide, try to move your body mass towards the center, toes or heel to control speed. When you slide on the heel (the heel is climbing), lift your toes off the snow to feel the side of your heel sink deeper to slow you down. On the edge (side) of the toes (the toes are facing upwards), lift the heel and press the toes to slow down or stop.
Once you have mastered the dead leaf technique on both edges of your board, the instructor will introduce you to how to make turns.
Here is a video that talks about how to learn how to make turns:
Once you can do both toe and heel turns, it’s time to link the two. As you go down, alternate between a turn on your toes and another on your heel. Between each lap, let your board slide down for a second or two. Check your speed before moving on to the next turn.
To initiate each new turn, look down. Complete the tour by using your entire body as a unit rather than just turning the board.