So you want to learn how to snowboard?
Yes! I’m stoked for you!
Learning how to snowboard should be really fun. It is just awesome and I’m personally ALL for introducing more people to my favourite thing in the world!
When learning how to snowboard, there are a few tips and tricks that may make your whole experience more enjoyable. Here are a few I have mastered over the years, as both an instructor, professional and observer. Hopefully, they will make your first day on the mountain as a snowboard-newbie, as fun as possible!
Get travel insurance. Seriously. Don’t forget.
#1 Your snowboard boots should be comfortable
Unlike ski boots, snowboard boots should be your best friend (sorry skiers, but you all moan so much about your boots!).
Make sure they feel good when trying on rentals or buying your first pair (good boots should be the first thing you invest in). Your toes should not touch the front and your heel should not lift too much in the back of the boot.
I recommend spending time in a physical bricks-and-mortar snowboard shop, trying on different brands and styles (laces, boa system etc). You will spend all day in these boots and pain can easily ruin snowboarding and make you want to quit. Boots should be your best friend :-)
If you want to buy boots online then check out Backcountry.com as you can often find great deals on there, plus they stock all the major brands.
#2 Protect your wrists, knees, head and bum
As a beginner, you will fall on your hands, knees, bum and maybe your head … but mostly your hands and bum! Wearing wrist guards, protective knee pads, and bum impact shorts, plus a ski helmet is a very good idea when learning. The helmet is a good habit to start and keep throughout your snowboard expeditions.
#3 When snowboarding, always look where you want to go
Your shoulders follow your head, your hips follow your shoulders, and your board will follow your hips. It is natural when learning how to snowboard to want to look down at the snow. DON’T DO THIS!
Try to look up and where you want to go. This will help keep your body (and weight) in the right position over your snowboard, helping drive your turns and travel in the direction you intend. The saying goes, ‘if you look down, you fall down’.
#4 Wear proper snowboard socks
Good quality socks will make your first-day snowboarding so much happier. Don’t wear two pairs of socks as this will increase friction on spots of binding pressure or boot tightness. Avoid cotton socks especially ribbed, knee-high sports socks (like hockey socks). These give uneven pressure on the top of your foot which can be painful and cotton will soak up your sweat (not in a good way!) and give you soggy cold feet. It’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of snowboard socks. Plus you’ll have them for YEARS!
#5 Figure out if you are goofy or regular before your first day
Learning to snowboard comes with a few new words. Goofy and Regular are two of them.
Unlike skiing where you are (usually) always looking forward, snowboarding is one directional, in that you traverse in one direction looking over your left shoulder if you are regular (left foot forward), or your right shoulder if you are goofy (right foot forward).
This is the first thing you will need to know, even before you have stepped on a board. Luckily, you can figure out which one you are at home before your first day.
Have someone push you from behind and see which leg falls forward first (the leg you step to balance with, will be your forward leg). Stand in a boxing-ready stance or if you play/played netball, which is your leading, forward foot? Your front leg in all these situations is likely to be your forward leg or front foot snowboarding.
And don’t forget travel insurance. Seriously.
#6 It’s cold so invest in quality, breathable under layers
SO IMPORTANT. Good breathable thermals that pull moisture from your body but keep you warm are a vital staple in any snowboarder’s wardrobe. Avoid wearing a cotton T-shirt or under layers as these will soak up your sweat, prevent your skin from breathing, making you feel wet all the time.
If the temperature drops, your sweat-soaked underlayer could also freeze, making you even colder. Cotton = bad… Synthetic like polyester or natural like merino wool = the best!
I wear Mons Royale religiously! Merino Wool is so good because it doesn’t smell. EVER!
I also recommend anything Patagonia or Patagucci as us ski-bums call it!
#7 Your gloves need to be super waterproof
Like comfy snowboard boots, you want your gloves to be waterproof and warm. As a beginner snowboarder learning to turn, you spend a lot of time pushing yourself to your feet and switching from your bum to your belly with your hands. If you are taking a bag up the mountain, carry a spare pair of gloves that you can swap over for your afternoon snowboard session if your first pair gets soaked.
#8 Your forearms, leg and neck muscles will hurt after your first day
Depending on whether you are regular or goofy, you will spend the majority of the day looking over that front shoulder (the same as your forward leg). This is a bit unusual and your neck muscles won’t be used to it. You will use your forearms to push yourself up and your legs to balance.
You’ll have pain (good pain) in muscles you never knew you had! Spend sometime before your first-day snowboarding doing push ups on a box (with you arms behind you so you work your triceps) and squats (so you work your quads). This should help warm up these muscles and get them ready. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much you can do for your neck.
#9 Try to keep your weight directly over your board
When up and riding, try to imagine you have a pole that runs vertically down the centre of your body, sticking out of the top of your head and out of your bum! When standing on your snowboard ready to ride, you want this pole to be going vertically down between your legs, falling in-between your snowboard boots. It shouldn’t be sticking out behind you way over the heel edge of your board. If you imagine trying to keep your back straight and over the centre of your snowboard, this will help position the weight equally over your heel and toe edge.
#10 Speed is your friend
Everything that you do on your snowboard will become easier when you have momentum behind you in the form of speed. You will need speed to initiate your turns, to bring your snowboard round when you feel it is getting stuck, and to start your next turn. Speed is your friend. Speed is always your friend.Try to be comfortable with speed and learn to just ‘point it’ as we say!
Repeat after me: SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND!
#11 Snowboarding flatbase is one of the hardest things to do
When snowboarding, you are normally on an edge, your heel edge or your toe edge. Sometimes on cat-tracks or flat roads, to keep speed you will need to go flat base. This means you are not on your heel or toe edge but the board is flat to the snow. This is one of the hardest things to do BUT, speed makes it easier as it will stabilise your snowboard under your feet. Stick with it, don’t be scared and remember that speed is your friend.
#12 Look after your skin -take some sunscreen and lip SPF in your pocket
Snow reflects 80% of UV reflection meaning sun exposure when snowboarding is close to double what it would be normally. Protect your skin from getting cremated and becoming a leathery old mountain women, by keeping a small tube of zinc-based mineral sunscreen and lip SPF in your pocket. You’ll lose them so put them in lots of pockets!
For more how to snowboard inspiration check out these must-see female snowboard video parts or browse through the awesome inspirational snowboard athlete, fashion, travel, tricks and tips in the snow section.
Editor’s note: If you are after travel insurance, I definitely recommend World Nomads. Prices are really reasonable. You can purchase the insurance after you have left home for your trip; something that is quite unique to World Nomads and really helpful if your plans change as you travel. They also pay your medical bills direct so you will not out of pocket. I whole-heartedly recommend them.
Are you learning how to snowboard? Have you got any good tips you can share? Spill below in the comments section.