13 Beginner Snowboarding Tips: Advice For First-Timers

Are you daydreaming about how amazing it will feel to shred down the mountain once you get yourself a new snowboard and learn the basics? That’s good, because it DOES feel awesome! However, you can’t just buy a new snowboard and start down the mountain popping off anything you see. It takes some practice and lots of falls before you can enjoy that feeling.

If you’re a first timer to the sport this season, then let us share some helpful advice to help you make the most of your entry into this awesome snow sport.

1. Safety First!

Like all the most fun outdoor activities, snowboarding can be dangerous. For that reason, you should ALWAYS wear a snow sports helmet when you plan on hitting the powder. Even if you don’t expect to be outside all that long or doing much shredding. Accidents can happen – other snowboarders can collide with you or you can accidentally slam yourself into a tree. Anything can happen, and that’s why it’s so important to protect your head.

2. Expect Learning To Be Painful, Literally

On day one of your snowboarding lesson, you will come back to the lodge looking (and feeling) like your body has taken a beating. Not only is snowboarding physically exhausting, but you will take a lot of falls at the start. You will fall on your hands. You will fall on your butt. And you will do it over and over and over again. And yes, it ends up hurting.

You can alleviate some of this pain by planning in advance with some protective gear under your snowboarding pants and mittens. I know it sounds bulky, but trust me, it really isn’t that noticeable at all. For your hands, it’s a good idea to wear some wrist protection in the beginning. A pair of snowboard wrist guards goes a long way in preventing a wrist sprain or fracture. And they should easily fit in your snowboarding gloves. However, we do suggest that you try them on with your mittens before you get to the mountain.

For your derrière, a pair of padded shorts are going to be your best friend since they will cushion those falls. You can buy some protective impact shorts or even a pair of lacrosse shorts. These fit like bike shorts, so you won’t really notice them in your snowboarding pants. They key thing you’re looking for in padded shorts is protection for your butt, hips and thighs as well as some tailbone protection.

And if you’re worried about your knees, then you can also wear a pair of padded knee pads for protection. When you’re learning how to stop on your heels, it’s inevitable that your toes are gonna be wavering when they shouldn’t and you’ll catch the toeside edge and end up pitching forward. That’s when your knees will take the impact.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Fall

We don’t like to fall down, whether on the mountain or on the sidewalk, but the truth is that you need to get over this fear when you’re on the mountain. You will fall. And it will happen a lot of times when you are learning. The sooner you accept this fact and stop fearing it, then the sooner you will start learning how to properly snowboard. Once you get comfortable falling, you will level up your skills much more quickly.

Plus, if you’re doing your boarding in fresh powder, then your falls won’t hurt as bad as they will on packed snow.

4. There Is A Right Way To Fall

When you do fall, always try to land on your forearms instead of your wrists or hands. This will help to reduce injuries when falling forward. But, try to avoid putting your hands out to catch yourself in the first place.

When you feel like you’re going to fall, it’s a good idea to bend your knees and bring your arms in. Try to relax your body and let yourself fall onto the snow. Only put your arms out after you hit the snow to stop yourself from sliding. This is the safest way for you to take your falls out there. I know it’s against your instinct to lean into the fall like this, but it is definitely worth it.

5. The Board Follows Your Shoulders

When you are on the board, you lead with your shoulders. If you turn your shoulders while boarding, then the board should turn as well.

Snowboarder doing a toe side carve

6. Your Front Foot Gets Most Of Your Weight

Though it may seem counter intuitive, you should put most of your weight on your front foot. If you end up putting most of the weight on your back foot, then you’ll have a hell of a time turning. Plus, keeping your weight on your front foot helps you keep your balance on the board.

7. Learn On A Slightly Steep Slope

When you learn to ski, a mostly flat slope is perfect, but the same is not true for snowboarding. If you can find a slightly steep slope to learn on, then you will likely catch on much quicker. You just get up a bit more momentum on it that you do on a flat slope, and that seems to make all the difference when it comes to catching on to the sport.

8. Practice Skateboarding (or Wakeboarding)

People who have experience on skateboards or wakeboards seem to have a much easier time picking up this sport, especially skateboarders. So, if you want to prepare in advance for the mountain, pick up a skateboard and try to get comfortable on it before tackling the powder.

Snowboarder sitting on relax moment at sunset in french alps ski resort

9. Stay Away From Ice

You definitely do not want to learn how to snowboard on ice. Not only will it hurt more when you fall, but it’s just more difficult to do. And really, you’re at the mountain for the powder, so follow the powder for easy carving and an overall awesome experience. So, choose the untracked snow when possible, and avoid the tracks everyone else is using.

10. Consider Taking A Lesson

Even if you’re an avid skateboarded, do yourself a favor and take a proper lesson. Sure, you can have a skilled friend teach you, but paying an instructor at a resort is going to give you a much better foundation for the sport. It’s really not that expensive and you learn all the basics from how to stand up to how to turn without falling on your knees. Plus, it will save you hours of frustration if you’d tried to teach yourself.

11. Know Your Slope Gradings

At all ski resorts the slopes are grade by color. Green slopes are the easiest ones, and definitely what you should be looking for as a beginner. Green slopes typically have only a slight incline. Next up on the difficulty scale are blue slopes. Blue slopes are a bit more steep with a bit more incline. Red slopes are next up, and they are basically the steepest blue slopes. Not all countries have red slopes though, so you may not see any at your resort. Last are black slopes, which are the most difficult. Black slopes are the steepest and are often bumpy. As you can imagine, black slopes are only for the very experienced boarders.

Ski trail difficulty ratings in North America
By Stephanieking (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

12. Dress For Warmth AND Comfort

Obviously, you’re going to properly clothe yourself for the weather, but there’s more to it than just buying a snowboarding jacket and pants.

Resist the urge to double up on sock and instead get yourself a quality pair of thick, warm snowboarding socks. And choose a pair that is not made of cotton. Why no cotton? Because if your feet sweat, the cotton will keep them damp and that leads to cold feet.

While we’re at your feet, it’s also important to choose snowboarding boots that are actually comfortable. So, try them on with your socks before you hit the powder to make sure that you’ve got a comfortable fit. If you’re shopping for boots online, we suggest buying several different pairs in your size and trying them on at home to find the winner – then return the ones you don’t want to keep.

Wear layers under your pants and jacket. Again, avoid cotton and go for something that breathes well and is moisture wicking. If you’re not allergic to wool, then go with a Merino wool base layer. Otherwise, opt for something like polyester.

Gloves should be comfortable, warm, and waterproof. You’re going to spend a lot of time in the snow when you’re learning, and if you’ve got crappy gloves they will end up soaking wet. So, focus on warm gloves that are ultra waterproof. And remember to try them on with your wrist guards to make sure they’re comfortable.

13. Don’t Get Discouraged

You should expect it to take a good three days or so to really get the hang of it as a beginner – especially if you’ve never done any board sports before. Just because you’re not ripping down the mountain like a pro by day two doesn’t mean you can’t pick up this sport. Just keep at it and you’ll be carving down that mountain in no time.

More tips:

top image credit: Mindscape studio/Shutterstock, other images: Ipatov/Shutterstock, View Apart/Shutterstock

 

Shawna Newman

Shawna currently lives in Las Vegas where she gets in lots of great hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park. When she has time, she visits National Parks in a quest to visit each one in the U.S. Shawna’s favorite outdoors activity is hiking and her favorite National Park (so far) is Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.