Hey snowboarding newbie! Welcome to the big white mountain!!! I am sure you should be excited about your first riding experience! Well, probably a bit nervous too, right?
Don’t worry, we got you covered! In this article, I am going to share some useful tips I found very useful to help my students adapt to their first snowboarding day.
What is Snowboarding?
Snowboarding is different from skiing, it’s more like you are skating on the snow, but with your foot fixed on the snowboard. Well, not exactly the same but if you are an experienced surfer, wake-surfer… I would say you will learn much faster than others!
It’s ok if you have never done these amazing sports at all too, just keep in mind that snowboarding is classified as an extreme sport! It’s very safe if you are well prepared, however, you could hurt yourself badly if you underestimated the potential risk.
Scared? Wanna quit now? Lol, don’t worry! We are a group of instructors working for one of the very famous high-end ski schools in Niseko, Japan (Asia’s Aspen) and we have taught a lot of celebrities from Asia. So don’t worry, you are in good hands if you do follow our suggestions below.
Who Should Read This?
All adult or at least teenager snowboarding beginners and their friends or family should read this, just because these are so important!!! It came into our mind that quite a lot of our snowboarding students are pretty scared and nervous, the only thing they want is safe.
However, with their very pushy boyfriends/ friends/ parents, they feel like they need to speed up their learning process and wanna go to all those slopes they are not supposed to go to, or maybe doing some movements they cannot handle yet… ok… then very likely, accidents are going to happen and quite a bit of them hurt themselves badly.
So my dear friends, please make sure you read this article carefully and make sure your snowboard tip company read this too! Just to eliminate all those unwanted attention and encouragement!
Where is Good for Beginners to Learn Snowboarding?
It is always best for snowboarders to learn the basics like standing, strapping their boots into the bindings, walking, first few skating attempts on a flat area. Then start skating on a short and gentle slope (around 5 degrees).
Once a rider starts learning heelside and toeside sideslipping, it is always better to ride on a slope that’s slightly steeper than beginner skiers (around 10 – 15 degrees). When the slope is too flat, the rider will just get stuck and can’t move at all.
How to Snowboard?
Several tips could save you from the first snowboarding day, some of them are preparations, some are riding tips and the remaining are post snowboarding tips. I will explain all factors one by one:
Get Yourself a set of Protection Gears
Safety is the most important part of snowboarding, trust me, you don’t want to ride again after a bad fall. I would suggest getting a full set of protection gears:
- Knee pad
- Pad shorts
These would save your first snowboarding trip! Some of my friends are now the master snowboarding trainer and they are wearing these protection gear when they go out for a ride.
According to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, wearing a wrist guard could reduce the risk of hand, wrist, and forearm injury by 85%!
Do try to get yourself a set of protection gears before your first snowboarding day!!! If not, get at least get yourself a helmet!!!
Workout At Least Twice a Week to StrengthenYour Legs and Core
Snowboarding is a sport!!! A Snowboarding holiday is totally different from a chilling holiday by the beach, you need to be physically fit enough to enjoy this sport. So if possible, try to strengthen your core and leg muscles a bit before your trip, or else you just want to go back to the cafe and have a hot chocolate after 30 mins on the slope.
Strengthen your tight muscles would reduce the chance of knee injuries, you also need a “not too weak” core to stand up with both foots strapped into the binding.
Get the Right Clothing
All these years, I’ve taught a lot of beginners who showed up with jeans, nice wool gloves, non-waterproof down jackets… and after 15 mins to 1 hour, they just wanna go home because their hands are so cold, their haps are all wet, and their jackets just couldn’t keep warm anymore because it’s all wet.
I am very sorry but yes, winter wear is not enough for skiing or snowboarding, make sure you rent the proper clothing when you are planning to rent the gears. Do make sure you rent a helmet too, it’s probably the most important protection gears you should get.
Goggles? I would say it depends if it’s a lovely warm and sunny day with no wind at all? Wearing a pair of sunglasses with UV protection may be easier for you, or else do put on goggles to protect your eyes.
Book Proper Snowboarding Lessons
Yeah! Do book proper snowboarding lessons, not from your friends/ boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife/ family, unless they are a professional instructor. Honestly, I don’t suggest you learn from your partner or close friends/ family… most of the time it just became a nightmare…
And yes, you still need to book for snowboarding lessons even if you are a good skater/ surfer. You may learn much faster than others but then what you need is all those basics and useful tips from the instructor.
It is ok to book a group lesson if private is too expensive, for sure you can likely benefit the most from a private lesson with a good instructor.
Do check if your instructors hold a valid license, the most common accepted worldwide English speaking snowboarding instructor licenses are: CASI, APSI, SBNIZ, and PSIA-AASI. (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Amercian System).
Once I went to the Guangzhou Sunac Snow Park (Indoor Ski Dome in China), their instructors from the resort’s official ski school are all holding a license issued based on written test results. And their teaching and riding skills are just… not that good… So please make sure you ask about your instructor’s qualifications!
Wait For the Right Timing
The best time to start your life as a snowboarder would be on a day with around 5 – 10 cm soft and fresh snow, so that when you fall on the ground, you won’t get hurt. But not too deep so you can’t move at all.
If you are going with your friends as a weekend trip, try to check the weather first, the least wanted situation is a rainy day followed by windy and cold with no snow or 1 – 2 cm snowfall. After a rainy day and overnight the floor became a huge ice block which is so slippery and smooth. And if you fall (which is very likely to happen), it’s just like hitting the cement floor.
It is also ok to ride on melted snow, a bit heavy, but very smooth and soft. Hence it’s a good idea to learn if you don’t mind the risk of getting wet? It’s super cool to go on a rainy day, just make sure you do wax your board before heading out.
Found Out Your Stance is Goofy or Regular
You will likely be renting a board from one of those rental shops on your first snowboarding day when they were setting up the board for you, good rental shop assistance will check whether you are a goofy (right foot forward) or regular (left foot forward).
There are many ways you can check ur stance, for example, pushing from the back, the first foot you step out is normally your front leg, or imaging you are kicking soccer, the leg you use to kick the ball is very likely it’s your back leg…
Nowadays I will just simply ask my students to try both regular and goofy riding if I observe their snowboard’s binding settings are pretty much with the same angle and position. Most students will find they are more comfortable either leg ahead. Then within your lessons, we will just stick with that stance and learn everything.
If you are an experienced skater or surfer, I do believe you should try riding with both legs forward first too. One of my duel ski and snowboarding instructor friends is a goofy snowboarder, but then when she goes skateboarding or wakeboarding, her front leg is the left leg.
Practice on a flat slope with one leg attached to the snowboard first
Try to stand on your board with one foot attached to the board, try to apply pressure with your heel first, feeling the edge of your heel side is pressing into the snow, then slowly change the pressure point from your heel to toe.
Then try to skate a bit with your front foot attached, first on a flat slope, ask your friends to give you a push, then on a gentle slope to ride a bit. So your body will get used to the feeling of standing on a snowboard.
Once you are comfortable with the feeling of standing on a snowboard, you can start strapping both legs on a start riding on an 8 – 12 degrees slope.
Look at Where You Go
It is very likely for a snowboarding newbie to look at the board or the floor, however, snowboarding is kinda like driving, if you look at the floor, the floor is where you will go… so look forward to where you want to go, just like you are driving a car.
The other reason you should be looking forward is, you need to maintain your alignment. As a beginner, you will find it so much easier if you can keep your center of balance (body) to be on top of the board as much as possible. However, looking at your snowboard or the floor will bend your body so it’s much more difficult to keep your balance.
If you get too scared? Just ask your friend to hold your hand and start from a short distance like 1 to 2 meters first.
Make Sure You are Not Too Tired
“Taking a break and let’s go for a hot chocolate!” is always a good idea on your first snowboarding day.
Sit down and chill a bit after practicing for around 60 – 80 mins would save your legs on most riding days. Most beginner riders are quite excited and nervous on their first day and they don’t feel that tired on the slope. However, when you arrive at the hotel, you will find you are already exhausted.
It is very important to take a break, even if you are “NOT TOO TIRED”! When your muscles are too tired and can’t support your movements anymore, that’s the time you are most likely to injure yourself.
Some beginners hurt their knees during their first snowboarding trip simply because they don’t want to stop when they are already really tired and their thigh muscles are exhausted hence all the pressures are transferred to their knees.
If you are going to spend a few days on the mountain, i would suggest not to ride more than 5 hours on your first snowboarding day.
Useful Dos and Don’ts
Other than the 9 tips mentioned about, here are some dos and don’ts you may found them useful for your first snowboarding day:
Additional Dos for Snowboarding Beginner:
- Do eat breakfast with carbohydrates and proteins on your snowboarding day, you need that energy!
- Do bring along a piece of chocolate or candy in your snowboarding jacket’s pocket
- Do bring along a hand warmer
- Do bring along an SPF 50+ sunblock (at least 30+) and make sure you put them on, even it’s a cloudy day
- Do rest enough before your snowboarding day
- Do bring along an additional pair of gloves (especially for kids)
- Do warm-up before you ride
Additional Don’ts for Snowboarding Beginner:
- Don’t bring a backpack or bags with you
- Don’t wear any watches, especially when you are wearing a wrist guard,
- Don’t drink or party too much the night before your riding day
- Don’t listen to your friend’s advice when they tell you “you need to be brave and go somewhere more difficult” when you are not that comfortable
- Don’t push yourself too much
There may be a lot to learn but I am pretty sure you may find it much easier to enjoy the slope with the above tips, Just remember you need to take things slow and not to push yourself too much.
Do let me know if there are any questions about how to prepare for your first snowboarding day. Enjoy the mountain and have lots of fun ya!