Learning to snowboard can be a hugely rewarding experience and certainly requires a bit of effort, determination and sometimes even a leap of faith. If you think about when you learned to ride a bike or learned to swim, it’s the same sort of learning curve. Once you can use the suggested techniques without panicking (and not too much looking down!), you can add a little bit of speed (especially on the bike) and that can make the difference between falling off, sinking or experiencing the thrill of moving in control for the first time.
There are lots of videos on Youtube about learning to snowboard and I highly recommend watching some videos on the basics, even just to familiarise yourself with what’s in store for you on the day:
check out the series from bergfex for a little overview:
also check out https://snowboardaddiction.com if you are more serious about online tutorials
It might look easy but acquiring new skills takes time!
If you are starting from scratch and don’t know what to expect, here are some things you are likely to encounter in your first lessons.
Skating around: This is performed with one foot strapped in- this is how we get around on flat sections, a bit like on a skateboard. The importance of this is getting used to having quite a heavy board strapped to your feet which might feel quite alien at first as well as the feeling of sliding on the snow.
Going straight/straight run: Stand on the board with one foot in and go straight down until the natural upslope stops you. Don’t worry, this will be on a very small slope! This is about getting used to the feeling of sliding and introducing how we stand on the board with our bodies aligned along the length of the board looking over our leading shoulder.
Side slipping: This is about braking, stopping and keeping speed down. As opposed to going straight down the slope, here we have the board side on, across the slope and angled up slightly so that we use our edges to scrape the snow and keep speed down. Posture, balance and getting used to making small bodily adjustments is what we are working on here.
Diagonal side slipping: This will add directional movement to your side slipping (scraping). Looking across the slope and travelling in that direction. Stopping on demand by returning to the straight side slip.
Falling Leaf: Going side to side and each time making the board point more and more towards going straight down the slope (like it pointed in the Straight Run) using certain body adjustments and movements.
These skills will need to be performed on both edges of the snowboard I.e. Heel edge and Toe edge. Imagine you are standing on a board side on to where you are going. We will need to travel to the left and to the right so of course we need to practise both sides.
Turning: When we have acquired enough control, we can then move on to turning. This is going from Toe edge (in a diagonal side slip) to moving the board so it’s pointing straight down (a moment of straight run), straight into a Heel edge (diagonal) side slip and stop, all in one fluid motion!
Then we try the opposite way, Heel-straight-Toe.
These are the general skills we cannot afford to skip in the learning process and do require perseverance, commitment and patience but above all practice and a sense of humour! It is supposed to be fun, haha…
Turning both ways safely is an entry into snowboarding, the stepping stone to a lot of fun.
Working towards and developing smooth, controlled turns is the goal to the first few mornings or days of lessons and the techniques you learn here form the basis of your future technique, style and progression.