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Learning to snowboard can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to teach yourself. This week, Simon Gazdowicz from Online Snowboard Instructor has put together his top 5 snowboarding pointers to get you off your butt and shredding the pow quicker!
The most interesting thing I find when teaching snowboarding is to see how everyone handles the new task of going sideways as opposed to forwards.
We spend our lives travelling forwards and backwards, but aside from a few other ‘–boarding’ sports, we don’t use it a lot. So it should be no surprise that the movements don’t come very naturally.
Choosing a snowboard? If you’re wondering about the difference between men’s snowboards and women’s snowboards, the main difference is in the waist width and flex. Boot size is also a factor. Check out our women’s snowboards and find the best snowboard for you. See our Snowboard Buying Guide for more professional advice.
Intermediate Snowboarding Tips
Students who are self-taught (like I was at first) tend to come up with some terrible habits as they try to turn using ‘trial and error.’ The most important snowboarding tips I can give any student trying to learn is:
- Learn to sideslip on the heelside, then toeside,
- Learn the floating leaf on the heelside, then toeside,
- Learn to garland on the heelside, then toeside
- Learn to turn on the heelside, then toeside.
Each step adds one little movement to the last so it’s important to do them in order. The last step, turning on both edges, is by far the most important one to do correctly. If done wrong, it will add countless hours of heartache to your riding, slow your progression, and imprint itself into muscle memory.
Make sure you either get a lesson for this part and you’ll be able to get more advanced snowboarding tips, or research how to do it properly online and learn with a mate.
How To Snowboard
When the board is across the fall line, the most important movement comes from the ankles.
Regardless of whether you’re on heelside or toeside, the board responds almost instantly when you use the ankles. And it uses almost no energy at all. For example, on the heelside, with just the ankles alone you should be able to:
- Slow the board down- lift both toes up
- Speed the board up- push both toes down
- Move to the left- press with just the left toe
- Move to the right- press with just the right toe
It’s that easy. It may take some time to keep your balance while you make the movements but it’ll be worth it. Watch that weight distribution while snowboarding. Just remember not to swing your arms and shoulders AT ALL at this point and you’ll be fine. Being strapped in to your board is going to feel a little unnatural at first so it is also important to make sure you have snowboard boots that are comfortable and fit well.
When the board is pointing down the fall line, using your ankles will do nothing, It’s all about using your hips to lean your center of mass over the heel or toe edge.
This is pretty straight forward and logical. Because the shape of the board has the curved sidecut, all you need to do is press this into the snow and what the board will do is press this into the snow and the board will turn for you. Just be sure that it is your pelvic region moving. That means a nice big pelvic thrust towards the toe edge or a ‘sitting on the toilet’-like movement for the heelside.
Once again, there is NO NEED to use your arms here. It is just a waste of perfectly good balance.
Looking for more tips? Check out this video:
How To Turn On A Snowboard
The biggest problem that many newcomers to snowboarding face is what I call the circle of fear.
Students are afraid of falling because they don’t want to get hurt, this hesitation leads to lack of control on the board and hence a fall, this in turn leads to more hesitation which leads to more falling and so on…
When learning to turn, you need to be prepared to commit 100% and when the board is pointing down the hill, DO NOT LEAN BACK.
For some reason, human instinct tells us this will help slow us down. In reality, it only takes away the board’s ability to finish the turn. This is the most common mistake I see. Try your best not to fall victim and be brave.
There are only 2 times to ever swing your arms while riding (As a speed check while coming up to a feature in the park, and to counter-rotate the board while grinding). Any other time is just leaving you unbalanced if you were to hit a bump or want to pull out of the turn etc. Since turning comes from the ankles or the hips, your shoulders and your arms should be able to remain in line with the board in case you do hit an unseen bump.
If you have any questions about what equipment works best for beginners or anything snowboard-related, send us folks at Snowcentral a message and we’d love to help! Get all your snowboarding gear at Snowcentral.