Snowboarding is one of those sports that simply mesmerizes the hearts and minds of its followers. Whether, they’re watching the Winter Olympics or clips on YouTube, it’s easy for admirers to fall in love with the amazing acrobatics of those daredevils in the slopes.
However, learning how to snowboard is not easy. There are pitfalls and mistakes that newbies can easily make while practicing their first few runs that can doom their careers before it began. Nevertheless, if you know what to look for, and how to avoid it, you can take measures to circumvent these errors. After, all knowing is half the battle, and by being properly equipped with the knowledge we bring today, you’ll be ready to conquer anything!
What Not To Do!
Newbie mistakes can be broken down into a few categories, but they’re simple to remember:
- Equipment or Gear Mistakes
- Improper Technique
- Overestimating/Underestimating Limits
Basically, these boil down to whether the rider is wearing the right equipment as intended, riding their board with the proper form, or seriously misunderstanding the concept of limitations (physical or otherwise). Every single one of the points we’ll be making today will inevitably fall into one of these three categories in some form or another. Just remember that mastering snowboarding is about patience, and it takes time to learn all the inner workings properly. Be calm, and have some fun!
1. Using the wrong gear or wearing it improperly
Look, everyone makes mistakes on their first trip down the slopes, but wearing the proper equipment should not be one of those. Wearing warm clothing is the first step in being properly equipped, but there is more to it than that.
Using the appropriate snowboard for your body is paramount, however, even if you’re tempted to buy one in your excitement right away, don’t do it. Instead, try renting one for a day or two and see how you feel about it afterwards. You might just love it, in which case go ahead and buy one.
When using your board verify that the snowboard binding toe strap sits directly over the end of your toes and not the top of them. This design choice pushes your feet into the binding, securing it in place, and improving overall performance/responsiveness.
Ensure you have the proper gloves and socks for your extremities, it’s really easy to lose heat from these, as such you’ll want to wear waterproof gloves and dry socks. Ensure you bring an extra pair or two for those snowy days that are extremely cold, in case you need to replace them (this will give your original pair a chance to dry off).
Layer up, it’s imperative that you wear multiple layers of clothing (undershirts, long johns, undies) too, remember that these will inevitably get damp and sweaty after some time, so bringing extras doesn’t hurt.
For pants, you’ll most certainly want to bring ski/snowboard pants. I mean denim jeans certainly look great, but they don’t move freely, and as soon as they touch the snow, they absorb its moisture. This means, you’ll be riding downhill with a damp derriere for everyone to see.
When wearing snowboard pants, ensure you pull them all the way down, they usually come with zippers for easy adjustment. Don’t tuck them into the boots, just don’t. Plus, ski pants tend to be durable, there’s one pair we have here that’s been with us for over seven years and is still holding strong.
One final bit of advice is avoiding the dread goggle gap. When you wear your goggles, ensure you keep them strapped to your head underneath the helmet. If you don’t secure them properly, you’ll have a huge gap of space that allows the flow of cold wind into your eyes. This mistake is notoriously common, and is a surefire sign of looking like a rookie.
Also, it’s important to remember that you should never touch the inside of the goggles lest you risk ruining the anti-fog coating treatment that comes from the manufacturer.
For the helmet portion of your gear, almost anything is fine, except the full face helmets. A snowboarding helmet should cover the majority of your head, but still leave your face exposed. Full-face helmets are for riding a snowmobile or other such machinery.
Finally, use the dedicated IR pocket in your jacket for your ski pass, this will make it easy for you to enter the lift without delaying traffic too severely, and keep any other essentials in a different pocket unless you want to risk them interfering with the scanner.
2. Technique, Technique, Technique
Skating is one of the first things you should practice when strapping on a snowboard for the first time. Primarily because you need it to get down from the ski lift once you hit the summit. When skating, you’re wearing your snowboard on a single foot. Learning the proper technique for skating will ensure you can get off in time and with minimal pain.
Before you even get on the ski lift, try practicing it a few times. There are dedicated skating guides available that will break it down to the letter if you need more information.
Stance is also important while riding a snowboard; you’ll want to ensure your bindings are set into a comfortable distance from each other, neither too close together nor wide apart.
Newbies might also be tempted to try strapping on their board while standing up as this is something experts and intermediates often do. However, you’re not there to impress anyone except yourself. Don’t hesitate, sit down, strap in, and enjoy the ride.
Once you’re strapped in, it’s time for the fun to begin. While snowboarding, you’ll want to shift the majority of your weight into the front foot, newbies tend to place their weight on the rear one due to inexperience. But, don’t fall for this mistake. Instead, lean into your forward foot and use the back one for steering. This provides the rider with maximum control.
Newbies also tend to ride their boards without bending the knee, but if you do this, you’re sacrificing your balance. Instead, bend your knees and act as if you were sitting in a chair while keeping your hips squared.
Avoid arching or leaning into your back when applying edge pressure, instead keep your back straight and tension in your core, this helps you retain balance.
Speaking of balancing, snowboarding relies primarily on your legs, which means that you’ll want to keep your arms at your side and not behind you. Instead, lead your shoulders into the turns, this will help guide your body as you curve.
When learning to turn remember that you’ll want keep your body aligned with your board as much as possible. Turning means you’ll be twisting your body in order to guide yourself, failing to realign means you’ll lose your balance.
One last key factor is to always look forward, your eyes will naturally guide your body, but if you’re looking down, you will fall down. The saying is keep your eyes on the prize, and it’s no different while snowboarding.
3. Trust your limits, but slowly push forward towards improvement
One of the most killer mistakes a newbie can do is ignore the limits. Keep in mind that you’re just learning the basics and while it can be exciting to try new things, taking it one step at a time will avoid heartbreak.
You don’t need to rush to become the best, take your time to master the basics, and ensure you do some proper exercises to build up both your core strength and endurance. The fitter your body is, the better your first few runs will turn out.
Falling is inevitable the first few times, most newbies will try to catch themselves with their hands as if they were falling on pavement, but in snowboarding this can mean a broken wrist or two. Instead, fall on your forearms and let your clothing handle the impact.
Take lessons; don’t be ashamed to take a few classes with fellow newbies (even kids). Instructors are often readily available at resorts, they will provide you with the basics of riding, and can even help you identify rookie mistakes early on.
With that in mind, don’t be afraid of looking like a beginner, everyone starts out from scratch, and you’re no different. You’re going to fall, hit yourself hard and make crazy mistakes that you’ll remember forever. Just keep your mind on the goal and stay focused on learning as much as possible.
Once you have the basics down, don’t rush into the most difficult slopes. Rushing into something that is beyond your level is a recipe for disaster, and you don’t want to put yourself in that position.
It’s easy to fall for the many traps and pitfalls of snowboarding, especially if you’re new. Trying to push harder than your body can muster is a recipe for disaster, but by methodically inching your way into expertise, you’ll master it in no time. Wear the proper gear, and wear it properly, this will avoid injuries and prevent you from having a bad first experience.
Nobody wants to experience broken bones or frostbite while having fun. But, most importantly, master the basics. Taking a few classes, going down a few slopes, learning how to ride with the proper technique all go a long way towards your success. Once you have these down, you’ll be having some of the best times of your life while snowboarding! After all, it’s all about who has the most fun!