Ok, you want to learn to snowboard. Here are 5 tips that will put you on the fast track to shredding up the mountain and having a great time. If you are new to snowboarding or even if you have some skillz, these tips should help you move forward. I will be doing a series of articles that will take you through from beginner to advanced. Let's start with the basics:
Tip#1 - Adjust your Board. Stance matters and there are many types of stances. Many of them have pros and cons. Some people use a duck stance which has both feet pointing out towards your tail and tip. This will help you spin but can be hard to carve and makes grabs harder. I see many kids with these wide stances and then they can move around on the mountain. Since most beginners aren't going huge or throwing big spins I don't suggest this stance. Adjust your stance and strap in and bend up and down until you feel you are balanced and fluid on flat ground. Stance is about being able to move in all directions and keeping your balance.
Tip#2 - Get comfortable. You can always tell the new boarders because they are bent over with stiff legs and they look like they are bracing for a crash the entire time. Part of what makes people fall is being stiff. Don't wait until you get up to the mountain with your friends to get yourself comfortable. Strap into your board and hop around in the grass or in your yard. pending an hour in your board on flat ground will help you learn to not be afraid to move around. Strap in and practice hoping from one edge to the other as if you are carving down the mountain. Practice bending down, standing up, hopping, and balancing on your nose and tail of the board.
Tips#3 - Don't get fancy. Forget about pulling big tricks and taking jumps when you are getting started. I know you are riding with friends and you want to keep up and show off, but the fact is that learning to have board control and turn left and right and stopping is what will help you be able to go faster, bigger, and do more tricks. Trust me you need fundamentals. Focus on control and being able to transition your turns when and how you want. Learn how to stop without your board sliding out. Trying to jump and do tricks when you can't stop or turn on a dime only leads to injury and crashes. Moguls will put your board control to the test and can seem very scary for boarders. Start on flat ground or the bunny hill. If you can't turn and stop forget about going to the top with friends. They will just have to wait for you when you are crashing all day anyway.
Tip#4 - Edge to Edge. When you are starting to learn to carve back and forth a great way to practice is to get strapped in on flat ground and practice jumping from one edge to the other. You may not be able to transition from one edge to the other right away so hop from one edge to the other. This will give you instant control since many people try and transition (slide) from left to right and they end up just going straight which leads to speed and a huge crash. If you find yourself going to fast take a little hop turning your board at an angle then dig your edge in.
Tip#5 - Use your hands and sit down. Don't be afraid to reach down and use your hands for balance when on your toe side edge to slow down and get control. Sitting down can help you when you are going to fast. Recognize if you are about to get going to fast. You won't get better if you are just crashing every ten feet. Don't be shy about staying on the bunny hill until you feel comfortable. In the beginning it is not about the thrill of going faster it is about control. Save the challenging runs for when you want to go faster to test your skills.
Snowboarding can be tons of fun. It isn't as fun if you crash too much so getting comfortable before you get to the mountain and staying on easy runs until you learn control will help you grow so much faster than going up top with your buddies when you don't have control. If you have to ask to go down the bunny hill with them then do it. If they want to go up top tell them you are going to take a few warm up runs and then you will meet up with them. Finally watch snowboarding videos, not so you can try what they are doing, but because it trains your mind on timing, and movement that will help you grow faster as you get control. Until next time, ride smart, get control and rip it up.