Beginner Tips for Learning to Snowboard

I received an email this week from a reader asking if I had any tips for someone who was hoping to try snowboarding for the first time. Last week, I wrote briefly about teaching my 8 year old daughter to snowboard this season and also I've taught others how to snowboard over the years, so below are the best tips I can offer for those picking up a snowboard for the first time.

When I was 19 years old, I moved from the flat lands of Iowa to Summit County, Colorado where I picked up skis for the first time. I skied about 20 times in the first month of the season then I had an opportunity to buy a used snowboard from a co-worker. My best friend had taken lessons and he swore that he could teach me how to ride a snowboard. We headed up to Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) Ski Resort to give it a try. While riding the lift up he gave me a few pointers, then he helped me gather my stuff after a major wipe-out while trying to exit the chair lift. Minutes later he rode off in the distance and I realized I was on my own.

At the time, I was scared, cold and worried about how I would make it to the bottom of the ski hill. I realized it was time to toughen up and figure this thing out. I got up and gave it a try. After I crashed, I got up and tried again, and again, and again. Soon, I had figured out how to ride on my heel edge and I could control my speed.

After a while, my friend came by on his second run. He stopped and said, "Wow you are doing pretty good, now try riding your toe edge." Then his took off.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I was having so much fun I couldn't wait to ride the lift back up and give it another whirl. By the end of the day I was starting to put some turns together and I was having fun. Since then, I've had hundreds of days on the mountain and snowboarding is really one of my favorite activities.


Here are my tips to help you get started snowboarding

1. Take a lesson

Ski resorts hire professionals who know how to teach people how to snowboard. It is worth the money to get good tips from a professional. I was lucky on my first day but many others really have a hard time learning. You want to have fun and a lesson is the best way to assure success in learning to snowboard.

2. Practice sliding on your board with your back foot loose before you ride the lift up

You don't want to exit a chair lift with no way to stop yourself. You'll get hurt and embarrass yourself.

3. Start on steeper terrain

Believe it or not, snowboarding is actually easier on steeper terrain. On the flats you have to be more careful to not catch an edge. On the steeps, it is easier to know which edge you are suppose to be on and you quickly learn how to stop and slow yourself down.

4. Don't use your hands to catch yourself

The number one injury for beginning snowboarders is a broken wrist. You might have a sore butt and a headache but that is better than a broken wrist.

5. Start with one edge

Usually people are most comfortable on their heel edge. Learn to ride your heel edge with confidence that you can stop or slow yourself down. Then work on the second edge. Soon, you'll be going back and forth and making turns.

6. Make it fun

Learning something new should be fun. Start with a good attitude and expect to fall - a lot.

7. Prepare for the conditions

Make sure you are are properly dressed for a day on the mountain. You'll want waterproof gloves, waterproof pants (you'll be on your butt and knees a lot) and layers. Also, don't forget sunscreen!

Those are my top tips for learning to snowboard. It is so fun to learn something new. I hope you enjoy learning to snowboard because once you are making turns, snowboarding is a lot of fun. Good luck.

Do you have any other tips or funny stories about learning to snowboard? Please leave a comment below to let us know.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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