Learn to snowboard

Learning to Snowboard – The Basics Explained

By: Mark Thomas Walters

You can learn the basics of snowboarding within a couple of days, but there are enough challenges, techniques, and styles to keep you interested for years.

The main snowboarding styles are alpine, freestyle and freeride. Freeride snowboarding involves riding down the face of a mountain, whilst taking in its natural bumps and curves. Freestyle focuses on tricks, such as spins, jumps and grabbing the board in mid-air. Snowboarding alpine style is not unlike skiing, as it emphasizes building up speed and making sharp turns. For those unsure of which style is best for them, starting withe freeride is advisable, as it is the easiest to pick up the basics of the sport with.

There are two different stances snowboarding stances that can be adopted. In the regular stance, which is most popular, your left foot goes first. In the goofy stance, the right foot goes in front of the left. Your instructor will show you both early on whilst showing you how to snowboard and it is totally up to you as to which one you make your primary stance.

Unlike skiers, who shift their weight from side to side, snowboarders must shift their weight between their heel and their toe. The technique is more like surfing or skateboarding than skiing. When you shift your weight forward, you will go downhill and pick up more speed. When you shift your weight backward, you will slow down. By digging your heels down, the edge of the snowboard drags in the snow and causes you to stop.

There are three different types of snowboards available: freeride, freestyle, and alpine boards. Each is manufactured uniquely in relation to size, shape and materials. The best board for you is dependent on your favored style of snowboarding, your height (when standing on end, the board should reach between your nose and chin), your shoe size and your weight.

Snowboard boots and bindings are necessary to connect yourself safely, securely and comfortably to your snowboard. The higher the quality of the ones you get, and the more they fit your personal specifications, the easier it will be to control your board.

You should dress in layers, with a three-layer system generally seen as the best: an outer later, a middle layer, and a base layer. Warmth, weight and moisture management being considered for each of those layers.

Your head and ears can be protected from extremely low temperatures with a comfortable hat or beanie and, over that, wear a snowboard helmet. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from UV rays, snow, wind, ice, and tree branches. Opt for gloves which are waterproof, durable, and have a fleece or other synthetic-based insulated lining.

You should borrow or rent clothing and equipment prior to buying any to ensure that not only do you like the sport, but that you also get items tailored towards the style of snowboarding that you will mostly be participating in. Equipment and clothing is not cheap, so making the right choices first time around is important.

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