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Snowboarding Tips and Tricks for Beginners

October 4th, 2009

snowboarding-for-beginners.jpgOnce you have the proper board, bindings, boots, and clothing, you’re finally ready to go. If you have been a skier, skateboarder, or surfer you will probably have an advantage as a beginning snowboarder. But for those who have no crossover experience and are getting up on a snowboard for the first time, here goes:

Preparing to Ride Down a Hill

One thing you will have to know before you get on the board for the first time is which foot you feel most comfortable having in front. Most boarders use the regular-foot method, with their left foot in the front binding. But some prefer putting their right foot up front. While this is called goofy foot (another term from skateboarding), there is really nothing wrong with it. It’s almost like being right-handed or left-handed. The difference here is that the bindings will have to be turned to accommodate the goofy-foot rider.

Also, make sure that someone shows you how to properly secure the bindings, so they are not too loose or too tight. Now you’re ready for your first trip down a hill — not a mountain, just a hill. But you do have to pick one where there is a little slope. You can’t learn to snowboard on a flat surface or when you are barely moving.

There are some people who try to learn to snowboard as they would learn to ski. This doesn’t work. New skiers can go as slow as one mile an hour and never fall because they can spread their feet at any time to keep their stability. Snowboarders can’t do this because their feet are strapped into a single board.

The first time on the board the tendency is to lean forward or backward, and if you’re moving at a crawl, you may just fall over. You certainly won’t get hurt. It’s just a matter of losing your balance. So the key to learning is to work up the courage to pick up some speed and move a little faster. The momentum you will pick up moving down the hill will actually stop you from falling over and will give you a better feel for the board and the edges.

Beginner Snowboarding Techniques for Riding

If you have to push your way to the hill or even push to get up a little speed, there is a way to do it. Unclip the straps on your back binding only and then just push the snowboard with your back foot over the flat area. By doing this, you can glide on the snowboard much the way someone pushes and glides with a skateboard. This is another way to get used to moving on the board. An experienced rider can reach down and buckle his binding without stopping. But when the newcomer reaches the hill, he will have to stop gliding and secure his back binding once again.

Now, practice riding straight down a hill with enough slope to give you that speed. The important thing here is body posture. Be sure to get in the right position for riding the hill. The natural tendency is to bend at the waist toward the slope of the hill while keeping the legs straight. This is incorrect. Instead, bend up and down at the knees, using them as shock absorbers. Keep your body and shoulders directly over the middle of the board. And most importantly, keep your knees together.

Your feet will be about eighteen or nineteen inches apart in the bindings. By bending at the knees and keeping them together, you’re creating an angle between your legs. It may seem awkward at first, but if you look at any good snowboarder coming down a hill, his knees are always held together.

This is the basic position for gliding down a hill. Once you can do this comfortably, with your knees bent and held together, and with your weight over the board, then you’re ready to work on controlling your speed. And this is done by going from edge to edge—by turning.

How to Perform Turns

An experienced snowboarder can control his speed every time he turns. Sometimes a rider will be coming down the mountain making beautiful looping turns, with the powdered snow cascading back from his edges. It’s a beautiful sight, but in reality the rider is often just making the turns to check his speed so he doesn’t build up too much forward momentum.

To learn the technique of turning, the new rider must be able to generate some speed. That’s another reason step one is to glide down a hill at moderate speed. If you’re going too slowly, you won’t turn; you’ll just fall over. So, before trying to turn, you must begin to ride straight down a hill, assuming the correct posture and picking up speed. If your weight is centered correctly, the entire base of the board will be in contact with the snow surface.

Turning technique begins with the upper body. Everything else follows in sequence. In other words, where your shoulders go, your waist will follow. And where your waist goes, your feet will go. This is the basic principle. Now, let’s see how it’s done.

If you’re a regular-foot rider with your left foot forward, you would begin a frontside or right-hand turn by dropping your right shoulder and rolling your left shoulder across the top of the board. You can help this movement by also bringing your left arm over. Once you do this, your left hip will almost automatically follow.

With the knees properly bent, this movement of arm, shoulder, and hip will shift your weight from the center to the inside edge and back part of the board. The board will make a turn to the right. Remember, the proper weight shift will keep the edge on the front part of the board from digging in. If that happens, the board will not turn properly.

To come out of a turn you simply square up your body and shift your weight back to the center of the board. That will bring the board off the edge and out of the turn. You will now be traveling in the direction you have turned. Next, you should try a left-hand or backside turn. This one is a little more difficult, though the technique is basically the same.

Start by dropping your left shoulder toward the snow and roll your right arm and shoulder across the top of the board. Again this will cause the right hip to follow and thus shift your weight to the left and rear. Once again your left edge, from the middle to the rear of the board, will dig in and cause the board to turn. To bring it straight, just square up and return your weight to the center of the board.

Turning is not difficult once you master the weight shift. This is something that can’t be taught. It must be felt.

Turning must be done with a real light finesse touch. You’re dealing with snow and a stainless steel edge, so you don’t have to put a lot of power into it. Don’t put all your weight on the edge and dig it in. If you do that, you’ll stick an edge and fall, or the edge will be buried too deep to get out and you’ll stay in the turn.

It’s a gradual motion done smoothly. The smoother you are, the more relaxed you are, the better off you’ll be and the quicker you’ll become proficient at turning the board.

Beginners going down a long hill should make turns at about a 70-degree angle. A 90-degree turn would take you directly out to the side and slow you down too much. A 45-degree turn on a moderately steep slope wouldn’t slow you down enough. You’d find yourself going too fast for your skill level. A 70-degree turn will keep the speed constant and controllable, allowing you to practice toe-side and heel-side turns, one after the other, all the way down the hill. However, if a new rider feels he is still going too fast, he can make one or two 90-degree turns to slow to the desired speed.

Making big turns across the run is the best way to learn. Sometimes you’ll be traveling parallel to the mountain. Small turns simply won’t give a new rider a good feel of the board. Small 45-degree turns on a moderate slope might speed you up to twenty-five or thirty miles an hour. That’s too fast for a beginner. You’ve got to find a happy medium because you don’t want to go too fast when you’re learning, or too slow, either.

Turning is one of the keys to snowboarding fun. It’s a skill that must be learned early and then perfected. Whether you wind up as a slalom racer or a freestyler, the ability to turn your board right and left is indispensable.

How to Stop Your Snowboard

Stopping is not nearly as important a skill in snowboarding as it is in other sports. The snowboarder is usually going to travel from point A to point B and won’t worry about stopping in between. If there is an obstacle such as a tree or rock, the rider will either go around it or jump over it.

But for beginners, there are a couple of ways to stop the board if it’s absolutely necessary. At slow speeds, the easiest way is to simply sit down. Just like that. Relax and sit. You may slide a little, but both rider and board will eventually stop.

The second basic way to stop is with a radical turn. As we already explained, turning is a way to control speed and slow the board. Therefore, if you make a turn of more than 90 degrees, you’ll actually start up the mountain again and come to a stop. If you want to stop quickly, just use the technique for turning. As your board turns, start digging the edge in deeper by putting more pressure on your back foot. The tail of the board will slide around and, as the edge continues to dig deeper into the snow, it will stop the board.

In a sense, that’s almost like a stop on ice in hockey. Some experienced riders can use the hockey-stop. As they’re headed straight in one direction, they will almost make a little hop-turn to throw the board sideways. Then they’ll put pressure on the rear edge of the board and come to a skidding stop.

This is similar to a maneuver called the sideslip. The sideslip is often used by experienced riders, to slow them down on a real steep grade or narrow vertical chute. With the sideslip, the board is parallel to the slope of the hill and the rider is actually going down sideways, toe-side in front. He controls his speed by putting his weight on the heel-side, the edge facing back up the mountain. The front edge of the board will actually come out of the snow by perhaps three or four inches. He controls his movement by his weight and if he wants to stop, can simply dig down harder with the heel-side until the board ceases to move.

One quick word about falling off your snowboard: Because your feet are in the bindings at an angle, you’ll usually fall to one side or the other. Unless you’re a hotdogger doing some wild freestyle stunts or flips, you won’t fall head over heels down the mountain.

But if you start to fall to the heel-side, simply sit down and slide to a stop on your buttocks. You may be a little sore, but you shouldn’t get hurt. If you fall to the toe-side, then you’ve got to try to cushion the fall with your hands or forearms and then slide to a stop. Again, if the snow is soft, chances of injury are slim.

These are the basics. They aren’t difficult to learn and before long you’ll be carving your own path down the mountain, controlling your speed with large, graceful turns, and enjoying a sport that gets into your blood and generally stays. Now it’s time to look ahead and see what you can do about entering some of the competitive disciplines, or the out-of-bounds world of the freestyler.

This article on snowboarding tips for beginners was purchased under a private label rights license from the DigitalPoint forums.

One Response to “Snowboarding Tips and Tricks for Beginners”

  1. comment number 1 by: THE GUYS

    This is a well written article. Enjoyed it.

    Many of THE GUYS ride goofy. Somehow that just works better for us. But we can be traditional too. Maybe not on a snowboard, but in general.

    Let us know if you’d like to license one of our stories/articles. We have a few on how to write an online dating profile that might work for you.

    Thanks for visiting.

    All the best,

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