Boarding for beginners: Tips to minimize frustration and maximize fun while learning how to snowboard
Snowboarding has a steep learning curve — especially for those on their first day out. Falling and frustration typically accompany riders on the mountain for the first time before things eventually get better.
Though not promising to turn a first-timer into an expert, these beginner tips from Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort snowboarding instructor Jason Albery can offer help. Some advice for enjoying the first runs on a board:
WEAR A HELMET, DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Though snowboarders are often seen riding without a helmet, it is the most important piece of equipment because it protects the most important part of the body. What to wear starts with layers, a waterproof jacket and gloves — and waterproof pants are a good way to keep dry even after repeated falls.
FIND YOUR DOMINANT LEG
Before getting on the mountain, figure out which leg to use as your control leg by thinking about which foot you would use to kick a soccer ball. This will likely be the foot you control the snowboard with, from the rear binding.
BE AWARE ON THE MOUNTAIN
Watch out for other skiers and snowboarders during a run and make sure not to stop or stay in high-traffic areas — have awareness of the surroundings. Downhill snowboarders and skiers have the right-of-way, as you can see them but they typically can’t see you.
HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES
While on the board, your body will follow your eyes — so look in the direction you want to go. When turning, over-emphasize the motion and keep the shoulders lined up with both the knees and toes. Eventually, shifting weight from heel to toe will link turns.
DON’T FEAR FALLING
Falling is a big part of the process of learning how to snowboard — it’s inevitable. Learn which positions are best to fall into and try to stay relaxed while falling in order to reduce the risk of injury.
WATCH THE WRISTS
Putting hands out to break a fall is a natural response, but causes extra strain on the wrist joint — try to make a fist if possible on the way down. Snowboarding with a low, athletic stance will lead to falls on the backside or forearms, which are both preferable to the wrists.
PRACTICE AND PATIENCE
The first snowboarding outing is typically frustrating, but it’s ultimately a relatively easy sport to pick up — especially with lessons. Continue to seek instruction and allow time for progression. The turns and longer runs won’t come right away, but they’ll happen sooner than you think.
This article is adapted from the upcoming winter edition of Tahoe Magazine, which will hit area newsstands Nov. 23. Be sure to pick up a copy!