So you want to snowboard? This complete guide will help prepare you for your first day snowboarding. Take your time reading through the whole article, or skip ahead to the bit that applies to you most:
- Before you get to the slopes
- At the rental shop
- Heading to your first lesson
Before Your First Day of Snowboarding
Get into a snowboard specific exercise routine
On your first day on the slopes you’ll be spending a lot of time falling down, sitting, and getting back up again. Even if you work out regularly, you’ll find yourself getting tired quickly if you haven’t conditioned your body beforehand. Training with a snowboard specific exercise routine will also help you recover faster for the next day, and prevent injuries when you fall.
Here’s a workout you can do at home that I’ve designed specifically for snowboarders. It works on improving posture, balance, and strength in muscles that you may not use everyday but you will use all the time on the slopes, like you wrists, neck, lower back and shoulders.
Do it for just 10 minutes every couple of days, as part of your regular workout routine, and you’ll notice that you won’t be as tired at the end of the day and be able to go harder and faster on each run.
Prepare the perfect gear list
Going through a checklist of your gear is the best way to make sure you don’t forget anything important before you leave your house. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered- give this handy gear list a once over before your next trip and you’ll be right:
- Wrist guards (optional, but highly recommended, especially for beginners)
- Crash pants
- Knee pads
- Water resistant outer jacket
- Water resistant snowboarding pants
- Base layers (long underwear and long sleeved top. Wear two if it’s cold)
- Face mask/balaclava/scarf
- Thick socks
- Small backpack
- Food (high energy, tasty snacks like chocolate, museli bars, fruit mix)
- Water bottle/thermos
- Sun screen
- Lip balm
- Sun glasses
- Board lock
Did you get all that? If you’ve forgotten something, the lost and found box can be a place to borrow from.
Finally, if you’re interested in seeing what equipment I take to the slopes, check out this video of my 2017 gear list. I’m a gear fanatic and always do a lot of research for myself.
At the Rental Shop
Figure out whether you’re regular or goofy
Regular means that you go down the hill with left foot first, goofy means that you go down hill with right foot first. Also the front foot is the foot that you keep strapped in when you get on a lift.
This is important to know ahead of time, especially if you’re renting, so the shop can set up your bindings for you.
How to figure out whether you’re goofy or regular:
- Try sliding across the snow, see which foot naturally leads
- Get a friend to push you in the back to see which foot you put out and balance yourself with
- Or just use your dominant foot, the one you’d use to kick a ball with
Know your weight and height
Finding the right length snowboard for you depends on both your weight and your height. For most people, the board will come up to about chin height.
However, your riding preference also comes into play. A longer board is more stable, but harder to turn, whilst a shorter board is lighter and more maneuverable but with less edge grip.
If you’re a beginner, just focus on picking a snowboard with a medium length. This table from Whitelines is useful for working out what size board best suits you.
Know your shoe size
The rental shop will ask for your shoe size. Your snowboard boots will tend to be the same size, or one size smaller than your shoes.
Heading to your first lesson
Learn to skate
Of course, you could get to your lesson by walking, but that would be no fun, would it? Do what everyone else is doing and learn to skate across flat areas.
Skating is when you have your front foot in your bindings (left if you’re regular, right if you’re goofy), and use your back foot to push you along, like a gondola, except that you’re using your leg as a paddle. Here’s how you do it:
- Get your front foot in your bindings and stand with your body side on (shoulder pointing towards) to the direction you want to head in. Your board is pointing in the direction you’re going to.
- Push with your rear foot and let yourself glide forward.
- Plant your rear foot down and repeat.
When you get confident with your balancing skills, you can even push, push, push and gliiiiiiide for a longer distance, just like when you build up momentum on a skateboard or scooter.
Learn to walk uphill
When it comes to travelling uphill, you’ll need to walk. But you don’t have to remove your snowboard from your front foot. Here’s how you walk uphill:
- Stand facing up the hill, with your free foot in front and your bound foot behind you. Make sure your snowboard is behind your body, with the edge lying across the slope.
- Take a small step forward with your free foot.
- Take a small step with your snowboard bound foot, making sure to dig in the toe edge into the snow, to stop it from sliding down the hill.
Learn one footed riding
This skill is vital for going down very small slopes, especially when you get off a chairlift. Here’s how you do it:
- Find a slope with a small decline, preferably ending into a flat area.
- Point the front of your board downwards, in the direction you’re heading.
- Let your weight carry you forward.
- To slow down or come to a stop, move your rear heel to the edge of the board (behind your body) and drag it along against the snow.
Learn to fall
This is the final but most important skill to learn because you’ll be falling all the time on your first day snowboarding.
The most common injury from snowboarding is from a broken or sprained wrist, which is partly because we’ve conditioned ourselves to fall with our hands out to protect ourselves.
When you fall forward, you actually want to be first landing on your knees, then your forearms. That’s why knee pads can be useful for beginner snowboarders to absorb most of the impact.
When you fall backwards, you want to be landing butt first. To protect yourself, think of tucking into a ball. Bring your knees up and your chin in to your chest to prevent whiplash. Also try to keep your arms tucked in closely to your body.
Falling is definitely one of the most scary experiences for first time snowboarders, but remember- everyone, even pros have fallen plenty of times in their lives. The only important thing is that you get up more times than you fall down.
So hopefully this guide has taken you to your first lesson. You’re now ready to strap in and start riding!
If you found this guide useful, don’t forget to share it with your friends to help them prepare for their first day snowboarding!