Snowboarding, now a recognized winter Olympic sport, is a widely loved winter activity that involves the participant standing on a board, attached to their feet with boots, and riding it down snowy slopes. This guide is designed to walk beginners through the necessary equipment and fundamental techniques, such as stopping and turning.
Get the Right Equipment
When you are trying out snowboarding for the first time you can rent most of the equipment at the resort you are staying at but you will need to buy the correct clothing and you might prefer to buy your own gear as well. Here’s what you will need:
There are different varieties of snowboards depending on what you want to try but if you are staying at a resort as a beginner, you will be able to rent one, saving the expense of buying one for yourself. But if like many, you fall in love with the sport, check out our guide to the best snowboards.
These normally come with your board but make sure they aren’t missing. Snowboard bindings are what secure your boots to the snowboard. Make sure they are the right size for your size of boot and if you are at a resort ask the instructor to help you to make sure they are properly secured.
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You need to make sure your snowboard boots fit your feet perfectly. It’s better to buy these for yourself than rent them, so you know they are the right fit and are comfortable throughout the sessions. It might also be more hygienic to use your own boots. Check our reviews of the best snowboard boots.
The last thing you want when snowboarding is problems with your feet so go for thinner socks made of synthetic materials which will draw the sweat away from your skin. Thick socks will make your feet sweat and then go cold and you don’t want that while out in the snow. Make sure you can still fully move your feet even with layers of socks on as this is important
Protecting your head from injury is very important when you start snowboarding. You should be able to rent a snowboard helmet at the resort but you might prefer to buy your own. Make sure it fits properly and isn’t going to slip down as you pick up speed. Check out our reviews of the best ski helmets for something suitable.
You need a jacket which is breathable but is also weatherproof. You don’t want one that will make you overheat, but that will keep you warm and protected. Look for a specialist snowboard jacket as that way you know it has been designed for the task at hand. Alternatively, see our reviews of the best ski jackets for something that will more than suffice.
As a beginner you are likely to be falling over regularly so make sure your snow pants are waterproof as you don’t want to end up soaked to the skin every time you fall in the snow. They need to be breathable as well so you aren’t overheating on the slopes.
On colder days you need to make sure the layers you are wearing underneath your jacket and pants are going to keep you warm enough and move the sweat away from your skin. Avoid anything made with cotton and go for breathable synthetic fabrics.
You might need to go for a base layer and then a mid-layer if it’s really cold. It’s always better to use several layers than to opt for a big thick jumper. Mid-layers could include a fleece or a light jumper or sweatshirt.
It’s really important to give your hands the protection they need against the snow and the elements so make sure you buy durable, waterproof, and insulated ski gloves to wear. Your gloves will get a lot of wear and tear so you need to check and replace them regularly.
Related read: Best Snowboarding Gloves with Waterproofing 2021
Goggles are vital to prevent debris and snow from hitting your face, and to protect against the glare of the sun and the snow so make sure you buy effective goggles before setting out for the first time. Again, you might prefer to buy your own to make sure they fit your head perfectly and are comfortable to wear for any length of time. See our reviews of the best snowboard goggles.
How to Turn on a Snowboard
Learning to snowboard as a beginner can be done in many ways, from watching videos to having lessons at indoor snow centers, or trying it out for the first time live on the slopes, but it can be helpful to master some of the basics before you hit the snow.
Here are three easy ways to help turn on a snowboard, while heading downhill:
- Imagine you are steering a bike
No doubt you have learned to ride a bike in the past so visualizing that can help you when it comes to turning a snowboard. To turn a bike you need to steer the handlebar in the direction you want to go and the wheels follow.
It’s the same with a snowboard. When you are standing on the snowboard you have a front foot and a back foot so if you want to turn you steer your front foot in the direction you wish to travel in. You don’t need to think about the back foot as it will just follow.
Your front foot is effectively the same as steering the handlebars on a bicycle, so turn that foot in the direction you want to go.
- Use your front foot to guide you
For this technique make sure you are on a quiet slope away from other boarders. Only strap your front foot in and head straight down the slope. Keep your feet flat.
Imagine there is a pedal underneath your front foot which helps you to turn. If you want to turn in the direction your toes are facing, push the pedal down using your toes. If you want to go the way your heel is facing, push down with your heel.
- Crossing a hill
Stand on the hill and choose either the toe side or the heel side, whichever is easiest for you. You can go across the hill, towards your front leg. Once you reach speed, push either your front toe or heel down and your board will start facing downhill.
Keep pushing your toe or heel down until the board is fully aligned with going downhill. Once it is aligned, keep pushing down and your board will turn again, pointing to the other side of the hill, meaning you have successfully turned.
How to Stop on a Snowboard
As a beginner one of the most important things you are going to want to know is how to stop on your snowboard as it’s key to your safety and the safety of those around you, so here are some tips on how to do it.
The easiest way to stop the snowboard is to dig the edge of it into the snow as this will slow you down dramatically. Once you can balance well on the snowboard, using the edge to stop will become much easier.
As you are moving downhill, start to push your toes down and this will push the side of your board into the snow, making you slow and come to a stop. The harder you push, the faster you will stop. You can also do the opposite but with the same effect, just bring your heels down instead of your toes.
There are a number of different techniques you can apply when stopping a snowboard so here are a few of the more common ones:
This is one of the most used stop techniques. When sliding down the slope, spin your snowboard round so you are effectively coming down the hill sideways and your toes are heading downhill. Start to lift your toes into the air.
This movement will force the edge of your snowboard into contact with the snow, bringing you to a stop. It’s one of the simplest stop moves to undertake but does need the practice to get it right.
There are a few ways of carrying out this stop but the basic principle is that you turn your snowboard around so you are facing uphill. Suddenly turning to face the opposite direction will bring you to a quick stop.
Snowboarding is a growing sport but as a beginner, it can feel somewhat daunting with all of the equipment and not knowing any of the techniques, but there are many easy ways to learn how to snowboard.
Once you have the basic equipment you can watch online videos, undertake tutorials with experts, or practice at snow centers indoors before you hit the slopes, in order to boost your confidence and practice your skills.
Getting the right clothing and kit will give you the comfort, warmth, and protection you need while out in the snow so make sure you seek expert advice and get the right garments and equipment which fit you properly.
The last thing you want while out in the snow is to end up with cold feet or wet knees as it won’t allow you to carry on practicing your techniques.
Once you have the right kit and have mastered balancing on the snowboard, then it’s important to learn to turn in either direction and to be able to stop effectively, without falling over, or shooting off down the hill.
Snowboarding is a great sport full of fun, enjoyment, speed, and thrills, so as a beginner, while there is a lot to learn and to take on board, you will have so much to look forward to, not to mention amazing mountain scenery to enjoy at your leisure.