7 Tips for the first day snowboarding
Updated: Aug 14
The first day of snowboarding is not easy.
Most can't ride as well as they originally anticipated; as it is looks much easier when seeing the Olympians on television, and maybe you can't even stand-up with a snowboard attached to your feet!
Here, I have 7 useful tips for snowboarding to help you overcome those first day challenges and get you boarding like a pro in no time.
Let's get ready!
1. Find your stance Regular or Goofy
Snowboarding has two stances: regular and goofy. Find your stance before you start. A person with a left foot in front has a regular stance. A person with a right foot in front has a goofy stance. Approximately 70% to 80% of people are regular stance, and 20% to 30% are goofy stance.
Which is your stance?
If you're kicking a soccer ball with your right foot, or have your left foot in front when playing golf or baseball batting, there is a high possibility that you prefer regular stance. Another useful way to find out which is your most comfortable stance, is by checking which one-foot skating feels more comfortable than the other. One foot skating is a term we use in snowboarding, which will be elaborated on further down.
2. Wear the Right Gear
On the snow it is important to wear the right clothing, equipment, and protective gear. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people I've seen in the slopes not wearing suitable equipment. Something to also keep in mind, is that rather than using sun glasses, goggles are much more recommended. Goggles are more comfortable, supportive, and offer more protection against the harsh conditions of the mountains. Then of course there is the boots and the snowboard itself, make sure you know which style suits you best.
For the first layer, wear undershirts and under tights, this will give you more flexibility when carving those turns. One of the first things to get cold when on the mountains are your feet, so make sure you have proper socks that are meant for snowboarding / skiing. For extra comfort and warmth, you can wear a fleece on the second layer.
Hip pads and knee pads are also helpful for beginners.
3. One foot sliding(skating) on a flat
Before you start, make sure to find a nice flat surface, this way it can ensure that your snowboard won't slide away. Once your front foot is strapped and you move along with the snowboard on a nice flat area, this is what we call "skating". You need the skills of skating in order to ride a lift or to try and navigate flat terrain.
How to ride one footed on a snowboard
To start off you want to look in the direction you're wanting to go, just like driving a car or riding a bike.
Start with your foot behind the snowboard, as it keeps your body in line.
To try and maintain your balance, make sure to slightly lean forward, putting pressure on your front foot.
Once that feels good, you can start to glide, which is when we put our back foot right up against the back binding.
Try to make sure that your back foot doesn't go too far past your back binding and don't look down or else you might find yourself doing the splits.
4. One foot sliding on small slope
Next step, let's find a small slope, ideally ending with a long flat, this way you don't have to worry about stopping. From there, try doing straight lines down a small hill.
This is very important to practice, because the scariest part for beginner snowboarders is getting off the chair lift. If you practice this exercise, you'll be able to ride and control your speed with just one foot strapped in while getting off the chairlift.
Let's start practicing!
Make sure to keep your back foot planted in the snow until you're ready to go. From there, pivot your board so the nose is pointing straight down the slope line. In one smooth movement take your free foot and place it on top of your board against the back binding and off you go. Try to stand with your knees flexed, back straight, head up, and hands over the nose and tail of the snowboard. Make sure to look where you're going, and your board will usually go where your shoulders are leading.
One foot heal side turn
Next, try to turn on the heal side and stop.
To do this, you'll need to tilt your hips and back right over the board. As you do that, you're going to start to feel your calves hit the upper part of your back binding and feel some pressure in that area. As you lean back, very gradually, you wanna keep your knees nice and bent and you're gonna lift the front side of the board.
When you lift the front side of the board, you should be able to feel the top of your boot with your toes.
1. Relax your body, then look in the direction you're wanting to go. Make sure to keep your free foot planted in the snow until you're ready to go. 2. In one smooth movement, take your free foot and place it on top of your board against the back binding and off you go. Keep your shoulders aligned with your snowboard to stay in a straight line. 3. Slowly shift your weight towards the heel feeling the pressure of the back binding against your calves and keep pushing down on your heels. 4. In order to turn, make sure to lead with your shoulders, and in result, your snowboard will turn in the direction you're wanting it to go. At the end, try to shift in order to stop.
One foot toe side turn
Now let's try do a toe side turn followed by a stop. Many people find the toe side more difficult than the heel side, so in order to make it as easy as possible, make sure to get the following points down.
1. Same with heel side, relax your body, then look in the direction you're wanting to go.
2. Place your back foot on the board, then head down the hill with that nice even stance.
3. Shift your weight towards that toe edge by bringing your knees closer to the snow.
4. Keep your back nice and straight, turn your shoulders inwards, and bend the front ankle, making you come to a stop.
How to get off a chairlift
Before getting on the chairlift, make sure to practice those one-foot pushes until you feel comfortable.
When you get off the chairlift, a common mistake, is to feel the need to stop right away. Instead, try gliding for a while to get out of the way of the people on the chairlift behind you.
1. Lift the safety bar up. 2. Before you take off, please make sure to sit sideways so that your board is straight out in front of you. Stand up slowly until your snowboard can touch the ground.
3. Relax your body, then look in the direction you're wanting to go.
4. You can stop on a flat surface, using either heel side or toe side. Move quickly so the people behind you don’t hit you.
5. Side Slipping
For snowboarders, side slipping is an important technique for speed, control, and stopping. It's a super easy way to slow down if you ever feel you're going too fast. It can even help you come to a stop.
How to stand up on heel side
Getting up with both feet strapped in can be a challenge. As soon as you start push on your board to stand up it wants to slide out from underneath you. You need to keep your toe edge nice and high to insure that you have a firm grip on the snow. If you start to push your hips into the air first, it's hard to keep that toe edge high, causing the board to slide out from underneath you. Instead, scoot your butt close to your board and in one smooth movement push yourself upwards. If you want, you can even grab on to your toe edge with one hand to keep your weight forward. Once you're standing, your boards probably gonna want to start moving right away, so be ready to side slip as soon as you stand.
How to use heel side slipping
Keep your head up and your eyes looking straight ahead. Don't look down. Bend your knees and maintain a straight upper body. Once you're standing, push down on your toes. After this, your board should start to move so make sure to maintain even weight on both feet with your arms to the side for balance. If you put more weight into your heels, you will be able to stop.
How to stand up on a toe side
Now I will show you how to stand up on toe side.
All you have to do is let your back touch the floor and lift the left or right leg up and pull yourself over onto your toe edge.
Then just stand up. This is much easier than the heel side.
For toe side please make sure your back is nice and straight.
I have seen lots of people in the past with a bent back. Good body position is a very important factor for improvement in snowboarding.
How to do toe side slipping
Make sure to keep your head up and look directly uphill. From there, bend your knees and maintain a straight upper body.
Once you're standing, with your ankles slightly bent, stand up a little and relax the ankles a little. After this, your board should start to move. Maintain even weight on both feet with your arms to the side for balance, and please make sure to straighten your back. Lots of people bend their back. This gives the rider no control because if your back is bent, your weight will not be centred.
６. Pendulum(zigzag riding )
Pendulum is a method in snowboarding of gliding left and right while controlling the speed. You can zigzag using one side of the edge.
This is an important part of turning, as it will help you move across slopes.
Heel side pendulum
Start this exercise by side slipping on your heel edge. Bend the front ankle just like a step on the car accelerator. Look in the direction you're wanting to go. Increase edge angle with even pressure on both feet to slow down and stop.
Toe side pendulum
Start this exercise by side slipping on your toe edge. Make sure to bend your knees and straighten your back. Relax the upper body and don't tense up. If you push down on your front foot, this will make you start sliding on your toe edge.
Increase edge angle with even pressure on both feet to slow down and stop. Don't forget to look where you're going.
７. First turns
Turning is the first step to becoming a pro snowboarder. If you can make turns, you will be able to ride more freely on the slopes.
Heel Side Turn
The heel side turn is the most fundamental turn. Most say it's easier than the toe side turn so it's only fitting that we start here!
In the first step, you will need to be on your toe side and leaning upwards. This step is vital in order to initiate a heel side turn. When you're ready, keep your head up and look in your riding direction. Don’t look down at your feet. Look across to where you are going! You can also direct yourself with your front hand. This will help keep your body weight centered.
The most important part is when you are going downhill which is step ② and ③ shown in the diagram above. Try to put your weight onto your front foot. Your board will begin to point straight down the hill. Engage your heels into the snow and slide around.
Toe Side Turn
Many people find the toe side turn much more challenging than the heal side turn.
In order to successfully make this turn, it is important to maintain the right toe side position. If you are unsure of your toe side position, return to the previous exercise: toe side pendulum.
Start off with a heel side slip and make sure you have some speed to move side ways on the slope.（①→②） This is important because it allows you to accumulate speed, and without speed, it's difficult to get the chance to turn. The momentum is what helps you make the turn. Bend the front ankle just like a step on the car accelerator（②→③）. Try to have more weight on the front foot. Keep looking across the hill to where you're wanting to go, rotate the hips and knees, then your shoulder will follow. This will help you change the edge from your heal to your toe. At the end of the turn, make sure to balance your weight. Another key point is to keep your back straight, this is an easy aspect to forget as many people feel the need to lean in with their upper body. Please don't forget that good body posture is crucial for improving in snowboarding.
J-turn practice helps the board run to the fall line
Making a turn is difficult for those who are new to snowboarding. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't nail it right away, most people aren't able to do this and turning is one of those things that look so much easier than it actually is. One of the reasons why most cannot turn is because they're afraid of running the board to the straight fall line. Therefore, I recommend the J-turns introduced here.
Even if you can't run the board to the fall line, you'll be able to gradually built up the courage the more you practice and learn how to trust your edges.
This exercise can also gradually increase your edge techniques, making you more comfortable performing these tricks .
For the final step, I will be showing you the link turn. If you have been able to complete the previous heel side turn and toe side turn, this link turn will be a breeze. The link turn is just a combination of the two previous turns and will have you looking like a pro in no time! Please try to imagine yourself by referring to the diagram shown below.
Good luck on your first day of snowboarding!
Key Points to Remember
Relax and breathe. This is one of the most important steps as your body will not respond to you if you're tense.
Maintain good body posture, this in return will improve your technique.
Look where you're going, you have eyes for a reason!
Writing this article wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for my friend, Takashi Sato(CASI Level 3 Instructor).