Winter is almost here with many popular mountains opening their runs to stoked riders. But aren't snow sports dangerous and hard to learn? Like anything, there are risks and learning curves to snowboarding that can easily be overcome. Snowboarding might seem dangerous, but these injuries usually occur to those who were ill prepared. Some of the best ways to learn how to snowboard include learning how to fall, heelside turning, speed control and conditioning.
Let's face it, as a beginner you will fall often during your first session or two snowboarding. Some people fall more or less than average depending on many factors. For example, athletes that play other board sports like surfing and have strong lower body strength, will find it easier to learn this sport. However, some will fall constantly, making it important to fall safely when learning how to snowboard.
For starters, it's important to wear important gear like helmets, wrist guards and padded gear. Padded gear will not only keep you warm, but also prevent excessive bruising. Some gear might seem too much or not cool, but it's better than having a broken bone. It's important to learn how to fall correctly both front side and back side. When riding front side, NEVER place a straight arm out in front of you, which will lead to broken wrists and arms. Instead, try to fall on your knees first, then on your forearms. A good analogy for arm positioning is to envision a boxer blocking a punch with his parallel arms in front of his face.
Notice the left boxer's forearm position
Many injuries can occur when riding backside, especially broken tailbones. Like falling front side, Don't extend your arm behind your body in an attempt to catch yourself. This can lead to broken arms, wrists which makes it important to fall on one side of your body. When falling backside, you should fall either on your right or left side of your body with your arms close to your sides. By rolling on one side, you will prevent your tailbone from directly hitting the snow.
When learning how to snowboard, it's crucial that you learn to turn with your heels and toes. Alternating between the two turns is called "linking" your turns. Typically, most riders will find it easier to turn backside by putting pressure on his or her heels. Beginners usually learn heel side turning first and go down the first few runs in a "falling leaf pattern." It's called this because the snow tracks can resemble the path a falling leaf takes.
Falling leaf pattern
When doing heelside turns, it's important to put pressure on your front foot and point to where you want to go. By pointing with your hand, this will make it easier to shift your weight from one side to another. Also, this pointing technique will force your head to move where you want to go. Leading into turns with head rotation is essential to not only snowboarding but all board sports.
It's generally easier to turn heelside because our bodies want to look down the slope. You could easily get through a lower level run with the falling leaf technique with a smaller risk of falling than toeside turns.
With all that speed, it can be hard to stop or even decelerate quickly. Since the average amateur snowboarder rides between 15-20 mph, it can be tough to control. Like turning, speed control is all about riding on an edge, either toe or heelside. From there, it's best to try doing a heelside stop first. When doing this maneuver, keep in mind not to flex your foot, but rather press down with your heels. Many beginners erroneously believe that flexing their feet will make the board stop, but this won't be enough. When doing this stop, keep your knees bent, buttocks down, and you will stop quicker the harder you press with your heels.
Learning speed control can be one of the most exerting stages of snowboarding, because it requires holding a squat like position for long periods of time. Thus, its crucial to take breaks when necessary and stretch out your legs to prevent overexertion. Once you master heelside, it's wise to learn speed control on your toeside. When practicing control on your toe side, stopping will be more gradual. Don't panic as this is quite normal because toeside maneuvers require more body rotation. Instead, keep your knees bent, press down on your toes with minimal pressure on your heels. If you put too much pressure on your heels, you'll catch an edge and fall.
Snowboarding is a physically demanding sport with riders burning up 630 calories per hour. Therefore, it's imperative that you stay in top shape if you want to spend more time on the slope. Luckily, there are many leg strength exercises you can do at home to cross train for snowboarding.
Snowboarding requires tons of leg strength making squats and wall sits essential. Squats can be done anywhere with or without weights. When doing squats, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bend down with your back straight and buttocks out. Also, keep your heels planted on the floor and avoid turning your knees inward when squatting.
Wall sits are similar to squats, but you hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. To do this exercise, put your back on a wall in a squat position. Imagine that you're sitting in a chair to get into the optimal position. This exercise will strengthen your quadriceps, thighs and calves, leading to snowboard success.
Snowboarding and skiing are popular and thrilling winter time sports. These sports are fun, but carry inherent risks to untrained beginners. These risks can be significantly minimized by learning proper techniques. When learning how to snowboard, you should how to fall safely, turn properly, speed control and conditioning exercises. Lastly, this post is meant as general advice and it's wise to book a lesson with a qualified instructor.