How Hard Is Snowboarding for Beginners?
For some, it is easy to learn to snowboard. For others, it is unfathomably difficult.
It’s like the old trick of patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Some people can instantly do it, while others become the butt of jokes for years to come. However, with lessons, commitment, and practise anyone can master snowboarding (but the jury’s still out on the head pat and tummy rub thing).
The hardest part for beginners is that snowboarding is more difficult on flat slopes and moving slowly. This is because speed makes it easier to initiate turns and get onto the edge. So you need to be brave enough to speed up, without yet having the skills to control what happens. At this point, you will fall. Many times.
Because of all this ‘eating snow’, snowboarding is described by many as having a steep learning curve for beginners. No one likes falling, and you’ll probably have some painful spills and a good collection of bruises. But don’t worry, as every tumble is one step closer to getting it. And once you get it, progression is fast.
How Hard Is It to Become an Intermediate Snowboarder?
Becoming an intermediate snowboarder is like riding a bike. Once you’ve nailed the basics you can snowboard, it is then just about taking those skills onto steeper slopes, faster speeds and trickier conditions.
You will still fall. And quite possibly, those falls will be more spectacular. But you’ll now spend more time riding and less time failing. Snowboarding is never easy, but your time as an intermediate is full of fast progression. It is almost as if you have got over the crest of a hill on a bike, and are freewheeling down, having done the hard work.
Is Snowboarding Harder Than Skiing?
Yes and no. Skiing is easier to learn, while snowboarding is easier to become good at. So those first few days, until you get it, are far more difficult as a snowboarder. You’ll fall loads, ache and watch in envy as the beginner skiers head off up the chairlift deploying snow plough all the way down.
But once snowboarding clicks, you’ll progress so much faster than skiers. You’ll be cutting up their ski snakes and spraying snow over the same snow-ploughing beginners in no time.
But a word of warning: I have known a few people who never got past the falling phase. The problem is – it hurts. And if you become defensive, it means you will never fully commit and actually ‘get’ snowboarding.
Is It Hard to Teach Yourself How to Snowboard?
I taught myself to snowboard and now get paid to write about it. And I know other people who never took lessons. I would say self teaching works if you are a sporty person who doesn’t mind learning by failing. And by failing, I mean hitting the deck. A lot.
But for many people going DIY is a slippery slope – and not in a good way. There’s a good chance you’ll just not get it, and will prolong the falling period long enough to injure yourself or put you off the sport entirely. And if you do get it you are likely to have developed some bad habits – I certainly had.
It’s safer and generally more effective to learn from a certified instructor. While they may not save you from featuring in the next viral snowboarding blooper reel, they will speed up your progression and help you to understand the dynamics of the sport.
Check out the American Association of Snowboard Instructors for reputable teachers.
How to Make Snowboarding Easier to Learn
To smooth your journey from novice to snowboarding superstar, consider these tips:
- Bend Those Knees: By far, the most frequent issue I spot with beginner snowboarders is standing too straight and/or bending at the waist rather than the knees. So Game of Thrones it up, baby, and bend the knee!
- Get in Shape: You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, right? Snowboarding uses muscles you forgot you had. Boost your stamina through cardio exercise and strength of specific muscles in the legs and core for a smoother ride.
- Invest in Safely Gear: The right safety gear will reduce the number of bumps and bruises you pick up and could save you from a more serious injury. For beginners, a helmet and wrist guards are a must. Knee pads and crash pants are also well worth the investment, as you’ll be less worried about falling.
- Learn How to Fall: If you are scared of falling you’ll tense up and snowboard like Bambi on ice. But if you learn how to fall, by using your momentum and the slope to spread the impact, then you’ll be more confident and not worry about eating snow.
- Choose a Good Instructor: Don’t underestimate the power of a solid teacher. They’ll be your personal GPS through the many snowboarding ups and downs, steering you away from bad habits and towards progression.
- Practice Often: Very simply, the more you ride, the better you’ll get. But this isn’t just the number of days on the slopes, it is making the most of them to push yourself and keep progressing. Don’t just ride. Instead, slow things down and try to perfect your form by concentrating on specific aspects of snowboarding. Keeping your fitness high with certain exercises can also greatly help.
- Pick the Right Equipment: You wouldn’t try to carve a turkey with a spoon – equally, a snowboard not suited to your needs will make everything more difficult. Do some research, get the right gear, and it will enhance your snowboarding.
- Make Sure Everything Fits: No one enjoys a foot-crushing boot or a helmet that wobbles more than you do. You’ll be out on the slopes all day, so comfort is key to enjoying it so you can make the most of your time in the mountains.
- Be Respectful to Others: Knowing your snowboard etiquette will go a long way in ensuring you and everybody around you are able to have as much fun in the safest way possible.
- Bend Your Knees: So important it is worth saying twice!
Snowboarding isn’t easy at first, but persevere, as once you ‘get’ it, you’ll progress quickly. Your reward is a barrel of laughs, gasps, and “Did I really just do that?” moments combined with fresh mountain air, stunning scenery and plenty of excitement.
And remember, everyone was once a beginner, even the pros. So buckle up, embrace the snow (often face first), and remember – it’s not about how many times you fall, but what you do when you get up again.