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Home Blog How to Snowboard: The Definitive Guide (2023)

How to Snowboard: The Definitive Guide (2023)

Learn how to snowboard with our definitive guide to snowboarding for beginners and everyone else.

We stopped on the side of the slope in a well-visible place (safety first!) when my father said to me: “You are still five years younger than I was when I started snowboarding.”

He started snowboarding at 47 years old, and during the last 20 years, snowboarding has taken him to places like New Zealand and the National Geographic YouTube channel:

What is it about snowboarding that can change your whole life? How can sliding down a hill on a piece of wood become a lifelong passion?

In this guide, we will take a thorough look at snowboarding. Whether you are a beginner or you already have some experience behind you, we will equip you with a lot of knowledge and practical tips to help you on your snowboarding journey.

The key ingredients of snowboarding

There is much more to snowboarding than we realize just by looking at someone riding on a snowboard down the slope.

Snowboarding can resonate with the geek inside us because it has gadgets, requires a systematic approach to our progress, and provides a lot of satisfaction and fun.

Set up

First, we need to pick up and set up our snowboard equipment. There are many new technologies in modern snowboarding; countless variations we can review and decide about.

Everyone loves getting new stuff – new gear we can play with, comparing it to the old one looking for any little impact it can have on our experience and performance.

Progress

Snowboarding is a very technical sport. Even when you master its basics, there are many paths you can progress down and many things to learn.

Don’t get comfortable with what you already know. You’ll miss the satisfaction that comes from learning new things.

Of course, sometimes you can feel frustrated if something isn’t happening as you’d wish. It should motivate rather than paralyze you.

Have fun

Combine your carefully selected setup with your progress challenges and have endless fun on the slope.

Your way of riding creates your expression and experiences. Laid down carve. Surfing pow. Feel of the stomped trick. Riding with friends. You and the mountain.

Introduction to snowboarding

Snowboarding history

If we have been looking for the roots of snowboarding, there probably isn’t an older documented case than the tradition of riding boards in the village of Petran, Turkey. They have been snowboarding for over 300 years, as the following excellent film documents.

There isn’t any evidence that Petran snowboarding influenced the development of modern snowboarding. Independently, but not unlikely in the result, its origins date back to the early 1960s in the USA when Sherman Poppen created a snowboard predecessor, the “snurfer.” As the name suggests, it was inspired by surfing.

Snurfer patent diagram and modern version of Snurfer

Check out A Brief History of Snowboarding if you are interested in how snowboarding has boomed (and then down-turned) since then.

Snowboarding styles

Snowboarding boots define the major difference between snowboarding styles.

Hardboots

Hardshell, ski-like boots, are associated with alpine snowboarding and carving. They are also used in racing and parallel slalom. Alpine snowboards are typically narrower and longer, and the stance uses big positive angles.

Softboots

Riding in softboots is the most common way of recreational snowboarding, and unless you know what you do, we recommend starting in them too.

The rest of this guide will focus on riding in softboots, as it’s the most versatile form of snowboarding. You can use softboots for all different snowboarding styles like carving, freestyle, and freeride. We will inspect these styles in the Where to progress section.

Softboots are a synonym for freedom associated with snowboarding – walking freely, without heavy skis and clumsy poles.

(However, don’t quote me the next time you have to unstrap on a flat area while your friend on skis easily overtakes you using their poles.)

Snowboarding equipment

Correctly choosing and setting up snowboard equipment can significantly improve your experience and speed up your progress. That’s why we explain some key features in this section.

Proper snowboard equipment can make or break your day on the mountain.

Snowboard

Snowboard types have evolved a lot in the last decade. The three key characteristics define how a snowboard rides:

  • profile
  • shape
  • flex

Profile

Snowboard profile refers to how a snowboard looks when you view it from the side.

Camber snowboard profile

The center of the snowboard with a camber profile is elevated, which creates bigger pressure on the contact points (the points where the snowboard touches the ground) when you stand on the board. The results are a more stable ride, more pop for ollies, and rebound in turns.

It’s easier to catch the edge on it, and it doesn’t float that well in powder.

Snowboard with rocker profile

Rocker snowboards have reversed camber profiles, and they float better in powder. Usually, they are also easier to press when doing butter tricks. They are more forgiving, so you are less likely to catch the edge on them, especially if you are a beginner. However, their edge hold is not as good as in camber boards.

Snowboard with flat profile

Flat snowboards are entirely flat when lying on the ground. You can use them for a variety of riding styles. They are well-suitable for park riding.

Snowboard with CamRock profile

Hybrid profiles combine camber and rocker in specific ways. For example, CamRock, shown above, uses camber under the feet for better stability and pop and rocker at the nose and tail for a more catch-free ride and float in the powder. Another variation is RockCam, with a rocker between the feet and camber under the bindings.

There are other profiles like powder-specific S Rocker. For more information on camber profiles, check out this BoardWorld post.

Shape

Snowboard shape specifies how it looks when you view it from the top.

Snowboard with twin shape has the same nose and tail and rides equally well in both directions, so it is a good choice if you want to learn to ride switch or do freestyle tricks where you often land switch.

Directional snowboards typically have a tapered shape, a wider nose, and a narrower tail. They ride better in one direction and also float better in powder.

The directional twin has the same shape of the nose and tail. However, the flex is stiffer in the tail.

Check out this Whitelines video for more information on snowboard shapes.

Flex

Flex defines how stiff the snowboard is. It is usually rated on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest, with most models falling into the 3 – 7 range.

We typically use stiffer boards for freeriding and carving while softer ones for freestyle.

Snowboard categories

Based on profile, shape, and flex, we can sort snowboards into the following categories:

  • All-mountain freestyle – twin or directional twin snowboards with medium flex, focusing on freestyle riding all over the mountain.
  • All-mountain freeride – directional snowboards with stiffer flex, sometimes with a tapered shape, camber profile, or hybrid profile for added powder capabilities.
  • Park snowboards – twin snowboards with soft to medium flex, camber, rocker, flat or hybrid. Stiffer boards with camber are used for bigger jumps and pipe riding
  • Powder specific –  directional snowboards with an s-rocker, a tapered shape with a wider nose, and a shorter, narrow tail (a swallow tail).
  • Volume-shifted boards – a relatively new category of snowboards – are wider and shorter and can have different shapes and profiles. Extra width increases the board’s float in powder and reduces the probability of boot-out when carving (see below).

How to buy a snowboard

Check out the following video on how to find the perfect board for you:

If you are a beginner, you might look for the following characteristics:

  • flat or mellow camber between the feet for better stability, rocker towards the nose and tail for a more forgiving, catch-free ride (CamRock profile, see above),
  • middle flex (5),
  • in the middle of recommended weight range (don’t choose your snowboard based on your height),
  • if you are a man with 10.5+ US boot size, consider mid-wide boards with a width around 260mm+ to avoid toe or heel drag,
  • lower price point

Stomp pad

A stomp pad is a piece of foam or plastic you can glue to your board between the bindings – it will help you ride your board with one foot strapped in, e.g., when you get on and off the lift.

Crab Trap stomp pad by Crab Grab

Crab Trap stomp pad by Crab Grab

Stickers

Stickers are a nice way of creative expression or preference for specific brands. Avoid an extensive sticker job on your snowboard if you are a beginner. You probably don’t want to catch more attention than necessary when struggling with the first moves.

Boots

Although we call them soft boots, snowboarding boots differ by flex:

  • Soft to mid-flex boots are more suitable for beginners and freestyle snowboarding because they allow more flex for the tricks
  • Hard flex boots are a better choice for advanced riders and freeriding because they more accurately translate movement to the binding and snowboard

Lacing systems

Another essential difference between boots is the lacing system. There are three main types of lacing systems:

  • traditional laces
  • speed lacing
  • boa systems

Traditional laces are easy to replace if they break. The boots shown here are Zeb Powell’s lashed boots from Thirtytwo.

Speed lace boots are easy to put on and take off and allows you to adjust the fit for the upper and bottom part separately. The boots shown above are Burton Photon.

Boa system is getting more popular as they allow precise fit adjustment. The boots are women’s Vans Encore Pro Boots

Check out the How to choose snowboard boots guide by Tactics for more information.

Boot fit

A proper boot fit is crucial for your comfort and performance on the snowboard.

Snowboard boots should be snug, so your toes should lightly touch the front of the inner liner when you stand straight. Your toes move backward a bit when you stand in the snowboard stance. Your heels should stay locked in place.

Don’t forget to try out the boots in the socks you will use for riding. If your shop offers such an option, have your boots heat-molded after the purchase.

Check out the following guide for more information:

If you’re struggling with getting properly fitted boots, you can also look for advice in Snowboarding Forum.

Bindings

An example of modern snowboard bindings, Bataleon Astro Asymwrap

Similarly to snowboards, we can categorize bindings according to their intended use in all-mountain, freestyle, and freeride categories. Freestyle bindings are typically softer and freeride stiffer, with the all-mountain category in between them.

Because snowboarding bindings translate movements from your boots to snowboard, they must fit your boots well. You can find bindings in different sizes (typically S/M, L/XL). Check the manufacturer’s sizing chart for your boots’ binding size.

Note: If you are buying Burton binding, be aware not to buy the EST version if you don’t have a snowboard with the EST channel

The latest development in bindings technology is Burton’s Step On, which removes the necessity of strapping in and off the bindings.

Burton Step On is a combination of strapless bindings and special boots.

Nidecker Supermatic

With the Nidecker Supermatic you are not limited to Burton boots.

Binding setup

Setting up bindings means:

  • customize binding, so it fits your boot well (length of straps, etc.)
  • adjust your baseplate length so it creates support for your boots’ sole (your boot should have some toe and heel overhang, but not too much)
  • mount it on your snowboard with your preferred angles, so your boots are centered over the board

Check out these videos for more details on binding setup.

Clothing

Jacket and pants

A jacket and pants as top layers protect you from the elements, so focus on solid waterproofing. You should be ok with 10k waterproofing and breathability for the resort riding unless you live in a wet climate. For freeriding, go with 20k and up (GORE-TEX®, eVent™, and other materials) if your budget allows it.

A suitable compromise for resort riding is light insulation in the jacket. Technical, non-insulated jackets are a better choice for freeriding.

As a beginner, you may sit on the ground more often, so pay attention to choosing quality pants.

Snowboarding jackets should have a powder skirt inside, which prevents snow from getting to your waist, and you can attach it to your pants. Volcom offers a patented jacket-to-pant zip feature.

An alternative is bib pants because they protect against snow and allow free movement of the waist.

DC Shadow Shell Snow Bib Pants

Jackets and pants usually come in three styles:

  • loose fit
  • standard fit
  • slim fit

Choose the fit you like, but ensure that any protective gear you use fits under it. As a beginner, pick a standard or loose fit for freedom of movement. What can feel baggy and oversized doesn’t feel like that much when riding. This is especially true for pants that need relatively big leg openings to fit over the boots. Also, ensure that your pants are long enough even when squatting.

Check out Evo’s guide on outerwear fit.

Gloves

For gloves, you have two options – mitts and gloves. Mitts are more popular among snowboarders as they will keep your hands warmer. Though, they may make it harder to operate things like your zips or bindings buckles.

Punch Mitten by Crab Grab

Punch Mitten by Crab Grab

Ensure that your gloves are easy to take off and put on, especially if you plan to use wrist protection. If they go under your jacket sleeve, check out that your sleeve has enough room to fit them.

Base and mid layers

The base layer should be made from a functional material to keep you warm and dry. You can try a one-piece bottom layer for extra warmth.

One-piece base layers are becoming more and more popular. Women’s Merino Ninja Suit by Airblaster

Depending on your jacket insulation, you can pick up a hoodie or an inner-layer jacket.

Facemask

A facemask, balaclava, or neck warmer is a must-have on the snowboard. It will keep snow and wind out of your face and neck.

Merino Ninja Face by Airblaster

Socks

Thinner socks can keep your feet warmer than thick socks, which pack up in the boots and reduce blood circulation. Choose socks from synthetic materials or wool (for example, Merino Wool), which keeps warm even when wet.

Protection

Goggles

Goggles should offer good peripheral vision and fit your face with no discomfort. You can often buy goggles with two pairs of glasses – one for low light conditions and another for sunny days.

Helmet

A helmet is a must-have for a beginner on a snowboard. Catching the edge is one of the most common reasons for fall – slamming your head against the snow is not fun.

If you don’t like the look of a helmet, consider wearing your goggles under the helmet for a more stylish look. Avoid a big gap between the goggles and the helmet.

Sandbox Icon Helmet

You can fit your goggle strap under the helmet. Icon Helmet from Sandbox.

Wrist guards

Wrist injuries are pretty common among snowboarders. When you fall, you instinctively try to reduce impact by using your hands – instead, try to spread out impact by using your forearms (see Common mistakes in the next section for more details).

Check out if your wrist guards fit under your gloves. Wrist Guards by Dakine.

Impact shorts

Impact shorts can come in handy, especially at the beginning when you sit more on the snow, and falls on the tailbone are more common.

There are various styles of impact shorts. Choose those with protection material covering a bigger area of your bottom. Total Impact Short by Burton

Boot insoles

If you want to protect your knees in the long run, consider buying aftermarket insoles with impact reduction.

Impact insoles are useful when you start with freestyle snowboarding. Travis Rice X Shadow Angel Insoles by Remind Insoles.

Accessories

Snowboard-specific backpack allows you to carry your snowboard when hiking. Poacher Backpack by Dakine

A small tool like Stance Driver by Dakine pictured above can help you tighten your binding or change your stance on the hill

It’s much easier to learn to ride on a properly waxed snowboard. If you get your iron like this T8 by Toko, you can save on snowboard service costs.

Learn how to snowboard

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to learn to snowboard

Lessons or self-learning?

First, we recommend that you take lessons to learn how to snowboard. An experienced snowboarding instructor can make your learning process effective and safe.

However, if you don’t want to or cannot take lessons, this section explains the typical process of learning how to snowboard. Even if you are about to take lessons, it’s useful to understand how the process works so later you can follow along more easily or train on your own after the lessons.

Finding your stance

First, determine which foot is dominant – whether you are regular – riding with your left foot forward or goofy, riding with your right foot forward. Check out the following video for some tips on how to do it:

Set up your snowboard

If you haven’t already, mount the bindings on your snowboard. Two variables come into play here:

  • Stance width – it should feel comfortable and stable and allow you to squat. It should be slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Binding angles – the most common stance on a snowboard is a “duck stance.” Your front binding has a positive angle, and the rear binding has a negative one. This will allow you to ride more comfortably on the switch (with your opposite leg forward). It’s common to set up front binding with a slightly larger angle on the front foot, e.g., +12/-9 or 18/-12, but for the beginning, you can set up equal angles.

The painful truth about snowboarding beginnings

Most falls in snowboarding, especially when beginning, are caused by catching the edge. When your edge digs into the snow, your snowboard stops, and the inertial force slams you to the ground. This can hurt!

Many beginners learn to snowboard in circumstances that are very prone to catching the edge – on flat slopes.

On a flat slope, the edge opposite the one you are trying to ride on is naturally very close to the ground and prone to digging into the snow, particularly because you haven’t yet developed good control over the edges.

The bottom edge of the snowboard on a flat slope (left) is closer to the snow than on a steeper slope (right)

You can minimize the risk of this happening in two ways:

  1. Practice your first moves on the snowboard with just one foot attached first. See the QuickRide system below.
  2. Practice side-slipping with both feet attached on a slightly steeper slope where the opposite edge is further from the snow. This has two advantages:
    1. a bigger margin for error
    2. the board slides easier on a steeper slope

CASI QuickRide system

The best way to show a typical learning process is in CASI’s QuickRide System.

QuickRide is a system used for teaching snowboarding by CASI, Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors. It’s the product of 20 years of experience, innovation, and refinement, and it provides the most comprehensive and fastest way to learn to snowboard.

Contrary to what you might expect, you will spend much time practicing with just the front foot attached to the snowboard in the initial lessons. This gives you the option to step out away from the board if you are about to fall or if you catch an edge.

You can get familiar with QuickRide basic principles in this video.

The progression steps in the QuickRide system are:

  1. Basics
  2. Sliding
  3. Control
  4. Turning
  5. Flow

Basics

This step aims to get familiar with your snowboard and get comfortable moving around with one leg attached. You start by practicing in a flat area, trying out how the snowboard slides and how it feels to stand on it in a neutral balanced position.

Next, you progress to skating and climbing, and descending with one leg attached. These skills are handy for moving around with your snowboard and getting on and off the lifts.

Sliding

The goal of the sliding step is to become comfortable on the snowboard while it slides. You start in a flat area, pushing with one leg and then putting the other leg on the snowboard. Next, you progress to sliding on the snowboard on a flat slope.

Finally, you practice turning the snowboard with toe and heel drag and J-turns with still just one foot attached.

Control

In the third step, you learn to control speed and direction with both feet attached to the snowboard.

First, you try side-slipping with one foot attached and changing direction this way. Then it’s time to attach a board to both feet for the first time. You learn how to create a platform in the snow, so you don’t have to sit down when strapping into your bindings.

Then you practice side-slipping and pendulum on the heel and toe edge (notice the steeper slope in the video)

Turning

The turning step aims to learn to turn by changing edges in the fall line.

This includes exercises like garlands, J-turns, and beginner turns.

Flow

In the last step of the QuickRide system, you will learn to explore mountains safely. You will improve your turns by adding traverse between them and learn how to flex and extend your position to better absorb terrain and control your speed.

Other tutorials

You can also check out these other tutorials.

How to Snowboard: A Beginner’s Guide by PSIA-AASI

How to Snowboard with Real Beginners by Malcolm Moore

Common mistakes

Around 60-70% of recreational snowboarders don’t ride with proper technique. Your observations may vary depending on where you ride. This can result from not taking lessons or not understanding the correct technique. It’s very easy to develop bad habits, which may be hard to eliminate.

Check out the most common mistakes on how to avoid them.

Unbalanced position

The following Snowboard Addiction video explains a balanced position and how to practice it.

Straight legs

The next video discusses another common problem – the straight legs.

Turning with counter rotation

Turning with counter rotation is one of the common mistakes beginners and intermediate snowboards make:

Counter-rotation is important in snowboarding, but you need to use it for the right purpose, e.g., speed checks or in freestyle, where it’s a part of many tricks.

Riding on a flat base

Riding on a flat base means that you don’t apply any pressure to any of your edges, and your snowboard rides just on its base. It’s very easy to catch the edge in such a situation. Always apply slight pressure on one edge, even when riding down the fall line on cat tracks.

You only ride on a flat base when switching from edge to edge during the turns or in powder. You also ride flat base on boxes when doing freestyle tricks or training for them on the snow.

Falling on hands

One of the most common injuries in snowboarding is wrist injuries. Learn how to fall properly by spreading out the impact.

How to improve your riding

Snowboard Addiction has another nice video summarizing all common mistakes and tips on how to improve your riding

Snowboarding etiquette

Snowboarders have earned a poor reputation among skiers over the years – they often see us as those who sit in the middle of the slope. Maybe you don’t care what skiers think, but try to avoid doing this for your and others’ safety. If you need to stop, stop on the side of the track where other people can see you. Never stop behind the lip or in places where others cannot see you.

If you need to rest or adjust your gear, stop on the side of the track. Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

Get familiar with the rules valid for the resort when you are riding. Not only will they help you ride more safely, but it’s also good to know them when something happens, and people argue about whose fault it was.

Use your common sense and see beyond rules.

It’s a general rule that the skier or rider behind you is responsible for safely passing you. However, you ask for trouble if you are doing wide-open carving turns without looking uphill. It’s better to be safe than sorry – always look uphill when crossing the slope to avoid being hit by someone bombing down. It’s easier to look uphill when you are on your toe edge. Learn to peek over the shoulder when on the heel edge.

For more info, check out What Are The Basic Rules Of Snowboarding?

How to teach children to snowboard

Although you might have seen YouTube videos of 2 or 3-year-old children snowboarding, snowboarding is harder to grasp for an average child than skiing. While with skis, a child can move their feet freely and only need to understand two relatively simple concepts (pizza / french fries), the sideways movement and balance involved in snowboarding are not that natural for small kids. This is partially because they have their center of mass moved towards the head until the age of 8.

Like anything related to sports in small children, play and fun are key. It’s more about the experience than the technique. Children cannot develop the refinement of the same skills as adults until the age of 12, anyway. As snowboarding represents a one-way load on the body, it’s important to avoid overdoing it at a young age and devote enough time to compensation exercise or free play, which best develops essential motor skills in children.

One way to experience mountains safely with your smaller children on a snowboard is by using an MDXONE snowboard harness approved by CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors).

With my then 5-years old son using an MDXONE harness

Check out the FIS SnowKidz series for more tips on snowboarding with your children.

Where to progress?

There are many areas to progress to after you master snowboarding basics. In this section, we will describe the most common ones.

Adaptive stance

Stance variations can confuse even more experienced riders. You learn to ride in a neutral position aligned with your snowboard. So why do some advanced snowboarders ride with their shoulders open?

Such a position allows you to ride with more speed and control. The following video shows the difference between a neutral and high-speed position.

SBINZ defines the stance scale with three levels:

  • basic
  • active
  • high-performance stance

Master all three and adapt your stance depending on the conditions and riding style. The following videos teach toe, and heel side turns using the high-performance stance.

Switch riding

If you took snowboard lessons or followed the QuickRide system, chances are you have already ridden on switch – with your opposite leg forward. Being able to ride a switch is necessary if you want to progress to freestyle snowboarding because even some basic tricks, like the 180s, end in the switch position.

Check out Malcolm Moore’s video on switch riding.

Freeride

Freeride refers to riding your snowboard in free terrain – it can be a nearby terrain outside the groomed tracks in your local resort, further areas you have to hike to, or extreme terrain in the mountains.

Powder

Freeride snowboarding is mostly associated with riding powder. It’s one of the best feelings you can have on a snowboard closely related to snowboarding roots in surfing.

For powder riding, the nose of your snowboard must stay on top of the snow. Depending on your snowboard, this can be easier or harder to achieve.

The easiest way is to ride on a powder-specific snowboard with a wide rocker nose that naturally stays on the top of the snow and a narrow, short tail that sinks. If you have a twin snowboard, you need to weigh over your tail more, which typically leads to a bigger back leg burn.

The best way to start with powder riding is during powder days in resorts, as sometimes there is powder directly on tracks or the nearby terrain is relatively safe for practicing your first powder runs (beware: this doesn’t apply for trees, see below)

For more tips, check out How to Snowboard in Powder from Tommie Bennett.

Advanced freeride

Once you progress to a certain level, you can try more advanced freeriding in the backcountry. You can sometimes reach backcountry areas from the resorts, but they often require a serious hike. Splitboards are popular for this purpose. Commercial services like cat- and heli-skiing are also available.

Splitboards, as their name suggests, can be split and used as skis for the ascent. Check out Splitboard 101 – Choosing Your Split + Set-up by Jones Snowboards.

Safety

Safety is an enormous concern in freeriding because of the risk of avalanches, tree wells, hitting trees, or falling in the exposed terrain.

Tree wells are especially dangerous even for beginners because they can form in the trees in the resort.

Never undermine such risk and get all required equipment and training and follow the instructions of the mountain rescue.

If you are interested in advance freeriding, check out the How to series with Xavier de Le Rue.

Carving

Carving is going through a renaissance in snowboarding nowadays. Many riders who are getting older do not ride terrain parks anymore and are looking for alternative fun. Videos like the Yearning for Turning series from Korua Shapes (a snowboard brand specializing in carving snowboards for soft boots) have also recently popularized carving.

Carving means you ride through the turns only on the edges of your snowboard and leave a thin line behind you (as opposed to sliding turns).

Check out the following video from Snowboard Addiction to learn the basics.

Certain snowboard setups are better for carving:

  • stiffer, camber dominant snowboards hold an edge better through the carves
  • wider snowboards are also better for carving because you typically have less toe and heel overhang on them. The lower you get in the carve, the closer your toes or heels get to the snow, and you risk a “boot out” – your boot digs into the snow, and the edge loses contact with the snow.

When carving, always pay attention to safety – you are doing wider turns which require more space, so look uphill during your turns.

Freestyle

Freestyle snowboarding refers to doing various tricks on a snowboard. You can do these tricks in various environments:

  • flat ground – the flat surface of the slopes
  • boxes, rails, and other features in a terrain park
  • jumps in the terrain park
  • natural features like side hits, lips, etc., in a resort or free terrain
  • urban features
  • half-pipe or quarter pipe

Freestyle is the most creative part of snowboarding and is an endless source of inspiration for your progress.

If you’d like to get better at snowboarding, incorporate freestyle early because it will improve your balance and overall riding competence. Wear additional protective gear if you start with freestyle snowboarding or any time you learn a new trick.

You don’t have to go to a snow park to start with freestyle, you can practice many freestyle tricks on the slope. We call them flat-ground tricks, and the basic one is ollie.

Ollie

Ollie is the basic freestyle trick and the foundation of many other tricks. You shift your weight over the back leg and load the tail of your snowboard like spring. Then pop from it and bring your knees to the chest. It needs to be one fluid motion.

Rotation vs. counter rotation

Before you move on, understand how rotation and counter-rotation work on a snowboard because they are part of almost all other snowboard tricks.

Check out the separation and anticipation video from SBINZ to learn more about these concepts.

Butters

Butters are fun and stylish flat-ground tricks. They usually involve pressing the nose or tail of your snowboard and spinning around in certain ways (hence the name, because of the movement being reminiscent of spreading butter). Buttering is also good preparation for jibbing because many jibbing tricks have their flat-ground counterpart.

Start with the basic buttering position and tailpress and nosepress. Some don’t call these butters because they don’t involve spinning, but they are the basic building blocks of all other butter tricks.

Check out Snowboard Addiction’s buttering trick playlist for many variations of butter tricks. You can also check their Buttering Series.

It’s easier to butter on softer snowboards if you wonder why you may have trouble doing butters on a stiff, freeride board.

Jumping

Jumping on a snowboard is the next logical progression when you get more control over your snowboard on the flat ground. It can be tempting but also intimidating for beginners – start easy and move your way up through the following Snowboard Addiction tutorials.

Jibbing

Jibbing is the most technical form of freestyle snowboarding. It means sliding with your snowboard on boxes or handrails. You can slide on these features with a snowboard parallel to them (50-50) or perpendicular (boardslides) or combine them in various ways. You can jump into and out of the features using rotation and counter-rotation and do presses. This creates endless combinations.

Follow along with these tutorials to start your jibbing training.

Off-season training

How do you stay fit or even develop snowboarding skills outside of winter? Here are a few tips.

Snowboard Addiction training products

Snowboard Addiction offers unique training gear for off-season training – a jib board and balance bar for training jib tricks and a tramp board for training jumps on the trampoline. You can use them with training bindings.

Snowboard Addiction jib board and balance bar

Snowboard Addiction tramp board

Check out this TJ video if you are looking for a cheaper alternative.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding and snowboarding have much in common – balanced position, sideways movement, and tricks. Many pro snowboarders are also very good skateboarders. Skateboarding is more technical and challenging as it requires you to push to move forward (unless you ride an electric skateboard, of course). It’s an excellent and the most affordable preparation for snowboarding during summer.

Skateboarding shares a lot with snowboarding

Surfing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing

If you are lucky enough to practice some water board sports related to snowboarding, definitely try them.

Workout

The snowboarding-specific workout should focus on increasing your mobility and flexibility, functional and explosive strength, and endurance of your core muscles and legs. Don’t forget upper body workouts. Examples of training covering these areas include parkour, street workout, calisthenics, or weight training.

Staying physically active during the entire year through any activity (strength training, running, swimming, hiking, cycling) is also a good preparation for snowboarding season, especially as you get older.

Resources

YouTube

Tutorials

  • Snowboard Addiction – Snowboard Addiction offers paid tutorials, but their YouTube channel contains many videos with free tutorials and tips.
  • Malcolm Moore – quality tutorials from a British snowboarding instructor teaching in Alpe d’Huez, France
  • Tommie Bennett – riding and freestyle tips from a Colorado-based snowboarding instructor
  • HOW TO XV – tips and tricks for freeride and backcountry riding with Xavier de Le Rue
  • Ed Shreds
  • Snowboard Dojo Wiz

Reviews

Vlogs

Podcasts

Competitions

Pros

If you’d like to see freestyle snowboarding in its top form, check out some of the following channels:

Brands channels

Instagram

You can follow many snowboarding-related accounts on Instagram, like pro athletes, brand accounts, or snowboarding coaches. Here are some of them:

Forums

Gear reviews

Online magazines

Online shops

Conclusion

Snowboarding is for everyone, and it’s never too late to start with it – maybe you will find a new passion in your life.

Snowboarding is also yours. It means that it’s only up to you what form and shape you give to your riding. Take others as inspiration but find your unique way – there is always space for progress, no matter your current level.

Hopefully, this guide will help you progress faster if you are new to snowboarding or provide fresh perspectives on it if you already snowboard. If you have any suggestions or questions, post them in the comments.

Happy shredding!

Version History

Nov 2022

  • updated products for the 2022/2023 season
  • replaced certain videos with better examples
  • linked to the new FIS SnowKidz series
  • updated resources

Dec 2021

  • updated products for the 2021/2022 season
  • added new videos with beginner tutorials from PSIA-AASI and Malcolm Moore
  • replaced certain videos with better examples
  • linked to the new buttering series from Snowboard Addiction
  • updated resources

Jan 2021

  • updated products for the 2020/2021 season
  • updated resources; added new YouTube channels

Nov 2019

  • new section on adaptive stance
  • updated products for the 2019/2020 season
  • added new videos on snowboard setup and binding adjustment
  • updated videos on finding your stance, powder riding tips, and how to ollie
  • linked a new video on separation and anticipation
  • updated resources; added Instagram accounts
  • added version history

Dec 2018

  • the first version of the guide

About the author

Lubos Kmetko

Lubos Kmetko LinkedIn

Lubos Kmetko started to work for Xfive as a front-end developer in 2006. He currently helps with business operations and writes for the Xfive blog.

More from Lubos
More from Lubos

Comments (10)

Write a comment

gustavo

You should try mountainboard for off-season.

Dec 14, 2018

Owl Pellets

Word. I clicked in to query to the headline but ended up reading the most comprehensive article on foundation snowboarding I've seen. High5!

Dec 14, 2018

Lubos Kmetko

@gustavo thanks for the tip!

@Owl Pellets thank you!

Dec 17, 2018

Amanda

Very good and informative! Most helpful information I've seen all in one place.

Jan 26, 2020

Lubos Kmetko

@amanda thanks!

Jan 27, 2020

Kemper Snowboards

Just don't forget to have fun, snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.

Sep 10, 2020

Jones

I have reallly enjoyed the read. Awesome content here. Keep sharing this amazing content.

Apr 24, 2021

Jesse

Wow, well done Lubos!

Dec 15, 2021

Lubos Kmetko

Thanks, Jesse!

Dec 15, 2021

appleseed

Cool

Mar 14, 2022

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