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Snowboarding for Beginners: An Ultimate Guide

by Lubos Kmetko on December 14, 2018
Published in Lifestyle 4 Comments

An ultimate guide to snowboarding for beginners and everyone else.

The cover photo by Hamish Duncan on Unsplash

We stopped on the side of the slope on a well visible place (safety first!) when my father said to me: “You are still 5 years younger than I was when I had started to snowboard.”

He started to snowboard as a 47-years old, and during the last 20 years snowboarding took him to places like New Zealand and the National Geographic YouTube channel:

This 62-Year-Old Snowboarder Is Living Life to the Fullest | Short Film Showcase

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 article we will take a thorough look at snowboarding. Whether you are just thinking about trying it for the first time 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.

Table of contents

Set up, progress, have fun – 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, it requires systematic approach to our own progress and it provides a lot of satisfaction and fun we typically find in the creative process.

Set up

First, we need to pick up and set up our snowboard equipment. There is a lot of tech involved in modern snowboarding, countless variations we can review and decide about.

Let’s face it, we love getting new stuff – new gear we can play with, comparing it to the old one looking for any tiny 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 a lot of 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 frustration 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 own 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.

Foothills: The Unlinked Heritage of Snowboarding

There isn’t any evidence that Petran snowboarding had influence on development of modern snowboarding. Independently, but not unlikely in the result, its origins date back to early 1960s in the USA when Sherman Poppen created a predecessor of the snowboard, called 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 downturned) since then.

Snowboarding styles

The main difference between snowboarding styles is defined by the boots snowboarders use.

Hardboots

Hardshell, ski-like boots, are mostly 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.

Since the majority of snowboarders ride in softboots, sometimes they may give alpine snowboarders weird looks. With a recent renaissance of carving in mainstream snowboarding, there is no reason for such rivalry.

The fact is that while carving in softboots is perfectly possible, the hardboots and alpine snowboards take it to the next level.

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. Soft boots can be used for all different snowboarding styles like carving, freestyle, freeride. We will take a closer look on these styles in Where to progress section.

Softboots is a synonym of 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

Properly chosen and set 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. How the snowboard rides is defined by the three main characteristics:

  • profile
  • shape
  • flex

Profiles

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

Camber snowboard profile

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

On the other hand 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 profile 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 completely flat when lying on the ground. They can be used for variety of riding styles, often they are used for park riding.

Snowboard with CamRock profile

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

Shapes

Snowboard shape specifies how the snowboard look like when you view it from top.

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

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

Directional twin has the same shape of nose and tail, however the flex is stiffer in the tail.

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

Snowboard Shapes Explained | Whitelines Snowboarding

Flex

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

Stiffer boards are typically used for freeriding and carving, while softer for freestyle.

Snowboard Categories

Based on profile, shape, and flex snowboards are usually sorted out in the following categories:

  • all-mountain freestyle – twin or directional twin snowboards with medium flex with focus on freestyle riding all over the mountain
  • all-mountain freeride – directional snowboards with stiffer flex, sometimes with 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 usually used for bigger jumps and pipe riding
  • powder specific –  directional snowboards with s-rocker, a tapered shape with wider nose and shorter, narrow tail (a swallow tail)
  • volume shifted boards – a relatively new category of snowboards – these snowboards are wider and shorter, they can have different shape and profiles. Added width increases boards float in powder and reduce probability of boot-out when carving (see below)

Beginner snowboard

Kevin from SnowboardProCamp has a nice video on what characteristics the beginner snowboard should have:

Tips For Buying The Perfect Beginner Snowboard

Here is a quick run down:

  • lower price point
  • flat or mellow camber between the feet for greater stability, rocker towards nose and tail for a more forgiving, catch-free ride (CamRock profile, see above)
  • soft to middle flex (3 – 5)
  • in the middle of recommend weight range (don’t choose your snowboard based on your height)
  • if you are a man with 12+ US boot size, you should consider mid-wide boards with width around 260mm+ to avoid toe or heel drag

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 to ride your board with one foot strapped in, eg. when you get on and off the lift.

Crab Trap stomp pad by Crab Grab

Stickers

Stickers are a nice way for some creative expression or preference for certain brands. If you are a complete beginner, avoid extensive sticker job on your snowboard. You probably don’t want to catch more attention than necessary when you are just struggling with the first moves.

Boots

Although, they are called soft boots, the 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 oriented towards advanced riders and freeriding, because they more accurately translate movement to the binding and snowboard

Lacing systems

Another important 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 Adidas Tactical ADV

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

Boa system are getting more popular as they allow precise adjustment of the fit. The boots are women’s Thirtytwo Lashed Double Boa boots

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

How To Choose Snowboard Boots – Tactics

Boot fit

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

Snowboards boots should have a snug fit, which means that your toes should lightly touch the front of the inner liner when you stand straight. When you stand in the snowboard stance, your toes move backward a bit. 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 option, have your boots heat molded after the purchase.

Check out the following guide for more information:

Snowboard Boot Fitting – An Essential Guide | Whitelines Snowboarding

If you struggling with getting proper fitted boots you can also look for an advice in Snowboarding Forum.

Bindings

An example of modern snowboard binding, Union Strata

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

How to choose snowboard bindings – Tactics

Because snowboarding bindings translates movements from your boots to snowboard, they need to fit your boots well. The bindings are sold in different sizes (typically S/M, L/XL). Check the manufacturer sizing chart for the proper binding size for your boots.

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 necessity of strapping in and off the bindings.

Burton Step On

Burton Step On is a combination of strapless bindings and special 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 good 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 and so your boots are centered over the board

Check out this video for more details on binding setup.

How To: Set Up A New Snowboard

Clothing

Jacket and Pants

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

When it comes to insulation, a good compromise for resort riding is a light insulation in the jacket. For freeriding technical, non insulated jackets are a better choice.

An O’Neill signature jacket of a pro snowboarder Seb Toots

Especially as a beginner you may sit on 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 can be attached to your pants. Volcom offers a patented jacket-to-pant zip feature.

A good alternative are bib pants because they provide a good protection against snow and also allow free movement of the waist.

When it comes to style, jacket 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 you might want to pick standard to loose fit for freedom of movement. What can feel a bit baggy and oversized doesn’t feel like that much when riding. This is especially true for the pants which need relatively big leg openings to fit over the boots. Also make sure that your pants are long enough even when you squat.

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. They may make it a bit harder to operate things like your zips or bindings buckles, though.

Snuggler Mitt 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 under.

Base and mid layers

The base layer should be from 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 whether your jacket is insulated or not, you can pick up a hoodie or inner layer jacket.

Women’s Crown Bonded Full-Zip Hoodie by Burton

Facemask

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

Women’s Merino Ninja Face by Airblaster

Socks

Thinner socks can keep your feet warmer than thick socks, which tend to 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.

Men’s PhD® Snowboard Light Elite Socks by Smartwool

Protection

Goggles

Goggles should offer a good peripheral vision and fit your face without any discomfort. They are often sold with two pairs of glasses – one for low light condition and another one for sunny days.

Helmet

A helmet is a must for a beginner on a snowboard. Catching the edge is one of the most common reasons of 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. In any case avoid a gap between the goggles and helmet.

You can fit your goggle strap under the helmet. Classic 2.0 Helmet from Sandbox

Wrist guards

Wrist injuries are quite common among snowboarders. When you fall down you instinctively try to reduce impact by using your hands – instead, try 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. The shown here are Wrist Guards by Dakine

Impact shorts

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

There are various styles of impact shorts, choose those with protection material covering bigger area of your bottom. Boom Shorts Ti by Forcefield Body Armour

Boot Insoles

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

Impact insoles are especially useful when you start with freestyle snowboarding. Cush – Nicolas Müller insoles by Remind Insoles

Accessories

Snowboard specific backpack allow 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 own iron like this T8 by Toko you can save on snowboard service costs.

How To Wax Your Snowboard

Learn how to snowboard

Now that you are equipped with everything you need, it’s time to learn snowboard

Lessons or self-learning?

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

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

How To Find Your Snowboard Stance w/ Jack Mitrani | TransWorld SNOWboarding

Set up your snowboard

If you haven’t already, you need to 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, generally it should be slightly wider than your shoulders
  • binding angles – the most common stance on snowboard is a “duck stance”. Your front binding has positive angle and the rear binding a negative one. This will allow you to ride more comfortably on switch (with your opposite leg forward) . It’s common to set up front binding with slightly larger angle on the front foot, eg. +12/-9, or 18/-12, but for beginning  you can set up the equal angles.

The painful truth about snowboarding beginnings

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

The painful truth is that 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 to 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 developed a good control over the edges yet.

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

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

  1. practice your first moves on snowboard with just one foot attached first, see the QuickRide system below
  2. practice sideslipping with both foot attached on slightly steeper slope where the opposite edge is further from the snow. This has two advantages
    1. a bigger margin for error
    2. board slides easier on a steeper slope

CASI QuickRide System

The best way to demonstrate a typical learning process is on 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 of how to learn to snowboard.

Contrary to what you might expect you will spend a lot of time practicing with just front foot attached to the snowboard in the initial lessons. This gives you an 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.

QuickRide System Steps (2018)

The progression steps in the QuickRide system are as follows:

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

Basics

The goal in this step is to get familiar with your snowboard and get comfortable moving around on with one leg attached. You start by practicing on a flat area, trying out how the snowboards 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 very handy when it comes to 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 on 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 both speed and direction with both feet attached to the snowboard.

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

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

Turning

The goal of turning step, is to learn turning by changing edges in the fall line.

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

Flow

In the final step of QuickRide system you will learn to explore mountain 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.

Common mistakes

Around 60-70% of recreational snowboarders don’t ride with proper technique. Your observations may vary depending on where you ride. Whether this is a result of not taking lessons or not understanding the correct technique, the truth is that it’s very easy to develop bad habits which then may be hard to get rid of.

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

Not being in a balanced position on snowboard

The following Snowboard Addiction video explains what a balanced position is and how you can practice it.

Balanced Position On A Snowboard

Straight legs

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

How To Keep Your Weight Over The Top Of Your Board

Turning with counter rotation

Turning with counter rotation is one of the common mistakes beginner and intermediate snowboards do:

CASI Riding Tips: Rotation vs. Counter-Rotation (Part 1)

How To Ride In Alignment On A Snowboard

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

CASI Riding Tips: Rotation vs. Counter-Rotation (Part 2)

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 situation. Always try to apply slight pressure on one of the edges 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 when you training for them on the snow.

Falling on hands

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

How to Fall on a Snowboard

How to improve your riding

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

How To Improve Your Riding On A Snowboard

Snowboarding etiquette

Snowboarders have earned a bad 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 for your own safety and safety of others, try to avoid doing this. If you need to stop, stop on the side of the track where other people can clearly see you. Never stop behind the lip or on 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 rules valid for the resort when you are riding. Not only they will help you to ride more safely, it’s good to know them when something happens and people start to 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, if you are doing wide open carving turns without looking uphill, you are asking for  trouble. 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 quickly look 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’ve might 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 is not that natural for small kids. This is partially because their centre of mass is moved towards the head until the age of 8.

Like with anything related to sports in small children, play and fun is the key. It’s more about experience than technique. Children are are not able to develop the same skills refinement as adults until the age of 12, anyway. As snowboarding represents one way load on 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 safely experience mountains with your smaller children on a snowboard is using MDXONE snowboard harness which is approved by CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors).

With my then 4-years old son using MDXONE harness

Check out How To Teach Your Kids To Snowboard for more tips on how to snowboard 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

Switch Riding

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

Check out SnowboardProCamp video with 10 switch riding challenges.

10 Switch Snowboard Riding Challenges

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 snowboard closely related to snowboarding roots in surfing.

For powder riding it’s crucial that the nose of your snowboard stays on the 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 wide rocker nose which naturally stays on the top of the snow and narrow, short tail which sinks down. If you have a twin snowboard you need to weight over your tail more which typically leads to 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 5 tips for snowboarding in powder from SnowboardProCamp

5 Tips for Snowboarding in Powder

Advanced Freeride

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

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

Safety

Safety is a huge concern when it comes to freeriding because of the risk of avalanches, tree wells, hitting trees or falling down in the exposed terrain.

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

Tree Riding + Tree Well Safety

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

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

How to Ride In Trees with Xavier De Le Rue | HOW TO XV

Carving

Carving is going through a renaissance in snowboarding nowadays. Many riders who are getting older are not hitting parks that often and are looking for an alternative fun. It’s also been popularized by videos like the Yearning for Turning series from Korua Shapes (a snowboard brand which specializes in carving snowboards for soft boots).

KORUA Shapes – YEARNING FOR TURNING Vol. 4 – Still Turning

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

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

How To Carve On A Snowboard

Certain snowboard setups are better for carving:

  • stiffer, camber dominant snowboards hold 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 to 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.

For more information and tips on carving check out Ryan’s Knapton YouTube channel.

Smooth Snowboarding 7.0

Freestyle

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

  • 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 resort or in 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 in general, you should incorporate freestyle into it early because it will improve your balance and overall riding competence. Wear additional protective gear if you just 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. These are called flat-ground tricks and the basic one is ollie.

Ollie

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

How To Ollie On A Snowboard

Rotation vs. counter rotation

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

Rotation vs. Counter Rotation On A Snowboard

Butters

Butters are fun and stylish flatground tricks. Usually they consist of pressing nose or tail of your snowboard and spinning around in certain way (hence the name, because of the movement being reminiscent of spreading butter). Buttering is also a 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 basic building blocks of all other butter tricks.

Basic Buttering Position On A Snowboard

Check out Snowboard Addiction’s buttering trick playlist for many variations of butter tricks.

It’s easier to butter on softer snowboards, just in case 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.

Your First Jump On A Snowboard

How To Pop Off Jumps On A Snowboard

Basic Grabs On A Snowboard

Your First Frontside 180s On A Snowboard

Your First Backside 180s On A Snowboard

How To Frontside Shifty On A Snowboard

How To Backside Shifty On A Snowboard

Your First Frontside 360s On A Snowboard

Your First Backside 360s On A Snowboard

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 snowboard parallel to them (50-50) or perpendicular (boardslides) or combine them in various ways. You can jump to and out of the features using rotation and counter rotation and use presses. This creates endless combinations.

Follow along these tutorials to start your jibbing training.

What Is Snowboard Jibbing?

How To Hit A Feature On A Snowboard

How To Do Your First 50-50 On A Snowboard

How To Frontside 50-50 On A Snowboard

How To Backside 50-50 On A Snowboard

How To Backside Boardslide On A Snowboard

How To Frontside Boardslide On A Snowboard

Off season training

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

Snowboard Addiction Training Products

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

Snowboard Addiction jib board and balance bar

Snowboard Addiction tramp board

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, check out this video of TJ from SnowboardProCamp

Ultimate DIY Training Board for Snowboard Tricks

Skateboarding

Skateboarding and snowboarding have much in common – balanced position, sideways movement, 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). Nevertheless, 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 that you can practice some of the water board sports related to snowboarding, definitely give them a try.

Workout

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 appropriate upper body workouts. Examples of training that cover these areas can be calisthenics, parkour, street workout or weight training.

In general, staying physically active during the whole 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

Snowboard Addiction

Snowboard Addiction offers paid tutorials but their YouTube channel contains a lot of videos with free tutorials and tips.

SnowboardProCamp

The most popular YouTube snowboarding channel with more than 350k subscribers oriented on beginners and intermediate riders. They have a lot of tutorials and practical tips, vlogs and regular gear reviews.

Ryan Knapton

Ryan Knapton is a carving guru so if you are into carving, don’t miss his channel.

Angry Snowboarder

Snowboarding veterans with a lot of insight into snowboarding and snowboarding industry. The channel publishes gear reviews regularly.

Snowboarder Magazine

Snowboarding clips, full movies, gear reviews.

Vlogs

Pros

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

Brands Channels

Forums

Snowboard 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 alway space for progress, no matter what your current level is.

Hopefully, this guide will help you to get faster into snowboarding or provide you with some new perspectives on it if you already snowboard. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to post them in the comments.

Happy shredding!

About the author

Lubos Kmetko

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

More articles from Lubos

Comments

gustavo December 14, 2018

You should try mountainboard for off-season.

Owl Pellets December 14, 2018

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

Lubos Kmetko December 17, 2018

@gustavo thanks for the tip!

@Owl Pellets thank you!

Hristo February 12, 2019

The greatest info on snowboarding I have ever seen! Thank you very much for compiling this!

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