Snowboarding is a lot of fun, and nothing beats leaving life behind for couple of weeks to visit a top resort. Like every sport, snowboarding takes time and practice to master, however there are certain bad habits and best practices to take into consideration. From running our instructor courses I have observed a number of common bad habits that will not only ruin your personal enjoyment but can interfere with the experience of others. This post will look at 5 bad habits common to snowboarders and how you can correct them, or stay clear of them.
1. Buying boots too big
This sounds like a silly one, but I know so many people who buy boots too big and end up having to buy a new set way before they should. When it comes to snowboard boots, you want them to be as snug as possible without any pain. When you stand upright you want to be able to feel your big toe against the end of the boot, not so much that it’s crushing or curling, but just touching. This is because when you snowboard you bend your knees and this pulls your heel into the back of the boot and away from the toe.
The thing to remember is that after a couple of weeks riding your boots will generally ‘pack out’ by about 10%. What I see is a lot of people being freaked out by their toes touching the end when trying on, going a size up, then coming back down when their boots have packed out because they’re suddenly too big. Don’t be scared to embrace the boot snug! With a brand new pair of boots it’s quite normal to feel pain and discomfort to begin with, they’re just the same as shoes. I’m literally in agony breaking boots in, but after a couple solid days riding they’re perfect for a couple seasons. No pain, no gain!
2. Don’t over crank your binding straps
This is the number one issue I hear from people; ‘oh my binding toe ratchets broken it just won’t go any tighter’. That’s because nine times out of ten it’s tight enough and doesn’t need to be any tighter! You’re not trying to cut off the circulation to your foot, just make sure your straps aren’t flapping about and have a nice firm hold on your boot. Most binding companies produce ratchets which won’t tighten when they’re cranked enough, so usually this is a good indication you’re good to go.
If you’re ratchet simply won’t grip on to the ladder and you find your straps slipping around or super loose, then your ratchets may be broken. While I’m on this note, also make sure to adjust your binding straps to fit your boots. Most bindings out of the box need to have their straps adjusted before riding so just take a few minutes to sort this out before you hit the slopes. It’s important.
3. Sitting down where you shouldn’t
Snowboarding all day can be strenuous, so it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to want to sit down, especially when you’re learning and spending a lot of time on your ass. But for the love of god don’t plonk your ass down in the middle of the piste, or behind a blind spot for everyone to come charging into you. Before you hit any resort take time to familiarise yourself with the resort rules and etiquette. You should always be aware of yourself and those around you and never cause obstruction on piste.
If you need to sit choose a spot that’s to the side and out of the way. Take a look around, make sure that other people can see you. That way you’ll be much safer and less likely to cause and accident or get abuse hurled at you.
4. Not knowing your park etiquette
We spoke about resort etiquette, well the snow parks have their own etiquette and if you don’t follow it, you will become very unpopular. For instance, there’s nothing more frustrating than dropping in for a park feature and being cut off by somebody. Snow-Parks get very busy, so knowing how and when to take your turn will keep you in the other riders’ good books.
The rules are simple, hang back, take your place and wait your turn. Observe the other riders, try to establish when is safe to go, if there is a queue join it and wait your turn. Stay on your feet and be ready. Sitting on your ass will suggest you’re in no rush. When your time comes put your hand in the air to indicate you’re going next, a wee shout of ‘dropping!’ never goes a miss and alerts others around you to the fact that your dropping in. If you bail in a park quickly but smoothly get out the way, this keeps the park flowing and avoids any further accidents.
Other obvious things like not sitting, lingering or stopping on park features will also ensure that you don’t become public enemy number one!
5. Know your limits
This is perhaps the worst of all bad habits that I have observed over the years, as well as being the most dangerous. Knowing your limits is vitally important for your progression as a snowboarder, but more importantly for your safety. Every year I go up the slopes and see some poor sod whose friend/parent/boyfriend has dragged them on to a piste which is clearly beyond their ability.
This is bad for two reasons; first of all it’s no fun for the person who is shitting themselves on a vertical black trying to learn linked-turns, this is more likely to frustrate and put you off snowboarding in the future. Secondly it’s a proper pain in the ass for those who want to charge downhill without having to navigate around people lying face down behind horizons. It’s good to challenge yourself but be sure to choose a slope which gives you confidence in your ability as well as providing new challenges.