If you’re getting ready for your first time on a board you might be feeling a mixture of anxiety and excitement. That’s natural. If you’ve got some spare time before your first couple of sessions, there are a few things that you can do in preparation, to help the learning process go as smoothly as possible.
Get fit. If it’s just a short amount of time before you get on the board, you might have left this a little late. However, there’s no doubt that being physically fit, with good balance, coordination and flexibility, is going to help you in your quest to snowboard.
Even in a short space of time, you can start to work on leg strength and core strength. If you’re not sure what’s best to work on for snowboarding, take a look at this snowboard workout from Pro Ride Camps, there may be some useful ideas in there. You might also consider yoga – as it works to improve many of the elements that help snowboarders…
Get familiar with the basic equipement. Getting to grips with the equipment before you get to the slopes will save you a bunch of time, leaving more time for snowboarding. It could also prevent you from making some basic, setup mistakes, like getting your binding angles wrong.
If you’ve got your own equipment, excellent, get it out, set it up and start to get a feel for how to strap-in to the snowboard, and how it feels once you’re connected.
If you don’t have you own equipment and you’re going to hire gear, you can still pick up some of the basics online. For example, take a look at this video, which gives a decent introduction to setting up your snowboard equipment:
I’ve looked at a bunch of these videos and haven’t been totally satisfied with any of them. The one above does cover a good range, and is mostly good. This can be a tricky area for beginners, so you might want to take a look at this setup video too, it’s also decent.
Get safety equipment? On the subject of gear, it’s a good idea to consider some of the safety equipment available. A helmet is arguably the most important safety item to wear, given that it’s your head you’ll be protecting with it. However, beginners in particular tend to have a lot of low-speed falls in which your bum and wrists take the impact…
Many beginners swear by the benefit of wrist guards and impact shorts – and I’d agree that they can keep away the niggling pains that stop you snowboarding, early on.
Get a heads up on the technique. Even if your first time on the slope is going to be with an instructor, it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about the basics of learning to ride. Part of learning to snowboard is thinking about how you and the board work together – so there’s an opportunity to get ahead of the game.
As an example, here’s a Pre-riding lesson from Snowboard Addiction:
You might be wondering if you can teach yourself to snowboard? For some people I’d say the answer is “yes” – although it’s still advisable to have some form of instruction to guide you. Read Learn To Snowboard Without Any Expensive Lessons? to find out if you’re the type of person who could potentially forgo the expensive lessons…
Snowboard Addiction have a full Learn to Ride program, which provides excellent instruction for beginners. One of the great things about the program is that you download it and access it right away (and put it on your iPhone). The L2R program covers a bunch of the things you can practice in the house before even getting close to the slope. Here’s an overview:
Get positive. Learning to snowboard is fun (more fun than skiing!), but some people find if harder than others. Whatever your own, personal learning curve is, don’t worry about “not getting it”. For some snowboarders, there’s a definite hurdle to get over: being able to link turns and make your way around the mountain.
There’s no doubt that staying positive is going to help. Some people take “positive thinking” further than others. Even basic visualisation techniques can help to improve your performance, and if you’re inclined to such methods, it’s something that could help with your first days on the hill…
You may be interested in reading about the Snowboard Jedi Program. Mental training designed to help those looking for strong, freestyle progression. I wouldn’t recommend it as an aid for beginner snowboarders – but the visualisation and positive thinking concepts are fairly universal.