Looking at taking that first step into the snowboarding world? It’s daunting! What equipment do I need? What clothing should I wear? Where should I go to learn? Will it hurt when a fall? (short answer, probably yes). I’ve come up with a few things to help you come fully prepared for your first lesson!
THE NUMBER 1 THING I CAN RECOMMEND TO YOU IS TO TAKE ACTUAL LESSONS! So many people get their friends to teach them or they try and learn on their own and trust me this will only result in either 1. You’re most likely to get injured 2. You will develop really bad techniques that will hinder you in the future or 3. you not enjoying yourself. It doesn’t take a lot to take your first few lessons with an instructor they will make sure you are learning safety and give you all the correct techniques so that later on you won’t be struggling so much!
Also when you do take lessons make sure you arrive on time! It sounds like we’re at school again and no you won’t get detention but there is nothing worse than having to wait around for ages because YOU are running late! Lessons are short an hour or 2 usually and we don’t want to spend 15 minutes at the start stood waiting because you aren’t on time. Get to the venue AT LEAST an hour early if not MORE to allow yourself time to get through rentals which can get super confusing and chaotic, get your lift passes etc. and have time to talk to your instructor when they arrive to prepare you so once you get on the slope you are 100% ready and focused! This helps not only us be less stressed about the number of clients, our lesson planning and our focus. It allows you and the rest of your group maximal time on your snowboards which you will definitely want!
Where should I learn?
If you are like me living in the U.K. your first thought Is probably that you have to fly to a European resort to learn to snowboard which definitely isn’t the case! although we don’t have mountains we do have facilities across the country where you can get your fix of the snow! Firstly there are the original, dry slopes, honestly, people who learn to snowboard on this stuff can pretty much ride just about anything. The easiest way to explain what ‘dry slope’ is that it’s pretty similar to astroturf. its made of plastic on top and metal underneath to hold it all together when it gets wet from sprinklers it can run quite quickly! there are various different types of dry slope too, there’s Dendix which is the ‘OG’ its diamond-shaped and it runs quite fast compared to the others however when you fall make sure you tuck in as the most common injury is snapped thumbs from people falling with their arms out as a natural reflex and them getting caught in the gaps (ouch right?). Then there is snow flex and permasnow which are super similar to astroturf, they are large squares of the matting with no gaps so no broken thumbs, it’s soft and usually has some sort of foam underneath to help cushion your fall slightly (definitely does not stop the pain, however). Then there’s Pro-slope which is probably my favourite out of the lot. It’s almost a combination of Dendix and snow flex, its diamond exterior shape keeps it fast however they are also filled in so it’s not quite as daunting and injury-prone. We do also have indoor facilities! They have real snow that you can enjoy and they give you a much more realistic experience to a mountain than dry slope. However, nothing beats the real mountains!
What should i wear?
NOT JEANS, TRACKSUIT PANTS OR ANYTHING THAT WILL JUST ABSORB WATER! As obvious as it sounds have seen so many people show up to lessons in inappropriate clothing and end up freezing cold, soaking wet and not very happy. My advice is to either invest in or use the rentals available. Waterproof trousers, Waterproof jacket, Gloves, A helmet are all essential in my mind for clothing If you are learning on a mountain get some goggles if you don’t want to be blind after 20 minutes. Think layers; thermals, mid-layer and then outer layer if you get too hot then you can always take layers off, it’s much harder to magic them out of thin air when you are cold. If you are looking to buy your own clothing make sure it’s going to last it’s worth spending more on something that will last you a long time the something that’s going to just fall apart after a few lessons. Also, you only need one pair of socks don’t layer upon the feet as it takes away your sensitivity to control the board and makes your boots really uncomfortable. I suggest going into a snowsports shop and asking for some help because they will be able to point you in the right direction.
What equipment do I need?
If you are taking your first lesson I suggest using the rental equipment they have for hire. I’ve had so many people come to lessons with either the newest high tech snowboard or something their parents owned before they were even born. Technology changes over time and it is worth keeping up to date once you know how to control your board. Some snowboards are made for specific parts of the mountain, like the park or powder or racing and showing up to your first lesson with a swallowtail powder board isn’t going to help you fall in love with the sport. Most hire boards are designed to be simple they have enough technology to keep you upright but not so much that you’ll be out of control the moment you start moving.
What will I learn in my first lesson?
How to snowboard I hope? You’ll always start on the flat and learn all of the basics, the parts of your snowboard, how to attach yourself to it, basically everything you need to know before you even get onto the slope. The first time you strap in your lesson will be based around gaining control of your speed, the main thing is you want to know how to stop. Anyone can just throw themselves down a hill on a snowboard but unless you know how to stop you’ll probably end up getting hurt or worse hurting someone else. Your instructor will help guide you all the way up to being able to turn down the hill. everyone learns at different paces, some people pick it up super quickly and easily, some people take a few more lessons before they are comfortable.
How else can I prepare?
Exercise! get your fitness levels up before your first lesson as you will be way way way more tired than you would expect. You will be using muscles you didn’t even know you had. I will be posting a few exercises that I recommend doing leading up to your lessons which will make it a whole lot easier! Plus it’s not just in your legs you end up using your core and your arms more than you would expect! so make sure your fit and strong all over your body. As an instructor, we spend a lot of time just running up and down the hill helping people to get back up so having core and arm strength and balance will definitely not only help you out but will help us out too!
At the end of the day, snowboarding is a lot of fun! Learning can be stressful if you don’t pick it up straight away but its all personal progression so try not to compare yourself to the other people in your lessons. You can always book private lessons if you want more 1 on 1 time with an instructor to help you progress quicker. Try to be patient with us instructors too especially if you are part of a larger group because there is a lot going on and we have to help everybody out individually. Pretty much the only way to get good at snowboarding or at anything really is to just keep doing it you have to keep going back and learning more and every time you go you will progress just a little bit more. As your muscles build and develop and your muscle memory improves and you will be able to do things much easier!
Just be patient, listen to your instructor because they do know what they are on about, and enjoy yourself! You are learning something new and these lessons will allow you to have a skill you can use for life!
Before you know it you’ll be on the big slopes in no time!
When was/is your first lesson?
Let me know how it goes!