Absolutely everybody can improve something in their snowboarding no matter how long they have been riding. Use these 5 essential tips to learn anything on a snowboard. Progress your riding, challenge and change your mindset and put you miles ahead in the learning game.
Happy, positive vibes breeds happy, positive snowboarding. The best way to achieve this is with a smile.
Sports psychologists use positive mental attitudes to improve performance in athletes and bringing this into your snowboarding can help you leap over barriers getting you where you want to be in your riding.
While not taken in a specific sports context, positivity can help to push you further when learning new skills or riding into unchartered territory. And who wouldn’t be happy out in that fresh mountain air?
Smile when you achieve a little goal. You’ll get more satisfaction and have a more enjoyable experience.
Smiling when you fall down to ease frustrations. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get back up and try again.
Negativity can lead to negative consequences such as muscles tightening up and mentally talking yourself out of what essentially is just a turn, left and then right. Having fun and flashing those pearly whites will change your mindset and your experience on the mountain.
2. Relax Your Toes & Feet
When we get nervous we tend to tighten all our muscles into an anxious ball of fibres. This not only inhibits our mental performance but definitely our physical performance too. During those first few runs on your holiday or when you are learning a new trick, everything becomes a little new and scary again.
It can be tempting to hold onto the sole of your boots with your toes. This creates tightness and tension in your muscles promoting lazy movements and tired legs. Letting your toes spread out and your feet relax in your boots helps you to react appropriately to changing snow conditions.
If you still find you are way too tense out there; breathe through it. Keeping oxygen flowing to your muscles can help your whole body relaxed, mobile and ready for action.
3. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone On Easier Terrain
It’s so easy to stay in your cushy little comfort bubble. Just doin’ your thang and hey, that’s totally cool but if you really want to start riding those steeps, sending it through the trees or start throwing down in the park it all starts within your comfort zone. Stick with me here...
Say if your goal is to effortlessly glide down a Black run to the applause of all the awestruck skiers (sorry skiers, we do love you but we just like to poke fun!), then the making of your success all comes down to trying new maneuvers on old ground before you take it to new and bigger terrain. So for this example, I would start by perfecting short fast turns on a Green run then gradually taking them to Blue and then Black runs.
Not only is it safer to practice new movements on lower gradients rather than hurtle your body down the mountain, but the concept of these new movements is easier to grasp on mellow terrain.
Whether it be by challenging your body position by trying tripods on the beginner slope or seeing if you can pencil-line carve the whole way down a Green run, you’ll you progress to your goals quicker if you start building your skills from where you are most comfortable and for most, that’s on the Greens.
4. All Slopes Are Simply White
“Are you kidding me! The only Double Black I want today is my coffee. You couldn’t possibly snowboard down a that! Take the Blue, you know you can do that one” - Annoying Protectionist Brain.
Who has been stopped in their tracks by the small coloured shapes at the top of runs? Let me share this little golden nugget of advice: View all runs as simply white.
Now you are probably thinking, ‘the slopes are graded for my ability and safety’ and you are so right! But have you ever thought those shapes could be holding you back?
Going into a run with a neutral mindset, coming back to your technique and taking it one turn at a time will get you down any slope. I’ve guided countless clients down Black runs picking and choosing the best route down only to surprise them at the bottom by telling them they have absolutely crushed a Black run for the first time.
Using this technique, you will ride more freely without the anxiety of what is simply a colour. You will also be prepared for that 3pm Green run. It might have started out great in the morning but has now become an ice rink. Every resort has one and they definitely deserve a black diamond by the end of the day.
5. Don’t Settle In Your Snowboarding
Everyone becomes complacent with their snowboarding. Yep, even the pros and us instructors and you bet we take lessons to improve our riding. We just call it “session” and the pros “coaching”. We fine-tune our snowboarding and focus down on tiny movements that help sky-rocket our performance.
Now you might think you’ve got it all figured out and you are being super focused on your technique. Taking a lesson by a qualified instructor who has been trained to analyse your performance can bring bad habits to the surface or strengthen a key element of your riding. Sometimes it’s such a small movement that has the biggest effect in your snowboarding and when it clicks, it’s absolutely mind-blowing.
I see so many people take one maybe two lessons and then “just figure it out”. When people say they are getting a lesson, there seems to be this negative connotation in snowboarding. Taking a lesson can pull you out of that plateau, help you break through that barrier of being a good snowboarder to be a great rider who is confident on any terrain.
Even just taking one lesson each season can help you jump right back into last seasons shred fest and probably progress a little further. Tackling new terrain and opening up more of the mountain for you to enjoy.
(Insider Tip: If it’s a pow day, book that private lesson, skip the line and you bet we will take you to our sneaky pow stashes and the best tree runs on the mountain!)
You might be the best snowboarder on the mountain or you could be strapping in for the very first time. The best thing about these tips is that they can be used to improve by all snowboarders. Getting you to your goals faster and riding without limits anywhere, anytime.
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Alex is a snowboard instructor & health professional, combining her passion for biomechanics with a love for teaching into She Snowboards Co. - a website dedicated to Female Snowboarders. She is always chasing the endless winter in seek of the next pow fueled adventure. You can also find her on Instagram & Pinterest.