Beginner's Guide to Snowboarding

It’s fun and easy to learn how to snowboard. In this video series, professional snowboard instructor Chris Rogers walks through the basics of snowboarding for beginners. Chris explains how to go snowboarding for the first time. The series starts with the things you need to know about your gear and ends with stringing together turns on the hill. Be sure to watch all the videos and share them on your social channels and tag people you know who want to learn to snowboard


Part 1: Snowboard Gear, Stance, and Strapping In

There are several things beginner snowboarders need to know before they even set foot on snow. In the first section of our beginner's guide to snowboarding, we will cover:

  • How to properly put on your boots.
  • The basic parts of a snowboard.
  • How to strap in and out of a snowboard.
  • Figuring out your snowboard stance.
  • How to carry your snowboard.

So let's get started! Making sure your boots fit properly is one of the most important things to master as a beginner snowboarder. When trying on boots, only wear one pair of socks and make sure there is nothing else in the boot. We often see beginners who wear multiple pairs of socks to stay warm, but this is unnecessary. Modern snowboard boots are designed to keep your feet warm and comfortable with just one pair of socks. Also, make sure your heel is in the very back of the boot to ensure a snug fit. If you are unsure if your boot is on properly, ask your snowboard instructor or rental shop employee to help.

When it comes time to try on your snowboard, the first thing you will need to do is determine your "stance." Your stance is the direction you face while sliding downhill. There are two snowboard stances, regular and goofy. A regular stance means that your left foot is forward, while a goofy stance means that your right foot it forward. There is no correct snowboard stance, it is all about what feels good to you.

It is important to understand the basic parts of a snowboard so you know what your instructors are talking about. The front of the snowboard is called the nose and the back of the snowboard is called the tail. There is also the heelside edge (the side edge closet to your heel when strapped in) and the toeside edge (the side edge closet to your toes when strapped in). Bindings are another essential component to a snowboard, these are what attached your feet to your snowboard. They are typically made from plastic or metal and feature a ratcheting strap system to secure your fit.

To strap into your snowboard, find a flat service. You don't want to be on a hill because this will only make things more difficult. Place one foot into the binding, feed the "ladder" into the ratchet and crank the ratchet to tighten. To release, simply pull the buckle away from the ratchet.

It might sound silly, but it's also important to pay attention to how you carry your snowboard when you are not riding it. Watch the above video to find out why.

Part 2: Skating, Gliding, Standing Up, and Moving Uphill

Now that you've got all of your gear and you know how to get in and out of your snowboard, it's time to start learning some of the basic movements on snow. This section will cover:

  • How to skate and glide.
  • How to get up from the ground (while strapped in).
  • How to move uphill

When you're not going downhill, it is most common to get around with your front foot strapped in and your back foot pushing you forward. This is called skating and it is how snowboarders get onto chairlifts and how they move around on flat surfaces. But unlike skateboarding, the back foot typically pushes with your rear foot behind your heelside edge. The above video goes into more detail about how to skate and glide on snow.

When you are just getting started, you will probably be spending a lot of time on the ground. That is why it is important to understand how to stand up from a seated position with both feet strapped in. From a seated position, bend your knees and scoot your board towards your behind. Now, lean forward with your upper body and stand up using your quads and core. Try this on the flats a few times so you don't have to worry about sliding downhill. You can also stand up by flipping onto your knees and your toeside edge. Watch the above video to see this in action.

The whole point of snowboarding is to glide downhill, but sometimes it is necessary to actually move uphill while strapped in. To do this, face uphill and dig your toeside edge into the snow. Then, continually hop forward like you're jumping rope.

Part 3: How to Stop, Turn, and Ride a Chairlift

Once you've mastered the basics of navigating flat surfaces, it's time to move on to the fun part: going downhill. In the final section of the beginner's guide to snowboarding, professional snowboard instructor Chris Rogers explains:

  • How to stop.
  • How to turn.
  • How to get on a chairlift.
  • How to get off a chairlift.

Before you learn how to go straight downhill, you need to learn how to stop and control your speed. Start on your heelside with your board across the hill (perpendicular), try to find the balance point where you slowly move downhill without moving side to side. You should be in a mid-squat with your toeside edge slightly off the snow. You can also stop and slow down while you're facing uphill by balancing on your toeside edge with your heels off the snow. Chris Rogers demonstrates exactly how to do this in the above video.

Once you're comfortable controlling your speed on both your toe and heel edges, it's time to learn how to turn. Rogers recommends starting with "garlands." A garland is a half-turn that utilizes the same skills you mastered when learning how to stop. After you have made plenty of garlands on the hill, you can move into full C turns. For a full C turn, you will learn how to shift your weight from your toes to your heels (and vice versa). Once you can link together some full C turns, you'll create a full S turn. Congrats, you're officially snowboarding!

One often overlooked, but extremely important, part of learning how to snowboard is how to ride a chairlift. To get to the chairlift, skate up to the area that tells you to wait. After a chair passes and it's your turn, skate up to the loading area. Move your back foot over to your toeside edge to make it easier to sit down. When the chair comes, simply sit down and scoot to the back of the chair. Once safely seated, put down the safety bar and enjoy the ride up.

To get off of a chairlift safely, point your snowboard straight. You want the nose of your snowboard pointing directly at the unloading ramp. As the chair enters the unloading area, place your board down and stand up with your back foot on your snowboard between your bindings. Glide away from the chair to clear the unloading area.

So that wraps up our three-part series on learning how to snowboard. We hope we answered some of your basic questions. If you are a beginner snowboarder, there is no better way to learn than to take a lesson from a professional instructor. Visit the Take a Lesson page for more tips or watch more videos.

Have fun, and see you on the slopes!