Snowboarding is one of the most exciting winter sports. It's also one of the most frustrating. After learning how to use a chair lift, perform basic turns, and tackle every blue square trail on the mountain, many snowboarders reach a standstill in performance.
However, you don't have to remain an intermediate rider forever, and advancing is easier than most snowboarders think. The following tips offer the know-how you need to take your riding to the next level.
Practice off the mountain
You may not be able to strap your board on your feet and shred mountains in the offseason, but you can train for when the snow finally begins to fall. Getting (and staying) in shape is one way to advance your skills before you hit the mountain. The Internet is loaded with helpful exercise programs for snowboarders, so buy a gym membership and start improving your flexibility, and core and leg strength.
Although you don't have to be a gym rat to practice your riding in the offseason, many snowboarders choose skateboarding, wakeboarding, surfing or balance board training as ways to keep their snowboarding muscles in shape while having fun at the same time. Basic exercises, like swimming, running and biking, will also help you stay in shape during the offseason.
Staying fit for snowboarding will reduce soreness and prevent injury, so you can advance safely and more rapidly while pushing your technique a bit further.
Tailor your setup
The gear you use on the mountain plays a large role in staying safe and advancing as a rider. Purchase your snowboard at a snowboard shop where a someone qualified can help you find a board that suits your size, riding style and goals.
Finding the perfect snowboard setup isn't as easy as picking a design you like, and it pays to have an expert help with the process. If you insist on finding a better deal on a snowboard setup online, call the company and speak with its employees about your goals as a rider, so they can help you achieve the perfect setup.
Focus on your knees
Forget what your first snowboard instructor told you — turns should not be made with your shoulders. As snowboarders advance, they learn that the lead leg is where powerful, controlled turns start. Focus on applying pressure to your front knee, and you'll notice your turns becoming faster and more precise.
Practice perfecting your turns by aligning your chest over your thighs and bending your knees as you enter every turn. Exit the turn by standing and releasing the pressure on your knees. Your turns will look as effortless as your favorite pros in no time.
It's easy to fall into the habit of performing your usual maneuvers and turns, day after day on the mountain. Riding switch - leading with your opposite foot rather than your natural stance - forces you to get back to the basics of riding and focus on the fundamentals.
You don't have to spend entire days uncomfortably riding switch down every trail. However, riding switch down a number of runs per day will improve your snowboarding, whether you prefer the halfpipe, backcountry or groomers.
Additionally, landing a perfect 180 and riding away switch is guaranteed to boost your confidence for bigger and better maneuvers.
There is no way to advance as a rider without pushing yourself to tackle more difficult terrain or attempt new tricks. However, that doesn't mean you should ride outside of your abilities. Advance steadily and within your comfort level to create a bag of tricks - and progress to more challenging terrain at a realistic pace.
It's important to be aware of the snow conditions, as well as your personal condition, before attempting new maneuvers or tackling new terrain. Always inspect the takeoff and landing of new features and be sure the black diamond you are about to ride isn't covered in ice.
Take time to watch others ride the trail or features you want to attempt before snowboarding. Most importantly, never try a new maneuver or more difficult terrain if you are feeling exhausted or ill.
Consider an expert lesson
Snowboard lessons aren't just for beginners. Most resorts are equipped with expert riders that are prepared to push your limits without pushing your level of safety. Consider signing up for an advanced lesson to learn the proper fundamentals of pushing your riding beyond your expectations.
You could even work with your instructor to film your runs, using a device like a GoPro, to analyse and refine your technique.
I like these tips but I need more help, now!
Our snowboard improver courses are an excellent way to take your skills to the next level!
This article was contributed by our friend Tony Anasenes at Windward Boardshop, who specialize in everything snowboarding, skateboarding, long boarding, SUP and swimwear related. Tony has gained great knowledge and wisdom through many years' shredding the slopes, to pass on to Snowskool’s fortunate readers.