Learn to Snowboard: A Guide to Snowboarding for Beginners

Learn to Snowboard – Snowboarding for beginners

For your first time snowboarding, everything you need is on this page, from what to prepare beforehand to what to expect once you’re on the slopes. We also wanted to mention that it is possible to learn to snowboard as an adult, so don’t shy away from being a beginner later on in life.

Your Snowboarding Questions Answered

Is learning to snowboard difficult?

Is snowboarding easy for beginners? 

Being a beginner at any new skill can be tricky, but learning to snowboard isn’t difficult with proper instruction. You can start enjoying the mountain atmosphere from the first day, and you’ll pick up tips and tricks as the week goes by. 

Be patient and give it a go. That’s our best advice.

Can you learn to snowboard in a day?

This depends on your expectations. After one day on the slopes, you may have got to grips with the equipment and have a basic idea of changing direction or sliding. 

But it’s challenging to learn everything to do with snowboarding in just one day. Give yourself time to have fun and try out your new skills. Focus on getting it right instead of rushing into it.

Do I need to be fit to snowboard?

Everyone can learn to snowboard. You don’t have to be mega-fit, but some fitness level will be beneficial. If you’re willing to give it a go with a positive attitude, you’ll be shredding before you know it. 

Snowboarding can be physically demanding, so make sure you’re agile enough to pick yourself back up if you take a tumble (which everyone does now and again). Boarding utilises many muscles in your body, so any prep you can do before your trip helps.  

If you want to build strength and fitness before your trip, we have a few tips from a professional fitness trainer at Peak Condition based out of London. All these exercises can be done from home and are suitable for skiers and snowboarders.

What age should I start snowboarding?

You can learn to snowboard at any age. Don’t be afraid of being a beginner later on in life. We were all beginners once, and if you’re willing to learn, you’ll succeed.

For children, we recommend starting from age six.

Can I teach myself to snowboard?

Of course, you can. If you’re motivated, physically fit and have a go-getter attitude, you can teach yourself to snowboard. It also helps if you’ve experiences with other board sports like skateboarding or surfing.

In saying that, there’s a good reason why snowboarding instructors exist!

What’s more accessible, learning to snowboard or ski?

The majority of people tend to find skiing easier to learn than snowboarding. But, the learning curve in skiing is steeper than in snowboarding, so it’s easier to become a more advanced snowboarder than an advanced skier.

How do I get over the fear of falling over?

You’ll first learn how to control your speed when you begin snowboarding. Falling in your first lesson is relatively uncommon because you’ll be on flat terrain. (But there will be a bit of time on your bum getting used to your new equipment!)

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Snowboard lessons for beginners

Can you learn to snowboard without lessons?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not recommended, as you risk injuring yourself or others around you if you’re out of control. 

You won’t learn the fundamentals of staying in control and safe on the mountain. We often see snowboards sliding down the hill on their own – our top tip is to hang onto it if it’s not on your feet! 

Learning to snowboard with a qualified, professional instructor is highly recommended.

By ditching your snowboarding lessons, you may make a short-term saving of a bit of cash, but you’ll be left with bad habits that you’ll eventually need to pay an instructor to iron out.

After a few lessons with a snowboard instructor

You’ll enable you to build great technique and have little-to-no bad habits. You’ll be in a safe and comfortable learning environment and won’t be reliant on a friend or family member.

You’ll stay on terrain suitable for your ability and receive handy tips and advice to help you navigate the mountains on your board. And you’ll have a personal cheerleader who will encourage and inspire you along the way.

How many lessons does a beginner need?

Beginner snowboarders should take a whole week’s worth of group lessons to get to grips with the basics and learn proper form. We recommend a couple of days one-on-one with a snowboard instructor if you’d prefer private lessons.

What type of snowboard lessons are best for beginners?

For your first time snowboarding, we recommend beginner adult group lessons. Group lessons are the perfect place to learn how to snowboard because they run for just 2hrs a day, so you’ve plenty of time to board with friends or practice.

And the midday sessions will give you a great base to ensure you build confidence and get the most out of your week. Our group snowboard lessons run from Monday – Friday or Sunday – Friday, depending on when you arrive at the resort.

We offer three levels of snowboard lessons:

  • Learn to Board (Level 1)
  • Perfect the Turns (Level 2)
  • Start to Ride (Level 3)

Our groups are small, with eight pupils maximum, but we’ll run them with just two riders. These small group sizes give the instructor plenty of time to spend with each pupil so that you get individual attention and feedback, even in the group setting.

What can you expect from your first snowboard lesson?

  • Learn how to use your new snowboard equipment and get comfortable with it.
  • Learn proper technique from day one, so you don’t build bad habits and stay safe on the mountain.
  • Instruction from a highly qualified instructor who will inspire you to ride like a pro.
  • An environment where you’ll feel safe and build your confidence on your snowboard.
  • Insider knowledge from the instructor who knows the local mountain well. They can share things such as the best pistes for your ability.
  • A friendly, social atmosphere for other first-timers so you can learn at your own pace.
  • And a few laughs (we hope!).

Are snowboarding lessons worth it?

Why should you learn how to snowboard?

The question should be, ‘why wouldn’t you want to learn to snowboard’? 

It’s fun to cruise through the mountains riding sideways. Anyone can snowboard, adults and children (we recommend six years upwards), so you can share the experience with friends and family.

Riding a snowboard will take you to places you’d never imagined. Whilst overcoming challenges, hitting goals and having fun. You’ll be sharing adventures, tackling challenges together and achieving goals. They’re the type of experiences that you don’t regularly have in your day-to-day life.

There are a few activities you can do in the winter that gets you outside, in the fresh mountain air (and often in the sunshine!) Take it all in, and make the most of the stunning scenery.

And what will transform you from a beginner to a shredder? Great snowboard lessons. When an energetic and smiley instructor greets you on the first morning, you’ll feel instantly excited and at ease. 

Our group lessons are divided by ability, so you’ll learn with others who have never boarded. Your new instructor will inspire you and cheer you on throughout the week. They’ll also share their love for snowboarding and the mountains so that you learn to love the new environment! 

Our instructors are there to support you and make you feel calm and confident, which will help you enjoy your time on the slopes.

Ready to learn to snowboard? Get 10% off your Level 1 Group Lessons with New Generation.

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What are some snowboarding terms?

What are some snowboarding terms?

For the first-timer, snowboard terminology can sound like a foreign language. Here are a few key terms to familiarise yourself with snowboarding.

What are pistes?

Pistes, also known as runs or slopes, are marked ski runs or paths with compacted snow. The word piste is French for ‘trail’. However, it’s used across many European countries. These will be the runs you’ll snowboard on, each having a different name and difficulty grading, which you can see on a piste map of the resort.

What are the colours of ski runs?

The slopes are graded by colour, associated with a different difficulty level. The easiest ski run colour is green, with black being the most difficult (in Europe). These are determined by the gradient or degree of the slope.

  • Green runs – easy
  • Blue runs – intermediate
  • Red runs – advanced
  • Black runs – expert

What are lift tickets?

Also known as lift passes or ski passes, lift tickets are your ticket to ride the lifts in a resort. In Europe, small plastic cards (the same size as a credit card) allow you to pass through the gates at each lift station.

The scanners for lift passes are on the left side, so ensure that your pass is in a lefthand pocket. Either your jacket pocket, trouser pocket, or if you’ve a special pocket on your left sleeve that is explicitly made for lift passes and is the best spot. Keep your lift pass away from other credit cards, or mobile phones, as these might deactivate it.

 What are the different types of ski lifts?

There are a few different types of ski lifts that you’ll encounter in the resort. They each have other purposes, and all require a slightly different use, with the primary goal being the same: get up the mountain!

  • Magic Carpet – We’re not talking about the one Aladdin rides on! Magic carpets are conveyer belts installed at the level of the snow. These are usually only found in beginner areas and make it easy for you to get up the slope. Essentially you slide or walk onto it, stand up whilst it moves you up the hill, and then slide or walk off at the end. Sometimes you’ll see them in covered tunnels.
  • Button lift/drag lift / Poma lift / T-bar – These lifts have a few different names, but most commonly, you’ll hear it referred to as a drag lift or button lift. This is a lift where you stay standing the entire time as it drags you up the slope. You hold the drag, slide it between your legs, and remain standing as it pulls you up the hill. On a snowboard you’d unattach one foot and rest it between the bindings on the board. Your instructor can talk you through how to nail it, as it can be a difficult lift to use a first timer!
  • Chair lift – These are the most common types of lifts you’ll use once you get to the basics. Chair lifts are a series of chairs hanging from a moving cable that moves you up the mountain. These have a handful of seats in a row (usually 4-6).

Gondola / Telecabine / Bubble / Cable Car – These terms are all used interchangeably. However, the main difference from a chairlift is that you take your board off and walk into these. Some are seated, and others are standing, but essentially these are enclosed cabins that you either stand or ski in. Some have racks on the outside to slot your board in, whereas in others, you bring your snowboard with you inside. Technically a gondola and cable car are different because the mechanics of how they function are different, but you can expect people to use them interchangeably in conversation.

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Planning your first snowboarding trip

How do I prepare for a snowboarding holiday? As with any holiday, you need to do a little planning. However, we’ve compiled the key things to consider when planning your first winter trip. If you want even more detail check out our in-depth guide on winter holiday planning.

What time of year to go snowboarding?

Choosing the time of year to go snowboarding significantly impacts what type of holiday you’ll have. The winter season in Europe generally runs from early Dec through to late April.

For beginner snowboarders without school-age children, we recommend learning to snowboard in January or March. This way, you can take advantage of better deals and quieter pistes and reasonably ensure the snow will be good.

If your children are in school, don’t be put off by the busyness of those peak weeks. Snowboarding with your children is a fantastic family experience and an activity you can enjoy together. If you want to bring your little ones out, some of these blogs might be useful to you.

What resort to visit?

Choosing the right resort for you can feel like a big task. Here are four aspects of resorts to research so that you can find the best one for you.

Price – Resorts vary in cost. Some are more budget, and others are more exclusive. Depending on your budget, do a Google search on how expensive that resort is. The cost of lift passes, food and accommodation, will all be impacted. We have lots of information on our ski resort pages, take a look here and pick your resort.

Atmosphere – Are you looking to have a bit of a party and spend your afternoons après-skiing in the sunshine? Or are you looking for a quaint, traditional French village? Or perhaps you want somewhere that has some great kids’ activities and family-friendly restaurants.

The Snowboarding – What is the terrain like? Some cater to more advanced skiers, whereas others have more gentle terrain. You don’t want to show up for your first time skiing in a resort that has very few beginner-friendly slopes. Here’s a guide to some of the best resorts for beginners to help you.

Why we love snowboarding in Avoriaz

Choose the correct type of accommodation.

There are a few different types of accommodation in most ski resorts, depending on what you’re looking for. One of the critical things to look for – no matter what type of accommodation you’ve – is where it is located within the village. For example, can you snowboard out from the front door? Or will you need to get a bus to the pistes? Some chalet companies will offer lifts around the resort if your chalet isn’t within walking distance to the slopes, but this is something to enquire about at the time of booking.

Catered chalet – These are all-inclusive packages where you usually have a chef and host working in the chalet most days of the week. They cook breakfast and dinner and provide afternoon tea each day. This is an excellent option for those who want everything taken care of.

Shared chalets – Unless you book the whole chalet for your party, you’ll probably share with others. Most chalet guests are like-minded folk, making for a fun and social setting. Just be prepared to mix and dine with other parties.

Self-catered apartment or chalet – Alternatively, if you prefer the flexibility of choosing your meal times and opting for more meals out, self-catered options are becoming more and more popular in the resort. Cook for yourself, eat when you want and have more of your own space in your accommodation than a catered chalet.

Hotel – Hotels in winter resorts frequently are bed-and-breakfast with the option to eat in the hotel restaurant in the evening.

Airbnb – It’s becoming easier to find Airbnbs in ski resorts. However, there are fewer here than you’ll find in a city.

Snowboard Lessons, Equipment Hire and Lift Passes

You’ll need to sort out three critical aspects of your holiday. You’ll need to learn the basics before exploring the whole mountain. As a beginner, you’ll need to know the correct turning technique and how to balance on the board.

Snowboard Lessons – A quality snowboard lesson is crucial to a great first experience on a snowboard.

It can be tempting to take up the offer of friends teaching you, but often it’s best to stick to a professional snowboard instructor as they know what they’re doing (and you won’t fall out!)

We recommend you book adult group snowboard lessons for your first time riding sideways.

Equipment Hire – You will want to hire your snowboard equipment for the first time. This includes snowboard boots and board. You can also hire a helmet if you do not have your own. Your boots must fit correctly, and the equipment hire shops will ask about your relevant experience.

We recommend you book this in advance as usually, you can get a better rate if you do so. We’ve partnered with three different snowboard hire companies across France, Switzerland and Austria. You can book your equipment hire through us for an exclusive promotional discount.

Lift Passes – You can organise your lift pass purchase before you come out on holiday or get it once you’re in the resort. There are pros and cons to booking ahead of time.

Many resorts have specific beginner snowboarder’s areas which are free to use, so technically, you might not need a lift pass on the first day. This can save you money if you buy the pass once you’ve arrived at the resort.

Most chalet companies or hotels offer a small discount if you purchase your lift pass ahead of time through them. Ski passes aren’t included in ski lesson prices (unless stated otherwise!)

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What to wear snowboarding

What to wear snowboarding?

When snowboarding, you should wear warm moisture-wicking layers and waterproof outer layers. You can think of your clothing in the base, mid, and outer layers.

  1. Base Layers – should wick away moisture.
  2. Mid Layers – should trap body heat.
  3. Outer Layers – should keep away the wind, rain and snow.

This is the recipe for optimal warmth, paired with the flexibility to shed or add layers easily if the weather changes (which it often does in the mountains).

Base Layers – These should include: warm ski socks, a form-fitting thermal top and leggings. These should fit close to the skin and wick away moisture. We recommend any made out of merino wool. As for socks, get a pair of quality ski socks. Don’t layer your regular socks, as these can cause lumps that eventually lead to blisters.

Long-sleeve Mid Layer – This layer should keep your heat trapped close to your body. The most common material for mid-layers is a fleece. Other options could be a thin-down jacket or a thin merino wool sweater. We like one that zips, so we can unzip and quickly cool down when we’re having a coffee inside.

Outer Layers – Your outer layers are the most important and should be fully waterproof. Gore-tex is now widely used and is part of most ski gear, if not other waterproof technology. This should include a jacket, trousers, gloves or mittens, a hat to wear under your helmet, a neck warmer and goggles (or potentially sunglasses if it’s sunny and warm).

There are now technological updates that can help you keep warm on the slopes as well. You can purchase heated gloves and heated ski socks. Or you can get old-school hand and foot warmers to put in your gloves or boots.

What equipment do you need?

The equipment you’ll need for snowboarding includes a snowboard, snowboard boots and a helmet. You can rent all of the equipment from a ski hire shop.

However, many people opt to bring their helmets – they can be bulky in your luggage, so if it’s easier for you to rent one, we’d recommend doing so. And note that a helmet isn’t included when you hire snowboard equipment unless you specify.

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What to expect on the slopes

What to bring with you on the slopes for the day

Aside from your clothing and equipment, there are a few extra items you might like to have with you on the slopes. One option is to stuff your pockets full of everything else you might want. However, usually, it’s easier to bring a rucksack. Here are a few bits that might come in handy:

  • A piste map (learn the different grades of slopes)
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Sunscreen
  • Chocolates or small snacks
  • Tissues
  • An extra layer
  • Water bottle
  • Hat – for when you sit down for a drink and would prefer to take your helmet off
  • Sunglasses

You’ll start in beginner areas.

Each resort has a specified beginner area, sometimes called a ‘Zen Zone, which is sectioned off from the other pistes. These are great areas to learn to snowboard. They’re indeed ‘zen’ and offer a calm learning environment with other beginners on a gentle slope where you can access a magic carpet.

Expect to start in one of these beginner areas, and then once you’ve grasped the basics, you’ll move on to green runs.

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Top tips for your first day snowboarding

Practice, practice, practice

If you’re in group lessons, scout out your competition. After your first lesson finishes, you’re perfectly justified in patting yourself on the back and going for a drink. However, don’t hang your snowboard up for the day and wait for tomorrow.

You can be sure that some of your crafty co-learners will be so enamoured with the new sport that they will push on until lifts are shut without even a crumb of food or a drop of gluhwein touching their lips! 

Then the next day, they will show you up and make you feel like you’re holding everyone up! This is exaggerated, but consolidating what you’ve learned is essential.

If you can go back out on the nursery slope for an hour in the afternoon after your first two lessons and practice what you’ve learned, then you’ll be cruising down those slopes in no time.

Push hard at the start of the week. Don’t go more difficult, but do what you’ve learned repeatedly. Then once you’ve got to grips with it all, rest in the middle of the week if needed.

Take your time on the first day.

Don’t be impatient to get going, and most of all, don’t skip steps. A good snowboard instructor will ensure you’ve learned what’s necessary before moving on. 

Snowboarding can be a big confidence game. If you learn meticulously and thoroughly at the start, you’ll make each advance confidently and quickly. If you rush onwards and skip bits you don’t like, you may struggle on day three and have to go back to the drawing board when the difficulty ramps up. 

You can’t build a substantial house with inadequate foundations.

If you prefer to book private lessons for a more one-on-one session, click here to find our prices and availability for private snowboard lessons.

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