Lessons of a First Time Snowboarder

So the other day I had a chance to go snowboarding for the first time, and have to say that it was an awesome experience! It’s hard to describe the thrill of completing a successful run down the hill (ok, so it was only the beginner hill) as you carve and zig-zag back and forth down the mountain. I think it’s one of man’s primal instincts to try to conquer his environment, and it was really fun learning a new skill and seeing myself improve with every run. And while learning a new skill can be difficult at times, if you approach it with the right attitude, understand the learning pains (literally), it can be a really fun and rewarding experience. So with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the things I found learning and trying to teach myself how to snowboard for the first time

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to fall
When starting out and learning a new skill, you’re bound to have some learning pains. In snowboarding, that means you’re going to fall – and fall often, as you learn what it feels like to snowboard down the mountain. If you’re afraid of falling, you will be too scared to push yourself, struggling to get down the hill, or even to get going down the hill. You’ll be like the frog in the well, not knowing the possibilities or limits of what is out there, just waiting for you, only if you try and are not afraid of failure.

Lesson 2: Learn how to fall
Knowing that you’re going to fall (it’s not a question of if, but when), you have to learn how to fall. And as funny as this may sound, it really is an important skill to learn so that you don’t hurt yourself (too much). When you fall, it’s important brace yourself and spread your weight over a greater surface area. That means landing on your butt, spreading your arms out (not under) to brace yourself (but not take the entire impact). Just like in business, if you take a risk, hedge your bets so that one fall won’t hurt yourself such that you won’t be able to continue (or go bankrupt)

Lesson 3: Have a positive attitude
Because it’s going to be painful, you need to have the tenacity to pick yourself up every time you fall. Persistence and a positive attitude are key here, giving you the ability to keep going even if it seems like an insurmountable challenge just to get down the bunny hill without falling.

Lesson 4: Learn and improve with every run
Since you will only have time for a limited amount of runs down the mountain each time you go (before you get too sore or tired to continue), make the most out of every run by learning and improving each time you go down. For me, this meant trying different foot placements (regular or goofy), practicing going down on the back edge of my board for one run, going down on the front edge for the next run, focusing on my turns on another run, etc. If you’re not constantly trying to improve, or figuring out where you went wrong, or thinking about how to get better, it’ll take you 10 times as long to improve

Lesson 5: Learn from those who are better than you
In order to be the best, you have to learn from the best. With that attitude in mind, I would watch different snowboarders going down the hill as I was sitting in the chairlift going up the mountain to see what the successful ones were doing and what their technique looked like. I would then try to copy or emulate them on my next run down.

Lesson 6: Push yourself to the limit every time
This was my first time snowboarding, and I knew that I would be going with other people more experienced than me. Knowing that I didn’t want to hold them back and made it a goal to progress off the bunny hill as quickly as possible. This meant that as soon as I started to get a hang of what it feels like to go down the hill, I moved on to a steeper, longer, more challenging hill. Before I knew it, I was able to start carving, turning and feeling much more comfortable on the way down. My philosophy is that you’ll improve more challenging yourself on a harder hill than you will feeling on an easier hill.

Lesson 7: Visualize yourself being successful
Professional athletes do this all the time, so I thought I would use it as well. And I found that visualizing what it would feel like sliding, turning, and zooming down the hill really helped, especially as I was trying to master basic techniques like turning and stopping.

Using all of the above techniques really helped me go from having no clue what to do to being able to make a successful run down the beginner hill with multiple turns and being able to pick up some solid speed. And overall, it was really fun experience – I can’t wait to go again!