I’ve taught hundreds of people to snowboard, and often I see people’s progression being held back by simple mistakes. Sometimes that could be a technical mistake with their riding or sometimes a mistake in the way they have chosen and set up their equipment.
These are the most common mistakes I see in the people I teach and in other riders around the mountain.
1. Not getting weight forward in the turn
From a technical point of view, the primary mistake beginners make when learning to snowboard is leaning back in the turn.
When turning your snowboard, you need to steer from the front by getting your weight onto your front foot. Unfortunately, our natural reaction is to lean back when we feel afraid or out of control. This is a common theme that will run through your whole journey of learning to snowboard. Whether it be your first turn or learning a new trick, our natural reaction is to lean back – and it doesn’t work!
The key to overcoming this is to visualize what you are about to do and focus on the technique of getting your weight forward.
This will help give you the confidence needed to keep your weight forward.
2. Not wearing protective gear
Confidence is critical when snowboarding. And nothing knocks your confidence like a painful fall. Wearing some protective gear will help you have the confidence to push yourself without risk of injury.
You should always wear a helmet when snowboarding, but it’s also a good idea to wear other protective gear, such as impact shorts, wrist guards, and knee pads.
3. Riding too fast
Focusing on technique is hard when you are outside of your comfort zone. I often see intermediate riders going super fast but with very little technique or style.
Riding slower and in control will make it easier to concentrate on your turns. You’ll also need to slow things right down when you start learning tricks.
Plus, if you slow down, you’ll be able to spot all the jumps and natural features on the mountain that make snowboarding fun!
4. Windshield wiper turns
Windshield wiper turns are when the rider keeps their weight locked on the front foot throughout the turn and just kicks the board around with the back foot.
This makes the board pivot under the front foot with the tail swinging around and kind of looks like a windshield wiper.
This is a common problem I see among intermediate riders, which can really hold them back from progressing further in their riding. Windshield wiper turns are no good when riding powder! So without good technique you could be missing out on the best part of snowboarding!
5. Not taking a lesson
All of the points above can be corrected if you take a lesson! Snowboard lessons aren’t just for learning the basics as a beginner; they can help your snowboarding progress more quickly.
Even a simple tip from an experienced instructor can unlock something new in your riding, which can really make a difference.
6. Not wearing the right clothes.
Wearing the correct clothes can make all the difference when learning to snowboard. A decent snowboard jacket and pants that offer some waterproofness and breathability will keep you warm and dry but not overheat. A good set of gloves and goggles should also be on your checklist.
It takes a bit of experience to know how much you need to wear in the mountains, so it’s best to wear lots of layers and bring a backpack with some extra clothes so you can add or take off if needed.
Always check the weather forecast, and try and dress appropriately.
7. Not doing up your boots properly!
One of the first things I do when teaching beginners is to make sure they’ve got their boots done up properly. It’s really important that both the inner boot and outer boot are done up properly so that your foot is securely held in place.
At the end of the spectrum, some riders do their boots up super tight so that they cannot flex into the boot, and they become painful.
8. Not setting up your board right
Another common mistake is the board not being set up correctly. Some mistakes I see the most often are:
- Goofy rider, riding a regular setup (or vice-versa).
- Stance too wide or too narrow.
- Bindings set too far towards the tail.
- Weird binding angles!
If this sounds like you, then take the time to adjust your binding set up before the next time you hit the hill. And make sure you always have a snowboard tool with you!
9. Not picking the right kind of board
This one is less common but can be fatal to your progression! If you are a beginner, make sure you get the right size board and a board that has a soft flex and is nice and easy to ride. Normally the rental shop will sort you out with the right equipment, but it’s worth knowing a little about what makes a good beginner board so you can make sure that you are renting something appropriate.
The other mistake people make is buying a board that is too specific to one kind of riding. This might be a short, soft freestyle board which is a nightmare to ride on a powder day. Or a powder-specific board like a swallow-tail which is no fun when the snow conditions are hard.
If you only own one snowboard, then make sure it is an all-mountain board. Then you’ll be able to progress the fastest and have the most fun in all conditions.