Learning to snowboard can be expensive! You have to buy/rent all the gear, buy the lift ticket, and that’s before you’ve even thought about paying for a lesson! But can you save yourself a little cash and get a free lesson from your buddy? Many snowboarders out there (myself included) learned to ride by getting some tips from friends.
Do you need to take snowboard lessons?
As a snowboard instructor, I should really answer yes to this question. But the truth is, both myself and lots of friends, as well as lots of people I teach, actually learned the basics on our own or with some tips from friends. These are some of the reasons why you should take a snowboard lesson:
- You will learn faster
- You will learn the correct technique
- You will keep safe and build your confidence
- You will learn on the terrain best suited to your level
That all said, I understand that the price can be a deal-breaker for many people…snowboard lessons are expensive! So these are a few tips for teaching a friend to snowboard.
I totally understand that if you are on your one-week snowboard vacation, you may not want to spend too much of your time teaching someone else the basics on the bunny hill! But if you show a little patience, your buddy will probably learn quicker. Particularly if you are teaching a partner, stress levels can rise pretty quick if you try and push them too fast.
I’ve taught a lot of girls on their second day of snowboarding, after a disastrous first day with their boyfriend! If you are teaching your partner to ride, then it seems it’s even more important that you are patient and show some empathy. Make sure you’ve consciously committed enough time for them to learn so that you are not stressing that you are missing out on your riding time.
Patience is perhaps the most important attribute for teaching others. So if you’ve got it, maybe you should become a snowboard instructor!
Know the basics
For a lot of us who have been riding for years, snowboarding has become second nature, so it can be hard to remember how we actually went about learning in the first place. But if you are going to teach someone to snowboard, you need to be able to break down the technique and not just say, ‘Do what I do!’
Teaching a beginner to snowboard is broken down into a series of steps, which I have laid out in detail in my beginner snowboard lesson. Although you may have learned slightly differently as teaching techniques have evolved over the years, the basics should be the same.
Exaggerate you movements
When teaching someone to snowboard, oftentimes, a demo will be the best way to communicate what they need to do. It’s important that these demos really show the movements that you are doing. Otherwise, it can seem like it’s all happening by magic.
When we become more experienced riders, we refine down our movements so that we do just enough and just at the right time. But this makes it really hard to spot what you’re actually doing.
So really exaggerate your movements. It may feel a little weird, but if you are showing that you should bend your knees, flex down way further than you would normally do. And if you are showing that you put weight on your front foot, really lean into it, so it’s clear what is going on.
Take your snowboard off
When I teach beginners to ride, I spend at least 50% of the lesson with my board off. Instead, I am on my feet helping out the beginner with a hand for support or help standing up. This lets me catch them before they fall and help them build confidence.
You can also walk around each turn to clearly show what movements they need to do and when. Once they have got the hang of each step, you can put your board back on and get them to follow you down the slope.
Pick the right slope
If the person you are teaching is a beginner, then the beginner slope is the right place to teach them! This might sound obvious, but I often see people teaching first-timers up the mountain on one of the blue/green trails. I guess this is because they don’t want to be hanging out in the bunny hill all day? But just don’t do it – you are gonna have a bad time!
Not only are these slopes often too steep, but to the beginner, it will seem that everyone else on the mountain are pros! Being surrounded by other beginners is a much friendlier learning environment.
Don’t push too hard
Learning to snowboard is all about slowly building your confidence. We can all remember that edge catches from when we were starting out.
Those falls can be brutal! So we need to minimize the number of falls and maximize the level of confidence.
I get it that you are probably in a rush to get your buddy up and riding so that you are free to go and shred the mountain. But pushing them too hard and too fast can just slow down the whole process.
Make sure they have mastered each step in the learning process, and are feeling confident before you move onto the next.
Get the right equipment
If you are saving your friend some money by teaching them to snowboard, then maybe they can stump up the extra cash to rent a decent snowboard!
Being on the right snowboard setup can have a huge effect on how quickly you learn. That means the right kind of snowboard and snowboard boots, which are not too stiff and suitable for beginners. And the board is correctly set up with the right length board and the right stance settings.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you have the right safety equipment. That means, at the very least a helmet, but also impact shorts and wrist guards are a good idea for first-timers.
If you are renting equipment, make sure you go to a reputable store where the equipment doesn’t look too old. A good sign is if the board has been freshly waxed, then you know you are onto a winner.
From my experience, I would still recommend taking a couple of lessons when you are starting out. But I totally get that not everyone’s budget can stretch to that. Also, learning from a friend can be a heap of fun! The main thing with learning anything new is that you should feel safe and confident and that it should be fun.