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How to learn snowboarding?

You want to learn snowboarding and you do not know how to do it? David, snowboard instructor in Val Thorens, and passionate about freestyle, explain to you the basis of this sport. As you are an adult or that you want to teach this sport to your child, this list of exercises and good practices will help you to start in the best conditions.

Planche de snowboard

Advice N°1 : Before starting, warming up well!

I never start a course without a little warm-up. It may not seem necessary, especially for the younger ones, but in the mountains, muscles are initially colder under the influence of the low temperatures. In addition, you will perform movements that your muscles are not used to doing. It is therefore important to warm up well to avoid injuries.

The areas that need to be warmed up first :

  • The legs
  • The pelvis
  • The back
  • Wrists

Advice N°2 : Starting snowboarding can be physical: be in shape!

In the first days, beginners tend to be a bit tense on their legs. This is perfectly natural, but your legs will then wear out relatively quickly.

A few dynamic stretches at the beginning of the lesson can help you reactivate your leg muscles. But it's especially important to get plenty of rest the night before. Big evenings the night before the first day of snowboarding are, unfortunately, to be avoided.

During and after exercise, don't forget to drink water to avoid aches and cramps. In case of cramps, it is recommended to take a hot shower or bath to relax the muscles and drink plenty of water.

As this is a relatively intense sport, being in good general physical condition is strongly advised, especially for beginners. However, talent can always compensate... 😏

paysage snowboard

Advice N°3 : Do not stress to make good progress

Snowboarding is above all a fun sport. So having a good time and being as free of stress as possible is essential for a better success. The more you stress, the more complicated the learning process becomes.

It's quite simple, in a condition of stress, the learning rate is about 10%. But when a person is relaxed and enthusiastic, the rate of what people retains increases to 80%. If you don't feel like going on your own, I can't advise you to do anything else but contact a good snow instructor to give you confidence. 😉

If you want to learn alone, take your time! It's by moving forward step by step that you will avoid frustration and keep your energy to learn snowboarding in the best conditions.

Advice N°4 : Learn in the right field

Before you start on the big slopes, even green ones, start quietly in the beginners' area. All resorts have an area, often close to the main snow front, dedicated to first-time skiers.

Even if you're an adult, there's no shame in it, we have all been there! At all times you must be able to control and manage your speed. This will allow you to avoid falls and to start with easy exercises.

It will also allow you to overcome your fears. Big falls can be impressive and prevent you from get back confidence. Progressing on suitable field will allow you to learn softly and gain confidence.

Advice N°5 : The first exercises

The first exercise I usually suggest is One foot (move forward in one foot). To move forward on the flat on a snowboard, you have to take off the back foot and use it to push, a bit like on a skateboard. This is the first step to master to be able to move on the flat.

Then, we practice on the front-back skid. This exercise is a little more technical. The important thing here is to understand the torsion of the snowboard and how to manage the pressure on the toes on one side and on the heels on the other. It's all a matter of dosage, to avoid skidding too much and therefore stopping, and thus avoiding releasing all the pressure, which can lead to an edge fault followed by a fall.

Once you start to feel comfortable skidding, you start to take the first few turns. It can be a bit scary the first few times, but with a little practice and commitment it always works at the end!

Snowboard mouvement

Advice N°6 : Maintain a forward position, bent legs

The position is important because it will allow you to transfer your weight to the right place on the board. Get well on the front of the board. Most people who are stressed tend to get on the back of the board and fall.

At the same time, bend your legs well. If you feel stiff on your legs, try bending them. The lower you go down, the lower your center of gravity will be close to the piste, and therefore the more stable you will be. Be Careful, snowboarding is still a sport practiced standing up, so don't go too far down either. 😊

Advice N°7 : To turn, look where you want to go

Avoid looking at your legs when you are moving, otherwise you are guaranteed to fall! To turn, look in the direction you want to go. Just like on a bike!

It's the same for going in a straight line. Fix a point straight ahead, the position of your shoulders will adapt without you having to control it and you will move forward in a straight line.

Advice N°8 : Do not forget the safety !

It may seem obvious, and yet some beginners, who are not familiar with the codes on the tracks, tend to put themselves in unnecessary danger.

Keep in mind to make sure that there is no one around before you go out on the slope. And of course, don't stay in the middle of the slope to avoid collisions.

Regarding to the equipment, it is essential to have a helmet (it is even compulsory under 13 years old people). And if the snow is hard (freezing) a buttock protector and possibly elbow and knee pads.

Wrist injuries are not uncommon. If you have fragile wrists, don't hesitate to wear reinforced gloves or wrist protectors under your gloves.


Advice N°9 : Renting your equipment, testing it before buying it

Sometimes I see beginners who are eager to buy their equipment and rush a bit to own their first board. I understand them completely because snowboards are very beautiful objects and it makes you want one!

However, after a few sessions you will have a better understanding of the style of snowboarding that suits you and you will know if you want to keep practice snowboarding. Having said that, if you learn with me, it's obvious that the question will not arise and you will never stop snowboarding 😇.

From a purely economic point of view, the equipment often pays for itself in 4 to 6 weeks. So it's up to you to see how long you want to do it.

Note: Practising another board sport can help, but it is not essential

I'm often asked if it is necessary to practice a sliding sport in order to learn snowboarding quickly. This helps to create connections and reflexes that will make learning easier. Mastering skateboarding or surfing, for example, can allow the "muscle memory" to integrate snowboarding gestures more quickly.

But starting with snowboarding without mastering other board sports does not interfere with learning. If the motivation goes, everything goes!


Learning to snowboard alone is of course possible, from 2-3 years old for children and at any age for an adult. The important thing is to be in good physical condition and above all to want to try it! But it is also essential to respect a certain number of good practices and to pay attention to the conditions in which you practice it. Safety, warm-ups and the choice of the field are essential to make good progress and avoid accidents. Now, all to your snowboards !

Snowboard (station de ski)
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