Photo credit by clappstar
Snowboarding becomes more and more popular with each passing year. In addition to having the guts to try out this sport, you will need the right clothing, boots, sunglasses, board, and helmet. A few beginners' tips will also help you on your first try at taking on the slopes with a board.
Obviously, if you are in the snow it is going to be cold, so you want clothes that are moisture-resistant, warm, and loose. Most people who ski want tighter fitting clothing, but these clothes will not work for snowboarding. You want your coat to go below your waistline to avoid getting snow down your pants, and everything needs to be loose enough so that you can move around easily. Gore-Tex is the best option, but fleece works great to keep you warm. These are both lightweight, so you will not feel restricted when you are moving around.
To keep your appendages warm, you should invest in a good pair of socks, and a good pair of gloves. Instead of trying to layer a ton of socks, you should buy one pair of cushioned, acrylic socks. These will keep your feet warm and dry. Gloves are equally important. You want ones that keep your hands insulated, but are comfortable enough to move your fingers into a fist. Just like all of the other apparel, gloves must be water-proof. Getting longer gloves or ones with a cuff at the end that will cover your jacket sleeves will also help keep snow off of your skin. Too avoid glare, a good pair of sunglasses or goggles is also a must. They should be UVA resistant and not easily slip off of your face.
Next, you need a helmet. Every beginner falls-a lot. You should try on a lot of different sized helmets to determine which one is the most comfortable. You want to have good peripheral vision and front vision, so don't buy a helmet that is too big or bulky. If any part of your helmet gets damaged, replace it with a new one. Head injuries are a definite possibility if you do not wear a helmet. Bottom line-get one.
The board can really make or break you on your first day. Beginners usually do better with hour-glass shaped boards, rather than the ones that are equal in width from top to bottom. The edge should be beveled. These features make it easier for a beginner rider to maneuver around on the snow. It isn't an easy sport, so any steps that you can take that will help you out there on the slopes are encouraged in the beginning.
If you have never worn ski boots, you will quickly realize when you put on a pair of boots for snowboarding that if you don't loosen the tail strap to walk, you will get shin splints. It does not feel glamorous at all to be trudging around in the boots, so if you have to walk far, you may want to have an extra change of shoes. After awhile, it gets easier to walk in the boots. You should buy or rent boots with good cushioning in the heel that are a snug fit; you shouldn't feel any movement in your heel area. Boots will need to be tightly laced and tied at the top before you go snowboarding. Your first time, get someone to show you how many ties you need to make and where to hook each lace. This in itself can be complicated your first time, but will get easier and easier each time you go snowboarding.
The thing that is cool about snowboarding, unlike skiing, is that you can go down the hill in any direction. Ideally, the best way to travel is to have the nose of the board in front of you going down the hill, and the toe of the board in back of you. Both of your feet should be at a slight angle with your toes being closer to the front of the board. When you are going down a hill, you should always put the majority of your pressure on the uphill portion of the board. This is because you control direction from the front of your board. You also want to evenly balance your weight between your two feet to avoid flying in the air, or crashing to the ground on your derriŠre.
In order to turn to avoid people, trees, and other various obstacles, you need to look in the direction that you want to take your board, and it can help to also put your hand out toward that direction. Start to dig your heals in to go that direction and lean towards that side. Your weight should pull you the way that you want to go. Do not look at the ground, but look a little over you should towards where you want to turn.
Of course, out of all of the things that you learn, you really want to learn how to slow down and stop. If you are facing towards the downhill, you should dig your heels in to slow down. To stop, you have to dig your heels in really fast and apply pressure. Always balance your weight to avoid falling.
These are all some basic tips to get you in the right direction, and to make it to the bottom of the hill. It takes a lot of practice to really start getting into the more complicated maneuvers. If you have some extra money, you may want to invest in a beginners class at a local ski resort that has snowboarding (most do now) on your first adventure out on your board.