My Top Tips: Learning to Snowboard


“Try not to think about falling over.”

This is officially the worst advice you can give to anyone who is learning to snowboard.

The poor guy was only trying to help but I glared at him through my goggles with a look that I hoped would kill. If I had the energy I would have taken my board off and battered him over the head with it. Luckily for him I didn’t have an ounce of energy so I continued to do what I’d been doing for the past three days, I fell over. Again and again and again.

I’d just about had enough. My wrists and forearms were so sore that I had to hold a pint glass with two hands. My knees were covered with bruises that varied from a bluish black to a yellowy brown.

I watched the other snowboarders with pure hatred as they carved down the mountain. I hated every single one of them. I hated the way they made it look so easy, so cool. I hated their baggy pants and their effortless style and I hated the fact that they could do it and I couldn’t.

And then, all of a sudden, it clicked.

Without even knowing how I was doing it I was gliding down the mountain, carving up the powder (yes, they actually say that), turning from my heels to my toes and generally looking like one of those cool snowboarders that I hated just 30 minutes ago (well, almost).

It was my final day on the slopes when I finally managed to get the hang of it and I suddenly realised what all the fuss was about. I’m not afraid to admit that I was pretty scared about learning but I’m glad I persisted.

Here are my top tips for anyone else who is learning to snowboard:

Don’t give up

You’ll feel like shit and you’ll ache like hell but you’ll never learn if you give up.

Be Patient

It will take a couple of days to find your balance and I’m not just talking about the balance on your feet. I mean the balance between being confident and cocky, the balance between being too hot and too cold and the balance between getting some speed and up and being downright suicidal.

Wear protection

I’m talking about the kind of stuff that’s going to protect your wrists – the two things that you’ll fall on the most. Wrist guards are recommended and I know a lot of people who like bum guards too (although I think my natural padding protected me pretty well!)

Have half day lessons

If it’s your first time you’ll need some kind of training and I’d recommend going for half day lessons. This gives you the chance to learn the skills with a professional and then practise what you’ve learnt in your own time and at your own pace. All day lessons are pretty intense but can be good if you’ve got the cash to splash and you’re prepared for some serious dedication.

Consider learning before you leave

I had a full day lesson at an indoor ski slope before I left so I could do the basics when I arrived which gave me a bit more confidence.

Make the most out of après-ski

Between about 5-7pm you’ll find that all the bars serve cheap drinks to reward you for your hard day on the slopes. Make the most of it early on and stop drinking earlier so you wake up with a fresh head the next day.

Remember that the snow is the best hangover cure ever

If you ignore the advice above then take note of this advice: If you’ve hit it hard the night before and wake up with a hangover from hell, drag yourself out of bed and get on the slopes; you’ll feel right as rain in no time.

I’m hardly an expert snowboarder so I’m keen to hear your advice or experiences from your first time snowboarding or skiing. 

The guys at Propellernet made this really cool skiing video wall. It gives you a perfect insight into a day on the slopes so you’ll know exactly what to expect if it’s your first time!

  1. Jen 10 years ago

    I would LOVE to go snowboarding, it sounds incredible! Would you go again now?xx

    • TheTravelHack 10 years ago

      Thinking about it now, I think I would. There were times when I was on the slopes and I thought; “I am never, ever doing this ever again!”

      I think I’d be a bit more interested in luxury snowboarding – hot chocolates by a roaring fire, massages and facials and outdoor hot tubs. Well basically a spa weekend with snow 😉

      Do you ever think you’ll try it?

  2. Phew…these tips came out just in time. I am going snowboarding for the first time next month!

    Thanks for the help, especially the tip about après-ski 😉

    • TheTravelHack 10 years ago

      🙂 NP, really glad the tips came in handy. And enjoy the cheap drinks!

  3. Alex 10 years ago

    Brilliant post as I have totally been there, done that! I laughed when I read about the colour of your bruises!!
    I love snowboarding and luckily once you learn it’s like riding a bike so you don’t have to keep going through all that. I still wear a helmet though 😉

    • TheTravelHack 10 years ago

      That is so good to hear. I had awful visions of having to re-learn every year so hopefully I’ll pick up where I left off if I ever try it again!

  4. Katherina 10 years ago

    While in Switzerland, I tried both snowboarding and skiing… and somehow I’ve decided to go for the skiing bit now (by “tried” I mean 2 hours, with friends, a disaster). So yes, I’ve also only started indoors in Snowdome… and thought it was a pretty good idea. I hope to be putting it into practice in March!

    • TheTravelHack 10 years ago

      Looking forward to hearing how you get on Katherina. Which do you find easier, skiing or snowboarding?

  5. Lessons don’t always help. sometimes the ex-olympic instructors ignore you just to feel up the girls in the group.

    also “9 x ? = 45”. seriously. a bit hard. i had to get a calculator. lol.

  6. TheTravelHack 10 years ago

    Haha, sorry about that! I’ve come across some difficult captcha codes too. Don’t feel jealous about the instructor feeling up the girls- it would be worse if he was trying to feel you up!

  7. Bird 10 years ago

    Yay, you did it! So glad it clicked and to experience your first powder in your first week is excellent going. I’ve been boarding for nearly ten years and though I love it like no other sport I still really struggle at times when learning new tricks etc and it certainly took me longer than a week to get my turns looking super cool (though i was stubborn and didnt have lessons!) But if it wasnt so hard would I enjoy it as much? Probably not! C’est la vie, I guess! P.S. You should also add “Never eat yellow snow” to your list of tips 😉 x

  8. Cole @ Four Jandals 10 years ago

    Great tips! I remember the first time I tried snowboarding and luckily I was a surfer so found it reasonably easy. It’s quite easy to progress quickly once you get the basics but those first few days suck!

  9. Natalie 10 years ago


    Congrats to you on finally getting the hang of it! It took me a while to get to grips with how to do it too, but it was so satisfying once I’d worked it out. You look great in your pink ski suit too! Very jealous, mine was so crappy looking and all the pros were in all this awesome multicoloured ski wear that looked amazing. Made me hate them too, haha.

    Natalie x

  10. The Snowboarding Review » Blog Archive » Snowboard Lesson – First Time – at Mountain Creek – NEW 2012 10 years ago

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  11. Ken Adams 9 years ago

    this is really awesome

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  14. snowboarding 8 years ago

    The learning curve is difficult but once you get past that initial stage of falling all day the rest comes so easily! Definitely wear protection when you’re first starting out, it makes it so much more enjoyable.

    • TheTravelHack 8 years ago

      I’ll bear that in mind for next time. I heard that wrist guards can be really restrictive but if they make me not scared to fall over then I guess they can only be a good thing!

  15. Hey Guys,
    I am currently living in Queenstown New Zealand and will be trying my first ever snowboarding experience soon 🙂

    • TheTravelHack 8 years ago

      Good luck Adam! It takes a few days to get the hang of it but once you have you’ll love it!

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