Snowboarding Made Easy    "How-To" for Beginners

Movements


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There are Four Basic Movements that snowboarders make – Edge to Edge, Tip to Tail (Fore and Aft), Up and Down (Flex and Extend), and Rotation. When you snowboard the only thing you can control is your body and how you move it. Let's discuss this. When you move your body your snowboard will respond. Let's begin with one movement and discuss what happens. Then another movement and another. We will discuss how to blend these movements together to make the snowboard to do what you want it to do and snowboard safely.

There is one movement that proficient snowboarders make that Beginning Snowboarders should NEVER make – Rotation

Beginning snowboarders can not possibly know and always execute successfully a rotational movement for some simple facts – Beginners do not know how much is enough rotation without being too much. What usually happens when beginner snowboarders attempt rotational movements is that they will bounce their bodies off the snow right after they SLAM from “Catching an Edge”.

When my friends and I are out riding we do not say toe edge and heel edge. We say,”Let's go right” or “Let's go left.”

One of your edges is close to your toes and one is close to your heels hence toe edge or toe-side and heel edge or heel-side. When you become proficient (Intermediate and Advanced Riders), we will discuss toe and heel-side specific movements, but, as Beginners, this is not relevant.

The point is that when you are moving down the hill, you will have a right and left.

GOLDEN NUGGETS

Now that we are talking about body movements, please understand this VERY CLEARLY – QUICK and SUDDEN MOVEMENTS CAUSE QUICK and SUDDEN CRASHES! Every movement that you make will need to be deliberate, smooth and gradual. The Key to enjoying snowboarding is to not get hurt – Safety is my biggest concern for you!

The concept is: You make a deliberate body movement and your snowboard will respond accordingly.

The first movement I teach beginners in my lessons is Edge to Edge

This Movement is the Key to Turning


GOLDEN NUGGETS

You begin in your centered stance and move your hips over one edge.


Let's say that you want to turn right. You will move your hips over your right edge, making sure to keep your upper body upright. Do not lean! To move your hips over an edge you will need to bend your knees and ankles. When you move your hips over your right edge you will want to move your hands over your right edge too. Same is true when you move your hips over your left edge – move your hands over the edge that you are moving your hips over. This is a great way to help eliminate Rotational movements. As you move your hips and hands over your right edge try to keep your shoulders and hips in line with your snowboard. You should try this movement while you are on flat ground so that when you move your body it will not cause your snowboard to begin sliding.

Since you are going to do these movements while sliding down the hill on your snowboard I feel that you should explore the full range of movement now.

When you move your hips and hands over your right edge correctly you should feel your left edge come off the snow slightly. This is very important. In order to keep your balance when you move your weight (hips and hands) over an edge you will be lifting the opposite edge and balancing on the edge your weight is over. Do not look down at your feet or snowboard. Look out in the direction you will be traveling. You may fall over while you explore the range of motion and exactly what it feels like to be balanced. Try not to let your ankles “wobble.” Ankle wobble is a quick movement that will result in a quick crash. Now that you are comfortable moving your weight over your right edge try moving it over your left edge. You will want to balance on your left edge and lift your right edge off the snow.




Do This Until You are Comfortable

Now try moving over your right edge and balance for about 5 seconds and slowly move back to your centered stance while you lower your left edge gentle back to the snow. Stand in your centered stance for about 5 seconds and then shift your hips and hands over your left edge and balance there with your right edge off the snow for about 5 seconds and then slowly and gradually return to your centered stance and repeat until you feel you are ready to try it while sliding. You may want to move over your left edge back to centered and then back over your left edge again as well as trying that pattern for your right edge too.

I Use These Patterns of Movement When I Snowboard

GREAT! Move to a place where you will be able to slide, but not a place where you will gain much speed at all. Point your snowboard down the hill and begin sliding while in your centered stance. Slide about 5 feet with your snowboard flat on the snow. Begin moving your hips and hands over your right edge. Now that you have made this movement, do what I call “Ride a Snowboard” and experience your first successful and safe right turn. You will quickly gain confidence in your ability to safely turn right and stop. You will probably want to move up the hill a little more, but be careful not to go too high up the hill.

You are Still a Beginner

GOLDEN NUGGETS

You will gain momentum as you are going down the hill or “Fall Line” (The Fall Line is the path that a marble would roll down the hill and is a commonly referred to term by all snow sport enthusiasts). When you begin to feel the need to slow down, or turn (right for instance), you will move your hands and hips over your right edge and then keep your body where it is in relationship to your snowboard and your snowboard will respond and turn right. You will not turn sharply at first. Big, gradual turns are what we are trying to do. Remember you should be on Beginner Terrain which should be a wide open, groomed space with a very slight slope. The turns you will be making will gain small amounts of momentum and then disperse the momentum over a large area.

Gain Momentum, Disperse Momentum and Stop lines are the intended path of you and your snowboard. When your momentum is being dispersed, your snowboard will be changing directions. It will begin to get out of the fall line when you move your hips and hands over your edge. And it will continue to get out of the fall line as long as your hips and hands are stay over your edge. By now you will be going across the hill (which is called a Traverse) instead of down the hill. You will still be traveling towards the tip of your snowboard. As you traverse across the hill you will eventually stop.

GOLDEN NUGGETS

As a Beginner Snowboarder, the key to stopping is not skidding.

It is Turning!


Keep turning and you will eventually stop safely.

Now that you are stopped you will want to start moving again. You may need to wiggle your snowboard around a little to get the tip pointed back down the fall line. Once you begin to move get back into your centered stance with your board flat on the snow again. This time you will make a left turn. As you gain momentum and want to begin your turn you will smoothly and gradually move your hips and hands over your left edge and then “Ride a Snowboard.” The physics behind your turn are not important to discuss at this time. All that is needed for you to turn left is for you to move your weight over your left edge. Remember that you will want to keep your head, shoulders and chest above your hips. Don't lean! As your snowboard begins to turn left you may try making a slight shift further over your edge which will make your right edge come off the snow a little more and you will find that you will turn sharper, but we are still trying to make big, wide turns.

You will want to practice your left and right turns until you are very comfortable with both turns

Once you are comfortable with both turns we will begin linking the two together. Let's start with a right turn and end with a left turn. You will begin in your centered stance and traveling down the fall line board flat on the snow. After a few feet move your hips and hands over your right edge and ride your snowboard. As you begin to go across the hill and are completely in control of your speed, but before you have stopped, move your body back into your centered stance and ride your snowboard. The board will begin to turn left down into the fall line.

It is very important that your board is completely in the fall line and flat on the snow before you begin moving your hips and hands over your left edge.

If you are moving across the hill at all and try to move towards your left edge you will fall down. Snowboards respond rather slowly to your movements right now. You will make your movement and it will take a while for your board to respond, and your snowboard will move slightly underneath you due to irregularities in the snow. This is normal

Now That You are Traveling Down the Fall Line Again

Move your hips and hands over your left edge and ride your snowboard until you come to another safe stop. Pump your fist a couple times while you crack a BIG GRIN! You just linked turns! Point your board back down the hill and let's try it again with a left and then right linked turns. Repeat these linked turns until you are completely comfortable with them.

That wraps up the Beginning Snowboarding Edge to Edge movements. Much more will be taught in the Intermediate and Advanced Snowboarding sections.

The next movement we will be discussing is the Fore and Aft movement



This is where you will begin in your centered stance and instead of moving toward an edge you will move toward the ends of your board. The first movement will be toward your tip or nose or front of your board (the rounded up part in front of your front foot). You want to move your hips and upper body as one. There is a triangle between your legs that you want to move the tip of the triangle toward the front of your board. The proper stance is where your knee is above your front foot with your hip above your knee with your upper body upright.  Hold that for about 5 seconds and then smoothly move back into your centered stance. Pause there for about 5 seconds and then move your hips over your back foot the same way you did over your front foot. You will notice that you will be bending your back knee a lot more than your front knee here. Do not completely straighten your knees while snowboarding. In order to remain looking cool while you are doing this, do not stick your butt out. Repeat this until you feel comfortable doing it.

You will remember that your head is above your shoulders and looking in the direction that you want to travel.


Why do we make these fore and aft movements?

These movements help us go from one turn to the next turn.

When do you move fore? When you want to begin a turn you will move fore. 

When do you move aft?  When you begin traveling toward and down the fall line and are finishing a turn is when you will be moving aft. From the time you begin a turn you will want to be continually moving aft until you are completely weighting your rear foot. This movement is slow and deliberate.

What you may have noticed is that you will want to make two movements when you begin a turn. This is true. You want to make a movement toward your edge as well as making a move toward your tip.

In what order do you make these movements? You make these two movements at the same time. You move diagonally from your centered stance toward your front and edge. You want to keep your hips about the same distance from your snowboard during your movements. (Insert Diagram Here) You need to move your knees and ankles while driving your front hip and hand forward and toward the edge. As you make this move you will need to lift your opposite edge off the snow as you did earlier when you were just moving edge to edge. Now you can begin moving your hips aft as you continue to balance on your edge. As you approach completely across the hill (across the fall line) you should be all the way aft with your back hip above your back knee which is above your back foot. Your upper body and head are upright and you are looking where you want to go.

Now you are in complete control of your speed (well within your comfort zone) and want to begin heading down the hill again

Move your hips diagonally across your snowboard and toward your tip until you are in the position where your front hip is above your front knee which is above your front foot.

Do not make this move too quickly. First you will want to get to your centered stance and ride your snowboard until you are traveling down the fall line and your board becomes flat on the snow. Then continue your diagonal movement all the way forward and over your other edge. If you do not ride your board centered until you are traveling down the fall line with your board flat on the snow you will inevitably crash.

GOLDEN NUGGETS

Remember to move your hands over the edge that you want to turn toward. As your board begins to turn you can start moving your hips aft until you are all the way aft and traveling across the fall line. You are now back in control of your speed and can begin your diagonal movement back to centered stance. The movements are: From centered stance to fore edge, slide aft along edge, cross from aft edge to centered stance to opposite fore edge, slide aft along edge, and repeat. The shape of these movements is a Roman Numeral 10 or X where there is a connecting line at the top and bottom. I call this movement pattern The X-Block. (Insert Diagram Here) Repeat these movements which create safe, big and wide turns until you are completely comfortable with them. Pump your fist again and smile! You have just blended two movements together to create pretty linked turns.

The Next Movement that We Will Discuss is the Flexion and Extension Movement

You have already been flexing and extending parts of your body (knees and ankles in particular).

You Want to Flex: Your lower body so that your upper body becomes lower or closer to your snowboard.

You Want to Extend: Your lower body so that your upper body becomes further from your snowboard.

Where the Difference Lies: Is that previously you wanted to keep your upper body the same distance from your snowboard and now you want to vary the distance from your snowboard.

Why do you want to flex and extend?

Flexing and Extending Helps the Transfer of Weight When You Want to Turn

When do you want to flex? You want to flex when you want to slow down.

When do you want to extend? You want to extend when you want to begin a turn.

These are great questions and there are different answers depending upon what level of snowboarding you are. Since we are discussing Beginning Snowboarding here I will only talk about beginning riding. Intermediate and advanced riding will have completely opposite answers to these two questions.

Now You are Going to be Blending Three Movements

(Edge to Edge, Fore and Aft, and Flexion and Extension) 

GOLDEN NUGGETS

As you are centered you will rise up (extend) a little while you are moving diagonally forward and toward your edge. As you slide aft along your edge you will be lowering (flexing) your lower body toward the snowboard. As you cross forward and from edge to centered you will be raising up a little and continue up as you move all the way fore and to the new edge.

The Tag line that goes with the flexing and extending for beginning snowboarders is: Up to Go, Down to Slow.

What is happening when you move in this manner is you will place pressure/ weight on the front edge of your board which will help it engage the snow and begin a new turn. Now you are sliding your weight back along the edge of your snowboard which is holding the edge into the snow. You end up placing a lot of weight/ pressure on the back edge of your snowboard that causes it to stay engaged with the snow and not skid or “wash out.” To help un-weight that edge you will raise up as you cross away from it. And now you are back to centered where you can choose which direction you would like to turn (left or right).

How much do you flex and extend?

My Rule of Thumb for Beginners is: The steeper the terrain is the more you want the difference from flexed to extended and the flatter it is the smaller the difference is from flexed to extended. Steeper = More.

GOLDEN NUGGETS


Switch Riding

When we discussed the snowboard I said that the tip and tail are rounded up so that they do not catch on the snow. I now feel that you are completely ready to begin snowboarding toward your tail (which is commonly called Fakie or Switch). My thought process for introducing switch riding here is that at some point you will end up traveling that way anyway – regardless if you mean to or not. Since you will do it, let's practice it so when it does happen you are well prepared. Once you become proficient at riding switch you will probably find many good situations where you will want to ride switch.

How do you ride Switch?

Now that you know how to ride in one direction (Your Normal Direction), riding in the opposite direction should be fairly simple. You will make the exact same moves at exactly the same times with the exact same purpose – to turn and stop. Let's begin from the beginning. From centered you will move your hips and hands toward one edge (let's pick left edge). Keep your upper body and head upright. Now that you are slowed to within comfort, move back to centered. When you want to turn you will move your hips and hands toward the other edge. Repeat until completely comfortable. Then add fore and aft movements to your edge to edge movements. Repeat until completely comfortable. Then add flexion and extension movements. Repeat until completely comfortable.

To Summarize Beginner Snowboarder Movements

Make deliberate smooth and gradual movements.

Keep your head above your hips.

Use your knees and ankles for most movements.

Move your hands and hips over the edge that you want to turn toward.

Keep your shoulders and hips in line with your snowboard.

Be patient – The ability to successfully perform all the movements I have just described my take three years or more to master.

The point is to go outside in the winter and enjoy it!

Don't be too hard on yourself – a lot of people do not want to become Advanced Snowboarders, they only want to be able to go with their friends and families and that is great!

Beginning Snowboarders belong on Beginning Terrain (Green Runs). You are well on your way to becoming a great snowboarder!

You Now Have 25 Years of Hard Earned Information

If you like what you have received here, please tell a friend. I am trying to spread this information as quickly as I can to everyone so that the first couple days of snowboarding does not have to be a horrible experience for anyone. I believe that with this excellent approach to Beginning Snowboarding that a lot more people that try snowboarding will continue on as life-long enthusiasts. I really hope that making this information free to you will inspire a few people to try snowboarding again.

GOLDEN NUGGETS

A couple tips – If you look at it, you will hit it! (Or – If you do not want to hit it, don't look at it) When you ride a bicycle, do you look at the front wheel or ahead of you ? (The same with snowboarding – the snow is white, now stop looking at it!) If you are going to play hookie from school or work I suggest Tuesdays.

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