When you start to add up all the costs associated with a snowboarding trip, you would be forgiven to see where you can make things a little cheaper. There are a few ways to make your trip less expensive, but is skipping snowboard lessons a viable option?
There are people who have taught themselves how to snowboard, but most of these riders have poor technique. Without the proper instruction, you develop bad habits that are hard to get out of. By booking some snowboard lessons at the beginning, you will progress much faster and become a better rider.
In this article, I’ll explain why you should take snowboarding lessons and give you some advice on your options.
Can You Teach Yourself To Snowboard?
Some people have the sporting background and mindset necessary to teach themselves how to snowboard.
These people are usually experienced surfers or skateboarders used to riding a board with a sideways stance.
Experienced skiers can also get to grips with snowboarding quite quickly, as they have a good understanding of how edges work.
However, I wouldn’t recommend just turning up to the mountain to give snowboarding a try, no matter what your sporting background is.
Here are a few reasons why teaching yourself how to snowboard is a bad idea.
1. You’ll Pick Up Bad Habits
With some perseverance, you’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to stand up and slide down the hill on either edge. This is when you start experimenting with turning.
Even with guidance, your first attempt at turning will be wrong. But if you’re just trying to work out why it doesn’t feel right on your own, you’ll start to move in a way that feels right to you, but it will be incorrect.
Most beginner snowboarders tend to lean back too much when they point the board down the fall line, which makes them go faster when they don’t want to, sending them out of control.
They also counter-rotate or kick their back foot to swing the board around rather than use the correct body positioning.
These maneuvers become bad habits that make your riding look untidy. They also hinder your progress and are very hard to unlearn, which causes frustration later on.
2. False Economy
Paying for snowboard lessons may seem pricy, but you’ll waste more money by not booking an instructor.
For example, there’s a higher probability that you’ll hurt yourself while trying to teach yourself how to snowboard.
An injury on a snowboarding trip means you cannot use the lift pass or rental equipment you’ve paid for. It also means paying medical bills or even an earlier flight home.
Teaching yourself how to snowboard also takes longer. Therefore, it will take a few trips before you can carve properly, instead of getting your carves dialed in by the end of your first week with an instructor.
3. The Feeling Of Inadequacy
If you’re a grownup who has been rolling around in the snow on the bunny slope for 5 days, you’ll feel inadequate after watching 5-year-old skiers go from snowplow to pizza to their first blue run.
Watching them race down the hill while you’re still struggling with falling leaf isn’t much fun and should act as a good incentive to take some lessons.
But What About Online Resources?
With a little Google search, you can find all sorts of online resources for learning how to snowboard at your home. Instagram is also an excellent place to find tips for snowboarding.
Check out Ryan Knapton and Tommie B for some great snowboard technique content.
Checking out these online resources before you head up the hill will give you a better chance of teaching yourself how to snowboard.
However, when you’re just starting out, they are not something you can rely on if you want to progress your snowboarding quickly.
You can save snowboard technique videos to your phone and watch them on the lift or by the side of the slope.
This way, you can break down the techniques into steps and replicate what the riders in the videos are doing.
But if you’re starting out, you need more than just a few videos to teach you how to snowboard.
You don’t get feedback about the areas you need to improve on from a video; you need to work it out for yourself, which will slow your progress.
These online resources come into their own when you’re more advanced. If you have lots of time on the mountain, you can use them to learn tricks and advanced carving techniques.
Can You Get A Friend To Teach You How To Snowboard?
There’s a good chance you’ll know someone who’s been snowboarding for a while, or at least longer than you. This may be a friend, family member, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
They may be kind enough to offer you snowboard lessons during your trip, saving you money. But I only recommend that you take them up on their offer if they are a proper snowboard instructor.
There are a few problems with getting free snowboard lessons from friends. Let’s look into some scenarios.
1. They Are Not As Good As They Think They Are
Most people get a week or two of snowboarding per year. If they have been snowboarding for 5 years, this usually means 5 to 10 weeks of mountain time.
Unless they are some kind of super board-sports athlete, they will be an intermediate snowboarder at best.
They may be able to spin a 360 off a blue kicker, but this doesn’t mean they are an expert. Therefore, you won’t get the expert knowledge you need as a beginner snowboarder.
2. They Are Not A Very Good Instructor
Your friend may be a fantastic snowboarder, but this doesn’t mean they are a good instructor. Their skills may take them onto the park’s biggest features or backcountry.
Still, they may not be able to relay the necessary information to help you get started.
3. They May Overestimate Your Abilities
I’ve seen more experienced riders take their friends to the top of a blue run on their first day and tell them to just go.
When you’ve been snowboarding for a while, it’s often easy to forget how steep a slope is for a new snowboarder.
What looks like a gentle gradient to a more experienced rider can look like a vertical drop to a beginner. By the time they get to the top of the slope, it can be too late, as there may not be an easier way down.
Getting out of your depth this early is petrifying, and it’s also very dangerous, which can put you off snowboarding before you’ve even given it a chance.
4. It Can Ruin Relationships
This may seem dramatic, but I see boyfriends trying to teach their girlfriends how to snowboard all the time. You can spot them easily as one is either shouting or crying.
Sometimes, people don’t listen to instructions from their partner or don’t like it when they tell them what to do. This can cause friction between the two, making your snowboarding trip awkward and unpleasant.
The more experienced rider will wish they were smashing the powder, not walking up and down the bunny slope, trying to keep calm.
I think it is much better for the beginner snowboarder to take snowboard lessons in the morning and then meet up with the rest of the group at lunchtime.
This way, everyone can stay friends and have something positive to talk about, rather than walking on eggshells every evening.
5. It’s Dangerous
It can be easy to relay the wrong information to a beginner snowboarder. Or they may misunderstand the one who’s trying to give the lesson.
This misinformation can cause the beginner snowboarder to do the wrong thing, putting them in danger.
If the more experienced rider is new to the resort, they may not know the best places to take beginners. This can lead the beginner to trouble in a dangerous part of the mountain for their ability.
Why You Should Book Snowboard Lessons
So far, I’ve highlighted a few reasons why teaching yourself how to snowboard or relying on a friend are bad ideas.
But now, I’ll reinforce my argument by discussing why you should book snowboard lessons with a qualified instructor.
1. A Snowboard Instructor Will Save You Time
A snowboard instructor will start you off with the basics. This will ensure you get the proper introduction to snowboarding. It may feel a bit too simple to start off with.
Still, if you pay attention to everything the instructor says, you will become a good snowboarder much more quickly than a self-taught rider.
To help you progress, a good snowboard instructor will adapt their teaching methods to help you get to the next level.
They are trained to describe the various techniques in the simplest way possible, so you understand what to do.
2. You’ll Begin To Ride With The Proper Technique
Once you have the basics, you will naturally move your body in a way that will get you down the mountain.
A snowboarder with poor technique will be swinging their arms around, kicking their back foot, and twisting their body.
These are common characteristics of a self-taught snowboarder because nobody has advised them on the proper techniques.
A snowboard instructor will do everything they can to stop you from picking up these habits and help you to iron out flaws in your snowboarding style.
With the help of an instructor, you will ride more smoothly and be able to progress much more quickly, as you don’t need to unlearn the things that make you an untidy snowboarder.
3. You’ll Be Much Safer
There’s always a risk when it comes to sliding down a mountain, but a snowboard instructor will keep you safe.
They will take you to the slopes appropriate to your skill level and with the least amount of people on them.
This is essential, as busy slopes with skiers and snowboards charging past you can be stressful for a beginner.
An instructor will use their local knowledge to ensure you can stay safe, allowing you to focus on learning to snowboard.
4. A Snowboard Instructor Will Make Learning More Fun
Snowboarding is fun, so the people who do it tend to be fun too. A snowboard instructor wants you to have the best time, as they are passing on their passion to you.
Your snowboard instructor will make your lesson fun by taking you to the best places, pushing you to progress, and even taking you to excellent lunch spots.
They are also knowledgeable about the resort, so they’ll tell you all the best places to go in the evenings and about other things that are going on.
Should You Book A Private Or Group Snowboard Lesson?
When booking a snowboard lesson, you can choose between joining a group of other riders at a similar level. Alternatively, you can book a private lesson that gives you one-to-one instruction.
Group snowboard lessons are less expensive than private lessons.
The other great thing about them is that you can meet other people, encourage each other, and enjoy the process of learning to snowboard together.
However, before you book your group lesson, it’s best to check how many others are in the group.
If the group has more than 6 people, the instructor will find it hard to give everyone the attention they need, especially if one or two people are struggling.
Smaller groups allow you to get the most out of your lesson. So if you want to progress quickly and don’t mind spending a little bit more, a private lesson is the way to go.
During a private lesson, a snowboard instructor has more flexibility to ensure you get out of it what you need.
They can tailor the lesson to suit you to make the most of your time with them.
The more time you spend snowboarding, you’ll come across various courses. For example, snowboard schools will offer group improver lessons.
You’ll also see freestyle, backcountry, introductions to snowparks, side hits, and even euro-carving. Even after 27 years of snowboarding, I still take the occasional snowboard lesson.
I sometimes feel that I need to tidy up my technique or fancy learning a new trick or technique. I’ll also go on group avalanche awareness courses to refresh my memory in case the worst happens.
These lessons give you the option to learn new skills without needing to pay for private lessons. They are also lots of fun, and everyone encourages each other.
What About Snowboard Camps?
Snowboard camps are great ways to improve your snowboarding.
These are intensive courses, usually lasting a week. You’ll find snowboard camps that focus on beginners all the way up to advance freestyle and even big mountain riding.
These courses are often catered and include equipment and daily lessons. The other cool thing about them is that they are usually run by pro-riders or highly qualified instructors.
I used to love going on snowboard camps when I was younger, and I went on a few in Les Deux Alpes, France.
This high-altitude resort has a glacier, which is excellent, as it is open in the summer, so you get a lot of slushy fun.
Snowboard camps are a great way to progress as a snowboarder. You learn a lot in your morning lessons, then get to practice in the afternoons.
The atmosphere is great as you’re staying and riding with people of similar skills and experience, and you all have something in common.
Some people manage to teach themselves how to snowboard, but everyone benefits from lessons from a qualified instructor.
There’s always something to learn or improve, but an instructor will help you reach that goal quicker.