How to Snowboard

The average person can take approximately three days before they learn how to snowboard or even feel comfortable on the board. However, if you are well-prepared or a natural, you can learn in a day. How long you will specifically take depends on your perseverance and ability.

While snowboarding is not hard to learn, even for amateurs, it still requires practice and skill. It requires some time before you know the techniques and expertise to balance and master the board. Most beginners spend their first snowboarding lessons with several falls.

This post will cover all aspects of snowboarding step by step. They include:

1. Improving Your Stance

2. Skating on a Snowboard

3. How to Glide When Snowboarding

4. Making a J-Turn

5. Traversing on a Snowboard

6. Traversing into a Turn

7. Link Snowboard Turns

8. Fastest Stopping Techniques

There is a lot that goes into consideration before you advance to the pro level. The better your core coordination, fitness, and balance are, the easier it is to perform beginner snowboarding tricks and turns. Plus, snowboarding will come more naturally if you have tried skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, or similar sports.

How to Achieve a Proper Snowboard Stance

How to Stop on a Snowboard

Improving your stance is key for balance, comfort, and control – all critical factors for riding a board are essential. To get into a basic stance, place your arms and shoulders at your side, relax, align your hips parallel to the ground, and bend your knees.

Your stance may feel uncomfortable before your muscle memory builds up, but it should never be straining or painful. Other helpful tips to remember when practicing are:

  • Face the direction you are heading.
  • Do not tighten your arms and shoulder muscles.
  • Ensure hips are parallel to your board, not slightly turned.
  • Always keep your knees bent to absorb shock during turns.

Skating on a Board

Now that you can balance on your board and have strapped your feet, you need to know how to skate. That is, moving along flat ground. When skating, one of your feet stays strapped in while the other helps you push. The back foot should always go away from where you are traveling.

To master skating, you need to:

  • Strap your front foot carefully into the binding and your back foot at the heel of your board.
  • Push yourself along the terrain using your back foot, then take small steps.
  • Ensure your back foot does not go beyond the bindings; otherwise, you find yourself doing an unintentional split.

You can use this skill to get on a chairlift too.

How to Glide on a Board

Skating on a Board

When you learn how to glide, then you are on your way to perfect snowboarding. When gliding, you use your free foot to push; otherwise, the strapped foot will slide. Before you try this technique, you should:

  • Practice skating on a flat surface until you are comfortable.
  • Balance and create stability by bringing your free foot to the middle of your board.
  • Place the foot behind the back binding.
  • Bend your knees.

After you can glide on flat terrain, advance to a gentle slope. The more times you practice this move, the faster you get it right. If you are an intermediate snowboarder, up your game by trying alternating glides (stroking). Travel by one foot for a few feet and use the free foot to push and switch legs.

Making a J-turn

You can move a little bit with your snowboard but can’t make a turn yet; that is where the J-turn comes in. The technique helps you ride the board into a J’-shaped turn. It involves gliding to a turn slightly uphill.

Beginners should ensure their front foot is strapped and the back footrests on the board before learning the technique. There are two ways you can make a J-turn; heel side and toe side.

Heel-side J-turn

The best tip for snowboarding is always to keep your knees quite bent, and the same applies to a flawless J-turn.

  • Start by pointing your skateboard towards a slope.
  • Glide straight ahead.
  • Shift your weight on your front foot, over your heels.
  • You will feel your calves come into contact with your binding’s high-back.
  • Bend your knees and ankles, then move your hips to the edge of your heel side.

When your weight shifts to the heel side, your board will start turning up the slope. If you can do a heel-side J-turn uphill, practice going across the slope.

How to Glide on a Board

Toe-side J-turn

Unlike the heel-side turn that works by putting weight on your heels, this one involves switching the weight to your toes.

  • Place your board on a slope and glide forward.
  • Tilt your body weight to your front foot, over your toes.
  • Flex your knees and ankles, then move your hips to shift your weight to the toe-side of the board’s edge.
  • The weight turns the board in an inward “J.”

When making J-turns, remember that titling the weight to an outside edge will make an outward turn, while tilting to an inside edge will make an inward turn.

Learning to Traverse

A traverse in snowboarding refers to using your balance to hold to the board’s edge and glide through a slope.

The Infamous Heel-Side Traverse

Your ability to execute a perfect heel-edge traverse could be the highlight or lowest spot of your day.

  • Place your snowboard across a slope, facing uphill, so you don’t slide downhill.
  • Put your hips on the side of your heel.
  • Get a stable balance point.
  • Bend your knees until you feel the high-back at your binding against your calves.
  • Shift your weight to the front foot while flattening to move towards the nose of your snowboard.
  • Make slow movements and avoid standing tall.

When slowing down, bring your weight to the center of your feet and tilt over the edge. When the heel-edge angle increases, you slow down and eventually come to a halt.

Toe-Side Traverse Technique

  • Just like the heel-edge traverse, start by placing your snowboard across a gentle slope.
  • Bend your knees and ankles slightly, shifting your weight evenly over your toes.
  • Once you find your balance point, tilt your weight to the toe edge to move the board.
  • Flatten your foot and move your shins toward your toes.
  • Avoid balancing on tip-toes.

To improve your traverse, practice your heel-toe turning technique. This will give your board the needed grip to travel through a slope with control. Also, avoid shifting too much weight to the board’s tail as you will lose your balance point.

Proper Snowboard Stance

Traversing into a Turn

After you know how to glide and traverse, you must learn to apply pressure to your turns to get balanced carves. It is vital to practice traveling into turns on gentle slopes or flat turnouts to prevent injury.

To make a complete turn, start by shifting your weight to the front foot. Place your board like you do when traversing, only this time, flatten it, so it heads straight into the fall line.

As your board flattens, keep a balanced stance and maintain the weight on your foot. When you are well into the fall line, proceed to make a J-turn. You should always relax your arms and bend your knees during this step.

Let your lower body do the work as your upper body maintains balance. Gradually come to a stop and practice the steps above on both sides.

How to Link Turns

If you have come this far, then you are ready to be a snowboarding pro. Linking turns to give you a smooth ride across and along any slope. Instead of stopping after turning on one side, you traverse and turn to the opposite side. Hence, linking your turns.

When applying pressure during a turn, do it earlier as the board faces the hill. You will know you have exerted enough pressure when you splash snow as your board turns.

How to Stop on a Snowboard

A fast stop helps you avoid running into objects, falling, and making you look cool in front of your friends. You can come to a quick stop by using either your heel-side or toe-side.

Heel-Side Fast Stop

  • Pick up speed as you head down the slope/mountain.
  • Lean on your heels and open up your shoulders and chest.
  • Keep the weight on the heel side to avoid a back-toe tilt.
  • As your shoulders start facing downhill, bring your butt as close as you can to the board.
  • Keep a neutral spine to come to a quick and safe stop.
  • Use your flexed knees and ankles to absorb the pressure and shock

Toe-Side Fast Stop

A toe-side stop is similar to a heel-side stop. Instead of shifting weight to your heel and leaning back, the only comparison is that you tilt your weight over the toe. Your weight should stay on your toes throughout to avoid a heel-edge.

When you start to rotate, lean your hips and knees towards the mountain so that the board stops in an inward direction. Provided you keep your toe-edge, you will splash a load of snow as you stop.

Final Thoughts on How to Snowboard

Snowboarding is fun and easy for most people. Still, getting the stance and techniques wrong could lead to a painful experience. This post has covered everything beginner and intermediate snowboarders should know. As long as you stick to the guidelines and practice relentlessly, you are good to go!

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About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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