How to Snowboard

Two Parts:Before You GoOn the Mountain

Snowboarding is a fun, thrilling sport that is enjoyed every year by thousands of people around the world. Read these steps to learn the basics of how to snowboard.

Part 1
Before You Go

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    Dress for Snowboarding. In short, you'll need clothing that keeps you warm and dry, a pair of snowboarding boots, and some safety gear.
    • The full rundown of snowboarding equipment available is a long list, but these are the basics every snowboarder should have:
      • A snowboard leash, to prevent runaway boards
      • Snow pants or a snow bib, which is basically a pair of snow overalls
      • A snow coat, not too loosely fit
      • Snowboarding boots, which are specially designed to strap easily into the snowboard
      • A crash helmet, to protect your head
      • Thermal layers, such as long johns and wool socks
      • Snow gloves with gauntlet cuffs
      • Skiing or snowboarding goggles, to reduce glare and protect your eyes from particulate matter.
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    Check everything for fit. In particular, wear your helmet and boots properly. The helmet shouldn't move around on your head, or ride low on your eyes. It should be snug but not too tight. Boots should be tight but comfortable.
    • If your boots are too big, you can end up over-tightening them and losing circulation in your feet.
    • Wear thick socks that come up past the top of your boots to prevent the boots (or your pants) from chafing around your ankles.
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    Consider getting a stomp pad. This is a grip pad that goes on your snowboard, just above the binding for your back foot. It gives you a place to put your back foot temporarily, for times when you need to move a little ways but you haven't bound both of your feet to the board yet.
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    Pick a snowboard style. Most snowboards are designed for general use, but if you're more interested in one or another specific aspect of the sport, there are specialized boards that can maximize your experience.
    • All-mountain or freeride boards are the standard snowboards you'll see everywhere on the mountain. They're great for speed and carving (turning) on a downhill slope, but still short and wide enough to excel at tricks, spins, and catching big air, as well.
    • Freestyle or technical boards are a little bit shorter and wider than all-mountain models. They're more flexible as well, which gives them superior control for precise movements. Freestyle boards are preferred for riding pipes and technical courses, but are also a good choice for many beginners because of their responsiveness.
    • Alpine or carve boards are longer, thinner, and less flexible than the other two types. They're built for high speed and smooth carving down the side of the mountain. If a fast downhill experience is what you're after, consider an alpine board.
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    Check your height and weight. Even more important than the type of board you buy is the fit of the board to your body. As a general rule of thumb, your board should come up to about the height of your chin or nose when stood on end. Any lower may be too short; taller is probably too long. The type of board you choose will have some small impact on this.
    • If you're on the heavy side, pick a board that's stiffer and less flexible to better distribute your weight. Lighter boarders should choose a more flexible board to maximize the amount of control they have over it.
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    Check the width of the board. The only really important consideration for board width is keeping your feet completely on the board. Be sure the board you choose is wide enough that your feet don't jut off the sides of the board. Even a bit of heel sticking out could catch on the snow and mess up your ride.
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    Review other considerations. As a beginning boarder, price is probably a big concern for you. Rest assured that although there are definite differences in performance between a top-of-the-line board and something basic, you can learn just as well on one as you can on the other.
    • To save extra money, consider buying a lightly-used snowboard at a swap, or buying a previous year's model of the board you want. These are basically just as good as their current equivalents and can often be had for a much lower price.
    • Consider what graphics, if any, you want on the underside of your board. If it's something you care about, choosing the right design can help you make a fun personal statement on the slopes.
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    Determine your lead foot. You should know which foot you'll be leading with before you head up to the slopes. This will help you know how to set the bindings when you snowboard. An easy way to check your lead foot is to run and slide across a very smooth floor, such as polished concrete or hardwood. Whichever foot ends up sticking out in front of you is your lead foot. Another way to find your lead foot is to stand with your feet squared and have a friend push you from behind. The foot you step forward with first should be your lead foot.
    • Don't guess. Your lead foot won't necessarily match up with the side of your body you prefer for anything else. Being right- or left-handed, or sliding into base with a particular foot in baseball, doesn't necessarily mean your lead foot will follow suit.
    • Don't worry. If you find that you prefer not to lead with your lead foot, nothing's stopping you from doing so. Finding your lead foot is just a useful way for most people to figure out which way to stand on the board. It's not set in stone.
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    Determine what type of bindings you have. There are two common types, strap bindings and speed entry bindings.
    • Strap bindings are the most commonly seen snowboard bindings. They consist of a base for the bottom of your boot, and a set of secure synthetic straps (usually two straps) that are tightened over the boot to lock it into the base.
    • Speed entry (or convenience entry) bindings look similar to strap bindings, except the back of the boot base (called the “highback”) has a hinge that allows you to slide your foot in quickly. Speed entry bindings are common, but tend to be a bit more expensive than strap bindings.
    • There are other, rarer types of bindings available, but these are not often seen except on high-end boards and particular brands.
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    Fit your bindings. Put your lead foot in the front binding. Fasten your bindings tightly and be sure the base of the binding fits your boot snugly, then repeat for your other foot. Move and bounce around a bit to get a feel for the board.
    • If the board seems to be on backwards when you look down at it, you may need to have the bindings turned to match your stance. If you're buying a new board, the shop will probably be happy to do this for you for free.
    • If you feel unstable, your bindings may be too close together or too far apart. Check to be sure your feet are roughly shoulder-width apart to ensure a proper stance.
    • Check the angle for the lead binding. It should be at least 15 degrees off your line of sight as you stand on the board, to reduce the risk of spraining your ankle when you fall.

Part 2
On the Mountain

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    Get on your snowboard. Secure your lead foot in place, but leave your back foot free for now. Once your lead foot is securely bound to your board, put on your snowboard leash to keep your snowboard from escaping down a hill when you step out of it. Leashes come in varying lengths; the most common type is long enough to strap below your knee.
    • Secure the leash to your snowboard, if it's not already integrated into the binding.
    • Wrap the leash around your lower leg and secure it snugly. For short wire leashes, attach the other end to your boot lace instead.
    • Be sure your leash is clearly visible. Many resorts won't allow you to snowboard without a visible leash.
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    Ride the ski lift up. Push off the snow with your back foot to slide forward on the board like a skateboard, and let the lift chair sync up with you to get on it smoothly.
    • Your snowboard will dangle a bit from your lead foot as you ride up. This is fine.
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    Get off the ski lift. Once you reach the top of the lift, slide off the chair on your board. You'll be on a little hill where you can then turn and make your way to the larger hill. Ride down to the flat area.
    • If you equipped your board with a stomp pad, it should be easy for you to stay balanced for this part.
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    Strap up. Go to the edge of the hill and sit down with your board perpendicular to the slope. This makes your board act as an extra “brake” to keep you from sliding.
    • Put your rear boot into its binding. Make sure the bindings are snug and secure.
      • If you can move your foot while in the binding, or pull your heel up from the base, it's too loose.
    • Double check your lead foot and leash, and ensure they're secure as well.
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    Head downhill. Now that you're strapped in, you're ready to ride. Stand up and turn your snowboard so that the lead end of the board is pointing down the hill and apply some pressure to your lead foot to encourage the board to move forward. Gravity should take care of the rest.
    • To properly apply pressure, pretend that you're squashing a bug under your lead foot. There's no need to lean forward with your body.
    • Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight to maintain balance as you gather speed.
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    Practice turning. It's important to know how to control your speed, and turning is the only way to do this while you're on the slope. Besides, you can't really have fun on a snowboard until you can turn on it.
    • Lean your body into the side of the slope to put weight on one edge of your snowboard. The edge your feet are pointing towards is the “toe edge;” the edge behind them is the “heel edge.”
      • Try both heel and toe edge turns. Most people have a preference for one type over the other, but eventually you'll learn to use them both.
    • Redistribute your weight as you turn. Use your arms and torso to further control the weight you're using to turn your board. Maintain a straight back and bent knees as you do this, for safety reasons.
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    Come to a stop. Come to a near-stop, if you prefer; the important thing is to know how to do it. Being able to stop and restart is key to staying safe on the slopes.
    • Turn your snowboard so that you're perpendicular to the slope of the mountain. Be sure nobody is bearing down on your position from further up the hill.
    • Lean back into the slope of the hill as far as you can without falling over. This will put almost your entire weight on one edge of the board, forcing it to slow quickly.
    • As you lean into the hill, lean back on your rear foot at the same time. This further reduces the effective surface area of the board. The more you lean back, the faster you'll stop.
      • Don't lean forward onto your leading foot; if you lose your balance in this position, the fall will be much more troublesome than if it happens on your rear foot.
    • Once you're ready to continue, simply shuffle the board so that it's pointing slightly downward and apply pressure to your lead foot again.


  • Don't give up! It takes time to get the hang of snowboarding. The first day is always the toughest.
  • Chances are, you will fall many times. Always lean and fall towards the top of the mountain to minimize your chance of injury.
  • Don't worry about falling. Olympians did it too, once.
  • Strapping in, then getting directly on the lift is an awful idea. Practice pushing around a little with one foot strapped in at the base of a lodge. Find an area, not leading directly into people, that has a slight incline. With one foot strapped in at the top of this slight elevation change point yourself straight and either apply pressure to your toe or heel edge of your lead strapped in foot to turn your board to a halt. This action emulates what to do to get off a lift and how to get out of the way up top. That's just something you should practice some before you just strap on a board and get yourself up a lift.
  • Pay for a lesson if you can. No amount of reading can match the effectiveness of a real life lesson from an experienced snowboarder.
  • Always keep your weight in the middle.
  • Height has very little to do with the appropriate length of the snowboard. Your weight and riding style determine the appropriate length.


  • If anything seems amiss anywhere on the mountain, alert the proper authorities as soon as you can reach them.
  • Don't fall onto your hands if you can possibly help it, as you're likely to hurt your wrists. The more surface area your body hits the ground with, the more the impact will be distributed, and the less damage you'll take. Use your whole arms at the very least; if you can let your body roll on impact, do so.
  • Always bring a friend or partner when you snowboard. If you can't do so, let someone responsible know your schedule, at least, so that they'll know if something has happened to you.

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Categories: Snowboarding