Top 10 Snowboarding Tips For Female Beginners
Learn to snowboard with these top ten tips for the first time female snowboarder
Female and over 30? Here I share the top ten snowboarding tips for women that will get female snowboard beginners up and running.
Snowboarding is a wonderful sport for women, as many of the female snowboard pros are demonstrating.
Yes, they are awesome, I hear you agree, but if you are a woman and your twenties are just a memory (maybe a very distant one), you may still be thinking that a snowboard is not for you.
As a beginner, you might find the prospect of strapping both feet to a snowboard a little scary. Sure, you have seen the kids zooming down the slopes, but you don't bounce as well as they do... Perhaps you have a husband or partner who is a keen snowboarder, but it looks too rough for you.
I understand. I once felt just the same. But admit it, it would be something to be able to get on that snowboard and join your family out on the mountains, wouldn't it? Snowboard with your kids... or join the love of your life in a winter sport you both can enjoy....
Read on for tips for first-time women snowboarders that I hope will convince you to give it a try!
Tip 1 - Be brave - you'll love it!
Listen up, ladies. I'll let you in on a secret.
Snowboarding is fun!
If you have never stepped onto a snowboard in your life, it can look like it's difficult to control and goes really, really fast.
Truth is, it's pretty easy to control once you get the hang of it. Much easier than you might think. With the edge of the board jammed into the snow, believe me it won't go anywhere unless you are on an incredibly steep slope.
But as a beginner snowboarder, you won't be going anywhere near that kind of slope. So relax. You'll be fine.
Yes, a board can go fast, if the rider wants it to. The first lessons you will learn, though, as a beginner is to make your snowboard go slow. You won't be pointing it nose (or tail) first down the slope. You'll be side on, and will be able to travel short distances at slow speeds... and then stop.
Learning to snowboard can mean facing - and beating - your fears. It's exhilarating.
Tip 2 - Take lessons
As a beginner, you should take snowboard lessons.
Not from your husband or boyfriend (unless he is exceptionally patient and you have heard - from other people - that he is an excellent teacher), nor from your teenager.
Take lessons from a certified instructor. They will make your first experiences on a snowboard so much more enjoyable and safer.
One on one is great if you want maximum progress in minimum time. But a group can be a lot of fun too. I've found that there is often a lot of camaraderie among adult snowboard beginners, and you can encourage and help each other.
You may be able to join an all-women beginner's group. This can be good if you want a more supportive, less competitive atmosphere in which to learn.
However you decide to learn... don't skip this step. And do not let any family member take you to the top of a slope and leave you to make your own way down!
Take a Look at an Example Adult Beginner's Class
Tip 3 - Don't dress for fashion
Wait a minute... don't give up on me, girls! I'm a woman too, and not for a nanosecond would I suggest that you go out on the slopes in mismatched colors...
However, learning to snowboard is about learning to snowboard. It is not about holding a fashion show.
Dress for comfort.
I can't say this enough. Comfort must come first, if you are to enjoy your experiences as a beginner snowboarder. You need to be waterproof, you need lots of freedom to move, you need to be warm but not too hot, and you absolutely need to be well-padded.
I know, I know... You think you are quite well-padded enough without help from clothing, right? Or you have worked off all that spare 'padding' and do not want to add it on again?
I hear you. But I won't budge on this one. Anything that will cushion a fall and give you a little extra insulation against the cold snow will be welcome long after you've stopped caring about how you look.
Elbows and knees will be glad of some extra padding. You can buy pads specially designed for snowboarders or can use those used by skaters.
Tip 4 - Wear a helmet
Don't rule this tip out. More and more people are starting to see the wisdom in protecting their heads for snowsports.
When you are a beginner, you won't be riding at speed down challenging slopes. So a helmet might seem like overkill. Think again. You are most at risk when sitting around listening to your instructor. This is when other boarders and skiiers can come crashing into you.
You also may crash a few times yourself into other people or objects, while you learn to control your board. You don't have to be going fast for this to cause you lasting damage.
Rather than avoiding this wonderful sport, wearing a helmet will let you enjoy it with much less risk. If you are a parent and would protect your children's heads, isn't yours worth protecting too?
It was tragic when actress Natasha Richardson lost her life after hitting her head during her beginner's skiing lesson - and all the more tragic for the thought that a helmet could well have prevented this.
Tip 5 - Be relaxed about your stance
Slightly more experienced snowboarders will try to impress you by asking if you have a 'goofy' or 'regular' stance. This just refers to the foot that you have in front as you point your board down the slope.
If 'goofy' means nothing more to you than a cartoon character, that's OK. You don't need to have your stance set in stone at this point.
There are some rules of thumb to help you work out your natural stance, such as kicking a ball (which foot do you use? Right foot makes you goofy, if it's left then you're likely to be regular - but these are not foolproof guides). However, there is no harm in choosing one to begin with and changing your mind later.
My husband insisted that I was goofy like him. As I improved, I found that in spite of having my board set up for a goofy stance, I felt more stable and comfortable going down with left leg first. I'd kick a ball with my right foot. However, when it comes to the snowboard, I'm a regular girl.
Book review: A guide for women snowboarders - Chickie Rosenberg
This fantastic book from female snowboarder Chickie Rosenberg has been written just for us women.
Chickie started her snowboarding career aged 50. She doesn't like the cold and had a fear of heights.
Her book is full of no-nonsense, helpful and encouraging advice from start to finish. She'll convince you to face your fears and try snowboarding and will take you step by easy step through everything from what to wear to basic board control and beyond.
The strength of this book is in the combination of friendliness and expert information. By the time you'll done, you'll wish you could join Chickie on the slopes. And if you follow her advice, you will have made the first step towards becoming a good rider yourself.
Tip 6 - Warm up and cool down
If you are new to snowboarding, you'll be using muscles that normally don't get much of a workout.
Even if you are a skiier, you might find your body need time to adjust to a new way of moving across the snow.
Warming up may be part of your beginners' lessons. If it's not, take some time to stretch and flex those leg muscles in particular.
At the end of your snowboarding session, take a few minutes to again stretch out and bring your heart rate gently down. Your muscles will thank you in the morning!
Tip 7 - Know your limits
As I said in tip 1, this snowboarding lark can be a lot of fun. So much that you might not want to stop long after you start to tire.
Learning to snowboard can, for women especially, mean facing and beating your fears. That's an exhilarating feeling. You find yourself breaking down self-imposed barriers and the endorphins rush around your body.
You can find yourself wanting to keep going, learning one more thing, beating your previous attempt...
It's so important though to start small. End on a high if you can, but don't push it. Even a one-hour lesson may be enough for you physically if you are not 100% fit.
That's OK. Stop. Have a drink and a snack. Let your body recharge. Do something fun if you are in a resort, like tobogganing or just walking in the winter scenery. Tomorrow you can practise your snowboarding skills for a little longer.
Tip 8 - Drink plenty to stay hydrated
You need plenty of fluids while out on the slopes.
Good snowboarding outfits will give you good ventilation but you will still lose a lot of water through perspiration. Regular drinks will help keep your energy levels up.
You might want to wear a small, light backpack with your valuables (nothing too fragile or sharp as you could fall on it) and a drink stored inside. If not, have some cash so that you can buy a drink at the nearest cafe.
The good news is that you'll be burning plenty of calories too!
There are now people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s on snowboards. What's stopping you?
Tip 9 - Be inspired by 'older' female snowboarders
It's no longer unusual to see a woman over 25 (or 40 for that matter) on a snowboard.
It's true that many of the female snowboarding professionals started young. But there are plenty of women out there who learned later in life and have taken to snowboarding like ducks to water.
The Grays on Trays web guide to snowboarding for older adults lists many female snowboarders aged between 40 and 76 (and the oldest male listed is 93)!
But winter is coming and the snow will soon be falling. Why wait until you're 93 to start?
This Could be You...
Tip 10 - Get yourself some good equipment
If you are brand new to snowboarding, it's a good idea to hire.
If you get hooked and want to make it a regular part of your life, you'll love having your own board and equipment.
You might be lucky enough to spy a bargain in the sales. All the same, do your research and take advice from people in the know.
A wide range of equipment is now available for women and will suit your needs better than men's gear. There's a whole variety of designs too, from very feminine to boards that a man wouldn't be ashamed to ride.
Your boots need to fit well, so take special care with them. In addition to boots and a board, you'll need to buy bindings - they don't come already on the board unless you are buying a used snowboard, in which case they might be part of the deal. Good bindings will serve you well.
For Even More Inspiration... - Find 'older' snowboarders here
- Grays on Trays
Grays on Trays is all about snowboarding for adults. Packed with information and encouragement for the more mature snowboarder. The site has an active discussion board too.
- Chickie Rosenberg in the NY Times: 'Boarding Without a Nose Ring'
Read about Chickie Rosenberg, a 66 year old snowboarding grandmother! Not only does she ride with the best of them, she's a snowboard instructor and the author of the above-reviewed book 'Snowboarding for Women: A Guide for the Betty Shred Wannabe'.
© 2009 Indigo Janson