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Snowboarding for Beginners – Best Resorts, Gear & More

Updated: May 9

Learning to snowboard in the Alps

Snowboarding, once considered a fringe sport, has transformed into a mainstream winter activity cherished by adventurers worldwide. Born from the fusion of surfing and skateboarding in the 1960s, snowboarding has since evolved into an exhilarating experience that captivates enthusiasts of all ages. Unlike traditional skiing, which involves two separate skis and poles, snowboarding utilises a single board, offering a unique sensation of flow and freedom on the snow.

As snowboarding gained popularity, more and more people began to choose it over skiing for their winter adventures. The appeal lies in its roots as a rebellious sport and the distinct sensation of gliding down the slopes with both feet secured to a single board. Many beginners find the learning curve of snowboarding to be more approachable than skiing, as the movements and techniques can feel more intuitive and natural.

In this blog post, we'll explore the world of snowboarding for beginners, from choosing the right gear and finding the best resorts to understanding the basics of the sport and mastering essential techniques. Whether you're a seasoned rider looking to refine your skills or a complete novice eager to take your first slide down the mountain, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and resources to embark on an unforgettable snowboarding journey.

This blog post overview:

  • Learning the basics: stance, balance, and turning

  • What snowboarding gear to buy or rent?

  • How do you start snowboarding step by step? 

  • Techniques for falling safely and getting up for beginner snowboarders

  • Is snowboarding easy to learn?

  • How to get on and off chairlifts on a snowboard?

  • What is the ideal age to start snowboarding?

  • Snowboarding season and when to go on a snowboarding holiday?

  • Overview of best snowboarding resorts in Europe

The basics of snowboarding

Novice snowboarder putting her boots on

First Steps in Snowboarding: Determining Your Leading Foot

One of the initial steps in learning to snowboard is identifying your dominant foot, also known as your leading foot. This foot plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and control while riding down the slopes. This determination dictates your snowboard stance, either "Regular" or "goofy."

Diagram showing left foot forward for regular snowboarding stance and right foot forward for goofy stance

Regular vs. Goofy Stance:

Regular Stance: If you're more comfortable with your left foot forward on the snowboard, you'll have a regular stance. This means your left foot is positioned closer to the nose (front) of the board.

Goofy Stance: Conversely, if you prefer your right foot forward, you'll have a goofy stance with your right foot near the nose of the board.

It's important to note that neither stance is considered inherently better than the other. These terms are simply slang used by snowboarders to describe their preferred stance. Ultimately, every snowboarder's goal should be to become proficient in riding both ways, known as riding "switch." This versatility enhances your ability to manoeuvre in various terrains and situations, contributing to a more well-rounded and enjoyable snowboarding experience.

Popular Methods for Determining Your Leading Foot for snowboarding:

  • Natural Instinct: Stand on a slick surface (like hardwood floors) and have someone gently push you from behind. Whichever foot you instinctively use to catch yourself and maintain balance is likely your leading foot.

  • Slide Test: Put on a pair of socks and slide across a smooth surface, like hardwood. The foot you lead with during the slide can indicate your dominant foot for snowboarding.

  • Jump Test: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and have someone lightly push you forward. The foot you step forward with to regain balance is likely your leading foot.

By determining your leading foot through these methods, you'll establish a comfortable and stable stance on the snowboard, setting the foundation for a safe and enjoyable snowboarding experience.

How do you start snowboarding step by step? 

Step 1: Gear Up and Get Ready

Alpine snowboarder making a victory sign after learning to snowboard well

Before hitting the slopes, it's essential to gear up with the right equipment. Select a suitable snowboard that matches your skill level, riding style, and body size. Consider factors such as board type (freestyle, all-mountain, or freeride), size, and shape. Invest in other essential gear like helmets, goggles, gloves, and appropriate clothing to keep you safe and comfortable on the mountain.

Snowboarding Jacket and Pants: 

A snowboarding jacket and pants are essential pieces of gear to keep you warm, dry, and protected from the elements while on the mountain. Unlike ski jackets and pants, which may have different designs, snowboarding-specific outerwear is tailored to accommodate the movements and demands of snowboarding, such as sitting or kneeling. However, if you already have ski gear, it can be a suitable substitute, as the primary goal is to stay insulated and dry on the slopes.

Impact Shorts: 

Investing in impact shorts, such as the REKD Energy Impact Shorts, is highly recommended for beginner snowboarders. These shorts feature built-in padding and protection around the hips, tailbone, and thighs, providing cushioning and impact absorption during falls. As falling is an inevitable part of learning to snowboard, impact shorts can significantly reduce the risk of bruises, soreness, and injuries, allowing you to progress confidently and comfortably.

Snowboarding/Ski Helmet, Gloves, and Goggles: 

Remember to equip yourself with essential protective gear, including a ski helmet, gloves, and goggles. A ski helmet is crucial for safeguarding your head against impacts and collisions, while gloves keep your hands warm and protected. Goggles shield your eyes from wind, snow, and UV rays, ensuring clear vision and optimal visibility on the slopes. Invest in quality gear that fits well and meets safety standards to enjoy a safe and enjoyable snowboarding experience.

Buying a Starter Snowboard Kit:

If budget allows, purchasing a starter snowboard kit can be a great investment for beginners looking to progress quickly. These kits typically include a snowboard, bindings, and sometimes boots, providing everything you need to start on the slopes. While basic starter kits may lack some advanced features in higher-end gear, they are designed to offer durability, stability, and ease of use for beginner riders. As you advance in skill level, you can gradually upgrade individual components of your setup to suit your evolving needs and preferences.

Choice of snowboards in a store

Renting Gear at Ski Resorts: 

For those on a tighter budget or unsure about committing to a full snowboarding setup, renting gear at ski resorts is a convenient and practical option. Most alpine ski resorts offer rental services with a wide range of snowboards, boots, and other equipment available for daily or weekly rental. Renting allows you to try different boards and sizes to find what works best for you before purchasing. Additionally, rental staff at ski resorts are knowledgeable and can assist you in selecting the right gear based on your skill level, size, and preferences. To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable snowboarding experience, be sure to visit a reputable ski resort with well-maintained rental equipment and knowledgeable staff.

By renting gear at a ski resort, you can enjoy the flexibility of trying different equipment and sizes while receiving expert guidance from experienced staff. Many ski resorts provide sizing charts and guidelines on their websites to determine your recommended snowboard size and boot size, helping you make informed decisions before hitting the slopes.

Step 2: Learn the Basics

Once geared up, it's time to hit the snow! Start by learning the basics of snowboarding, including proper stance, balance, and movement. Practice sliding on flat terrain to get a feel for your snowboard and develop your balance. Gradually progress to practising heel and toe edge turns on gentle slopes, focusing on weight distribution and body positioning.

Proper Stance for Snowboarding: 

A proper stance is crucial for snowboarding, ensuring stability, control, and manoeuvrability on the slopes. Begin by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent, allowing for better balance and flexibility. Your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet, with your bindings centred on the board. Keep your back straight and your arms relaxed, allowing for fluid movement and responsiveness while riding. Maintaining a relaxed and comfortable stance is essential to prevent fatigue and maximise your enjoyment on the mountain.

Heel Side and Toe Side: 

In snowboarding, riders use two primary edges of the board for turning and control: the heel side and the toe side. When riding on the heel side, your weight is shifted towards the back of the board, with pressure applied to the heels to initiate and control turns. Conversely, on the toe side, your weight is shifted towards the front of the board, with pressure applied to the toes to steer and manoeuvre. Mastering heel-side and toe-side turns is essential for navigating different terrain and riding confidently on the mountain.

Sitting posture used for snowboarding

Transitioning Between Snowboarding Turns: 

Transitioning between heel-side and toe-side turns is a fundamental skill in snowboarding. To initiate a turn, shift your weight towards the edge of the board you wish to turn towards. For a heel-side turn, lean back slightly and apply pressure to your heels, allowing the board to carve smoothly into the turn. Conversely, shift your weight forward for a toe-side turn and apply pressure to your toes, guiding the board through the turn. Practice shifting your weight and initiating turns smoothly and gradually to maintain control and stability throughout the ride.

Starting with Heel-Side Turns: 

Many beginners start by focusing on mastering heel-side turns first, as they provide greater stability and control, especially when learning to brake and control speed. By becoming comfortable with heel-side turns, riders can build confidence and control before progressing to more advanced techniques and terrain. Remember to practice gradually and at your own pace, focusing on maintaining proper balance and control with each turn.

Maintaining the Heel Edge: 

As you ride down the mountain, maintaining the heel edge is a common technique to control speed and navigate steeper terrain. By riding with continuous pressure on the heels, riders can maintain a stable and controlled descent, allowing for greater confidence and control on challenging slopes. Practice maintaining the heel edge while adjusting your speed and trajectory to navigate the mountain safely and efficiently.

There are some great YouTube videos that go in these details more, Check these out:

Step 3: Take It Slow and Stay Safe

Embarking on the exhilarating snowboarding journey opens up a world of adventure and excitement on the slopes. As you strap on your snowboard and prepare to carve through fresh snow, it's essential to approach this thrilling sport with the right mindset and preparation. From mastering the basics of balance and movement to navigating challenging terrain confidently, snowboarding offers endless opportunities for growth and enjoyment. But bear these tips in mind.

Gradual Progression: 

As you progress in your snowboarding journey, you must take it slow and steadily challenge yourself to improve. Begin by tackling gentle slopes and mastering basic techniques before advancing to steeper terrain and more challenging conditions. Gradual progression allows you to build confidence, refine your skills, and minimise the risk of injury. Pushing yourself too quickly can lead to frustration and potential accidents, so be patient and focus on mastering each skill before moving on to the next.

Prioritise Safety: 

Safety should always be your top priority when snowboarding. Familiarise yourself with mountain rules and regulations, including trail signage, right of way, and designated areas for skiing and snowboarding. Always ride under control and within your ability level, avoiding reckless behaviour that could endanger yourself or others. Be aware of your surroundings, including other riders, obstacles, and changing weather conditions, and adjust your riding accordingly to stay safe on the mountain.

Consider Professional Instruction: 

Taking lessons from certified instructors can greatly accelerate your learning process and help you develop proper technique and form. Professional instructors can provide personalised feedback, guidance, and instruction tailored to your skill level and learning style. Whether you're a beginner or looking to refine your skills, investing in lessons can enhance your snowboarding experience and build a strong foundation for future progression. Additionally, instructors can offer valuable tips on mountain etiquette, safety practices, and equipment selection, ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable time on the slopes.

Pair of snowboarders in the Alps

Know Your Limits: 

While it's essential to challenge yourself and strive for improvement, it's equally important to know your limits and recognise when to dial back your efforts. Listen to your body and trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to take a break or seek assistance if you feel fatigued or overwhelmed. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to burnout or injury, so be mindful of your physical and mental well-being throughout your snowboarding journey. Remember that snowboarding is meant to be a fun and rewarding experience, so prioritise enjoyment and safety above all else.

Techniques for falling safely and getting up for beginner snowboarders

Falling is an inevitable part of the snowboarding journey, but it doesn't have to be daunting. As you embark on your snowboarding adventure, you must equip yourself with the knowledge and techniques to minimise the impact of falls and stay safe on the slopes. By learning how to fall safely and efficiently, you can protect yourself from injury and build confidence and resilience in your snowboarding skills. Here, we'll explore essential tips and tricks for falling safely and getting back up, ensuring you can navigate the mountain with confidence and ease.

Preventing Falls:

While snowboarding, several common scenarios may lead to falls, such as catching an edge, losing balance during turns, or encountering uneven terrain. To prevent falls, it's crucial to maintain a balanced and centred stance with your knees bent and weight evenly distributed between both feet. Practice controlling your speed and direction through gentle turns, gradually increasing difficulty as you gain confidence and skill. By developing strong foundational balance and control, you can minimise the likelihood of falls and navigate the slopes more safely.

Falling Techniques:

Despite your best efforts, falls may still occur while snowboarding. However, knowing how to fall properly can significantly reduce the risk of injury. When falling backwards, try to land on your buttocks and forearms rather than your hands or wrists to absorb the impact more effectively. Tucking your chin to your chest can help protect your head from hitting the snow. Keep your arms bent and close to your body to cushion the fall, and aim to roll onto your side to disperse the force evenly across your body. Practising these falling techniques in a controlled environment can help build muscle memory and increase your confidence in handling falls on the slopes.

Getting Back Up:

After a fall, you must regain your composure and return safely. Start by taking a moment to assess yourself for any injuries or discomfort. If you're uninjured, gently slide your snowboard downhill to create momentum. Then, place your hands on the snow and push yourself up into a crouching position, keeping your knees bent and your weight centred. 

Use the momentum from your push to stand up smoothly, keeping your snowboard perpendicular to the slope. By mastering the art of getting back up efficiently, you can quickly resume your snowboarding adventure with confidence and determination.

Protective Ski Gear Options for snowboarding:

In addition to helmets and padded shorts for tailbone protection, several other protective gear options are available to enhance your safety on the slopes. Wrist guards are essential for beginner snowboarders, as wrist injuries are common during falls. These guards provide support and stability to the wrists, reducing the risk of sprains or fractures. 

Additionally, impact shorts with padding along the hips and thighs can offer added protection against bruises and abrasions. Knee and elbow pads also benefit snowboarders, especially when practising tricks or riding in terrain parks. Investing in high-quality protective gear tailored to your specific needs and riding style can provide peace of mind and minimise the impact of falls, allowing you to enjoy your snowboarding experience to the fullest.

Is it easy to learn snowboarding?

This age-old question often sparks debate among enthusiasts and beginners alike. The truth is that the ease of learning snowboarding varies greatly from person to person. Factors such as individual athleticism, previous board sports experience, and determination play significant roles in the learning process. Those with a skateboarding, wakeboarding, or surfing background may find snowboarding more intuitive due to balance and board control similarities. Additionally, physically fit and active individuals tend to progress more quickly, as strength and agility are essential for mastering snowboarding techniques.

Snowboarder learning how to stand up

However, ease of learning also depends on personal mindset and dedication. Beginners who approach snowboarding with determination and a willingness to learn from experienced instructors can often grasp the basics relatively quickly. Taking lessons from certified instructors can provide valuable guidance and feedback, accelerating the learning curve and building a solid foundation of skills. While snowboarding may present challenges for some, with patience, practice, and proper instruction, anyone can enjoy the thrill of carving down the slopes.

How to get on and off chairlifts on a snowboard?

Getting on and off chairlifts on a snowboard can present a unique set of challenges compared to skiing. One of the main reasons is that snowboarders have both feet strapped onto a single board, making it more difficult to manoeuvre when approaching the chairlift. Unlike skiers, who can simply glide onto the chairlift with their skis parallel, snowboarders must navigate with one foot unstrapped and the other strapped into the board.

Snowboarder passing a ski lift

To get on the chairlift more smoothly, snowboarders often use a technique called "skating." This involves pushing with one foot while strapping the other into the snowboard bindings. Snowboarders skate toward the loading area as the chairlift approaches, using their free foot to propel themselves forward. Once they reach the loading area, they can quickly transition to sitting on the chairlift.

When it comes to getting off the chairlift, snowboarders should be prepared to quickly release their back foot from the bindings as the chairlift approaches the unloading area. This allows them to slide off the chairlift smoothly and regain their balance as they descend onto the snow. It's essential to keep the snowboard pointed straight ahead and maintain a centred stance to avoid catching an edge and falling.

Practice is key to improving the skill of lifting on and off snowboard chairlifts. Beginners may start with slower chairlifts and practice skating and loading techniques on gentle slopes before progressing to faster lifts and steeper terrain. Additionally, observing experienced snowboarders and asking for tips from instructors can provide valuable insights and help build confidence when navigating chairlifts.

What is the ideal age to start snowboarding?

Determining the ideal age to start snowboarding can be subjective and depends on various factors, including physical development, interest, and access to snowboarding facilities. While there is no set age requirement, many children start learning to snowboard as early as four or five years old, while others may wait until their teenage years or even adulthood to begin.

Starting snowboarding at a preschool age can offer several advantages for young children. Children tend to be more adaptable and fearless at this age, making it easier for them to pick up new skills and overcome challenges on the slopes. Additionally, children who start snowboarding at a young age have more time to develop their skills and progress to more advanced levels as they grow older.

Child learning to snowboard with their parent

However, starting snowboarding at a later age can also be beneficial. Older beginners may have better coordination, strength, and cognitive abilities, allowing them to grasp snowboarding techniques more quickly and progress rapidly. Additionally, adults who start snowboarding later in life may have a greater appreciation for the sport and approach it with a more focused and determined mindset.

Ultimately, the ideal age to start snowboarding varies for each individual and depends on factors such as physical ability, interest level, and access to instruction and equipment. Regardless of age, beginners of all ages can enjoy the thrill of snowboarding and benefit from the physical activity, outdoor experience, and sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering a new skill on the slopes.

Snowboarding season and when to go on a snowboarding holiday?

The snowboarding season varies depending on the region, with different countries experiencing peak snow conditions at different times of the year. 

In Europe, the ski season typically begins in late November or early December and runs through April, with some higher-altitude resorts staying open until May or June. 

In Canada and the USA, ski season generally starts in late November and continues through April, with some resorts in the Rocky Mountains staying open until early summer. 

In Asia, ski season varies by location. Japan experiences peak snow conditions from December to February, while in South Korea, ski season typically runs from December to March.

Snowboarder creating power of snow as they cut through it fast

When planning a snowboarding holiday, many people choose to book their trips well in advance to secure the best deals on accommodations, lift tickets, and equipment rentals. Peak times for winter ski and snowboard holidays tend to be during school vacations, such as Christmas and New Year's, as well as during the February half-term and Easter holidays. However, for those seeking quieter slopes and lower prices, shoulder seasons in January and March can offer excellent snow conditions with fewer crowds.

For snowboarders planning their next winter getaway, it's essential to research the best times to visit their desired destinations based on snow conditions, weather forecasts, and local events. Booking early can help secure preferred dates and accommodations, while flexibility in travel dates can also lead to significant cost savings. 

Overview of best snowboarding resorts in Europe.

Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps

Verbier, Switzerland: 

Nestled in the Swiss Alps near Geneva, Verbier is renowned for its extensive off-piste terrain, challenging runs, and vibrant après-ski scene. With access to the vast 4 Vallées ski area, including Mont Fort and Mont Gelé, Verbier offers exhilarating freeriding opportunities for advanced snowboarders. Its picturesque setting and world-class amenities make it a favourite among international visitors seeking an unforgettable mountain experience.

Snowboards planted in snow in the French Alps

Chamonix, France: 

Situated at the base of Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a legendary destination known for its steep terrain, dramatic scenery, and historic charm. As one of the oldest ski resorts in the world, Chamonix boasts a rich mountaineering heritage and attracts thrill-seeking snowboarders with its challenging descents, including the iconic Vallée Blanche off-piste run. Beyond its adrenaline-fueled slopes, Chamonix offers quaint alpine villages, vibrant nightlife, and an array of outdoor activities year-round.

Snowboarder sliding along a gentle slope

Laax, Switzerland: 

Located in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, Laax is a modern and progressive snowboarding paradise known for its world-class terrain parks, extensive freeride options, and reliable snow conditions. With over 235 kilometres of slopes catering to all skill levels, including the legendary P60 superpipe and freestyle academy, Laax attracts riders from around the globe seeking endless opportunities for progression and creativity on the snow.

Snowboarder on a chairlift

St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria: 

Situated in the heart of the Austrian Alps, St. Anton offers a unique blend of traditional alpine charm and cutting-edge snowboarding terrain. With access to the vast Arlberg ski area, including challenging backcountry routes and legendary off-piste descents, St. Anton provides an adrenaline-packed playground for adventurous riders. Its lively après-ski scene, cosy mountain huts, and scenic powder bowls make it a favourite destination for snowboarders seeking an authentic alpine experience.

Snowboarder surrounded by spectacular snowy mountain scenery

Avoriaz, France: 

Perched high in the Portes du Soleil ski area, Avoriaz is a car-free resort known for its avant-garde architecture, family-friendly atmosphere, and world-class snowboarding terrain. With over 650 kilometres of interconnected slopes spanning France and Switzerland, Avoriaz offers something for riders of all abilities, from gentle beginner runs to steep couloirs and extensive freestyle parks. Avoriaz provides a truly unforgettable snowboarding experience in the heart of the Alps with its unique cliff-top location and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

How to get to these ski resorts?

To access these premier snowboarding destinations, travellers often choose Geneva Airport as their gateway due to its convenient location and excellent transportation options. From Geneva, visitors can easily reach the resorts by various means, including rental cars, shuttle buses, and private airport transfers. Private airport transfers offer the utmost convenience and comfort, allowing travellers to relax and enjoy the scenic journey to their chosen resort. ALPY, a trusted provider of Alpine ski transfers, offers reliable and efficient private transfers from Geneva Airport to popular snowboarding resorts like Verbier, Chamonix, and Les Arcs. With ALPY, travellers can book their private airport ski transfer in advance, ensuring a stress-free start to their snowboarding holiday.

Book your private airport ski transfer now with ALPY and experience hassle-free transportation to the best snowboarding resorts in the region. Avoid the hassle of navigating public transportation or waiting for shared shuttles, and enjoy the convenience of personalized service tailored to your schedule and preferences. With ALPY's professional drivers and comfortable vehicles, you can relax and focus on the excitement of hitting the slopes upon arrival. Whether you're travelling solo, with friends, or as a family, ALPY ensures an enjoyable journey from Geneva Airport to your chosen snowboarding destination.

Snowboards on the balcony of ski holiday accommodation

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