4 easy steps to improving your Snowboard skills
Snowboarding is a funny sport. You really do not need that much skill to have a wicked time. You can get down the mountain somehow and it feels pretty great. The only problem begins when someone lets you in on the fact that actually you could do a whole lot better. That's a hard pill to swallow for some. Snowboarding is something that evokes very strong passions and emotions. It’s like someone criticising your child. Its not going to go down well. I think that’s why many people avoid progressing beyond the basic foundation of riding or seeking some coaching.
Plus at the end of the day some people just feel comfortable at their own level and they ride for other reasons. That might be enjoying the après and the awesome social side as Snowboarding is a great way to feel and look cool without having to do much. There are quite a few armchair and bars stool riders out there :)
I personally feel something is lacking a little if I’m not pushing my boundaries every once in a while, or seeking some advice to help me become a stronger and more confident rider. Part of the appeal of snowboarding for me is the challenge.
Right from when you started learning to turn, you had to earn it. Nothing was really that easy. You took some hits and you kept coming back for more. Yet after a while you become less and less willing to take those hits for progression. The social pressure of not falling and the distant memory of pushing through the slams to get better are lost.
So what can you do to add some progression into your riding?
Stage 1 — Reflection
Step back and think about your last time riding or being on a mountain. What caused you stress? Was it that nightmare cat track? The fast lift exit? The cool trick a mate did and you tried it and ate shit? That steep powder run that made you bail 15 times?
Think about your weaknesses. What do you struggle with and what would make you feel like a hero if you managed to achieve it?
Stage 2 — Video & Photos
Use some supplementary media to backup some thoughts on where your weaknesses are. Check out that go-pro footage collecting dust on your hard drive. Also get your mate to film you riding. Have a good look at the footage and do some self analysis. Look for some obvious signs to see what could be improved.
Do your movements look smooth and fluid? Do you look relaxed and calm when executing certain moves? Are you putting too much uncontrolled power into turning or tricks? All your snowboarding should look and feel relaxed. Your movements should be efficient without the use of excessive force. If that's the case, then theirs most likely a break somewhere. Some way your moving or your position on the board is not quite right.
See if you can figure out some corrections. Chat to your mates about it. What can they see? Also look up some articles and videos to help understand the ideal techniques or tips on how to improve things.
Stage 3 — Think about some goals
So you’ve outlined some of the things you need to work on. Now write them down and if needs be break them down. When you think of some bigger tricks you may need to work on some other moves that will build skills towards the final goal. Look to be realistic about the time frames for each move. Build up slowly and do not put too much pressure on yourself. You’ll already be out of your comfort zone working on new skills in your riding.
When you plan to go shred or when you’re next on holiday review those tricks. What can you work towards that day or night?
Also think about your equipment. If I know I’m going to be working on some flatland moves that day I’m not going to be taking my all mountain stiff board out. That goes the same for boots and bindings. If you’re up for freestyle that day don’t be rocking the stiffest boots around. Give yourself that advantage if you have extra equipment options.
Now that you have the right kit and goals in mind how are you going to train towards achieving them?
Stage 4 — Train towards those goals
Now comes the tough part. You have to be prepared to feel a bit crap. Your going to be moving out of your comfort zone. You may need to do some off snow training to work on your strength and flexibility. You may also need to work on a series of moves over time.
Try not to put to stiff a deadline on your goals. Things take time. But remember the journey is part of the fun. Your challenging yourself and thats a good thing.
If one trick is not working ditch it and work on something else. Keep the progression positive so things do not become too stressful.
Also, do not overly focus on other peoples views of your riding if you happen to be falling whilst working on these moves. It’s a natural part of progression. Most people will take the safe option and work on the same moves that feel good and do not push them. You need to be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and feel a little crap now for a much better long term payoff as you dial in some new moves.
Extra — Seek some help if you need it
Don’t be afraid to get some help or advice. Your investing in you, so if you need some time with a personal trainer or a coach book that in. It will speed up the progression and help you iron out those extra issues. Share your goals with them so they understand your needs and what you want to achieve. Seeking help to fill in the blanks for my own progression has made a massive difference to my confidence and speed of development.
It can be tough to hear someone tear into your passion, but if you can take a bit of constructive criticism then you will make a massive step change for the better.
Overall there is some great progress you can make in your own riding with just a few well thought out steps, so have fun figuring out your next moves and working towards that next level of riding.