Why snowboarding might be for you

Expert tips on how to take up snowboarding at any age

Snowboarding can be intimidating, even to experienced skiers, but it’s actually a great sport for beginners. Tammy Esten, a British snowboard instructor and founder of Morzine-based MINT Snowboarding, reveals what worries people most when they first step on the board, what they might have done wrong if they tried once and failed, and why you should give it a go.

Take lessons

Snowboarding holidays for beginners have to be about lessons – not just having a go on your own. “The sport loses a lot of newcomers because people try to do it alone” , says Tammy. “It’s something we see time and again – people hiring a board and just giving it a go.”

Snowboarding for beginners is challenging and the potential for injury is high, but it can be fun if done correctly.

“So many people book lessons and hire a snowboard, then take it out and have a go themselves before the lesson and break a wrist – and it’s often people who can ski already. If you can ski, it doesn’t mean you can just grab a snowboard and give it a go” , says Tammy.

All ages and types of people can snowboard

Snowboarding has a bit of a ‘scene’ around it, and people often assume they need to wear baggy clothes and have long hair. While this appeals to many people, including rebellious teenagers, don’t let it put you off, says Tammy.

“It’s our job as an instructor to get rid of that image. Snowboarding is, and should be, seen as welcoming and achievable for everyone – we all have to start somewhere. And don’t worry about what to wear snowboarding: you can use the same kit as for skiing.”

Many would-be beginner snowboarders also think they’re too old to learn to snowboard. “When they first get on a snowboard, people are scared of falling over and hurting themselves — there’s an idea that it’s a young person’s sport but it doesn’t have to be” , says Tammy. “I’ve taught a 73-year-old from scratch and we teach children from the age of three. It can be a great family activity.”

Snowboarding is not always quicker to learn

Some people think snowboarding is easier to learn than skiing, but while the learning curve can initially be a lot quicker, you can’t stop taking lessons, warns Tammy.

“Snowboarding comes naturally to lots of people, while others find it as challenging as skiing. You can get to an intermediate level quite quickly compared to skiing, but progressing from there can stop entirely unless you take tuition – especially if you’re lacking in confidence”, she explains. “Often people get scared the first time they take turns that require them to point their snowboard down the hill.”

The key to learning to snowboard is keep trying and it will suddenly click into place. It generally takes three days to get confident on a board and Club Med offers five days of lessons. According to a Club Med Ski Travel Expert, a schedule for learning to snowboard could be:

Day One: Introduction to the equipment before learning how to stand on your board and gain your balance. Then you’ll learn how to control speed and steer your board.

Day Two: Learning to link your first turns on the beginner’s slope, improving the flow and gradually getting tighter.

Day Three: Move to the open slopes, putting everything you have learned so far into practice. You’ll also learn about understanding the different types of snow and terrain, and how to adjust your technique.

Day Four: Time to tackle some steeper runs, try a few easy off-piste routes and even learn how to make small jumps.

Day Five: Your instructor will give you feedback on what you have achieved so far and recommend runs and techniques to move on to. You’re then free to enjoy the slopes as a fully fledged snowboarder.