Make learning to snowboard easier by taking lessons

How do you start learning to ride? Take a lesson. How do you get better after that first lesson? Take another lesson. Whether you learn best by thinking, watching, or doing, taking a lesson with a professional instructor can pay big dividends.

Why should I take snowboard lessons?

  • By learning from a professional instructor, you’ll eliminate the trial and error that sometimes accompanies self-teaching.
  • You will experience less pain and more gain, when you use a pro to guide you through the natural progression of learning how to ride.
  • While it is often true that there is no “right” way to do something in snowboarding, some ways will be more efficient and effective than others, allowing you to ride with less fatigue and more confidence.
  • A lesson can help you spot, correct, and avoid mistakes that cost you energy or the ability to ride more difficult terrain.
  • You can’t see what you’re doing while you’re doing it; a pro can, and offer a quick diagnosis of what you’re doing right, and wrong.
  • A good instructor knows that not everyone has the same learning style, and will adjust the lesson accordingly. Your well-meaning snowboarding friend may not know that.
  • By taking a lesson from an objective, third-person professional, you avoid the personal problems that can arise from being taught by someone who knows you.
  • An instructor, unlike your friend, will have experience in teaching snowboarding–experience that make it easier for you to learn.
  • At most ski areas, you get priority treatment in lift lines.
  • If you purchase a beginner’s lesson package, paying for a lesson package may actually be cheaper than buying lift tickets and rental equipment on your own.

What Kind of snowboard lesson should I take?

  • If you have never ridden before, you can often find an attractive beginner’s lesson package. For a low price, you get a lift ticket, rental equipment, and the instructor’s time. Some packages are for a single day; many are for several days.
  • One of the great things about snowboarding is that there is so much to learn; you don’t have to get stuck in a rut. You can take lessons in freestyle riding, alpine carving, big mountain riding, or specific tasks that you would like help with, such as riding switch.
  • In group lessons, you can often learn a lot simply by observing the correct techniques, or mistakes, of other students. They’re cheaper, too.
  • In a private lesson, you have the full-time attention of a skilled rider. This is especially useful if you are already riding and would like some help in dealing with one or two specific challenges or problems, such as riding in moguls fields.

Where should I take a snowboard lesson?

For many people, there are two choices. One is to take lessons at a large resort with one or more large and tall mountains, perhaps with a mountain-town feel. A second choice is to take lessons at a nearby ski area, which may be smaller than a mountain resort in the Rockies or some other mountain range.

Lessons at Mt. Small but Nearby

Not all people can ride close to home. If you live in the Sunbelt, you’re going to have to travel quite a ways, so you’re probably going to opt for the big-mountain resort right away. But if you have the option, you may want to visit Mt. Small but Nearby. Why?

  • For one, it’s probably going to mean less travel hassle. Get in your car, drive one to four hours, and you’re there. No airport security lines, no waiting for your luggage at the baggage carousel; you just pack and go.
  • It’s also going to mean lower travel costs. Compare the price of an airline ticket with the cost of a tank of gas. Even if you make an overnight stay, you’ll probably come out ahead, as you will likely find a cheaper room rate than you would find in a mountain resort town.
  • Your on-mountain expenses will be lower, including the costs for lift tickets, food, rentals, and (perhaps) lodging.
  • You can avoid altitude sickness by staying at home. If you go to a mountain town, you may experience altitude sickness. Most cases are mild; common symptoms include headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath. Learning a new sport under those conditions is certainly less than ideal.

Ask Around for Adult Snowboard Lessons

At many ski areas, snowboarding lessons are open to anyone aged 13 and up. If the thought of being in a class with a 15 year old isn’t too appealing to you, call the ski resorts in your area and ask if they have classes specifically for adults. Some do, and it may be worth asking about them, and about teachers who have spent a lot of time teaching adults.

Snowboard Camps

Snowboard camps are a good way of packing a lot of practice into a short amount of time. Most snowboard camps are for freestyle (jumps and halfpipe, etc.), but you can find some camps for learning the fundamentals of riding.

AASI is your friend

The American Association of Snowboard Instructors is an advocacy and educational organization that promotes snowboarding instruction and develops educational materials. It also offers certification to instructors who demonstrate the skills and knowledge required by specific standards. Once you learn how to ride, you may even want to become an instructor yourself!

Together with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (or PSIA), AASI is part of the American Snowsports Education Association. For historic reasons, the AASI web sites carry web addresses reflecting the PSIA.

American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI)
The site of the national organization is, oddly enough, not as useful as some of the sites offered by its divisions, which follow:

PSIA/AASI-Eastern Division
Claims over 11,000 snowsports educators, from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, Maine to West Virginia.

PSIA/AASI-Central Division
According to the web site, “Its membership includes more than 3,300 instructors in the disciplines of Alpine Skiing, Nordic Track Skiing, Nordic Downhill Skiing, Snowboard Riding and Adaptive Snowsports throughout the Midwest.” From Missouri in the west and south to Ohio in the east, and Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the north.

PSIA/AASI-Intermountain Division
Covers Utah and Wyoming.

PSIA/AASI-Northern Rocky Mountain Division
Idaho, Montana.

PSIA/AASI-Western Division
Covers California and Nevada.

PSIA/AASI-Northwest Division
Oregon and Washington.

One Response to Make learning to snowboard easier by taking lessons

  1. Curt Jopling says:

    Coming into this late but I can tell you where not to take a lesson: Loveland Ski Resort. Two years ago I had purchased a used snowboard and intended on learning how to use it. Shortly after we happened to be spending a long weekend in Denver and I signed up for lessons, rentals, and a lift ticket. The total was $105 + $10 dollars for the helmet rental. A helmet is a very wise investment.

    Well here I am at the time 59 years old and taking a lesson from someone that was at least 30+ years younger. It was a full day lesson and by after lunch we were taken on the lift. It was a total failure and I ended up quitting after the first crawl down the hill. I chalked it up to my age and was certain I would not be able to ride.

    I came back and sold the board at a rummage sale for $20 and never thought about riding again until this year when I was watching my grandson take ski lessons. Watching the riders come down made me want to try it again.

    The area had a learn to ride/ski special of $10 which included a two hour lesson, rentals, and lift ticket. I signed up for a week later and went home.

    I searched the internet for instruction the week before heading out to the lesson and found “The Snowboard Professor.” I watched the videos over and over before, took the lesson, and was successful enough to know that, with practice, I could do this.

    After several trips to the local hill I was riding. What was the difference besides now being 61 years old? The videos had everything in them that wasn’t taught at Loveland. None of the fundamentals were taught at Loveland. At least by the instructor our group had. I went back to Loveland this year and was able to ride the beginner hill just fine.

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