Some people seem to pick it up right away while others never quite get it. So how long does it usually take to learn to snowboard? In general, newbies can expect to make turns by the third day.
The below factors can speed up or slow down your learning process. If you find you are taking longer than expected to progress, take an inventory of the below factors and see if you can make some adjustments.
Lessons: More than any other factor, taking a lesson from a certified instructor can significantly shave off the time it takes to learn. Instructors tell you what to do, putting you on the right path from the start—much more efficient than trial and error. Equally important, they give feedback about what you are doing right and wrong so you can make adjustments.
Skate/Surf/Wake: Anyone who is competent with other board-sports has an advantage right off the bat. Once they get used to the bindings and gear, some may even be making turns their first run.
‘Sliding’ sports: People who ski, ice skate or cross-country ski have an advantage in snowboarding because they understand edges and sliding. You may not think being the right wing on your high-school hockey team is relevant to snowboarding, but you will be much more comfortable slipping, sliding and coasting. Those without this sliding experience often resist when the snowboard takes off downhill.
Frequency: You’re better off clustering your first days close together. Ideally, schedule the first three days back-to-back. This allows you to develop muscle memory and build on skills day to day. If you go just once a year, you may forget what you learned by the time you make it back on the mountain.
Motivation: Are you only learning because your spouse/parent/friend wants you to? Or are you genuinely into it? I know several couples where learning was delayed because the student preferred falling into the arms of the instructor.
Attitude: You’ll learn faster if you remain un-phased by falling compared to someone who needs a cup of hot coco to recover from every biff.
Fear: Unless you are under 10, you probably have some fears about falling, going too fast or breaking a bone. This can make you to stiffen up and lean back—the cause of many snowboard crashes. How you control and overcome this fear can impact your progress.
Comfort/Dressing: Dressing properly will help you stay comfortable. When you are comfortable you’ll be able to focus on snowboarding and having fun. It’s hard to learn if you’re cold and miserable. More on proper snowboard dressing here: How To Dress For Snowboarding
Homework: Studying the terms, progressions and concepts of snowboarding prior to the first day will give you a leg-up. View our beginner lessons here: Beginner Snowboard Lessons
Fitness: Fit people tend to learn faster. And they have fewer sore muscles. Double bonus.
Age: Older folks and kids can learn at roughly the same rate as long as the instruction caters to their learning styles. Kids may be more kinesthetic, needing only simple directions before trying a skill. Mature people may like to hear a logical explanation. Make sure the environment and instruction is a match. For additional info about children and snowboarding, refer to this blog post: When Can My Child Learn To Snowboard
Gender: I’ve taught girls and boys; men and women—both can pick up the sport equally. The one difference I’ve noticed is how they interact as a class. Girls tend to be more supportive of one another; boys more competitive and challenging. A girl may say, “Almost! You’ll get it next time!” while a boy may shout, “You suck! Get out of the way!” This is possibly why girls’ and womens snowboard camps are popping up everywhere.