When thinking back through my early days of faceplanting all over the ski slopes and figuring out how to hit my first jumps and rails properly, there’s 3 big things I wish I knew back then.
I wish someone had told me these things then, so I’m going to tell you guys now and hopefully it will save you some learning time and pain:
1) Train smart, not just hard
Going out day after day and practicing new turns and tricks for hours is great, but you have to be smart about how you train. There’s no point in pushing yourself so hard you get injured and there’s a lot you can learn by asking others who have more experience.
There’s A LOT to be said about being smart about which tricks you learn first and progressing smoothly so that you don’t get injured. If in doubt, ask someone who’s learnt the trick or technique before you because they’ve likely made a few mistakes that they can save you from making.
There’s a smart way to learn every snowboard technique and it’s often a far quicker way than just trial and error.
2) Pushing yourself when you’re exhausted is stupid and not what ‘real snowboarders’ do
There’s the whole stigma of not being one to quit and to keep pushing yourself to be a better rider, however, snowboarding is just as much about managing your risk as it is about pushing your boundaries.
Pushing yourself into exhaustion is okay, if it’s done safely – ie. hiking uphill to get epic powder runs – but pushing yourself into learning new tricks when your body is tired and you’re beat up is plain stupid.
I’ve learnt that being able to snowboard the next day is just as important as pushing yourself when you ride.
There’s no sense in pushing yourself into learning a new trick/technique if it means that there’s a much higher chance your exhaustion/lack of proper lead up training will cause an injury that takes you out for a month.
This ties back into snowboarding smart, not just hard. It’s a delicate balancing act between pushing yourself and staying away from major injuries to maximise your time on the snow.
3) Who gives a crap if you look stupid – stop comparing yourself to pros
Time spent worrying about what other riders will think about your riding and being scared that you’ll look stupid if you fall is time wasted.
I remember being worried that those 12 year old shredders were way better than me and that I’d look silly if I fell on certain jumps and rails in front of other riders, especially when there were guys pulling crazy tricks right next to me.
In the end, that time was just wasted on worrying when I could have been progressing. I’ve found that the best snowboarders don’t care if they fall in front of tons of people, it’s whether they learnt something from it that matters.
The fastest way to improve is to try things and the fastest progress I’ve ever made was when I stopped caring whether I looked stupid in front of 12 year olds doing backflips and 720s.
Eventually you realize that EVERYONE was there at some point and if you want to become one of those guys landing stylish 360s and rail tricks, then you have to go through that period of looking silly and falling a lot.
Remember, at the end of the day it’s all the mistakes you make along the way that will make you a better rider, as long as you’re willing to learn from those mistakes.