Today’s reader question:
Help! I’m a small guy, skinny and generally not great at sports. I’m worried I won’t be good at snowboarding. Any advice would be appreciated.
Firstly, you don’t need to be big, muscular or good at sports to be a good snowboarder, so stop worrying about that You’ll do fine and none of those factors will stop you from learning how to snowboard and going on to become a kickass rider.
Don’t take this to mean that being strong and naturally good at sports isn’t a benefit to learning snowboarding, but it’s not a mandatory requirement.
Let me tell you a secret…
I’m skinny. Really skinny. In high school I was literally the skinniest guy in high school. I wasn’t short, but I was about 180-181 cm (5’11″ to 6′) and my weight was about 60ish kg (132 lbs).
Today, at 24 years, I’m still only about 72 kg (158 lbs) after a lot of work, which is still a little underweight for my height and I’d regard myself as a pretty good snowboarder.
I’m not some super pro spinning double cork 1080s, but I hold my own on the big park features and I can spin up to a 1080 depending on the trick / spin direction.
Why your natural body type doesn’t matter
The fact is, there’s plenty of naturally skinny snowboarders out there who absolutely kill it. Have you seen how skinny Shaun White is? Sure he’s done a lot of work at the gym to put muscle on, but you can still tell that he’s naturally skin and bones.
Heck, you don’t even have to go to super pro realms to see good riders who are naturally skinny guys.
Take my friend Nev, the guy who founded SnowboardAddiction.com and used to do competitions as a pro rider. He’s all skin and bones, barely works out besides the occasional bit of yoga and he kills it on the slopes.
While I do think that working out and building up some physical strength will benefit your riding, I also don’t feel like it’s a requirement… especially not after seeing the amount of pros who never touch any weights or work out.
Why your weight doesn’t matter
Height means nothing. In fact, being shorter is probably a benefit to you in the ski / snowboard world. Your center of gravity is actually lower due to being shorter, which actually makes it easier to spin and rotate.
One of my friend’s who’s an amazing snowboarder, but who’s quite short, refers to himself as ‘pro height’ because he’s like many of the pro skiers and snowboarders you’ll meet… aka a lot shorter than you’d expect in person.
What you can do to improve your athleticism and strength
If you’re really concerned about it, change it. It can be done. Save a little money, get a decent personal trainer and get him to design a program for strength and building balance/athleticism.
After all, I’m not anti working out or building muscle. Far from it actually. I think working out is a very good idea and I think more snowboarders should be taking care of themselves if they want to prolong the time their body can snowboard and reduce their chances of injury.
Also, please don’t feel you have to have an expensive gym membership. There’s A LOT of exercises you can do with a simple chin up bar, an exercise ball and a cheap set of free weights.
That stuff won’t set you back more than $100-200 for the exercise gear, which is cheap when you think about the cost of your snowboard gear or a full time gym membership.
Ps – Don’t feel you have to spend your life at the gym
Overall you’ll probably need to give up a minimum of 3 hours a week to work out if you do choose to start exercising and building your strength and balance.
You can do more if you’re really into it or you want results faster, but let’s face it, the average joe is not concerned about getting huge muscles or going workout crazy. 3 times per week, 1 hour per session is more than enough to keep you in good riding shape.
If you want to go really hardcore, you can try P90X which I’ve had good results from and can recommend. I’ve just finished a 90 day set of that and had decent results.
Just be aware that programs like P90X are 1 hour+ of working out every day for 90 days, so it’s not for everyone and you have to be very motivated to finish it.
Hope this helps answer your question and good luck! If a skinny guy like me can do it, you’ll do just fine yourself.