The Snowboard Pro You Don’t See

Today I was reading an article about a friend of mine, Geoff Brown. He’s a pro shredder based in Whistler and he kills it.

You may have seen one of his many video parts in the yearly Sandbox films and maybe even seen him throw a nice double cork in the last free Voleurz film – Kill Your Boredom.

However, what you don’t see is the time and effort and determination put into those video parts. You don’t see the bails, the ice baths, and the lower back pain that goes with getting that 1-2 min video edit.

The missing story

When we watch sleek video edits of stomped tricks that most people will never land, it’s easy to start assuming that most pros have every trick on lockdown.

However the reality is they put their body in the line every year to make a killer video part that includes that mandatory new trick that everyone is doing. It’s not always easy.

The article I read goes over the backstory of one of the Sandbox crew’s film shoots. They had a $2k per hour helicopter, a huge custom built 80 foot jump in Whistler and a sunset in the background. The ideal setting for an epic film shoot.

So what does my friend Geoff do? He proceeds to huck his body over and over and over trying to get a backside double cork 12 on film.

He tried the double cork at least 20 times and had some hard falls but just kept going.

Trust me, as someone who’s been working on sticking a double cork 10… learning those double cork tricks can be rough on your body. They’re not the type of trick you usually try more than a few times in a day, especially if you have a hard bail.

I can only imagine the pressure and physical toll on your body of attempting a double cork 20+ times on a jump like that.

And take a toll it did:

There was a point near the end of the sunset when I was standing at the top of the in-run, alone, shaking as much from being exhausted as I was from feeling tired and stressed. I saw the sun setting behind the mountains and I knew I would only get a few more tries.

And after all of that you suppose he finally landed his trick and his hard work and determination would be seen in a 5 second clip of him stomping a backside double cork 12 right? Nope.

He never managed to stick the double cork 12 that day. He put his body on the line, worked harder than anyone else and did his best to get the trick on camera… and failed.

The thing is… this isn’t uncommon for the average pro snowboarder. This happens every day. Sometimes they do land that epic trick first try, but there are just as many missed attempts and failures that you don’t see.

There are many times when they put everything they have into trying to get that one trick and fail. Then they suck it up and do it all over again the next shoot until they eventually land enough ‘bangers’ to put into their 2 min segment.

Geoff knows this and that’s why he’s going to go out there to the next shoot and try more big tricks and put in the same hard work and determination over and over and over. Eventually he knows he’ll get his payday.

The bottom line

The point I’m trying to make is even pros struggle and they work their butt off to learn those epic tricks and land them on film.

If you think you’re alone in struggling to learn that new trick or having a rough time landing that 360, you’re not alone. Every pro shares your pain and understands what you’re going through.

But you know what? Sometimes if you keep trying and keeping working your butt off, it pays off and you finally get that trick locked down and boy is it an amazing feeling.

Most people may not see the work and effort you had to put in when you’re finally able to stomp that smooth 360, but some riders will know. They know what you’ve been through and they respect the effort it took to get there.

So don’t quit and don’t give up when you struggle with that new trick. Everyone struggles at times and everyone has those rough days when you can’t quite get that trick nailed down, even the pros.

However there’s a payday down the line, even if you don’t get it that first day or the next day or the day after that, it’s about sticking it out and working on it until you get it right and when you do, it’s one of the best feelings in snowboarding.

- Jed

ps – If you have 5 minutes, I highly recommend checking out the full article on my friend Geoff Brown: Geoff Brown Is A Bullfighter

How To Keep Yourself Motivated When Snowboard Tricks Aren’t Clicking

I’ve said many times that snowboard progression goes like this:

  1. Try a new trick
  2. Start to kinda get it
  3. See no progress and feel like your practice isn’t improving your riding
  4. It finally clicks and you ‘get’ the trick

As I’ve said before, people tend to get stuck when they get to that 3rd stage and they see no progress, so here’s a quick tip to help you push past that and stay motivated without feeling like you suck at snowboarding.

Focus on a small snowboard challenge

I’ve found that it’s not so much failing that discourages people, but rather it’s the feeling that they aren’t making progress, so I always have small goals for my riding whenever I’m working on progressing my snowboarding.

So take your big goal, eg – “I want to land a 360″ and aim for some really mini part of doing a 360, such as “I’m going to do a stylish straight air today!” or even something easier such as “I’m going to do 10 straight airs attempts today!”

By doing this you’re basically giving yourself smaller goals that are way easier to accomplish. Instead of just aiming to do a 360, which could take weeks or months, you’re aiming to also do other mini goals that you’ll be able to accomplish along the way to learning that 360.

Why smaller goals are better:

You know those days when you’ve been working on some trick/technique for ages and it suddenly clicks and you land it and you have the biggest smile on your face for the rest of the day?

That’s a win and it gives you a ton of momentum and motivation to keep going and keep improving your snowboarding because you feel like you just climbed Mt. Everest.

However, those days don’t come every day. If it’s a big goal you’re working towards, you won’t get that win for a long time. That’s why I always break things down into smaller goals.

This way I don’t go home thinking “Man, I’ve been trying that trick for 2 weeks and I still can’t get it!” and instead I think “Sweet, I mastered straight airs today! Making progress towards that 360!”

You’re still doing the same work to get to your goal, but this way you’re getting those very important small wins that keep your from getting discouraged.

- Jed

How To Overcome Fear Of Snowboard Park Features

So I’m sure we’ve all had ‘the fear talk’ with ourselves.

We stand in front of some snowboard jump/rail/box and start thinking about all the things that can go wrong. Needless to say, that just makes you even more scared and possibly even makes you run away with your tail between your legs.

Don’t think good snowboarders don’t get the same fear, because trust me, we do. It happens on bigger features, but we still feel the same fear.

So here’s an exact run down of how it happened to me this week and how I overcome that fear. You can do the same.

1) Scaring yourself

Yesterday (or 2 days ago by the time this blog goes live), I was sitting on top of the jump line in Whistler Blackcomb’s XL park. I took this photo:

Whistler XL Park Jump Line

I actually took this photo because I needed a second to stop and psyche myself up. A few things scared me.

  • It had been lightly snowing, so the speed of the jump was going to be different from the day before
  • There was no one in the park (good for lapping the park… but also bad because I had no one to help me judge the run-in speed)
  • You do not want to knuckle on jumps over 40 feet (and this was a good 50-ish feet with a big knuckle)

So there I sat, scaring the crap out of myself. One thing crossed my mind.

I actually tore my ACL in this park 5 years ago when I knuckled the 4th jump in this park, so it really doesn’t take much to remind me that one knuckle on a jump this size can send me to another knee surgery and 6 months of rehab.

2) The “you can do it” talk never works

Okay, so we’ve all done the “You can do it!” self talk where we tell ourselves to stop being a chicken and just do it… but we all know that rarely works.

For a split second we get confident, then we remember all the reasons we’re scared and we’re back to square one. Telling yourself to be brave just plain doesn’t work.

So here’s what I do instead…

3) Why can you do it?

This is the secret sauce: Why can you do it?

It’s easy to say “I can do this!” but it’s a whole different matter to say “This is why I can do it” and go through all the reasons why. When you go through the ‘why’, you start to give yourself confidence and show yourself exactly why you can do it.

It’s basically the opposite of sitting there scaring yourself with all the reasons you’ll hurt yourself or fail. You’re simply giving yourself all the reasons you should succeed.

I sat there and went through the reasons why I can do this:

  • I’ve hit this jump a hundred times before
  • I did a practice lap and checked the run-in speed
  • I speed-checked the jump on the previous lap
  • I know the rough feeling of how fast I should be going to clear this jump properly
  • I know the rough drop-in spot for this jump
  • I had adjusted the drop-in spot for the slightly slower conditions

So with that, I dropped in and did a big straight air and enjoyed another couple laps in the empty park by myself.

The bottom line

The trick to this is you can’t fake it. You need to have real, legitimate reasons of how you’ve gone through the right steps to approach the trick/feature and how you’ve built your way up correctly.

So you can’t go up to a 70 foot jump as a beginner and say “Why can I do this? Because I’m a boss!” and expect that to help your fear (although I’d find it pretty funny if someone tried this).

Not only will your fear not go away, but by not correctly building yourself up to that challenge in steps, you’re putting yourself in a lot of risk.

Build yourself up to the trick/feature that’s scaring you, then remind yourself of the preparation and steps you’ve taken to get there. That’s how you beat fear the right way.

- Jed

When Continuing To Snowboard Is Actually A Bad Idea

Today’s reader question:

How do you deal with days where nothing is working with your snowboarding? I don’t really feel frustrated… just ‘off’ my game sometimes.

You know what? On those days I either go home early, take my riding down a level or I’ll find some friends who just want to ride easy groomers and chill out for the day.

It all comes down to knowing when to push your riding and when to just call it a day and relax or go home.

Let’s dive into this deeper.

How to know when to call it a day

I’ve said in the past that I never used to be a ‘mental’ rider.

I’d just go out every day with the mentality that no matter how I felt, I had to always work on learning new techniques or improving my current skills if I wanted to be a better snowboarder.

If I was feeling off my game it didn’t matter. It just meant I had to keep pushing until I was back on my game.

The interesting thing is it did work… for awhile. I saw big improvements in my riding, but I was also getting a ton of injuries from all the slams and falls. Eventually it caught up to me in that one big crash that tore my ACL and resulted in 3 knee surgeries.

ACL Knee Post Surgery

The important lesson I learnt

From this I learnt an important lesson: Becoming a good snowboarder is a marathon, not a sprint.

Yeah, you can rush your progression and ride hard when you’re body or mind aren’t really up to it, but it catches up to you eventually. Improving your snowboarding is a longterm exercise in balancing the goods days vs. the bad.

You’ll have a lot of bad days and you’ll have a lot of good days. It’s knowing how to ride on these different days and knowing when to stop that makes you into a good snowboarder.

How to balance good days vs bad days on slope

It’s pretty simple. If I’m having a good day and my body and head are in game, I’m going for it. You’ll find me riding nonstop and I won’t be leaving until the lifts shut because I want to take advantage of being ‘in the game’.

If I’m having a bad day where for whatever reason my body or mind are feeling ‘off’, I’ll go relax and either chill with friends or work on simple stuff like carving or switch.

If it’s a really, really bad day and absolutely everything is feeling ‘off’, you’ll probably find me riding down to the village to cheer myself up with a chicken samosa and strawberry and banana smoothie from Moguls Coffee house.

Now I’m not saying that just because you can’t land a trick a few times it automatically means you should quit and go do something else. I’m talking about stopping on those days when you know that your body or head just won’t execute simple movements that you could usually do in your sleep.

Every good rider does this

This skill of balancing your riding against how your body/mind is feeling is something every single advanced snowboarder does.

Watch the really good riders at your resort and notice their patterns. They listen to how they’re feeling and adjust the difficulty of their riding. Even the guys who can spin 1080s off 75 foot jumps will adjust what they do on any given day.

If they’re feeling it, you’re probably in for a show of massive tricks off huge jumps and rails. If they aren’t feeling it, you’ll find them doing simple tricks and spins that they know they can land.

So remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Any idiot can go crazy and push their snowboarding 24/7. That doesn’t take any skill, it just requires you to be brave and stupid.

It takes a smart snowboarder to listen to how his body feels and adjust his/her riding to match.

- Jed

The Key To Overcoming Snowboard Learning Frustration

Snowboarder falling

Ever been working on learning a new snowboard trick and you find yourself getting frustrated because you’re practicing all day and trying hard to figure things out, but seeing no improvement?

I think most of you will agree that this is one of the annoying things about learning a new snowboard trick – it’s that whole period where you’re practicing your butt off, but you aren’t sure if what you’re doing is working.

As I’ve said in the past, this is normal and you will get past it if you keep analysing your technique and working on it until it clicks… but unfortunately, most people let the frustration get to them and it slows their learning and makes this painful process last even longer.

The horrible snowboard frustration cycle

I’ve said it a hundred times, snowboarding may be a physical sport, but it’s also mental. If you let your head start getting worked up and annoyed over your own riding, it starts to affect your technique and you’ll only find yourself getting worse.

It’s a horrible cycle:

You can’t get a trick to ‘click’ so you get frustrated >

which causes your riding to get worse because you aren’t concentrating >

which makes it even harder for you to get that trick to ‘click’ >

which makes you even more frustrated.

Every snowboarder has times when they get frustrated, but here’s how to break that frustrating cycle and how you can get past it to see results in your snowboarding.

1) Stop

The first thing you need to do if you get frustrated while snowboarding is to stop what you’re doing. Trying to think yourself through complicated freestyle techniques isn’t going to work while you’re frustrated, so just stop and take a breather.

It’s perfectly okay to take yourself to the side of the run and take a few minutes to chill and clear your head.

The worst thing you can do when you get frustrated and not thinking clearly is to keep repeating the exact same thing that’s getting you frustrated.

2) Change things up

If you’re hiking a park feature or just doing laps of the terrain park, go do something else for a lap. Mix things up and give yourself the time to reset and clear that frustration.

For me, if I’m having a bad couple of runs in the park where I’m crashing a lot and just getting annoyed, I’ll take a lap off and go do something else on the mountain.

Whatever else you enjoy on the mountain, go do that for a lap, then come back and try again when the frustration is gone.

For example, for me I might do a fast speed run down a groomer at mach 10 or just enjoy hitting some mini jibs on the sides of a run. Something where I can just cruise and chill for a lap.

The key is that whatever you decide to do to blow off that frustration, it should be something that you’ve already mastered and something that’s fun for you. You want to be able to shut down your brain and just cruise and have fun for a lap.

3) Re-tackle the trick

Once you’ve cleared your head, it’s time to try again.

Go back to that trick, go over your technique in your head and try again, but this time you’ll be doing it with a clearer head that isn’t constantly focusing on how much you suck or how annoyed you are from falling constantly.

The whole purpose of this is exercise is pretty straight forward.

You want to take yourself away from any situation where your frustration is starting to affect your riding and only attempt and practice a new trick and technique when you can do it with a clear head.

Even if you don’t need a whole lap to reset, just taking 5 minutes on the side of a run to calm yourself and clear your head does wonders for your execution technique.

Trust me, every snowboarder gets frustrated at times, but better snowboarders are able to deal with the frustration and not let it affect their riding. If you have to take a lap to clear your head, do it, because it’s better than getting more frustrated and letting that ruin your entire day of riding.

You want to be the better snowboarder.

- Jed