The Worst Way To Advance Your Snowboarding (Are You Doing This?)

I was browsing snowboard forums as I often do and I saw someone asking for coaching advice, then I saw a reply that scared me:

Trial and error are the best teachers. My first day riding I was hitting jumps and could barely turn. You have to get out there and throw yourself around. It’s snowboarding. 3 weeks later I could 360, and one week after that I landed my first front flip. No teachers involved. Just a desire to do it and a lot of ibuprofen.

No. Just no. No, no, no.

If you learn one thing from this snowboard blog, please learn to never ever improve your snowboarding by blind trial and error and sacrificing your body.

This is by far one of the worst ways to improve your snowboarding. Let me explain why:

1) Bad habits suck

Want a sure fire way to pick up lots of bad habits and bad techniques that will take weeks to months to years to erase later? Learn by trial and error without a proper plan.

Jumping head first into snowboarding is fine, BUT you need to at least be trying to figure things out in the right order and have an idea of how things work and how you can learn them correctly.

Sure you can learn to turn, learn to hit jumps, learn to do flips all without an instructor or any guidance, but I guarantee that you’ll end up taking twice as long in the end because you’ll realize at some point that make-shift technique doesn’t convert to smooth style and consistent tricks.

If you learn to snowboard without a plan you’ll find all sorts of shortcuts to get things done, but you’ll also find that all those shortcuts cripple your progression later and you have to un-learn every single one of them.

Ever had to un-learn something you’ve been doing for ages? It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort.

2) Injuries suck

There’s a reason the guy who posted this message mentioned a pain killer at the end of his message. It’s because learning without a plan and simply hucking your body around is how you get injuries.

Sure, it may not cause major injuries at first, but trust me, it will. Any snowboarder who learns by hucking their body off a jump until they magically find a way to land a trick is well on their way to some sort of ligament reconstructive surgery.

Even pros who huck their body off 80 foot jumps to learn crazy double cork 1080 spins do it with a gameplan. They have an understanding of how a trick works and how they can land it safely before they try the trick.

Blind trial and error can get you fast results, but it’s also a horrible game plan by itself if you enjoy snowboarding and want to keep doing it for more than a few years without needing multiple surgeries.

3) You’ll learn faster without trial and error

People who learn by blind trial and error do it because they see fast results. They have to pay for those results with their body, but they do see results (even if their style looks insanely ugly).

However, if they applied a little smarts to how they approached their snowboarding and learnt how to do things correctly, they’d actually progress faster in the end because they’d be learning the right basic movements that they can apply to hundreds of tricks later.

Blind trial and error learning is basically swapping long term results for a short boost of progression that doesn’t last.┬áPeople who learn by blind trial and error think they’re getting fast results, but really they’re shooting themselves in the foot in the long run.

The bottom line:

Snowboard learning by blind trial and error is like a car with a rocket engine strapped to the back. It’s going to go pretty fast at first, but then it explodes and backfires on you.

On the flip side, progressing your snowboarding by learning the right basic techniques and applying them in the right ways is like owning a Ferrari. You aren’t going to go faster then the guy on the rocket at first, but you’ll pass him after he blows up and you’ll be doing it quickly and in style.

There’s nothing wrong with trial and error, but if you want to learn by trial and error you HAVE to combine it with a smart game plan to improve your snowboarding safely and quickly without picking up bad habits.

- Jed

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Comments

  1. This is probably one of the best topics you’ve covered in a long time. Sitting here looking back at more than half my life on snow riding I have a giant grocery list of injuries that plague me. In the mid 90s under my brothers supervision I hucked myself off everything. That has come back to haunt me in the form of spine compression, back problems, joint issues, and arthritis. Moral of the story have a plan!

  2. Great article. I agree with you 100%. I’m always amazed at the people who can throw 3s and 5s in the park, but can hardly turn or stop when they leave the park.

    But if this is how you’re not supposed to do it, how are you suggesting that new athletes go about doing it. Are they supposed to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on lessons? Are you suggesting that they tie down a sucker that’s willing to teach them right? Are they supposed to look up videos on youtube.

    I personally learned by doing, but progressed by focusing on control in any condition and solid style rather than going fast and big (granted I’m a much bigger all mountain rider than park rider). I guess my biggest suggestion is to master doing a moderate trick very well, lightly stretching your ability level, rather than hucking an aggressive trick horribly and snapping a body part.

    • The way I always teach people is to learn by breaking down what you want to learn to the basic movements then mastering those basics.

      There’s certain basic movements that are repeated in all snowboarding tricks that can be learnt with very low risk on small features (eg – basic spins). Mastering it using easy features then taking it to bigger tricks and bigger features I how I always suggest people advanced their snowboarding.

      One rule of the thumb is never try a trick you don’t understand, can’t break down and aren’t able to see how to land safely. Once you’re able to do this with a trick, then you know it’s time to try it.

  3. OMG No. This myth is perpetuated by that guy who is just a “natural” at everything sport-related.

    Everyone has a friend like this. That one guy gives everyone else all this false hope, “Oh, screw it! I taught myself how to snowboard in one day…” well kudos to you but you represent 1% of the population. The other 99% will give up on day 2 or 3 and never come back.

    • The scary thing is judging from this guys other posts he’s not even in that 1% that is ‘naturally’ good at sports and learning. He’s just young and sacrifices his body.

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