Friday, 17 September 2010

Snowboard Safety - How to Fall Correctly

You're probably thinking "I don't need to know how to fall. I need to know how NOT to!" Fair enough. However, the fact is, if you're headed out for you first time snowboarding, you better plan on falling and knowing how to do it right can make the difference between a tiring, battering first day, and a trip to the hospital. That's only sort of a joke.

Falling Correctly
If you know anything about judo, you know that learning to fall correctly is one of the most important skills in that sport. It's not nearly so important in snowboarding, but you do have to learn one simple concept: land with your forearms. I'll explain what that means and how to do it, but first let's talk about what can happen if you don't do it.

Why does it matter?
On a snowboard, beginners often catch the toeside edge or the heelside edge and that sends you to the ground pretty fast. The natural tendency when you catch the toeside edge is to put your hands out in front of you. Unfortunately, that can result in a broken wrist. When falling backwards, you can hit your head or land hard on your butt and take a fairly jarring fall.

What should you do instead?
In a front fall, you want to dive, landing in a skid on your forearms. Usually you'll be landing on slippery (though sometimes very hard) snow and some padding on your clothing, so this tends to be a relative mild and safe fall. When you fall backwards, you want to slam your forearms against the snow as you hit. This does two things: it absorbs some impact and it also helps get you back a little so you don't come straight down on your spine.

If you take a lesson, a professional instructor will demonstrate the different methods of falling and other things you need to do to stay safe and will have you practice them. An initial lesson really is worth it even if you have a strong ski background. I know this because 1) I did not follow this advice and got pulverized on my first day and rang my head hard and 2) I now teach people to snowboard and it goes so much more smoothly if you find someone who actually has a logical, step-by-step method.

If you decide nevertheless to go out with your friends and wing it, they'll often want to take up the lift and point you down without much in the way of instruction. Before you let them do that, practice falling forwards and backwards at least five times on the flats and then a few more times while gliding on a gentle hill. Get used to the motions and see if you can't overcome that instinctive response to reach out with your hands. Once you have it down, now you can let your friends try to kill you.

Tom Lambert is a lifelong skier. In fact, his ski instructor mom skied with him in the womb. He is a ski instructor and runs Ultraskier, a website with ski tips and, coming in 2009/2010 season, a directory of ski instructors.

Check out Ultraskier if you want to ski better and have more fun?

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Snowboarding Basics

The Essential Snowboarding Basics

If you are thinking of starting snowboarding or just starting out then you will want to pay attention to these 3 snowboarding basics rules. These three tips will give you a jump start on your friends, and soon you can show them how to apply these basics to their snowboarding development. So without further ado, here we go...oh ya and please practice these on a beginner hill, your body will thank you.

Snowboarding Basics Rule #1- The Bent Knees

You want to always make sure that you knees are bent when you are snowboarding. Your knees are like the shocks in your car; when the shocks are set up right, they aren't too stiff and not too loose. The same goes for your knees. You don't want to have Frankenstein legs and have knees that dont bend. To gauge how much you should bend your knees here is what you do. Stand up, strapped into your board. Now put your hands behind your knees and feel your tendons. Now bend your knees until those tendons become loose and your quad muscles are now flexed and bearing the weight. This will ensure that when you hit any bumps your knees absorb the impact and your body doesn't get sent flying.

Snowboard Basics Rule #2- Arms Out to your Sides

When you are first learning, and even when you have been riding for a while, putting your hands out over either end of your board will stabilize your body and keep you in proper form. By putting your arms out to your sides at 90 degree angles, you then use your hands like compasses. Imagine that either tip of your board represents the North and South Poles and your hands are like compass needles, always pointing due north, the other due south. If you want to turn to, you move your hands in the direction you want to go on your snowboard compass, and the boar follows. Once you are turning in that direction make sure that your hands go back to hovering over the two poles. Combining this with properly bent knees will make you super stable and harder to fall over.

Snowboarding Basics Rule #3- Look over your shoulder

Not because a mafia hit man is out to get you, but to help you complete your turn. You are almost there with the first two rules, but to add finish to your turns you need this last ingredient. Your knees are bent, your arms are out over your snowboard tips, and you are wanting to turn to the left. Lets assume that you are regulare stance, meaning that your left foot is at the front of the board. As you move your left hand to the left (east on your snowboard compass) you should also look over your left shoulder and up the hill. By looking over your left shoulder, not only are you pointing with your hands where you want to turn, but you are looking where you want to turn and this means your body will follow.

So keep your knees bent, your arms extended over your snowboard tips, and look where you want to turn.

To learn more snowboarding basics like linking your turns, jumping basics, and other great free snowboarding tips, visit Make sure to find out about how you can get awesome video lessons for your iPod as well to take with you on the slopes.

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How to Properly Fall When Learning to Snowboard

When you are just learning to snowboard you will encounter quite a few bumps along the way. I don't give a hoot what anybody tells you, when you are just starting out on a board you are going to bail... multiple times. Just like in hockey when they teach you how to take a hit properly so as not to injure yourself, there are certain things you need to know to keep yourself from getting injured when you are learning to snowboard. The most common snowboard related injuries are breaking your wrist, hitting your head on the ground, and hurting your tailbone. So without further ado, read these tips to save your body from a trip to the ER.

1) Wear a helmet!

Now this one is just plain obvious and doesn't need much explaining. If you want to ensure that you keep your head intact, get yourself a brain bucket. My helmet is all dinged up with pitts and scratches but you know what? I have never had a trip to the hospital for a head injury because I always wear my helmet.

2) Falling Forward-

Ok so you got your helmet on, and you are going down the hill and you catch an edge and wind up face first in the snow. What is the first thing that you did on your way down? I'll bet you put your hands out to break your fall and its only natural to do that. But putting your hands out is a common mistake that newbies make when learning to snowboard that often results in sever wrist sprains and breaks. Try this next time-As you are falling make your hands into fists and put your forearms out to break your fall. Once your forearms make contact, the next point of impact should be your chest. Your forearms will have taken the brunt of the impact and your chest will know spread out the rest of the impact. I know it may sound painful but it really isn't.

Practice this on the hill by strapping into your board and facing up hill and kneeling down. From there just fall forward with your fists and forearms out in front of you. Do this about ten times to get a feel for how you should fall forward and once your are comfortable doing this it will become more instinct.

3) Falling Backwards

Falling backwards is a little trickier because you cant see what is behind you when you fall and you have to rely more on instinct when this happens. As a snowboarding beginner falling backwards can be unnerving especially when you catch an edge because it is very unexpected but do the following and save your tailbone.

-Tuck your chin in. As you fall just tuck in your chin, this way you stop your head from whipping back onto the snow and giving you a concussion and/or whip lash.

-Spread out your arms to the side. It seems counter intuitive but by doing this you will spread out the force of the impact across your whole back, shoulders and arms. Most people keep their arms tucked in, or reach down and end up hurting their tailbones and wrists. If you commit to the fall and brace the impact this way you greatly reduce your risk for injury.

Learning to Snowboard doesn't have to be a painful experience. If you have the proper training and a good set of lessons to follow then you will greatly reduce your risk of injury and accelerate through the beginners phase of snowboarding much faster. For more easy snowboarding tips visit and learn more about getting lessons that you can take with you on the hill.

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