If you know how to snowboard and would like to teach your own kids, or would like to practice with your kids after a lesson, we have some great tips and resources to help you get started.
Parents might wonder what the best age to get kids started, it used to be that age 7 was thought be the best age to start, because most kids begin to develop enough core strength and coordination to be able to handle the board. That idea has changed in the last five years with the introduction new gear and the Riglet Parks by Burton, that have made it possible for kids as young as three to learn. There are still lots of people who think that is too young and it is best to wait until kids are a bit older, but if you have a child who is really eager to learn and you want to teach them, then there is no reason not to.
Before you Start
- Make sure your kids actually want to learn. If they would rather ski then let them ski. Lots of kids start on skis and then switch over to boarding when they are ready. Just because it is possible for a three year old to do it, doesn’t mean that they are going to want to snowboard. If they don’t want to learn then it will be very difficult to teach them anything and since the point of boarding is to have fun, if your kid isn’t into it then leave it for a while and try again another day.
- Get them used to the gear. Before hitting the slopes you can get them used to what they can expect. If you have bought a board, have them stand on it and show them how to distribute their weight evenly. You can explain to them how they will be using their toes and their heels to change direction and stop. Have your child practice putting on and taking off the board while sitting down. Show them parts of the board, so they will know what you are talking about when you are on the hill.
- Plan on keeping learning sessions short in the beginning. Young kids don’t have the kind of endurance and focus that older kids do. So keep your beginning lessons short, and let your child take breaks as often as they need to. Younger kids will probably only be good for about an hour before needing a break.
Gear for Kids
Obviously before kids can even start they need to have the right gear. Make sure you have/rent:
- Snowboard – If you are looking for a board for a 3 to 5 year old check out these ones from Burton. They are light, flexible, and have a convex base that makes it easy for a kid to roll from edge to edge and to learn how to stop. You can get these boards as small as 80 cm so kids as young as 3 can use them. If your kids are very small you may want to have a look at the Burton Riglet Board Reel that attaches on to the front of the board so you are able to tow your toddler along and help get them used to riding and balancing on the board. If you are looking for some other board for small kids you can try the Flow Micron Mini that also comes in 80 cm length or the Rome Minishred Rocker that you can get as small as 90 cm.
- Boots – There are some great Velcro soft boarding boots around, some of the Velcro Grom boots are available as small as a child’s 11.
- Helmet – Make sure to get a snow sports helmet that will give them protection for the back of their heads as well as allow space for their goggles and will keep their heads warm but allow for ventilation if they get too hot.
- Goggles are important to help protect kid’s eyes from UVA and UVB sunrays, which are super harsh when reflected off the white snow.
- Gloves or Mittens. Buy gloves that are warm, waterproof and breathable. You can get special snowboarding gloves that have an outer wrist protector. If you don’t have gloves with a wrist protector, consider using inline skating wrist guards to help protect your kids from getting a broken wrist.
- Warm Clothing. Have your kids dress in clothing that is water resistant and won’t make kids sweat too much when they get hot. Make sure they are dressed in layers.
Basic Skills for Kids
Whether you are practicing on a small hill, a backyard, local hill or resort, these are the basics that you are going to want to teach your kids:
Balance – If your kids are very small an easy way to start is by showing them how to balance on their board. If you have a Riglet Board Reel you can pull them around with that to help them get used to the feel of the board.
Skate/Glide – Your kids will need to know how to get around on their board, so one of the first things you should teach them is how to skate. With their front foot strapped in, show them how to move the board by using their back foot and pushing using small steps close to the board. Have them do two pushes, then put their back foot right in front of the back bindings. If you can, attach a stomp pad to the board to make skating and proper foot position easier. Do this on flat terrain and have them do it over and over again until they get it. Snowboard Pro Camp has a good instruction video on how to skate.
Falling and getting up – If your kids are just learning then they are going to be falling a lot. It’s best to teach them how to fall to avoid injury. Try to get them to fall to the uphill side of the slope and to fall onto their forearms or to make a fist rather than falling onto their hands. Once they are down, show them how to get up by lying on their back and put their feet up towards the sky and rolling over quickly on to their knees. Then get them to stand up from their knees with their hands in front of them.
Stopping and controlling speed – It’s important that your kids know how to stop. Show them how to turn onto their heel side edge and lift their toes to stop. Greg Anderson has a good video if you would like a visual demo. To further gain some control over the board show them how to do a heel slide and a toe slide. Snowboard Pro Camp.com has lots of great intro videos including these ones on how to do a heel slide and a toe slide.
Turning – Once kids have learned how to toe/heel slide then they can start to learn how to turn on their board. There are two ways to turn: heel-side and toe-side. When kids are first learning to turn have them practice on a beginner’s slop. Snowboard Pro Camp has a another really good tutorial on how to turn.
Etiquette Kids Should Know
If you are heading out to a local hill make sure you go over with your kids some of the basic etiquette.
- The most important rule that kids should know is that that skiers and boarder in front of them always have the right-of-way.
- It is also important that they never stop where they can’t be seen by people above them on the hill.
- If they do fall, they should get up quickly to avoid getting run over.
- Before starting down the slope they should look uphill to make sure no one is coming.
- Before turning they should check their ‘blind spot’ for other boarders and skiers.
Free Online Lessons for Kids
- The Kellogg Show has a really good overview on how to approach a lesson with a very small child. Including having the kids go down the hill sitting on the board as though it is a sled, so they can see how fun it is. It also shows how to teach kids to stop and keep them motivated with a hot chocolate reward.
- Snowboards Secret TV follows a 9 year on a simple lesson for a beginner. It gives a good review of what you should be going over with your kids.
- A former instructor has a good video tutorial on how to teach kids. He goes over tips on gear, skating/gliding, stopping, heel turns, toe turns, c-turns and s-turns.
Hopefully you found something that might help you teach your kids to snowboard. If you have any tips for kids let us know in the comments below.