Shred Mama - Getting Kids Started Snowboarding - Part 2

Kelly Vance

So, now that you’ve faithfully followed all of the steps in Part One of this series, let’s get your kids out on snow! 

Consider a Lesson
If you don’t feel comfortable describing the movements of snowboarding to your child, the best option may be to do a few lessons.  Once they have the basic skills, it’ll be easier to teach them and help them progress.

Don’t plan to get on the lifts right away
With all kids, it’s best to play with their snowboards in a flat area and progress to practicing on some small hills before heading up the lift.  With kids under 5, this playtime may use up most of their endurance for the day. 

Do you have a Riglet Park?  Find out!

Good activities to try in flat areas: 
- Practice skating and other one-footed riding skills
- Tow small children around with the Riglet Reel or other leash device (a dog leash on the bindings works too!) - Turn them or pull them across choppier snow and see if they can stay balanced.
- Strap in and show children how you get up on your edges while standing still.  Let them copy your movements and help them get into a balanced body position.
- Practice fun tricks like ollies and tail presses.
- Look for a resort with a Riglet Park , which allows you to play on mini park features in a flat area with your kiddos.
- Let them build a snowman, make snow angels, and otherwise play in the snow.  You want them to think snow is fun, so roll with it!

Good activities to try on small hills:
- Find a small hill where a child can slide down straight and will naturally come to a stop - have her practice going flat based.  Have her try it with just one foot strapped in.
- Try jumping and other easy tricks - you can even build a tiny jump for them to go over.  Pretend they got lots of air.
- If you have a Safety vest or backpack now is the time to use it!  Use that handle to help your grom get up on his heelside edge.  Pull him across the hill and show him how his edges help him stop and turn.  Physically getting small children into the proper position can help them “get it” more clearly than attempting to describe it in words that they understand.
- Let them practice stopping and turning on their own. 
- Make up games - my kids think it’s hilarious to attempt to ram me (does that mean they’re violent?)  Let them make up their own games as well.

Walking the littlest kids up and down small hills at your home mountain’s base area is a great way to let them try snowboarding. 

Ready to Ride the Lifts?
Your kid will probably eventually notice the chairlift and start begging to ride.  If you have kids under 5, or shorter kids, you’ll likely have to help them load and unload, so be sure that you’re comfortable enough with your own lift skills that you’re not likely to fall and take them down with you.
- The more you practice skating and riding one-footed, the better the kids will do on the lift.
- Ride the lift after your kid has done some practicing, so that she’ll know how to stop if she gets out of control on the hill.
- Tell the liftie it’s your kid’s first time.  Ask for help if you need it - if you’re at the bunny hill, they’ll be accustomed to it!
- Have the child slide as far back in the seat as he can, even if that means sitting with awkwardly straight legs.  It’s safer!
- Hold your child’s hands or vest to support them and get them clear of the loading areas as they get off the lift, until they’re ready to do it on their own.

My 4-year-old making her heelside turns.

Down their First Run
- Teach them how to stop in an emergency - they need to SIT DOWN if they start to go too fast or lose control. 
- If your child feels scared or intimidated, hold the handle on their safety backpack while they ride heelside in front of you, or hold their hands and ride downhill of them.  I find it easier to maintain control while holding them from behind - win for the safety backpack!  Help them find their balance and then let them try it on their own when they feel ready.  Work your way across the slop with them, so they get a feeling for moving on their snowboard.
- Practice both edges, but they’ll likely want to focus heelside edge first.  Teach them how to traverse ACROSS the hill.  The mechanics of twisting a snowboard might be hard for the youngest kids to grasp, but if you can get them to look in the direction they want to travel, and aim at something, a lot of kids will do it naturally.  Talk to them about how snowboard turns work, and show them other snowboarders turning, so they can begin to understand that a crazy heelside sideslip is not the answer. 
- Understand that they may do a crazy heelside sideslip for a while - this is the snowboarding equivalent to doing a pizza wedge and refusing to do french fries.
- In flatter areas, work on getting them to go straight/flat based for a few feet and then turning when they need to slow down. 
- It never hurts to have candy in your pocket.  Except maybe when they’re tackling you and trying to steal the candy.

Next up: Part 3 - Turning Toeside, and other skills kids think are unnecessary. v

Posted by Kelly Vance on 04/14/15

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