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Snowboard Pro Tips for Riding at Every Level

We tapped the best snowboard Pros in the business to give you a leg up on the slopes.

Snowboard pro leads a pair of snowboarders over challenging terrain.

by Catherine Lutz
Published December 2022

Beginners to a sport benefit from teaching, but you don’t have to be a beginner to learn something new. In snowboarding, learning at every level unlocks opportunities and the freedom and joy that comes with progression.

“Snowboarding is an expression, not a mode of transportation,” says snowboard Pro Shayna Yellon. “Sometimes it takes a couple days to learn to move the way the snowboard wants you to move. But once you unlock that, it’s unbelievable where you can go. And that’s where your fun begins.”

Yellon and fellow Pro Justin Devita, who in addition to teaching are also instructor trainers with the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass, offer tips for snowboarding at every level.

Two beginner-immediate snowboarders head down a cruiser at Snowmass.

Two beginner-immediate snowboarders head down a cruiser at Snowmass.

Green-Level Tips

Gear Up Right

Before getting on the hill the first time (or anytime), it’s important to have proper, well-fitting gear. If you’re a beginner, a rental package is your best bet—shops are experts at matching gear to your ability. If you want your own gear, same thing: Tell the salesperson your ability level and what kind of terrain you plan to ride, and let them make recommendations. You don’t need the top-of-the-line, most expensive board—equipment geared toward beginners is also more affordable. Boots and bindings should be snug and secure (not painfully tight). Boots are the vehicle through which your body sends messages to the snowboard, so loose boots inhibit movements or require more exaggerated movements to properly steer the board.

Dress the Part

Learning how to snowboard involves a lot of moving around, and beginner terrain tends to be lower on the mountain and not as exposed to the elements. So, while you want waterproof pants and jacket, unless it’s an extremely cold day, don’t dress for an arctic expedition. Instead, wear breathable, adjustable layers that can be easily shed or put back on depending on temperature and level of exertion. Oh, and there’s no shame in adding one more level of protection: Butt pads, knee pads, and wrist guards will make learning all that more comfortable.

Frame Your Mind

Snowboarding is as much a mental sport as a physical one, especially at the beginning when you’re learning an altogether new way to move in space (strapped into a sliding object with gravity as a factor, no less). So, it’s important to be patient with yourself, and look for small milestones. Understand that the snowboard is not a scary, alien machine—it’s an extension of your body. As such, body movements affect the snowboard, and smaller movements tend to yield bigger results.

Prepare Your Body

Most first-time snowboard lessons deal largely with balance: how to stand on the board. Start in an athletic stance: feet flat, knees slightly bent, hips and shoulders lined up over your feet. This is your neutral position, where you’ll start and end your turns.

Make Your Move

When it’s time to start moving, think of your body as the brain that tells your snowboard what to do. So, if you want to tip the board onto the toe edge, move your hips and knees over the balls of your feet to lift the heel side off the snow. To get on your heel edge, tip your hips slightly over your heels to lift the toe side off the snow. These are the two main body positions, along with neutral, that you’ll use in your snowboarding.

Slide Right

To get the feel of sliding across a slope, start by facing the mountain. Once you stand up on the toe edge of the board, shift your weight toward your front foot—this will start moving the board. Flattening the board (but not all the way) will increase speed and move you in a more downhill direction; leaning more onto the toe edge and shifting your weight back to the middle will slow you down and eventually stop the board. It’s perfectly okay to skid the board to control speed.

Eyes on the Prize

Though your upper body should be mostly relaxed and neutral, it’s important to look where you want to go. This not only eliminates surprises about potential obstacles in your path but also sends important signals from your brain to the knees, hips, and feet, which are what steer the snowboard.

Turn the Corner

When you’re ready to link your traverses with turns, shift your weight toward your front foot as usual, then gradually flatten the board all the way onto the slope. This will point the board increasingly downhill until you’re moving down the fall line, with your body in its athletic, neutral stance. Then, using knees and hips, roll onto the opposite edge—this will turn the board increasingly across the hill until you stop or start the next turn.

An intermediate snowboarder finds a powder stash at Buttermilk.

An intermediate snowboarder finds a powder stash at Buttermilk.

Blue-Level Tips

All Downhill From Here

Once you learn the basics of sliding and turning, the potential to learn more is almost limitless. Intermediate skills span a wide range of terrain and conditions, so it’s important to always go back to the basics when you’re starting out on unfamiliar territory.

Carve It Up

When graduating to intermediate runs, you’ll increase your enjoyment immensely as you learn how to carve your turns. After all, a snowboard is designed to make smooth, rounded turns. To do this, follow the same basic turn movements as described above, but resist the urge to skid the end of the turn and stop. Instead, ride an edge all the way across the hill, flexing your knees a little more and moving your hips out over the edge to increase speed. As always, patience is key: the slower the body movements, the faster the carve.

Get Technical

For those who think in technical terms, a good turn uses all of the snowboard. Starting to move toward a turn, 80% of your weight will be on your front foot. The ratio evens out (50/50) in the middle of the turn, and toward the end of the turn it may be 40/60, with slightly more weight on the back foot. Feeling the pressure transfer from the front of the board to the back helps control the roundness of the turn.

Speed Control

Get a good feel for using the hill to slow yourself down, by tipping the board higher on edge and pointing its nose across then up the hill. In bumps or other ungroomed terrain, it’s okay to use skidding to slow down—as you encounter new challenges, speed is not your friend. Either way, as your balance on the board improves, you’ll learn to use more dynamic movements to slow down—and speed up.

Jump Start

If you like the idea of riding the terrain park, learning to jump is key. Starting in a neutral position with your board flat on the ground, flex close to ground and then rapidly extend upwards to leave the ground. On the way back down, flex your knees, hips, and ankles to soften the landing. Once you’re able to consistently come down on a flat board, start practicing with small, straightforward jumps, getting comfortable with timing, body position, and air time.

Be Body Aware

As you progress, your body will move more intuitively to control the snowboard, and you’ll be able to experiment with more or different kinds of movements to get around. But remember that to improve, you need to feel what’s happening, from the snow all the way up your body. And the best way to feel what’s happening is to slow your roll.

Steady Does It

To keep your upper body steady and quiet as the lower body does the work, it helps to keep your hands over the tip and tail of the snowboard. The more the upper body swings, the harder it is for the lower body to do its work.

Two advanced snowboarders carve turns through Snowmass' famed glades.

Two advanced snowboarders carve turns through Snowmass' famed glades.

Black-Level Tips

Moving On

When progressing from blue runs, which are mostly groomed, to black runs, which are mostly ungroomed, it’s important to be able to control the timing, intensity, and duration of your turns. Starting on groomed terrain, work on making shorter turns, so that in ungroomed terrain you’ll be able to close a turn quickly when need be. Use the board’s ability to twist in the middle to move rapidly from toe to heel and back, maintaining your speed as you’re doing so.

Experiment with Equipment

The variety of board technology expands dramatically at higher ability levels. So, demo away! Besides a wide variety of shapes, lengths, and flexes, more advanced snowboards can also be terrain-specific. There’s directional or fish-style boards for powder; while park and pipe boards generally have a twin shape and symmetrical flex pattern (though there’s specialized variety within them as well).

In the Park

Movements in the terrain park require precision timing, and with rails, it’s all about balance. Start by drawing a line in the snow, or using a stick or piece of bamboo to simulate a rail. Using the same movements as described above in “Jump start,” jump onto the line and try to ride it. Balance on the stick or bamboo to get used to the feel of it. Make sure to have a lot of flex in your knees and ankles to be able to make adjustments on the fly.

Halfpipe Action

Good news: You’ll use the basics of carving a turn in the halfpipe, with a focus on timing. Stay in a neutral position to accelerate up the wall, then use that same wall to slow down and initiate a turn. Repeat, with more and more height as you get accustomed to the dynamics.


One of the greatest joys of snowboarding is riding powder, and with their surfy feel snowboards are the ideal tool. There’s a tendency to lean back in powder to keep the tip from diving, but only shift your weight back a little more than normal—it’s hard to turn the board if there’s too much weight on the back foot. Aim for more subtle movements than on harder snow (the snow will slow you down if you turn enough), and stay centered over your board as much as possible.

Mogul Mania

In the bumps, focus on making turns nice and round. But keep your board flatter than on groomed terrain, so you can skid between turns to maintain control. (Carving turns will accelerate you—which is not desirable in moguls.)

Forest for the Trees

In the trees, it’s more important than ever to look where you’re going, which in this case are the spaces between the trees. This is also a place where it’s critical to be able to adjust the length of your turns quickly.

An expert snowboarder navigates the steeps at Snowmass.

An expert snowboarder navigates the steeps at Snowmass.

Double Black-Level Tips

Plan, Plan, Plan

You can ride just about everything on the resort with confidence, and now you’re ready to test yourself in extreme terrain, funky snow with poor visibility, or possibly out of bounds. Make a plan. Study the weather and/or avalanche forecast, especially if heading into the backcountry. Ride with a partner, communicating what you want to do. Decide how you’re going to tackle the challenge—and reflect on how it went afterward. Taking your snowboarding to the next level doesn’t just happen—it’s a deliberate execution of a plan, and a study on what went right and wrong.

Huck It

Whether it’s the biggest feature in the terrain park or a backcountry cliff, the same mantra applies as does to any new trick: pre-ride, re-ride, freeride. Check the landing. Get a feel for how slow or fast the snow is. Ideally, you’ve started small and worked your way up. When dropping a cliff, you’re riding straight off instead of propelling up into the air. And with any large feature, controlling your body position while airborne is key.


When you’ve achieved control over how your body moves the board in all kinds of terrain, play with it. See what happens when you move in exaggerated or unique ways. Always try something new on familiar terrain first. It’s that creative expression that’s part of the joy of snowboarding—and it continues to lead to new skills.