Learning to ride is a lot like learning to read—you can start a book if you don’t know the alphabet, and you can’t snowboard if you don’t know how it works. Skiing and snowboarding have their own unique language, and understanding key vocabulary is essential to learning the basics. In this post, we’re going to review every part of the snowboard so you can begin to expand your slope-side knowledge.

Every snowboard has a nose and a tail. These are sometimes referred to as the tip and the tail. The nose, or tip, if at the front when you are riding in a normal riding position—either regular or goofy. The tail is behind your back foot. The bottom of your board, also known as the base, is the part of the equipment that is in frequent contact with the snow. This part is made of a porous material called polyethylene. Unlike surfing, this is the part of the board you will wax; the polyethylene soaks of wax when heated, which will allow you to more easily glide over the snow. It is essential to wax your board regularly to ensure maximum speed and efficiency.

The top of your board, known as the topsheet, is where your bindings attach. This is often the part of the board to display graphics and designs. The bindings are what keep your feet attached to the snowboard while in motion. The bottom of each binding is referred to as the baseplate; this will often have a disk to allow you to change the angle of the bindings. Bindings come in several styles, but most have ankle and toe straps to secure the boot to the board.

We’re almost done—hanging in there?

Each snowboard has a metal edge that travels around the base of the board. This allows you to dig into the snow while making turns. The edge under your toes is called the toe edge, and the edge under your heels is called the heel edge. The edge, topboard, and base combine to make a shape. The hourglass shape you see is called the sidecut—a design element which allows you to turn. Without a sidecut, you will not be able to turn.

Those are the basic board parts. Take a few minutes, let that sink in, then continue to our profile guide for understanding how the base of the board sits on the snow.

 

If you’ve been around snowboarders, skiers, or resorts, you’ve likely picked up on the presence of some weird terminology. A lot of ski and snowboard lingo refers to conditions and the mountain itself—you’ll have “bluebird days” and “whiteouts,” experience “crud” and “corduroy,” and—most likely—have yourself a “yard sale” every once in a while. However, there are some words that pertain to the riders themselves.

 

In order to more easily ride your board, it is important for beginners to understand which stance they most comfortably utilize: “goofy” or “regular.” Once you’ve determined this, you can more easily tailor your learning, lessons, and rides to your specific style.

 

To “ride goofy” means that you lead with your right foot. To “ride regular” means you lead with your left. The most important goal of a boarder’s stance is to place the dominant foot at the back of the board in order to provide more precision in movement. This dominant foot will do most of the steering while the less dominant foot provides direction and balance at the board’s front. The only difference between these designations is the position of the foot—neither will provide any added benefit to the boarder.

 

More people ride regular than goofy, but, with practice, it is possible to ride both goofy and regular with equal strength. This can be a great skill when encountering difficult conditions, such as moguls, glades, or tight trails. If you are just starting out and having a difficult time moving your board forward, try switching positions—you may be using the wrong stance.

If you want to learn snowboarding, you’re going to fall—a lot. Falling is the great equalizer; everyone—from first-time boarders to Olympian halfpipe athletes—occasionally crashes. Moreover, wrist fractures and injuries are some of the most common within the sport, and they occur when an athlete falls on outstretched hands. To that end, learning to fall is one of the most important skills you should take with you to the mountain. This is one of the best and easiest ways to prevent injury.

 

When falling on a snowboard, you will fall in one of two ways: forward or backwards. In both cases, be sure to keep your legs flexed and your body low to the ground. We recommend practicing these moves on a trampoline if possible, but your bed or large couch will work just as well.

 

Falling forward— Reaching with your palms forward is one of the most common falling mistakes, and it will often result in a fractured or injured wrist. As soon as you recognize that you are about to fall, bend at the knees. This should be the first part of your body to hit the ground. As your knees hit the ground, bend your arms and extend outward, taking the remaining weight on your forearms and stomach.

 

Falling backwards—If you begin to fall backwards, you may feel compelled to stick your arms out to absorb the fall. Unfortunately, this will result in a dislocated arm. When you realize you are falling, flex your knees so that your butt is the first par of your body to hit the ground. When you’ve landed, keep your chin to your knees to avoid head injury. Keep your arms tucked in to avoid injury to wrists and shoulders.

 

Most importantly, gear will help protect from some of the worst falls. Be sure to find a helmet that fits and ask your gear or rental shop if they carry wrist guards. No matter how much you try to prevent it, falling is a part of the sport. Learning to do it correctly will save you a lot of time.

 

Here’s a video tutorial that can help you further internalize these safe falling tips: