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Hi all, just wondering - on average, how long might someone expect it to take for them to progress to intermediate level snowboarding? In terms of full days on the mountain, with the idea being they can jump on most intermediate level trails and expect to get to the bottom without falling.

I know there are no concrete rules, everyone is different, etc. But I'm wondering if I've hit an early plateau, and/or if I'm progressing at the expected rate. Maybe it's time for me to take a private lesson, or maybe I'm fine and should just keep doing what I'm doing.

Here's all the background and details for why I ask.

First, I was a solid intermediate level skier when I was in college, about 20 years ago. I had a season pass to whiteface mountain, which is where I did most of my learning. I could handle ice and other BS without much trouble, and I almost never fell on intermediate trails.

I stopped skiing many years ago, and got back into it last year. This year I switched to snowboarding, after having spent 1 day on a bunny slope last year and deciding that I liked it better. I bought my own board etc.

So this year I've spent 5 days on various mountains. During that time I've progressed from falling every 15 seconds to falling every 30 minutes. I can link turns with almost no problem, and in general I feel like I'm in control on beginner trails. But I fall pretty quickly once I get on a steep section (beginner-intermediate level trails on Jiminy today, for example). On beginner trails I'm comfortable enough, and I don't fall much unless I hit an unexpected ice patch. But I move fairly slow even in comparison to other beginners. I don't spend too long in a turn (maybe 2 - 5 seconds), but I do tend to purposely kill most of my speed on each turn, to stay under control.

Am I about where I should be at this point? Everyone said snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master. I thought once I could link turns that I'd progress to intermediate trails pretty fast, especially considering I'm no stranger to being on a mountain. But that hasn't been the case. Maybe I'm just being impatient though.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Instruction is the key, unless you're a freak natural athlete. There are 'bad habits' that beginners often develop that will help them get down easy trails but will absolutely hinder progression once things get steeper and faster. Someone who knows what they're doing can spot these and help correct them.

My estimate would be that good instruction halves progression time, at the very least. I've seen it with my own eyes just recently. One of my oldest friends started coming on our yearly boys trip 5 years ago. 40 years old, in good shape but far from a natural athlete. He has methodically had 2 private lessons every trip and we took the piss out of him a bit for it. This year the laugh was on him as he was pretty much keeping up, even down steep moguled expert runs. I've been riding over 15 years and am a bit of a natural athlete. I'm about as good a freerider as someone who doesn't live near the mountains gets. Snowboarders don't pass me, most skiers can't keep up. Whilst his top speed is nowhere near mine I'd get to the bottom of a run, turn round and there he was, not far behind. It was impressive.

So to answer your actual question, he's had about 25 days. But the real key to his progression is the instruction he's had. I even jumped in on the second lesson this year and found it helpful.
 

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5 days snowboarding is nothing.

I was maybe 20-25 days in with 5-8 lessons in my first season when I felt comfortable on most black terrain at loon in NH. I started riding when I was 29 so wanted to get good quickly so I could keep up with my gf who's been riding for almost 20 years.

If you feel like you're stuck now, you need to take a lesson or five.

5 days on a mountain when you're first learning to board isn't enough time to get frustrated by progress.

This is my second season and I'd say that I'm now up to 50-60 days total on snow if you count some ski stuff I did at the very beginning last season because I'd never done either and that's what was suggested to me to try first.
 

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It sounds like you got some of the basics down...but you are still in your head. You need to get it (riding) into your body. So a thing to do is to abandon all fear and any thoughts of control...lol. And just try to keep up...or mob around the hill with folks that are abit better than you (at the a solid intermediate/low advanced level). Yup just try to keep up. You will eventually find that you will surprise yourself at what your body does/knows to keep upright and going. You will learn to trust your board and body.
 

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I was/am an intermediate/advanced skier and i decided at the end of last season (2018/2019) to try snowboarding for 4-5 days before deciding whether to transition. Part of the reasoning was to give myself a new challenge as I was more advanced skiing than my wife, and another reason was that I want one of my kids (6 yr old) who is good at skiing to try snowboarding. Anyway, I enjoyed it enough that for the 2019/2020 season I decided to go all in on snowboarding and bought a GNU Carbon Credit and Burton Swath Step On Boots/Bindings.

For the 2019/2020 season I am at around 22 days on the snow for this season and to be honest it is only this current weekend where things have ‘magically clicked’ and I have progressed from the easy blue to the more challenging blue and black runs. My technique still needs more improvement, i.e. I am doing more skidded turns than carved turns, but I am not falling over and I am comfortable navigating down the harder terrains (Beech Mountain, NC).

I don’t know why this weekend has gone better, as I’ve taken a fair number of lessons on my prior visits, but I assume part of it is I am just more relaxed.

I also haven’t skateboarded etc during my life, I am 46 yrs old, and just found for much of my first few weeks that snowboarding was far less intuitive in having to lean sideways down the hill/weight on front leg. I’ve spent countless hours watching videos e.g. Snowboard Addiction, in order to learn the theory.

My point being, some people will pick it up quickly, others won’t. I see plenty of people on the mountain snowboarding by steering with their rear foot. I am trying to focus on correct technique and finding it is taking me longer, but at some point it will likely ‘click’.

Keep at it

TheSalamander
 

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OP, You actually don't sound too far off. You'll have periods of apparent plateau as you consolidate and internalize new techniques, and you'll have breakthroughs where you'll suddenly say "ah-ha!" and something will click into place. A lot of snowboarding technique, especially once you start pushing your limits, is subtle and hard to spot from inside your own skull. One way to catch these things is to either get someone else to take a video of you, or to get a selfie stick and a camera (preferably 360, IMO) and record yourself. A couple of things you'll discover right away:

1. Your weight is too far back
2. You aren't bending your knees nearly as much as you think
3. You're barely lifting your edge at all on your turns.
4. You're spending far too much time sliding sideways instead of using the edges.

Fix these things--just these things--and your boarding will improve dramatically. Then work on the more advanced techniques. I've been boarding for 13 years now, and I'm still learning stuff. So you're nowhere near done.
 

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You can easily be a beginner on black runs, that stuff doesn't matter, top speed either. Snowboarding takes a few hard days to learn, but forever to master.
 

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Absolutely lean forward and bend your knees.

But, the bending your knees thing confuses people, I've found, because the real problem is that they're afraid and stiff. You can ride with your knees bent and still be afraid and stiff.

The point of getting low with your weight forward is so that you can ride dynamically with loose legs that absorb bumps and give you control.

Try walking without bending your knees or feet. Unbalanced, huh? Now try bending over a bit and walking with stiff knees at a 30 degree angle as if you were wearing a rigid knee brace. Even harder, right?

This is how most people try to balance on a snowboard when they're nervous.

Now try walking bent over but loosen up and let your knees bend to balance you. You should feel like you're sneaking up quietly in someone. That's the feeling you're trying to replicate when you lower your weight on a board.
 

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Repetition, repetition, repetition. Like with every sports, you need a thousand repetitions to get movements into your muscle memory. And once you have that specific move/piece of balance in the muscles, you get your head free to concentrate on the next move. Rinse repeat.

You will hit numerous plateaus. Some days the snow will suck, some days you will suck... it's normal. Some days will be glorious and everything works and you'll learn n do new stuff easily, the next day nothing works and one's better off in the après :). It's normal. We're no robots :).

Thus, go out there, spend time on slopes, get better bit by bit, and enjoy. If a day sucks and you didn't make progression? Don't sweat it, you still trained your muscle memory.

Agree with others, lessons are a good idea. I never had one, but know how helpful even small hints sometimes can be as every now and then I get hints from the guys I ride with - all way better than I am - or check my riding on pics n vids to get rid of bad habits which hamper progress.

(I'm in my 20th season and still learning. I still have days where I feel like hitting a plateau, days where I suck and ride stiff legged with blockaded mind,
and other days where I think well now, woohoo, I mastered something new. Ups and downs are normal.)
 

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or mob around the hill with folks that are abit better than you (at the a solid intermediate/low advanced level). Yup just try to keep up.
I find myself progressing best following slightly better riders, keeping up with their speed and path they are taking.
Also find a slope with a pitch where you feel like you do not have to kill your speed, but it is not flat. Faster you go it is easier to turn and balance. Like on a bike. And remember your skiing days, push your shins into your boots, bent knees and use the edges.
 

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Everyone learns at their own speed and gets stuck where they do. I wouldn't stress over it. Watch as much youtube lessons as possible, get some real lessons if you can, and shred as much as possible. You'll progress faster after you link a couple of breakthrough moments together.

Speed is your friend- learn how to use it and how to kill it properly. Spend more time in your turns and finish them going uphill some. This kills your speed with gravity and gets you used to managing speed correctly once you're on harder terrain. Scrubbing speed with skidded turns on greens won't teach you much of anything.

As far as moving on to harder terrain, it's better to ride harder on easier terrain than to try to ride hard terrain easy. Attack those beginner slopes harder. Follow faster riders along until it's hard to find anyone faster. Maybe move along to blues and blacks then. I really hate dodging around people that shouldn't really be on that terrain.
 

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Two posters have made a very good and often overlooked point. You don't necessarily get your best progression from hitting the hardest terrain you can find. You'll do better to find terrain that's right at your comfort limit (or maybe just below it) and up your game with speed or turns. For instance, on a really steep slope I can't handle moguls, so riding a steep mogul slope doesn't do me much good. A moderate slope with moguls, though, allows me to practice my quick turns and path planning. I just go a little faster, or aim at the bigger bumps, and get a lot more out of the run.
 

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IMO, most snowboarders don't spend nearly enough time practicing or drilling specific skills. Yes, time on the mountain is important, but you'll progress much faster and with much better technique if you slow down once in a while and focus on actually learning something.

For some reason we accept this in every other sport, but when it comes to snowboarding most people approach it as if low-quality time riding is all that matters. Nobody gets good at, say, basketball by just showing up and playing. They work on specific aspects of their game: ball handling, free throws, jump shots, lay-ups, footwork on defense. They run drills meant to exaggerate the feeling of proper technique. Snowboarding is no different, and if you're interested in progressing quickly I'd encourage you to keep it in mind.
 

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Get all the instruction you can. If you can't afford lessons, find a snowboard instructor (current or former) to hang out with, and make it clear that you want suggestions. Check out videos, but take them with grains of salt. Learn to steer the board with board twist and ankle twist of the front foot first, followed by the back foot, not by pushing the back foot back and forth like a windshield wiper. There are a lot of techniques that will make a huge difference in your riding in different conditions. You want to learn them all. You will not learn them just by riding with people better than you, unless they know them and how to teach them to you.

Some videos I recommend, 2/22/20.

https://www.youtube.c...
https://www.youtube.c...

https://www.youtube.c...

The foot CW - CCW rotation
https://www.youtube.c...

Alignment. https://www.youtube.c...

Use your knees. https://www.youtube.c...

Up unweighting. https://www.youtube.c...

Linking turns. https:https://www.youtube.c...

Powder riding. https:https://www.youtube.c...

The Steeps. https://www.youtube.c...

Dynamic turns
https://www.youtube.c...

https://www.youtube.c...

https://www.youtube.c...

How to improve your riding on a snowboard
https://www.youtube.c...
 

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The SA videos are definitely worth paying the $ for. However, it's also important to remember that snowboarding lessons involve Best Practices more than laws of physics. Although if you lose control on a mogul field, physics definitely plays a part 💀. The difference is that some things might work better for you than others, and not all instructors give exactly the same advice.

To use a ferex, if you watch Lev on the SA vids, he does a thing on turns where he overtly dips his lead hand in the direction of his turn, almost like a single swim stroke. It's not a counter-rotation move--I think it's more of a mnemonic for him. But it means he's using at least some upper body movement to initiate his turn. I tried this technique and it works, in that doing the hand-dipping thing helps you to get the turn going. However an instructor this season saw me doing it and showed me how I should initiate turns from the hips instead. I tried it and that also works. So which one should I use? The one that works better for me, which turns out to be the hip initiation. But what was important for me was being exposed to both options and being able to try them and make a choice.

Another item over which there is some disagreement is the stacking of hips and shoulders over the board. In this area, Lev is very by-the-book in keeping everything inside the cereal box. But again, I had an instructor on Whistler tell me to rotate very slightly forward (just enough to have my lead hand slightly heelside of my hips). His rationale was that I would have slightly more stability on chunder since I'd be braced better against folding on an unexpected bump. Again, this works, although I have some concern about whether I'm giving up something else by maintaining the slight rotation.

I think my main point is that there are some differences of opinion about some aspects of snowboarding. The problem with Best Practices is that there can be more than one best practice for any given situation, and the differences might come down to style more than functionality.
 

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But again, I had an instructor on Whistler tell me to rotate very slightly forward (just enough to have my lead hand slightly heelside of my hips).
I realized that I need to do this while riding switch so that I distribute my weight properly. I keep my lead hand behind my front leg intentionally to make sure I'm opened up a little bit. That helps keep riding switch from feeling like I'm going backward and weird.
 

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IMO, most snowboarders don't spend nearly enough time practicing or drilling specific skills. Yes, time on the mountain is important, but you'll progress much faster and with much better technique if you slow down once in a while and focus on actually learning something.

For some reason we accept this in every other sport, but when it comes to snowboarding most people approach it as if low-quality time riding is all that matters. Nobody gets good at, say, basketball by just showing up and playing. They work on specific aspects of their game: ball handling, free throws, jump shots, lay-ups, footwork on defense. They run drills meant to exaggerate the feeling of proper technique. Snowboarding is no different, and if you're interested in progressing quickly I'd encourage you to keep it in mind.
I agree, however also disagree...we are what we ride. On a perfect hill, with the perfect slope and the perfect snow...the repeating of drills would help folks to progress in a more quick manner to riding with perfect technique. However if you don't have the perfect hill, than you learn to ride with what you are given...and you try to survive...lol. So my point is "this low quality time" from another pov can teach folks how to rapidily adjust to the terrain and conditions and they learn how to ride anything in any conditions. Do they become better riders or not...idk...but would argue that they will progress faster at handling any conditions and terrain that is thrown at them...granted it probably a more steep and punishing learning curve. This type of learning will quickly point out your deficiencies. Then with a desire to improve and a sharp instructor/friend they can point out specifics drills, techniques or things so that you can help you progress. When I was a beginner and intermediate, used to watch vids riding a on a perfect slope/conditions and think that looks so lovely...I wish we had these conditions (we have steep, tight, technical and ever changing conditions). And now I relish our nasty terrain and conditions because it keeps me on my toes and entertained...and yes it is severly punishing at times.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks everyone for all of this info! And sorry for such a belated response, for some reason I wasn't getting email notifications that this thread had messages. I really appreciate all of the advice and I'm going to re-read this a lot.

I am getting steadily better - this Saturday my girlfriend said I was finally starting to look "cool" on the board, like I knew what I was doing. I told her that's 90% of the reason why I switched from skiing - because snowboarding just looks so much cooler LOL

@TheSalamander I'm in the same boat as you, I'm 40 and got Burton Step On bindings. Love them!

I noticed on Saturday that I tend to keep my front leg (left) somewhat straight, and I know from skiing that bent knees help absorb unexpected terrain better, so I started focusing on keeping both knees bent. That helped for when I hit unexpected mounds of snow.

I didn't know that I should be initiating turns by using my front foot/akle, then back foot. I definitely use my back foot as a steering rudder. I'll focus next time on letting my front foot do more than just stand around waiting for the back to direct the board.

I also noticed that I was starting to look further ahead, rather than at whatever terrain was 5 feet in front of me. The same thing happened once I got better at skiing - I started analyzing the terrain further ahead and planning for it in advance, so that by the time it was underfoot I'd already prepared for it. On the board I'm much more worried about ice patches after having taken a hard fall on my ass earlier this year, and both of my wrists are slightly sprained from various falls the first few days. Luckily the hard falls have stopped, now my falls are usually just a sliding sprawl, and I pop back up right away almost before stopping

My plan based on everyone's responses here is to take a private lesson or two, and continue working harder on beginner slopes and pushing my speed + technique there, before progressing to intermediate. I'm glad I read this because as of the other day I was thinking I would just force myself to do intermediate slopes over and over (falling as much or as little as necessary) until I could handle it. I thought maybe that was the necessary next step lol

Anyway, again, thanks everyone!
 
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