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I've only gone snowboarding once (a 2-week exclusively-snowboarding holiday), about 3 years ago.

It was a lot of fun, even though I didn't manage to come right too well.

The problem was that, even though I managed to get turning and such right, I really struggled to get much further than knowing the basics, as I'm too cautious about picking up speed (even carving was a problem, although the slopes were pretty steep, at least for me - it felt like about a 30-40° incline on most of the slopes where I was - this was on the "easy" slope - the "medium" slope seemed pretty similar).

I did fall a lot at first (as I guess most, if not all, new snowboarders do), so I can't imagine fear of falling, as such, is the problem.

I did take a few lessons during the first week. I got fairly comfortable with basically just going down the slope (at least better than with my board fully horizontally the whole way) and making the occasional turn, but the next part of the lessons was carving, which, as mentioned above, was a problem, so I felt a bit stuck for the remaining week and a half.

How do I get over this caution of going fast?

I've considered:

  • Choosing to ignore that little voice telling me to not go fast.

    This probably wouldn't be too difficult, but I fear that, not being particularly experienced, I may not be able to react properly to certain situations (which may include trying to slow down / stop), and risk serious injury.

  • Picking up skateboarding so I can get more comfortable on a board.

    Given that part of my problem is minimal access to slopes (because of distance and price), I thought it might be a good idea to get started with skateboarding, which I can do locally. A board's a board - right? Or not?

  • Just practice at the speed I'm comfortable with.

    The problem here is the minimal access to slopes. And during my snowboarding experience, I seemed to just be stuck skill-wise during the last week of my trip because of this speed problem (not being able to go straight is a bit of a problem), so I'm not sure whether this will actually help.

    I've also considered taking a really long snowboarding holiday (a month?) as to practice consecutively for a long period and hopefully get over my problem (although, if I don't, it might be a very depressing month).

  • Going to somewhere with slopes with less incline.

    This should get me more comfortable on the board (allowing me to practice slowing down / stopping more safely), and hopefully this also makes me more comfortable at higher speeds.

    Makes sense, but I wouldn't even know how to find such a place, beyond just going to different places until I find one.

Any advice on my problem or any of my considerations or any other suggestions?

Or am I too concerned about this, as it's just something that comes with time, and if it doesn't, snowboarding just isn't for me?

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2 Answers 2

First of all, I should mention that snowboarding isn't my strongest dicipline. Instead, I'm a skier - and sometimes even a telemark skier - but the general idea is the same.

To begin with, going fast shouldn't be a goal per se. Rather, your goal should be to go fast AND in control. The only way to do this, and the only way to feel comfortable doing it, is to learn the basics by heart. Before you'll be able to progress, those basics must be in your bones, in your spine, and in every other part of your body - not only in your head.

To make a personal example, I was always the most cowardly of all the children in ski- /snowboard school. However, as everyone else was going straight down, head first - I was plowing my way down the mountain in a very slow pace. As everyone grew older, most youngsters still struggled with the technique, but those of us who had gone about it slow in the past were now the ones to race down the mountain in style - despite only skiing one week every year!

What I'm trying to say is, that in order to "break the mental barrier of going fast", your instinct (which you cannot easily control) must trust your ability to stay in control while going fast. Thus, don't rush it - even though it's frustrating trying to learn, especially when older and not learning as fast as a child anymore. Take snowboard lessons a couple of days, it's amazing what that does for your development!

As for the other 50 weeks of the year, it is hard to substitute snow and board for anything likeworthy, but your skateboard idea isn't at all stupid. However, to make it more "snowboardlike", I would strongly recommend a longboard instead of a skateboard. Longboarding has a lot more in common with both snowboarding and surfing than skateboarding does.

Ride carefully and good luck!

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My goal isn't going fast as such, but rather just to be comfortable enough with speed to be able to be able to practice the more advanced fundamentals. Right now I feel pretty comfortable with what I know and can do, but I feel I'm stuck there - the next step in the lessons I took was carving, which I couldn't really get right because of this problem. Also, isn't it a lot easier to control your speed with skiing, so it's fairly easy to get comfortable with going faster and faster, and much easier to practice the basics at fairly low speeds? –  NotThatGuy Apr 15 at 15:24
    
Ah, okey. I still think my answer is rather accurate though. The "uncomfortable" feeling that you get must be your body reacting to a danger it doesn't feel comfortable facing due to a lack of skill/experience, unless you have some sort of phobia for speed itself. Thus, you should continue on the level you feel comfortable with, and you will become more comfortable with higher speed and more advanced moves naturally as you progress. There are no shortcuts, I'm afraid. –  Qvist Apr 15 at 17:39

Being a self-taught snowboarder (16+ years and counting) my short response is practice, practice, practice. I realize that is difficult as you do not have access to the slopes on a regular basis. So with that said, here are some opinions on your concerns.

As Qvist said, and you confirmed, going fast is not the goal. The feeling you get when you point straight downhill that causes you to get nervous is natural and a good thing. This will go away as you become more proficient and you may find that you end up enjoying turning downhill and charging (assuming you end up enjoying speed, as there is no need to focus on that aspect). So how to become more proficient?

You do not need to focus so much on pointing downhill as you do on transitioning from edge to edge (which will happen to traverse a point where you point downhill). It is that familiarity which will help you get more comfortable with speed. It is fairly rare to not be on one edge or the other when snowboarding, so edge control is what you need to progress in your skills. As you develop that natural feel for quick transition to the other edge you will be more comfortable riding any terrain as edge control lets you understand how much to dig in to stop quickly, or if you desire to carve to carve. Additionally as you get more comfortable on your edges you will be able to do your transitions in that spot where you are still pointing downhill, which is where your comfort for speed and carving comes in.

Personal opinion for other sports helping to snowboard (skateboarding, wakeboarding, surfing) is that they can only help up to a point. You use many of the same balance techniques, but the interaction is completely different. I would say wakeboarding as your feet are strapped in is likely the closest in feel.

Last but not least, if you are truly hooked on snowboarding (as I was right after I went for the first time) do not pressure yourself into thinking you need to be a 'great' snowboarder after so many visits to the slopes. Work on your turns, on your stopping, and whatever other aspect (carving, jumps, etc.) that is fun as you work up your skills. As long as you are having fun, then it is a worthwhile trip.

And BTW, I do not care what anyone else tells you, EVERYBODY falls :)

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