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Advice for 12 Year old Beginner Son

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi - I've just booked to take my son and daughter on the Spring Family Bash in Val Thorens in April. My 12 year old son has said he only wants to try boarding (I had just assumed he would learn to ski first, then Board later in life, but he's adamant he's going to be a boarder).

I'm wondering what to book ski/board school (all day or half a day) or just go private? A friend of mine has suggested he goes for a group lesson in the morning followed by a private on a coupe of days in the afternoon to get his started properly. Trouble is I'm not made of money but want him to have the best start. I have told him he will probably face plant and fall down about 400 times that week but this hasn't put him off!

Also can anyone give me some advice on clothing - would he need wrist guards? My husband boards, but doesn't have back braces or anything. Just wondering what people think - should he learn to ski first or does it really not matter?

Thanks, Georgie
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Group lessons for the morning should work great. Don't worry too much about putting him in for further private instruction later in the day unless he's struggling with it. He'll be pretty tired after the morning session.

Don't stress about wrist guards. Wrist injury is something that can happen when snowboarding for sure, but it's a lot rarer than many would have you believe. I think in the last 3 years of teaching, I've only seen one wrist injury.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I wouldn’t bother insisting on skiing first as he probably won’t enjoy it as he will be wishing he was on a snowboard and perhaps not be as receptive. Why force it. If he doesn’t take to it then he can always swap.

I would only do mornings as I think it’s nice to ski together and consolidate the lesson in the afternoon. After all, It’s a family holiday where you ski and not the other way around.

We’ve always used wrist guards and back protectors with our kids just so that we know we tried everything we could to prevent injury - many would think were over the top, but it’s horses for courses.
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I agree - just group lessons in the morning - better for him to muck around with the others in the group if he's keen to do more in the afternoon.

There's NO point in trying for force a 12 year old who wants to board to do ski lessons. 12 is an ideal age to learn to board. 55 (which I was) isn't.

The learning curve with snowboarding is steep, but whilst that means a bit of pain at the outset, it also means he'll be doing fine by the end of the week, if he's well-coordinated with a high pain threshold. wink
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks for all your advice its really helped - I'll book mornings only group lesson from what you've said, and i agree that time is needed after a lesson to consolidate. And, trying to force a 12 year old to do anything wouldn't be fun for either party, I was just worrying i was doing the wrong thing.

Thanks - G.x Very Happy
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Padded shorts to save coccyx bruising!
Learning the basics is probably a waste of money for private lessons.
Worth getting ski pants that are better on the waterproofing, since he will be spending a lot of time on his bum. Either falling on it, or sitting on it waiting for his turn in tuition.
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I'd recommend taking him to a UK fridge to learn the basics. Its not that expensive and he'll have a better time on the mountain. If you can get wristguards then get them, you don't want him to be in the small % that does get an ijury, he'll be miserable.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
For beginners, don't fret the body armour as they are not going to be carrying enough momentum to do much damage. Maybe save a bruise here or there with padded shorts or wrist guards, that's all really.

My youngest started snowboarding on the family bash last year and the eldest the year before. Use evo not ESF for group lessons and be aware that you have to get to the lesson which is down the piste a little way then up the magic carpet so you can't hang around too much in the morning.
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Thanks @Mr.Egg, @Gainz and @Richard_Sideways - and good tip about EVO (not ESF) for booking lessons Very Happy . That was going to be my next Question!
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Let him board.
Put him in group lessons, and see how he is in the afternoon.
It will take him 3 to 4 days for it to “click” (every boarder knows what I mean), so be prepared for tantrums on day 1 and 2.
You will probably have to stay on nursery slope in the first few afternoons to let him practice.
Have fun
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@Tillyfur, my other half (^ sideways up there) was wrong, we used Prosneige for the boys morning snowboard lessons on the SFaB last year. They were good and the boys (then 7 & 9) thoroughly enjoyed themselves- by the end of the week the 7 yr old was happily coming down red runs although we did pay for a couple of hours 1:1 mid week which might have helped.

We also did half term somewhere else and that was Evo2 and ski lessons so I'll let him off the confusion!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
It's definitely possible to learn to board by following, watching, and listening to a patient and experienced boarder and lapping very gentle slopes. The advantage is that you save a lot of money. The disadvantage is that the experienced person has to commit their time to teaching instead of enjoying their own time on the mountain.
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You can get snowboard gloves with built-in wrist protectors, and snowboard gloves are essential if serious about learning, so one might as well combine the two.

I recommend a helmet. I clonked my head two or three times when learning, and you soon vow never to let it ever happen again (and that vow means I don't need to wear one even today).

[I used to have my hair cut in Hurstpierpoint.]

The only tuition I had for snowboarding was two hours on a dry slope. I then went on a week's holiday in Meribel and refined my technique. So, tuition costs should be pretty cheap...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Another vote for padded shorts. And actually, I bought knee pads halfway through my first week on the slopes because I'd bashed my knees so many times. I may be unusual in being particularly prone to catching the wrong edge of the board and smacking into the ground, but it happened a lot when I was learning. Covered in bruises by the end of my first EoSB. I guess kids maybe don't fall as hard as a 10 stone adult, but even so, if you can get them padding it's just better to learn without being worried about how much it's going to hurt the next time you fall over...
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
While it is
Quote:
definitely possible to learn to board by following, watching, and listening


it's not something everyone can do, will probably be significantly less efficient and almost certainly a much slower, awkward and painful learning curve.

The combination of which might well and easily discourage him from ever trying again.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-gb/books/neil-mcnab/go-snowboard/GOR001278495?keyword=&gclid=CjwKCAiAyeTxBRBvEiwAuM8dneEaoi7lZgRBJX_Z2UxVvWOygoCEV_uuJhDPYOVdZ4BlMVoRwm76rRoCJ0QQAvD_BwE

This book and DVD by Neil McNab are very good - seems to be out of print but well worth getting for him.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

Another vote for padded shorts. And actually, I bought knee pads halfway through my first week on the slopes because I'd bashed my knees so many times.


I second @juno and would also recommend padded shorts and knee pads.
I also had to buy knee pads in the middle of learning, as my knees hurt so bad when I was falling that I was afraid to try turning. With my knee pads I didn’t worry anymore and suddenly it clicked. My knees were multiple years older than your son though wink

Also, I know two people who broke their wrist, so it’s not that uncommon (but again, they were adults). I would thus also recommend wrist guards. I was told that the Level Biomex are the best/safest ones, but they are a bit pricy.

Anyway, I think your son made a good decision and it will be fun! Very Happy And at his age I guess he’ll pick it up fast Smile

Edit: Snowboard Addiction have some helpful videos on Youtube, e.g. this beginner playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBMGwWHdh0EZCG86Q_OoVFRZIsWVg1F4r
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under a new name wrote:
While it is
Quote:
definitely possible to learn to board by following, watching, and listening


it's not something everyone can do, will probably be significantly less efficient and almost certainly a much slower, awkward and painful learning curve.

The combination of which might well and easily discourage him from ever trying again.

I agree not everyone is a good teacher. But almost everyone I know who boards (or skis) learned from a friend or family member. So it obviously doesn't discourage everyone. But I grew up in the US, where perhaps ski schools were/are less common.
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(Quite) a bit older but my experience was full day group lesson in MK followed by a couple of follow up lessons. Then an afternoon 1:1 lesson had me comfortable(ish) going around the mountain on a snowboard for first time.
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Again, thanks for all the tips. What you've all said has been talked about lots in our household and ahas been a wealth of information! (even finding out where @crosbie has had his haircut! - ps which hairdresser???).

I'll book Prosneige (great tip @always29) and will consider a few privates, along with buying gloves with wrist guards and padding on knees/bum for him. We've just booked our flights for the Spring Family Bash so its getting very exciting.

Gx
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Tillyfur wrote:
ps which hairdresser???


"Keith of Bond Street" circa 1970.
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2 suggestions from me

First -if he's hasn't got a skateboard then get him one and make him ride it every day. A curiser deck with bigger wheels is best for UK foot paths. Something like a new 27" Penny Nickel from eBay.

Second - See if anyone on the bash is willing to give him a few one lessons through the week (for free or a pint). I know if I was going on the bash I'd be happy to give up a hour or two if it means getting a 12y to ride and hopefully fall in love with snowboard.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
My son who is 14 has been boarding and skiing a couple of weeks a year for the last few years and has never worn any extra gear for boarding. Although it's just occurred to me the reason is probably because if the pistes are icy more often than not he'd put the two planks on. In April the snow would be soft enough not to have any worries I would suggest.

Incidentally he's pretty much self taught but it would require patience on your front whilst he is learning so group lessons is probably the way to go.
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Layne wrote:
My son who is 14 has been boarding and skiing a couple of weeks a year for the last few years and has never worn any extra gear for boarding. Although it's just occurred to me the reason is probably because if the pistes are icy more often than not he'd put the two planks on. In April the snow would be soft enough not to have any worries I would suggest.

Most of my falling over (and indeed my buying of knee pads) happened in Val Thorens in April... from experience I can tell you that it can be pretty bloody icy especially in the first few hours of the day!
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I'm always a little dismayed when I read stuff like 'snowboarding is going to suck for 3 days and you're going to be black and blue all over'. Snowboarding requires a high pain threshold? Ugh...

If I've got a client who's falling hard all the time and is black and blue all over then I know that I've done an AWFUL job as an instructor. Most likely, I've ignored the practice stage of each new skill and I've gone straight onto the next one. A big part of the skill of the instructor is making the practise fun and only moving on when the student is ready.

If people are slamming hard then they're not aware of which edge they're using. If they're not aware of which edge they're using, they shouldn't be in a situation where they can slam hard.

I don't want to say that snowboarding doesn't involve falling over, but it shouldn't hurt. And yes, I like to suggest people come with a £20 pair of Decathlon padded shorts to their first lesson, and I like it when they wear wrist guards - but they shouldn't need them.

I taught 2 different 2 hour lessons to 9 year olds this morning, either 1st or 2nd go. Neither of them had a big slam - both were sliding on heels with direction changes and board rotations in both directions, and had tried toes and some half turns.

The tricky thing I'd say about 12 year olds is that they're still developing the ability to see the full picture. It will probably take quite a lot of effort from your instructor to stop him from trying too hard - and trying too hard definitely leads to falls! But again, he shouldn't be in a position where he's able to do himself much harm in the first week.

Take some videos and stick them up here if you get stuck. Good luck!
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@AdamNotts, I taught my 16yo nephew snowboarding from scratch (ok, a skateboarding foundation) a couple of years ago, and he had no slams nor wrist impacts. He was whizzing down the snowboarder's fun park on day 3. Generally, intrepid beginners get the hang of it in half a day, and spend the rest of the time refining things (often irritating skiers in the process). Timid beginners take a bit longer, but then at least they tend to be a bit more conscientious and considerate of others.

I think the most important lesson for a snowboarder is the chair disembark, which given only one foot in binding is the most precarious time for a boarder. It should be well practiced aforehand, e.g. being tipped off a stool at the top of a snow bank.

Drag lifts may be more difficult to master, but I don't think they're quite as dangerous.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
As mentioned above padded shorts are a good idea, When i used to work for a ski school in Canada a lot of the snowboard instructors swore by them.
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Myn converted at 9. Did a board in a day at Tamworth first. Spent around an hour or so with me on the freebie drag/nursery slope on the afternoon we got to resort on the Saturday. Then he did a 2 hour private lesson every other day Sunday, Tues, Thurs. He rode with us around that. It worked well.

Personally for the sake of 15-20 quid on Amazon I'd invest in the wrist guards for him. I certainly did for myn. (I board and use them so it seemed nonsensical to send him out without). I planned on buying him padded shorts too but never did. That said now he is 12 and flies around he has hurt his coxyx once or twice and has asked for a pair. Doing it again I'd buy them from the outset.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Tillyfur, personally I’d insist on him wearing a helmet and wrist guards.

I wish I’d had padded pants when I learned. After a couple of days I was shoving spare hats, fleece buffs and stuff down my ski pants for protection. Never felt the need for knee pads.

+1 for a snow shed lesson or two first if possible.

Good news is the boots should be comfy. snowHead
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I think it's ok to start with a group lesson and after that you may take some private lessons. It's really hard to learn all the day long, so, I believe, you need to give him some time for the rest between the lessons. Even if he says everything is ok and he isn't tired.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:
...... I was shoving spare hats, fleece buffs and stuff down my ski pants ......


Yeah, my mate does that .....

Quote:
Never felt the need for knee pads


Yeah, he occasionally does that as too ....... but it kinda gives the game away .......
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quick tip - Sports Direct goalkeeping shorts, padded on backside and knees. First time I went I didn't have any padding and after day 1 put a spare pair of gloves down the back of my pants, which worked a treat. My son and I have these shorts and have had for years and they're perfect and inexpensive.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Interesting thread.

My 8.5 was put on skis for the first time this year and took to it like he was born on them. He's asked of he can have boarding lessons next year instead. I'm fairly easy going and don't mind. This year was the first time skiing for us all so I'm still a novice myself.

I was interested to read the comments about skateboarding. Will that really help? He had a skateboard and when coming downhill is comfortably able to make a turn and keep going. He's not doing stunts on it or anything, but his balance is decent (he saves his jumps for his scooter). He'd love it if I took him to the indoor skate park more often to practice.
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@Owlette, welcome to snowHeads snowHead

I think being good at skateboarding is a sign that he should make good progress at snowboarding. Also the promising start he made on skis augurs well. Obviously a totally different technique, but same environment and that bit of experience in ‘reading the mountain’ should be handy.

It’s the flat bits he’ll have to watch out for.
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Thanks for the welcome. Feeling a bit out of my depth on here as everyone is so knowledgeable and I'm a complete newbie. However, all four of us absolutely loved skiing when we went in February and we're already planning next year's trip so I hope to be able to hold my own in conversation soon.

He really was fantastic on skis. He started on the magic carpet on the Sunday, a complete novice, and on the Thursday, his instructor told me that he was ready for reds. The rest of his group wasn't though. They did all go down some short reds on the Friday (which is more than I did. I was grateful to get to the end of every blue), but they kept them short for the benefit of the wider group.

We put them in ski school for 4 hours every day.
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Quote:

Feeling a bit out of my depth on here as everyone is so knowledgeable and I'm a complete newbie. However, all four of us absolutely loved skiing

That's all you need round here, @Owlette. I can't see any reason to try to stop your son doing something he'd really like to do.
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@Owlette, my son had a skateboard but I wouldn't say he was particularly good at skateboarding. He had no problem picking up snowboarding, after he'd been skiing a few times. He switches between skiing and snowboarding day to day.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Owlette,

@pam w
Quote:

I can't see any reason to try to stop your son doing something he'd really like to do.


This...
and
this...
@Layne
Quote:

He switches between skiing and snowboarding day to day.


Once competent at both skiing and boarding, good to be able to choose to suit conditions, how you feel, how far the group is travelling that day, etc

Personally I'd insist on a bit more protection for beginner boarding, eg wrist guards. There are other threads that discuss this.
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Quote:

I think the most important lesson for a snowboarder is the chair disembark, which given only one foot in binding is the most precarious time for a boarder. It should be well practiced aforehand, e.g. being tipped off a stool at the top of a snow bank.


In over 20 years of snowboarding, 10 years of instructing, 3 years of full-time professional instructing and literally hundreds of beginners taught to ride, I have never seen nor heard of someone being tipped off a stool at the top of a snow bank to learn how to get off a chairlift!
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@stevomcd, well, you learn something new every day, eh? wink
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