Snowboarding lessons learned this season for 4 year olds

By Mountain Mama Apr 2, 2012
Brennan started the season off with a brand new tiny Burton LTR snowboard and high hopes. He ended the season as a little champ and as his instructor said "one of the best 4 year olds I've ever seen on a snowboard."

We have wrapped up our historic snowboarding year with Brennan and it was a great success.  We started with the arrival of the Burton LTR (learn to ride) snowboard and the excitement - a reminder in the video;

and ended it with a little race to end the season at Brighton.  I'm not sure what I expected since I don't snowboard or to be honest, want to learn; but he exceeded my expectations.

Lessons learned:

1.  You don't need to ski before you snowboard.  If they beg to go, let them!!  Even at 4 years old, if a resort is willing to give your child a lesson, let them try.  Brennan started with one lesson last year at the Canyons and did 7 lessons this year at Brighton.  You need to be willing to do private lessons at this age to get them going.  Brighton offers group lessons for 4 year olds, but if you get a chance, at least for 3-4 lessons, let them be private to get them going.  Not all resorts start this young, so do your research.

2. The child needs to want to snowboard.  It is challenging.  Have you tried?  At the age of 4, their little ankles and legs aren't quite developed, so it is a completely different workout for them.  Brennan has unlimited energy, but at the end of his board lessons, he sleeps in the car all the way back home.  He doesn't do that any other time.  However, at the end of the day, he carries his board and boots back upstairs to his room and that is where they "live".

3. Get an instructor they connect with.  If you sign up for lessons, you can request a male or female, depending on who your child tends to do well with.  I find snowboard instructors are very enthusiastic which is great!  If you find your child isn't really doing well, talk with the ski school about finding someone else.  It doesn't mean an instructor is bad, it means your child just didn't connect.  Especially if you are doing consecutive days, you want them to learn.

4. Don't expect miracles.  The learning curve is a little slower than skiing.  Little folks tend to be more "top heavy" and as they try to learn heel and toe stops (yup, I'm getting the lingo down), they will tip over a little more.  There will also be frustration at times.  Bren once said, "I could do this slope easy on my skis".  But, he never gave up and he got it!  Not all do quickly, so be patient and encourage them.  If they are on the bunny slopes for several lessons, it's OK.

5. If you can get your own snowboard and boots, it is very worth it!  It is sometimes very hard to find shops that will rent the small boards (Bren was on an 80 cm board this year) and also the newer boots are very easy with velcro to tighten them.  The Burton board also has the Riglet attachment which is brilliant on the instructors.  It helps so the kids don't have to get their foot in/out of the bindings as often.

6. And the last lesson I have yet to learn...get them in skate lessons in the summer.  I'm going to try this to keep Brens balance and enthusiasm going. 

I've included videos from his first lesson this year to his race at the end.  Also, pictures of his drawings of him "jumping off the mountains and doing toe grabs". The photos of him coming down his race track at Brighton are courtesy of Star Photo.  As he moves on next year, more doors will open and he'll continue to learn.  The fact that his last lesson took him to the top of Snake Creek Express at Brighton (top of the moutain) makes me proud and I even had a tear as he did his race.