We are a website that is actively encouraging kids to snowboard. So obviously we love snowboarding and like to champion it as a sport and a fun thing to do at any age! This doesn’t, however, mean we don’t like or are anti-skiing!
There are some amazing skiers of all ages doing amazing things in all their various disciplines. In fact, most of us here at KidsCanRide can ski (albeit badly!), but prefer to snowboard. That is just us. There shouldn’t be a division between skiing or snowboarding – and thankfully we see it less and less. And there is also no reason why you can’t do both! Although splitting your time between the two sports is often easier for those that have the luxury of spending more than a week a year on snow!
An issue that does crop up A LOT, however, is whether kids should ski before they snowboard or whether they need to ski first and the impact of those decisions.
I am going to put it out there that I firmly believe that children DO NOT have to learn to ski before they learn to snowboard. Unless they want to of course! It is like saying that you need to learn to play football before you learn to play rugby!
Learning to ski first will not make a difference to how they learn to snowboard or make it easier. Having knowledge of snow, chairlifts and pistes etc will definitely help acclimatise if they go from one sport to the other – but it goes both ways. In fact my daughter learnt to ski as part of her school sports sessions and she picked it up fairly quickly, down in large part, to knowing how to snowboard. So they can both help each other but it doesn’t have a bearing on which you learn first.
It used to be that children would ski first, snowboard later. They weren’t deemed co-ordinated enough or it was thought that it would somehow damage their muscles/bones/knees etc.
In fact I could harp on about the hard time we had from various sources when we taught our then 4 year old daughter to snowboard – from ski instructors to other well meaning parents – and we were even shouted at and refused on a beginner button lift whilst being told to put her on skis! That wasn’t our greatest day and thankfully those attitudes are in the minority. It must also be said that for every tutting nay-sayer there were a heck of a lot more who were supportive and stoked to see our kids riding.
Harder to learn to Snowboard? Easier for young kids to Ski?
Learning to balance on a snowboard will almost always be harder than learning to balance on skis initially – this is a pretty much acknowledged truth, ask anyone that’s learnt both. And this is definitely the same for children, probably more so. But, as with adults, after a little time the balance and technique is learnt. This may take an hour, it may take a week! This depends on the child.
So does the fact that it takes a little longer for young children to learn to snowboard initially mean it should be put off or not done? And should they ski first?
Only you and your child can decide that. As we’ve said before, each child and set of circumstances is different and each family will also have their own set of choices and influences. There is no right or wrong answer!
There are some things you can think about however;
It is important to note that although skiing can be initially easier, generally, once the skill of sideways sliding is learnt snowboarding is generally thought to be much easier to master. And advances in child specific equipment and newer teaching methods make learning to snowboard earlier much easier and more accessible than it once was.
- Does the child have a preference? Where possible follow their lead. If they don’t want to snowboard or ski don’t force it!
- How keen both children and parents are and also what they are looking for when they introduce their child to winter sports
- How developed physically and emotionally a child is
- What are your practical realities – where and what you have access to to teach a child.
- Can be easier to master in the long term
- Starting early sets them up with snowboarding skills for life
- New equipment now makes it easier for small children to pick it up quicker
- Soft, comfy, easy-to-walk-in boots
- Can be harder to learn at first
- Can be harder to find equipment and lessons
- Can be quite physically demanding at first
- Equipment and lessons (especially group lessons) easier to source
- Can be less physically demanding at first for very young children
- Can be initially easier for very young children
- Can be much harder to master
- If parents snowboard it can be harder to help their child improve outside of lessons
- Ski boots can be a nightmare to walk in for little ones!
Obviously we would love to see more and more children snowboarding because we know it’s not as difficult and inaccessible as it once was for young children; but we do understand why some families choose to wait. We would like to feel that we are here to inform you of all the possibilities and practicalities to get your kids riding at whatever age you choose.
Awesome article & site!
Thanks so much, we’re glad you like it.
Excellent post. Love it there are some people out there understanding for kids (and adults alike) the mountains are all about having fun and snowboarding isn’t restricted to an certain age set. The challenge for us snowboarding parents is to transfer all the passion to them in a positive, playfull and meaningfull way. Started out with my kid when he was 2 (on a 80cm burton board) just sledding around and having fun times. Now he just turned 5 and he’s ready for the real experience! Little obstacles on the piste, chocolate bars, haribo candy and of course a lot of high 5’s & hugs to stimulate the little one and letting him have a blast. The one thing we really lack now are other kids of his age and skillset to join in the learning experience! Whats the fun of learning from your parents if you can find out the joys of the mountains with your friends! :-)
This is a fantastic Pro / Cons list on learning Skiing or Snowboarding. I am a newly minted director (volunteer) of our 4-5yr old ski school co-op, and have been thinking we should just eliminate our snowboard program. These articles along with some very passionate snowboarding parents have helped modernize my thinking. Thanks a ton!