When we don’t do something for a while we often wonder whether we have forgotten how to do it. This is quite true for activities such as snowboarding which can become suddenly inaccessible for a long time. Maybe as a kid, you used to snowboard but then had to move away. Now, a decade later you are thinking about back to it and wonder if you have forgotten everything about snowboarding.
Snowboarding, as every activity that involves muscle memory, can’t be completely forgotten. You might be rusty but you will likely quickly regain your skills. The recovery process depends on your experience, the length of your hiatus, and general individual differences.
Whether you have been away from snowboarding for long or not you might be wondering how quickly you will regain your mastery. You might have a trip with friends coming up and wonder whether you can do something to prepare yourself. I got curious due to an interest in muscle memory and embodiment related to activities like snowboarding and skateboarding so I have summarized some of the things I found out.
How much can I actually forget?
Snowboarding is a lot like other sports and activities like BMX riding or skateboarding. If you had enough experience to know the basics well you will just need some time to get adjusted and will be fine. Getting back to the complex maneuvers will take some more time and there are a few important factors both physical and psychological that impact this process.
The first and most obvious factor is your level of snowboarding when you left off. As with everything else, the better you were, the easier it is to get back into the flow.
If you were a beginner and had shaky foundations, unfortunately, you will be back at the start. If you had done other things that train your sense of balance, however, you might find that you are progressing quicker. In any case, enjoy the learning process – we all know how gratifying the feeling can be.
If you were already confident with the basics and enjoying the slopes but have not gotten to anything advanced yet, you will likely need a day or two to get your comfort on the board back.
If you had a lot of experience, the time spent away from snowboarding can become less of an issue. You will likely be rusty for the first few hours, which is what one would expect after time off anything. Soon you will feel like you never left the slopes.
Time away from snowboarding
The second most important factor is the time you have spent away from snowboarding. As you would expect, the longer you have been away from it the slower you will get back your bearings.
Short periods are nothing to worry about. For most people, snowboarding is a seasonal sport and it is common to be away from your board for more than half of the year. You will quickly be back where you left off on your last snowboarding trip.
You might have been away for a few years. It might take a day or two to feel confident in your abilities. Unless there are other factors at play there is nothing to worry about.
If you have not snowboarded for a decade or more, the process will be quite slow. If you were just a beginner when you left off, you will have to relearn almost everything. If you had mastery over the fundamentals, you might feel slightly uncomfortable for a while but progress will be quite smooth and quicker than a person picking up a snowboard for the first time.
Fitness and other activities
Even if you haven’t been on a snowboard for a long time there are plenty of activities that you might have done that will influence how quickly you regain your abilities. You might have exchanged snowboarding for skateboarding or biking. These can not only keep you in shape which goes a long way on its own but can also train fundamentals like balance and weight distribution.
Sports that keep your legs in shape can be also extremely useful. How long you can be on the slopes has an impact on your progress. These include running, biking, skateboarding, inline skating, or team sports – there is a lot of running in almost all of them. Even seemingly unrelated activities like martial arts or yoga can be helpful by keeping you flexible while improving body balance and control.
If on the other hand, you have added some weight and have been stuck in the office or had an injury that kept you away from activities for a while, you might need more time until you get back in shape.
Individual differences and mindset
One factor that can hardly be accounted for is the unique differences between people. All other things being equal some will regain their abilities faster than others. Some people might have been away for a long time and have an incredibly quick transition while others might struggle for a while or need a couple of lessons.
The major psychological factor that influences how the process goes is your mindset. While it is not recommended to expect that you immediately will be where you left off, having confidence can go a long way. This confidence can be bolstered by doing other board sports.
Most importantly, try to have fun and enjoy the activity itself. All things aside, if you have fun everything else will come back eventually. There is no rush and no reason to get frustrated.
How can I make the transition easier?
While the factors that I have mentioned are undeniably important there are plenty of things for you to do in order to make the transition back to snowboarding much smoother.
- Plan accordingly – When you are planning your trip, choose your destination by taking into account your situation. If you have not been on the slopes for a long time, choose a location that provides a good variety of runs. You might consider planning this trip with friends who can be a lot of fun as well as great moral support.
- Do some exercise – If you are feeling out of shape you should consider doing some workouts before the trip. Whether it is going to the gym, jogging, or just doing squats at home – getting your legs in shape will help. If you have a desk job, you should consider stretching exercises or yoga.
- Check your gear – If your gear is really old you might want to go through it and invest in some upgrades. Gear develops really fast while old gear might give up on you unexpectedly. While you’re at it, you can also put your gear back on just to remember how it feels when you move in it. If you do not want to invest in new gear, you can always rent if the facility allows for it.
- Consider a lesson – There is nothing wrong with taking a lesson or two once you are at your destination. It can help you regain your confidence quicker and might even remove an old habit or two.
- Start easy – Explore the easier runs first before diving into the deep end. Getting through the different levels of difficulty will ensure a good learning curve and help you gauge your progress. You should also consider the time you spend on the slopes – starting with an entire day of snowboarding might be too taxing for your muscles.
- Recovery – While most people remember to warm up, a few remember to take good care of their body after a workout and a day of snowboarding can be quite taxing. Warming up reduces the chance to damage the muscles during exercise while stretching out after helps with the potential build-up of lactic acid which results in sore muscles.
Getting back to an old activity can sometimes be a daunting task. This is can ring especially true for sports that are highly skill-dependent like snowboarding. While having fun and passion about snowboarding is enough to carry you, some information can help you feel more prepared and I have attempted to do just that. Enjoy the ride!