What is the Best Age for a Child to Start Snowboarding?

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What is the youngest age to start snowboarding?

How Young is Too Young to Start Snowboarding?

A common question that I often get asked is “how young can a child be to start snowboarding?” Variations of this question are “How young is too young to start snowboarding?” and “What is a good age for a child to start snowboarding?”

While I am no expert in child development or instructing, I can tell you from experience what I have seen over the years and what I experienced with our daughter Amelia when she first started snowboarding. This may help you to make your own decisions when the time comes for your children to first strap on a board and learn to ride.

No Two Children are the Same, but there are Some Guidelines

A simple answer to the question “What age is the best age to start snowboarding” could be whenever they’re ready. But let’s say that you want to start your child off as early as possible. What is the earliest age?

Let’s agree that at one year of age a child is definitely too young to start snowboarding. At two years of age, a child is upright and moving around quite well, but I would argue that this is still too young to really start snowboarding.

Note: I differentiate snowboarding from standing on a snowboard and being pulled around by a riglet rope. When I say snowboarding, I am talking about your child wearing snowboard boots and being strapped on to a snowboard with proper snowboard bindings and riding down a slope at a proper ski hill.

At three years of age, your child might be ready to give snowboarding a try. Ours was not, but yours might be. The important thing to remember is that every child is different. You know your child best and I imagine that there may be some three year olds who might be able to manage controlling a snowboard on a hill at age three.

Amelia Belobradic learning to snowboard at age four

Amelia learning to snowboard at age four. She was fortunate to have an excellent instructor in her first year. It made a big difference in her progress and love of the sport.

For our Daughter, Four Years of Age was the Magic Number

For our daughter Amelia, it was at four years of age that we knew she was ready to really give snowboarding a try.

Which brings me to a very important point: be sure that your child really wants to learn to snowboard. It is challenging enough to learn to snowboard and it is even more challenging at these tender ages when their leg muscles and balance are still developing. So it’s important that your child really wants to learn.

If he or she is not excited about getting up in the morning and getting out on the hill, then that may be a sign that they’re not quite ready just yet. If you push a child who is not ready and excited about learning, you may do more harm than good and turn them off of snowboarding for a long time. Snowboarding can also a dangerous sport (especially when you are learning and lack control), so the chance of injury is something to consider as well if your child is not fully engaged.

Watch for the signs and cues to be sure that your child is excited about learning to snowboard and is ready and raring to go.

Start Them Young in the Backyard or Park

While our daughter wasn’t ready to hit the ski hills and take lessons until she was four years old, that wasn’t the first time she ever stood on a snowboard.

A great way to get your kids used to standing on a snowboard is to get a board with a riglet rope and pull them around on the snow in your yard or local park. This way, your child will get the sensation of riding a snowboard and they will get to practice their balance and feel what it’s like to “ride.” I wouldn’t strap them into snowboard boots and bindings on their first few times out, but getting them used to standing on a board and moving around is a great place to start. You will know pretty quickly if this is something they like and will have the patience to learn.

Burton Chicklet 80 with Riglet Rope

Amelia’s first snowboard: a Burton Chicklet 80 cm with riglet rope. I used this board to pull her around the yard when she was three years old.

When Amelia was three, I got her a little Burton Chicklet 80 cm snowboard with a riglet rope. I pulled her around the yard for one winter season to see if she like the sensation of riding a snowboard (she did). I’m not sure that she would have had the balance at two years old, but I didn’t try it (although I do know some people who have had success at two years of age).

You can also check to see whether your child’s stance is goofy (right foot forward) or regular (left foot forward) at this point, although this may change in the next year or two as they grow and become more comfortable.

Burton Snowboard’s has a great website all about riglet snowboarding. It’s worth a visit to see what it’s all about. There are some great tips and ideas here to get your child off and riding in the right direction.

Amelia Snowboarding, riding the Magic Carpet

The Magic Carpet makes it a lot easier when first learning to snowboard. Getting off of traditional chairlifts is one of the most difficult things to do when you’re first learning to snowboard.

How to Know if Your Child is Ready to Start Snowboarding

While four years of age was the right time for our daughter, I have heard of some kids who started at three years old. It really comes down to the individual child and their desire to learn.

So whenever I am asked what is the earliest age that a child can learn to snowboard I recommend that you start by pulling your child around the yard at age two or three to give them an introduction to what it’s like to stand and balance on a snowboard. From there, I recommend that the earliest age for strapping in and taking lessons at a proper ski hill is three or four years old, depending on your child.

You will know if your child is ready to start snowboarding if they are eager to get out on the hill and if they seem to have good balance and concentration when you are pulling them around the yard on a snowboard with a riglet rope. A positive attitude and an eagerness to begin are probably two of the most important attributes to have.

Here is a video taken from Amelia’s first year of snowboarding lessons at age four and her fourth lesson.

A Good Snowboard Instructor is Very Important

Taking lessons is very important in my opinion. Make sure that you find a snowboard instructor who has experience teaching very young riders and who has a lot of patience. You know how trying your child can be at that age, so be sure that the snowboard instructor has the right skill set and the right personality needed to teach very young children. We have been very fortunate with Amelia’s instructors and it makes all the difference in the world to the learning experience at this age if your child really likes his or her instructor.

How old were your kids when they first started snowboarding?

Mike Belobradic
Everyone Has A Story To Tell