Improve Your Snowboarding with the Help of an Olympic Pro

freeze festival
(Image credit: unknown)

How old were you when you started riding, and at what point did you realise you may be able to go pro?

I was 14 when I first picked up a snowboard at the dry-slope in Southampton. It wasn't until I was 22 that I thought I may be able to go pro. I never really aimed for it but wanted to push my personal boundaries like I have always done in any sport that I have been involved in. That year I stopped working and it was then that I turned pro.

Snowboarding isn’t a huge sport in the UK, with real snow centres popping up round the country can you see that changing?

The more centres that pop up and allow people to get involved in snowboarding the better. I hope that more people do go and get involved, it's such a fun sport for all ages and for so many reasons. This week’s Freeze Festival is a great opportunity to go down and see some of the ski and snowboard pros in action, without the younger's coming through to take our place the sport would dwindle so I hope we can inspire them to get in there and continue the fun, because that’s what it’s all about.

What’s the weakest aspect of your snowboarding and how are you trying to improve it?

I'm always working on something but have constantly struggled with right-side spins, which is my frontside and switch backside. I'm trying to go back to basics and work through all the tricks in that direction until they are as comfortable as my left-side spins.

What’s the craziest trick you have ever done and how did you prepare for it?

I guess the triple rodeo is the most mental trick I have done. I had been riding really hard all week with good weather and a good park and was feeling really good. I kind of joked to Ben Kilner about trying one and he just said, ‘yeah man you got it,’ I spoke to my coach and he said that I couldn’t mess it up and would have to land on my feet – not really something you want to hear when trying a trick you have never done before. I went to the top, pumped myself up, went for it and was stoked to land it.

What’s the worst injury you’ve suffered and how did you recover from it?

I have Ruptured my ACL and MCL and am towards the end of my recovery with those at the moment, it wasn't the most painful slam but it has put me out and set me back the longest. I have been in rehab going to the gym, cycling and swimming to strengthen my hamstrings and calves and engage my gluts as well as other muscles to help do the jobs of the missing ligaments and allow me to ride the up and coming competitions.

When it comes to big tricks, how much of pulling them off successfully comes down to mental preparation?

Snowboarding is a skill-based sport rather than pure fitness so a lot of it comes down to what you have going on upstairs. Everyone is different but I have to be able to have a mental image of what a trick will look and feel like before I attempt it. I can try things on trampolines but really it all comes down to doing it on the day. Having a can of RedBull always gives me the extra stones I need to go for it.

Do you do any gym work, if so what do you do and how does it help on the slope?

I do workout at the gym, I find it hard to get motivated there being an adrenaline kind of guy but it is important. If it’s a bad weather day I hit the gym to try and replicate a day’s riding and strengthen the muscle groups I use the most: my gluts, legs and core.

What moves can people do to improve their snowboarding?

Squatting, single-leg squats, and lunges will all get your legs strong and work the stabilising muscles. Doing moves like that will also stop you getting tired on a long day boarding and help protect you from injury. Keeping my gluts strong is important to take some of the work load off my other muscles. I’ve noticed that riders have lots of different techniques of doing these things but are all aiming for the same effect.

What factors do people need to consider when buying their first snowboard?

There’s a lot of jargon that goes into snowboards, but it's really just a personal preference. I think the only things to consider are how soft/flexible the board is and weather it is cambered, flat, or reverse. If you want control at high speeds you need a stiffer board than you would if you want to do rails and kickers. And the same thing with the camber, make it cambered for fast charging about and the reverse for playful riding.

For anyone with snowboarding experience who's thinking of hitting up a snow park for the first time this winter, what advice do you have for them?

It’s always good to work up to things and not just head for the biggest jump and go for glory. Do the smaller jumps/rails/boxes first before the harder ones to warm up. The rails and boxes that you can ride straight onto will be easier, rather than mounting from the side. With jumps it’s all about speed; going too slow is normally the schoolboy error and if you don't make the landing/downslope it’s not going to be fun for your lower limbs. Also, if you go too fast and overshoot the landing you’re likely to feel slightly terrified when you watch the landing disappear behind you. Watch someone else hit it first, note where they start from and how many turns they do into it. Normally you can make a good judgement from that. Don't be shy, speed is your friend. Don't forget you can always ask someone who is doing the trick or obstacle, snowboarders are nice people and love to help and encourage others. Have fun and see you up the mountain.

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.