In many regions of the world, there are no climates that suit a sport like snow boarding. However, these places often have desert or coastal sand regions that can serve in a similar manner.
In many respects the sports of snow boarding and sand boarding share many characteristics. From the tricks to techniques, the two are nearly identical. Upon closer inspection, there are some fundamental differences which will be discussed in a later section.
Many people who enjoy one of these two sports will often find enjoyment for the other. Since many principles are shared there are very few things that need to be learned to transition a person from one to the other.
Sand boarding itself consists of a person riding a board down an inclined surface of sand. These naturally form as dunes in nature. The board can have bindings or not. However, boards without bindings are much more dangerous and aren’t recommended for beginners.
Differences Between Snow and Sand Boarding
The most obvious difference between these two sports is the environment they are practiced in. Snow boarding involves places of high altitude where snow can form. These places are much harder to find than sand.
Sand boarding is practiced in either a desert region or a beach. The main requirement is that there are dunes which should have a very fine sand consistency.
The next major difference involves ascending your slope. For many snow boarders they simply get on a lift and ride to the top of their slope. This is possible since the snow collects on a solid surface like a mountain. This allows the construction of a stationary mechanism like a lift to be built.
Sand dunes on the other hand, do not collect on solid surfaces. Instead they are formed in mounds that only consist of sand. For this reason sand dunes are constantly shifting with the wind. This makes the construction of a lift impossible since the crest of any dune can be in constant flux.
This is one of the major draw backs to sand boarding. Many people don’t look forward to climbing back up a dune every time they want to ride down. You can use dune buggies to aid in getting up a hill, but this means that one person should remain as a driver. If there is no designated driver, you’ll eventually have to climb the hill to retrieve your dune buggy.
Another major difference to consider is the material you’re boarding on. You can use a snow board to sand board. The only problem is you’ll most likely ruin your board in the process. Just by examining snow and sand it’s easy to see why.
Snow is made up of ice particles. When boarding over this surface friction may melt a very small portion of the ice returning it to its liquid form. Also, snow is not a dense material so will separate fairly easy. These two factors make a relatively easy surface to glide along.
Sand on the other hand is compromised of small fragments of rock whose edges have been worn away. This makes separating the material very easy, but friction can prove to be a bigger issue. Without specially treated boards the constant grinding of sand against any surface will work to erode your board. Currently, there are boards being designed with sand specifically in mind. Only time will improve this technology.
Another major difference is the equipment used in the two sports. Safety is a major concern in both forms of boarding. Helmets and goggles are excellent pieces of gear to start out with. However, sand boarding will put a greater emphasis on additional pads. A sand based surface will cause much more damage than snow. Make sure you’re fairly covered up, but still comfortable temperature wise.
Remaining comfortable with the temperature is key. If you over heat you could cause all manner of heat exhaustion and dehydration type ailments.
Snow on the other hand worries a little less about padding and a greater emphasis on temperature. Hypothermia and frost bite are serious conditions that winter sports are constantly vigilant against. Snow makes a fairly decent cushion for trips and spills. In many ways the snow itself works as padding for your body. What is harder is keeping your body from being exposed.
The real danger comes when we are all bundled up and begin the activity. After a while our body gets hot because of what we are doing. We then have an urge to remove pieces of our protective coverings and expose our bodies to the elements. This rapid change in heat can have all manner of adverse reactions to your body.
Another major concern with sand boarding is storms or inhalation of debris. Sand covered regions are often places that have strong winds. If you are not native to the area you may not recognize the strong wind as a storm.
No matter what sport you do, storms typically don’t mix well. There are certain sports that will have people argue against this, but those people are typically extremists. For example there are some surfers who will try riding waves generated by small hurricanes.
For sand boarding keep an eye out for severe decreases in visibility and/or breathing problems. This means you might have to stop. If you are caught in a storm and can’t leave, don’t try. Instead cover up as best you can and wait out the storm. You may only prove to increase your problems if you decide to attempt leaving when there is no visibility.
Since the safer method is to use a board with bindings this article will only give advice on this type.
A sand board will have two bindings. You can decide before you begin which foot will be in the lead. The best advice in choosing this is to take a ball, like a soccer ball, and drop it in front of you. Whichever foot you feel naturally inclined to kick the ball with first should be the lead foot.
For sand boarders only strap the binding on after you reach the top of the dune. Once this is accomplished you can now skate on your board. Use your free foot to push yourself around much like a skate board. You can either pull yourself along from the front or push yourself from the back.
To orientate yourself on the board you should look at the directions of the board. The front tip of the board is referred to as the nose. The back edge of the board is the tail. The side that you primarily face is your toe side. The side that is primarily behind you is the heel side.
Once you have a feel for how the board responds, you can get in position for traveling down a slope. It’s recommended to starts on some small dunes. Remember, you are going to have to walk up them again. When you’re starting out you’ll want a lot of practice. A smaller slope will not only give you a less dangerous incline, but you won’t get as tired climbing up it time after time.
Once you’re in position strap your other foot into the binding. From here it is good to get a feel for your balance and form.
When riding a board you should always keep your body centered over the board. An equal distribution of weight prevents you from falling over in one direction or another. It also is needed when making turns. Any time pressure is shifted your board will turn in that direction.
The proper form for riding a board is to have your knees bent and your back and head straight up. Your hands and arms can help in maintaining your balance, but don’t rely too heavily on them since they could just as easily topple you over if you over compensate.
When maneuvering a sand board the majority of the direction you give will come from your ankles. Depending on how you want to move, your ankles will regulate the pressure of your body weight. The resulting pressure will result in a movement in that direction, thus creating directed movement.
For beginners three basic maneuvers are typically taught first. These moves are the fall down, the J curve and the s curve. Each of these is forms of turning which will control your decent down a slope.
The fall down requires you to face the bottom of the slope. Your back should face the top of the slope. Essentially you will work your way side to side slowly progressing down the slope. To do this, make sure that much of the pressure you exert is on your heels. This way you are less likely to tumble head first. Now, with knees still bent transfer pressure to one foot. This should move the board in that direction. You can then reverse direction by putting pressure on the opposite foot.
This will move your board from nose to tail gradually. This is perfect when you are facing a slope that is too steep for you to get down safely from. This is a great maneuver for beginners.
The J curve comes in two types. You can either go toe side or heel side in a J curve. To execute this move, point your board down the dune. As you feel the board move you can then give pressure to the board. For a toe side J curve, put pressure on your lead toe followed by your back toe. For a heel side repeat the process by putting pressure on your front heel then your back heel. This will turn the board forming a J shape.
The last turn is the S curve. To execute this maneuver you must combine the two styles of J curves in a fluid transition. This back and forth motion allows you to control your decent down a dune safely. If you fail to practice this and just point the nose of your board down, the result will be increased speed.
This increase in speed is advised only for more advanced sand boarders. Many beginners may panic when reaching high speed. Their frantic actions could then result in harm to themselves and others.
What You Need
The main requirement for sand boarding is a place to practice the sport. Some desert regions aren’t suitable. Therefore, you should scout your location carefully.
Next, make sure your board is designed for sand boarding. If you aren’t sure ask the sales representative at a sporting store for advice. If you fail to get a sand board you can make your own. There are a number of websites that can instruct you in this. If you do use a snow board just prepare yourself for it to get ruined.
Padding and a helmet are essential safety equipment that everyone should use. You may think they look funny, but when someone gets hurt, it’s the person with the pads and protective gear that is more likely to get up and continue on.
Goggles aren’t a requirement, but can serve to be very useful. No one likes sand in their eyes. This especially true when you need to see where you are going. Sand may break you fall, but it may also have things buried in it like rocks. These rocks won’t prove to be a problem for those who can see it.
Finally, make sure you have transportation that is suitable for a sandy environment. Many vehicles can run in tough conditions, but even the most powerful of these vehicles can get fouled up by sand. It gets everywhere including mechanical parts of cars. That’s why you should be prepared with machines like a dune buggy which is designed to travel in these conditions.
Sand boarding can be a fun and exciting sport. This is especially true when things like snow boarding and surfing aren’t options. Just keep in mind that this sport is fairly new and many of the safety issues may still be needed to address.
At any rate, it gives you another option in your outdoor activities. Like many sports in the same genre keep safety as a priority. As long as you do that you should have a wonderful time.