Although they can seem difficult to ride at first, with a little time and the right approach, nearly anyone can learn to ride a balance board.
- When first learning to ride a balance board, it's best to start on a slower (and softer) surface like a carpet. Support, in the form of a friend or even a wall, may also help. Slide the rail on the board into the slot on the rock, then place your dominant foot (to determine which foot is dominant, think of how you ride a snowboard - regular foot riders are right foot dominant, goofy footers are left foot dominant) on the tail of the board.
- Much like standing up on a surfboard, "getting on" to a balance board is the key to a successful ride. With your dominant foot on the tail of the board, slide your free foot up to the nose - the board will now be at an angle, with your front foot sitting higher than your back foot. In one fluid motion, bend your front knee and rock your hips towards your front foot. The board should now roll onto the "rock" beneath it, at which point you're riding a balance board...the question now is, how do you stay on?
- The secret to staying on a balance board is C.O.G. - Center of Gravity. By shifting your weight fore and aft along the axis of the board (using your hips), you're striving to keep your center of gravity aligned with the center of the rock. Although your feet may shift far to the outside of your hips, as long as your center of gravity stays aligned with the rock, you're good to go. A good way to hone in on your C.O.G. is to wear a button-down shirt or zip-up jacket...the buttons or zipper mark your body's center.
- Being told to stay centered is great advice, but what else can you do to aid in staying centered on a balance board? As the Austrians are so fond of saying, "bend ze knees...and "ze ankles!" A loose, relaxed lower body is imperative to riding a balance board. Keep your knees bent, your ankles loose, and resist the urge to look down - just like riding a snowboard, you can't be at your best unless you're looking in the general direction of travel.
- Now for the dismount! Don't worry, you're not being judged here...To end your ride on a balance board, slowly and gently shift your weight in the direction of one end (either the tail or the nose) of the board. Extend the foot you plan to land on, and let the board pivot to the ground. Done properly, you should be standing in the same position you were in before the ride began.
- Start small, and start slow. Carpet is much slower than concrete...
- If necessary, start with some support - have a friend hold your hands, or hold onto a wall or nearby object until you feel ready to go solo. Training wheels aren't just for 5 year-olds on a bicycle!
- Keep those knees bent! I can't stress this enough. I can read a newspaper on a balance board, but only if my knees are bent properly.
- When first starting out, consider wearing the same safety equipment you would wear snowboarding or skateboarding - a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads.
What You Need
- Balance Board
- Large, debris and object-free area
- Safety Equipment - helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads
- A positive attitude