The 10,000-Hour Rule: How Long Does it Take to Get Good At Snowboarding?

Do you ever watch pro snowboarders and think “wow, how did they get so good?”

It’s a good question. No doubt the best riders out there start with an aptitude for snowboarding, a fair amount of natural ability, but they also put in a lot of hard work; a lot of time on the board.

How much time? How long does it take to get good at snowboarding?

The 10,000-Hour Rule

There’s a guy called Malcolm Gladwell, a writer and speaker covering subjects related to the social sciences. In one of his books, Gladwell mentions something called the “10,000-Hour Rule”. Simply put, the 10,000-Hour Rule suggests that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become really good at something. Research shows that this time-frame crops up in a variety of different fields/disciplines; it’s a reliable measure.

If you want to know a little more about this, you can follow that wikipedia link above, watch the short video below, or maybe even read his book, Outliers?

http://youtu.be/Kq2n1Jlx5P0.

Does that apply to snowboarding?

Let’s look at an example of snowboarding through a winter season. It doesn’t matter so much if this calculation is out; you may have a different view of how much riding can be done…

  • Ride from mid-December to mid-April
  • Approximately 16 weeks
  • Let’s say 6 days a week
  • And 6 hours per day
  • Total = 576 hours

That would be a pretty focused winter – probably hard to maintain? How about we just settle on 500 hours for a winter season?

Another example – year ’round riding in somewhere like the UK. Indoor snow slopes and outdoor dry-slopes?

  • Do 1 session per week
  • For 50 weeks of the year?
  • At 4 hours per session…
  • 200 hours per year
  • Double that to two sessions per week – 400 hours per year

Again, that schedule might be hard to maintain, but a snowboarder looking to ride once or twice, every week, could be looking at something between 200 and 400 hours.

There’s still a long way to go before reaching 10,000 hours…

What about the top pros?

I wonder how long someone like Travis Rice has spent on a snowboard? Or Nicolas Müller? Torstein, Terje, Todd Richards, Jenny Jones, Jamie Nicholls…?

Maybe they haven’t all hit 10,000 hours – but some of them will have. Some might be well past that number?

Just how many hours can a pro-shred ride during a year?

Bottom line: time on the board counts

Putting the numbers to one side, it’s difficult to argue that time on the board, practice, they make you a better snowboarder. Do enough of it, and you’ll be a good snowboarder…

What’s good to you? What constitutes a lot of practice, a lot of time on the board? Being good? After all, snowboarding is personal to every rider out there.

Some of you might be looking to win competitions, to get sponsorship. Others may be aiming at becoming an instructor. A lot of riders will have targets like ‘getting better in the park’, or ‘nailing switch’. Maybe you want to ride awesome powder – or put together some footage that you’re stoked with.

10,00 hours? Two or three season? A few weeks in the mountains every winter – or how about a handful more sessions at the snowdome? How long do you think it takes to get good at snowboarding?

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Comments
5 Responses to “The 10,000-Hour Rule: How Long Does it Take to Get Good At Snowboarding?”
  1. dewei says:

    500 hours for a winter season? That would still take 20 years excluding injury time!

    What is being good at snowboarding? It is subjective. As a noob, I’d be happy if I can
    (1) have lots of FUN :)
    (2) am able to do all the pistes in the resorts with full control, good speed and style
    (3) am able to do most features in a park
    (4) ride powder/ backcountry
    (5) have big mountain awareness (safety, first aid, avalanche training, reading the weather, terrain etc)
    (6) share my passion and can help/teach other riders and respect non-snowboarders
    (7) ride smart and have minimal injuries and wear and tear to joints

    Assuming 2-3 weeks in the mountain and some sessions at the snowdome every year (which is more realistic for the the average Joe), it would still take over 10 years, I reckon.

  2. Kevin Pearce says:

    I don’t think you can put a timeline on becoming a great snowboarder. I’ve been teaching snowboarding for many years, and I’ve had students who can jump, and start trying tricks on their first day. While other students it would take a life time.

  3. Gavin says:

    @dewei you’re right about it taking a long time! I’d say that some people will be getting in way more that 500 hours during a year, but even so, I’d like to say that you can get “good” in a much shorter time.

    As for your point that it’s subjective, yeah I’m with that too. It would be discouraging if it wasn’t. I’d be thinking: yeah, I’d like to learn backside lipslides on one hand, but on the other thinking that I still suck because I’ve only done 300 hours ;)

    Your list – good stuff.

    @KevinP – absolutely, some people are going to progress at a different rate than others, and I think there’s a certain baseline that needs to be in place to stand a chance at getting good. Some people aren’t that way inclined.

    It gets into the area of saying – what do you mean by “great”? If you look at the truly great snowboarders out there – I bet most of them spent a long time getting great. Maybe not 10,000 hours, and they probably each spent a different amount of time. But I’d still say there’s a significant investment of time involved.

    For example, can you be an all-round, great snowboarder after one full season in the mountains? I bet you can be good – but probably not great ;)

    So many grey areas!

    Cheers,
    Gavin

  4. Navid says:

    Dear Gavin

    I actually like that book very much, and i do agree with him about the time that we need to spend on anything to become a master but he also mentioned how lucky some people get in order to get to that point (e.g date of births of hockey players in canada) i believe we can work hard to get to some levels of being good in something or even being pro and famous but being an outliner in anything also comes with a great amount of luck on the route. and i also think that an hour of working on something in your early ages makes you learn a lot more than older ages. lets take a look at shawn white, i was watching a video of him being 13 after snowboarding for 5 years he was much better than most of people who start later in their life and spend even more time, i think it’s not just the time you spend ,it’s also your age when your spending the time that matters.

    Cheers

    Navid

  5. Jarrod says:

    Hey,

    interesting post. I have been reading about something similar about the 10,000 hours, and how that time doesnt have to be spent on exactly the same skill, just something which can be cross credited.

    I guess the only way to know for sure would be do to do something similar to http://www.thedanplan.com, a guy who taking the 10000 hours to the extreme with golf. Basically, he is starting from nothing, quit his job and is blogging about his progression. He is aiming to go pro in around 6 years or so, completing around 30 hours a week.

    If anyone has the time and ability to do that with snowboarding……