Starting any new sport can be tough, but stepping onto a board on hard pavement is downright scary when you’ve never done it before. Here are some longboarding tips that should help you get started and build confidence to have a blast skating.
You’ll love longboarding once you get past the first hurdle and build up just a little confidence. The risk is part of the excitement!
1. GETTING A FEEL FOR THE BOARD
Get a feel for the board by holding onto a railing, wall or friend while standing on the board. Balance and understanding how it moves relative to how you move is the most important first step.
Try rolling gradually back and forth. It’s going to feel very tough at first so you’ll want to really get a good feel for the board this way before taking it to the streets.
If you can’t balance on the board at all, start on the carpet or prop a rock under a couple wheels so it can’t move. This will break down the mental barrier. While you are standing there, be sure to feel the trucks as well by pushing more on your toes and heels in a rocking motion back and forth. This is the basis for learning to turn.
Don't rush this part of learning and move to the next steps too fast. You'll be much better off once you've gained some comfort on the board.
Another great place to get a feel is on the carpet in your house, especially if you have clean new wheels. Thicker carpets will keep you in place so you can play around with your footing and balance.
2. SLOWING DOWN
Learn to slow down before you learn to push. The easiest way to do this is on carpet or grass. Start with your push/slow down foot on the ground and lift it up onto the board, then lower it to the ground again.
Try to do this slowly and smoothly and lower your body for stability. Lightly set your foot down since when you do this in motion, you can’t just drop your foot onto the ground all the way or you’ll have to hop off or fall.
3. START FLAT
Flat ground is your best friend. Starting on any bit of incline at all is much more difficult and you’ll feel like the board is trying to roll away from you because you may not have true balance yet.
Use a tennis court, parking lot, or basketball court for a smooth rolling flat surface. This way you won’t have to bail out when the board gets out of control and takes you faster than you’re ready to go.
There’s a funny point that we refer to as the “Oh Sh**” moment. Most skaters run into this moment early on, it's when you realize you're going too fast to put a foot down and slow. Try not to hit that point, it’s downright terrifying…
Push around the flat surf and really try to be as smooth and stable as possible. Keep your body a little lower for more stability. Also try not to be stiff and rigid, it only makes balance tougher and falls more painful.
4. GAINING SPEED
Speed actually increases balance and makes turns less shaky (to a certain point). This is good to know when you feel really shaky learning to carve.
A little more speed will help your feet engage strongly and you’ll feel solid on the board because of the forces at work. This doesn’t mean you need to go fast right away, just keep it in mind as you progress.
Again, start small and don't push so hard that you can't recover.
5. LEARNING ON HILLS
When you first try skating a hill, make it the right one. The best hills to start out end in flat or uphill and don’t cross any streets or run through stop signs. This way you don’t have to worry about cars hitting you. Plus you won’t have to stress if you can’t slow down because you have an outrun to help.
Start small and build up. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Tony Hawk didn’t land his first 900 on day one.
It's fun to find a hill where you can walk up a bit higher each time before rolling down as your comfort level grows. Pushing up the hill will help you gain balance as well.
6. PROTECT YOURSELF
Pads and Helmets are a must. At the VERY least, start with a helmet. Your health is all you have and you don’t want to mess it up because you’re trying to look cool. The best longboarders out there are huge advocates of wearing the right gear.
It’s cool to be safe. Grab some knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads to feel much more secure. Sometimes that extra mental advantage of knowing you are safer will make it easier to learn.
7. MASTER FALLING
Learn how to FALL. It’s going to happen. We all fall down at some point and when you are learning, you will fall.
Wearing pads is a huge help and falling the right way can make all the difference. The most natural reaction when you fall is to put your hands straight out. This can lead to broken wrists, thumbs, and arms.
Try putting a big pile of pillows on the floor and practice falling in different ways. Tuck your arms in across your stomach/chest and roll sideways to your back.
With a helmet your head will be safe and if you fall the right way you'll be much happier than crashing and breaking bones.
Hopefully these longboarding tips will have you well on your way to skating comfortably and having fun. Don’t be intimidated because theres so much to learn. Start SLOW and build up. Now stop reading and get out there and have fun! Don't have a board yet? Check out our lineup here.