Riding a longboard may look simple, however, it requires some skills to master this great sport. Many people give up on longboarding as they have not mastered the basic skills that form the foundation of any good rider.
In this article we provide you with 13 tips and tricks for longboard beginners which will guide you to master the basic skills to become a great longboard rider!
How to Ride a Longboard
Step 1: Choosing a Longboard
As a beginner the first step is to find the right longboard. Due to so many options in the market today this in itself can be a difficult process as it depends on your size, skill level, age or even your preferred riding style.
Having said that, the best longboard for a beginner should have enough deck space for a comfortable ride, normally this would be a deck in the 40” range. A board closer to the ground will also have advantages as this will assist you with stability during the ride and boards with a drop-through design will provide the extra stability for a beginner.
Other features to consider are large wheels and a flexible deck.
Step 2: Finding your Longboarding Stance
When it comes to board sports, each person has a unique riding stance! Some people find their stance by default when they longboard for the first time. A classic way to do this is to stand behind your board with your feet together and have someone push you from behind.
Whichever foot you instinctively put forward to avoid stumbling becomes your stance. That being said, there are typically two types of skaters. Your stance will be described as “Regular” when you ride with your left forward and right foot back or “Goofy” when your right foot is forward and your left foot is back.
The stance is the first thing to master when learning how to longboard. For a regular skater, pressing on your toes while riding makes the board turn right while pressing on your heels turns it right. The reverse is true for goofy riders.
Step 3: Finding your Balance on a Static Board
Learning how to balance on the board is one of the skills you must master. The best way to do this is to practice when the board is not in motion. You can start on level ground where the board will not move. For example, find a flat patch of grass or a thick rag where there is enough friction to prevent the wheels from rolling.
Climb onto the longboard and get into your natural stance, making sure your feet are almost shoulder-width apart. If you are a regular rider, your back foot should be almost perpendicular to the board with the front foot angled at approximately 45 degrees on the deck (opposite for goofy riders).
Slightly bend your knees and lean a little bit forward to get that stable and comfortable feel of the board. This way, you will feel at ease standing on the board without putting your leg down.
Step 4: Learning your Turning Stance
This lesson is a continuation of (3) above and requires that the board is in a static mode. It involves shifting your body weight around by leaning from one side to the other. This action makes the board turn either left or right when you’re riding.
To do this, roll your ankles back and forth to cause the deck to lean on either the front or back edge. By locking your ankles, you will make the deck of the board lean by shifting your body weight forward or backward.
As mentioned earlier, pressing on your toes turns the board right while pressing on your heels turns it left for a regular skater. The opposite applies to a goofy skater!
Step 5: Learning How to Push
This is a critical skill to master which enables you to get the board moving or increase its speed when riding. It involves balancing one foot on the board as the other pushes against the ground.
To practice this, get onto your static stance with your longboard still on the carpet. Turn your front foot so that your toes are pointing towards the nose while making sure that your shoulders and hips also turn forward simultaneously.
Turning your front foot towards the nose, helps to enhance your balance. Slowly take the back foot off the deck and bend the front knee to shift your body weight to the front leg. Lower the back foot to the ground and push against it using the front part of the foot to propel yourself forward.
This process is repeated a couple of times till you achieve the desired speed when riding the board. The “push” may seem challenging when you try it for the first time as the board will tend to lean left or right and make it tricky to balance on your front foot.
However, it gets easier as you continue to practice the maneuver!
Step 6: Rolling Down a Gentle Hill
For this simple trick, you want to look for a parking lot or driveway with a slight incline for gravity to help you roll downhill.
Get started at the top of the gentle hill by balancing on the board in its static position. Rotate your front foot towards the nose and use your back foot to give yourself a gentle push and the board some momentum.
As the board starts to roll down the driveway, lift your back foot onto the board with both feet parallel to the deck. Find a comfortable stance and relax as the gravity rolls you gently down the hill.
To increase the speed, you can push the board every once in a while, with your back foot, especially when you roll over a bump that reduces your momentum. However, be careful not to kick too hard as this will increase the speed you might not be able to handle.
Step 7: Learning to Brake
Braking is an important skill for a beginner as this will help you to avoid unnecessary collisions by reducing the speed of the board in case of an obstacle. There are different ways to brake when riding a longboard but the most basic is foot braking.
The process is not very different from pushing your board, only that you’re doing this to lose the momentum as opposed to gaining it. As such, you want to use your back foot to push against the direction of the board’s motion.
With the board moving, rotate your front foot towards the nose and lower the back foot to the ground. Use the heel of the back foot to gently scrub against the surface to reduce the speed of the board until it comes to a stop.
While braking, never use the front part of your braking foot as it can easily get stuck and dump you off the board. Only use the heel!
The other way to brake when riding your longboard involves jumping off the board and running ahead of it till you come to a stop. This is also the fastest way to stop and will come in handy when you want to avoid an imminent crash.
However, this style of braking requires getting used to as you can easily fall when you do it the wrong way.
Step 8: Riding Downhill
Once you master how to brake, it is now time to take on a mild hill. However, this step will require some safety precautions. You require some protective gear before you start riding downhill.
Look for a snug-fitting helmet to protect your head in case you fall and a pair of slide gloves to protect your hands. You may also need elbow and knee pads to keep any unnecessary injuries at bay.
Furthermore, find a pair of sports shoes with grippy soles that will allow you to run off the board when you need to.
When choosing the downhill to ride, make sure that it ends in a flat or upward slope. Also, look for one that doesn’t have any bumps or obstacles and it shouldn’t cross any streets. Never ride on a steep hill if you’re still a beginner as it will be easy to sustain serious injury!
Step 9: How to Carve
Carving simply refers to making turns while riding your longboard. It is one of the most fun skills you can learn in longboarding, thanks to the “surfy” feeling it brings. For you to carve, ensure that both feet are perpendicular to the length of the board as it is moving.
Try shifting your body weight back and forth to make the board turn. If you shift your weight towards the toe-side of the board, you’ll make a toe-side carve, and moving it to the heel-side makes a heel-side carve.
When trying to shift your weight, always remember to bend your knees as this makes you more stable by lowering your center of gravity. Once you master how to carve, it will be pretty easy to cruise on your longboard.
Another benefit about carving is that it can be used as a third method to brake. Carving the board helps to reduce the momentum of the board when you move from the right to the left. But you don’t want to do this on a steep downhill ride.
Step 10: Riding Switch
This technique allows you to switch your pushing foot while riding. It is an important skill that comes in handy, especially when your primary pushing foot grows tired. Ideally, you can make the pushing a 50-50 affair between your two feet once you learn the riding switch.
It also breaks the monotony of the ride when you have to push through a long-distance ride. Furthermore, learning this skill becomes crucial when you want to learn how to perform tricks. This makes everything easier as most tricks require you to land in the switch position.
Step 11: Learn how to Fall
As weird as this may sound, falling is another technique that you need to learn when you start longboarding. Naturally, this is a sport that features quite a bit of rolls and falls (as you’ll come to realize during your progress).
Beginners, as well as experienced riders, can expect to fall every once in a while, and learning the right way to fall will ensure that you don’t sustain serious injuries.
So, the art of falling off a longboard involves tucking your arms around the torso when you are going down as opposed to the instinctive action of putting your hands out. You also want to try landing on the ground with your forearm and roll to the side on your shoulder to reduce the impact of the fall.
This is what will keep you from sustaining knee and hand injuries, and probably save you a couple of broken bones. To practice this, find a yoga mat or carpet to Tuck and Roll on before going on the tarmac.
Step 12: Learn to Slide
For some people, learning to slide is the point where real longboarding starts! It might look intimidating but it’s a cool trick and proves to be the most effective means of slowing your board down when moving at high speeds.
There are various ways to slide, and while some are relatively easy, others are more technical. Generally, you can either slide while standing up on your board or do it with your hands down on the ground.
If your board isn’t moving too fast, then stand up sliding will be the easier option. However, higher speeds might require you to put your hands down as this is much safer. To perform a hand-down slide, you need to get very low and place your hand on the surface to reduce the weight borne by the wheels.
At the same time, use the other hand to grab the edge of the board then pull it hard to turn the board sideways so that it is across the slope. This will significantly take the momentum off your board and cause it to slow down.
While attempting the hands down slide, make sure you’re wearing a thick pair of gloves to prevent injury!
Step 13: Follow the Unwritten Rules of Longboarding
The final tip has more to do with longboarding etiquette than skill. Just like any other sport, longboarding requires discipline and courteous behavior.
Riding through the streets and open roads with cars dictates that you observe lane discipline and pay keen attention to the traffic lights.
Additionally, remember to leave the right of way to pedestrians when riding on sidewalks and sound an alarm to let them know that you’re behind them.
Finally, watch your speed when you’re riding through turns and intersections to avoid unnecessary collisions!
If you’re eager to get on top of a longboard, you want to make sure that you’ll be able to ride it when it starts moving. While there are many steps to learn, the above tips and tricks will help you to lay the perfect foundation.
Remember that these steps are not in chronological order, so you don’t necessarily have to prioritize one over the other. The important thing in longboarding is to have fun, so get on your board and enjoy the great experience.