Skateboarding is one of the most exciting sports in the world. It doesn’t cost too much in terms of equipment and can be performed on any type of even, hard surface. Yet many people still hesitate to try it out because they think they don’t have the skills needed to stay upright on the board and perform all the crazy stunts you see professional skateboarders perform on TV.
The truth is, anyone can learn to skateboard at a basic level that is both enjoyable and good for exercise. Here’s a quick guide on how to ride a skateboard.
1. Choose the Right Skateboard
Skateboards are quite inexpensive and come in a variety of designs. Find a board that works best for you. Classic skateboards have a curved shape which makes performing tricks easier. Longboards are longer and flatter and help new trainees balance better while learning to skateboard.
In addition, make sure you have all the protective gear you’ll need, from a helmet and gloves to knee and elbow pads. You should also wear shorter pants which won’t droop downwards below the soles of your feet and get entangled in the wheels while you ride. Skating shoes are also sold in skate shops which are specially designed to create a good grip on the skateboard surface.
2. Find the Right Location
You need to find a place to practice skateboarding. The location should not be too crowded, and the ground should be hard and even. Empty parking lots, driveways etc. can be a good place to begin your practice. Going to a skate park when you are still untrained can be stressful, so hold off on skateboarding with experts at skate parks until you’ve gained some experience.
Related post: Best Skateboard For Beginners
3. Start Slow
Now that you have found the location and the gear, it’s time to start skating. Let’s take a look at how you can perform basic movements on your skateboard.
The first step towards learning to skateboard is to learn how to balance properly on top of the board. Place the board on a flat, even surface and climb on top of it. The board will begin to move a bit under your weight, but try to stand as still as possible so the board comes back to a resting position.
Your feet need to be angled sideways on the board and lined up to the screws holding the wheels to the board. There is one main position you can use for standing on your board. Regular position is one where one of your feet is in front while the other is to the rear. The foot you place in the rear will be one you use to push yourself position.
Once you’ve stood on the board and begun to feel comfortable, start trying to rock back and forth to get a sense of how the wheels move and the traction you gain on the ground. The point of this exercise isn’t to move forward but to get your body used to feeling the wheels turn under the board.
5. Moving Forward
Now that you’re standing on the board in regular position, place your rear foot on the ground and push yourself gently forward. The aim right now isn’t to go far but to find a way to balance your body on top of a moving skateboard. Continue with this technique for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable while the board is in motion. As your confidence grows, you can start pushing harder against the ground and gaining more speed while you ride your skateboard.
Now let’s move onto a more complex movement, which is turning. This can be a scary movement for some beginners, because there doesn’t seem to be any place on the board to hold on to with your feet and turn the board. We also have an instruction of how to turn on skateboard, you can have a look. The trick to turning is using your weight to change directions. When you want to turn, shift your weight gently in the direction you want to go.
Your knees should be flexed and your center of gravity low to the ground. If your right foot is in the front, shift your body forward to turn right, and rotate your ankles to turn left. If your left foot is forward, do the same movements, but in reverse.
Depending the speed of the board, the state of the ground, and how loose the trucks (the T-shaped metal pieces mounted on the underside of the skateboard) are, you may have to shift your weight just a little or a lot. You can loosen the large bolt in the center of each truck to make turning easier.
This video explains the process:
Moving forward on the skateboard is the main goal of this sport, but it is equally important to know how to stop skateboard. The actual movement for stopping is simple. Simply place your rear foot on the ground. The trick is knowing when to allow your foot to make contact with the ground.
Depending on how fast you were riding, stopping too suddenly would not kill enough of the momentum you’ve built up, and that extra momentum will send you flying off the board and crashing to the ground.
That is why it’s important to remember to slow down to a manageable speed before stopping. If you’ve built up too much momentum and wish to stop, keep moving in a circle without pushing forward and eventually, the board will slow down enough for you to stop safely.
Another way to stop is by shifting your weight back so that the tail of your board scrapes against the ground, creating friction and bringing the board to a halt. Some boards have brake pads at the back to make braking in this manner easier. If you’re worried about damaging your board, you can put the heel of your rear foot on the ground while keeping the toes on the board. This way, your heel is dragged across the ground instead of the board.
This video explains the process:
Once you’ve begun to feel comfortable moving forward on your board, try switching the position of your legs so that the front foot is at the back and the back foot is at the front. This technique of switching is important if you want to move on to more advanced skating techniques. Many skateboarding tricks require you to switch in the middle, while riding a ramp becomes much safer if you know how to switch.
Here’s the truth: You’re going to fall during skateboarding. Not just at the beginning when you’re still a learner, but for as long as you want to play this sport. Your goal should not be to try not to fall, but to learn to fall properly so that you don’t get seriously injured. This is where all the protective gear you bought will also come in handy.
To prevent the worst kind of falls, you need to learn to put your arms out and keep them loose as you fall. Rolling after a fall helps lessen the force of a crash landing. Practice both these techniques on a mat or soft, grassy ground as long as it takes to make the movements a part of your muscle memory and your automatic response to a fall.
Another thing you need to learn through practice is recognizing when your board is going too fast and is out of your control. In such a situation, don’t try to regain control of the board, but jump off and roll onto the softest soft you can manage to find.
This video explains the process:
- Which foot should you put at the front of the skateboard? To find the answer, ask a friend to give you a push while you’re standing on the ground. The foot you move forward to regain your balance is the foot you should place at the front of the skateboard.
- Don’t try any crazy stunts for at least a month after you start skateboarding and feel confident you can handle more complex movements. It can be tempting to try to copy an ollie or a kick-flip that you see more experience skateboarders do. But performing those movements in a safe manner takes months and years of practice. Don’t try to push your body to do too much too soon, but instead enjoy the process of learning a new skill set and making progress with every extra hour you spend on your skateboard.
- Take the time to observe other, more experienced skateboarders. Skateboarding is not a solo sport, but something that is meant to be enjoyed in a group, with each member helping the other perform better and keeping an eye out for any possible emergencies. Don’t hesitate to ask other skateboarders for tips. Most would be happy to give a newcomer pointers and correct their technique. If you’re practising alone, you can go online to find videos of skateboarders and play them in slow motion to study their movements.