Starting a brand new effort is not so easy without a tutor or a knowledge base to rely on. And skateboarding is no exception. In this post, we’ll give you the minimum knowledge you’ll need to start skateboarding on your own: what stances there are, what are the places one can start to learn. We’ll also give you a couple of tips for beginners, explain how to push (for gaining speed), how to make turns, and how to stop.
If it has been a while since you wanted to learn to skateboard but didn’t know what to begin with, this post is just for you!
Choosing a Stance
To start with, let’s choose your stance. This means deciding which will be your leading foot for support and your back foot for pushing. Here is a way to do this: imagine you are going to accelerate and slide over a frozen puddle with one foot forward. Your body will automatically choose the foot you’d feel like putting forward to slide. Normally, that would be the foot people also use as their leading foot in skateboarding, with minor exceptions, though. So, just for the sake of the experiment, try putting another foot forward and see if it happens to feel more comfortable.
There is one thing to consider when choosing your stance: nearly the entire weight of your body will be transferred to that foot, so your leading foot must be a strong one.
If you realized you would be skateboarding with your left foot forward, you belong to regulars since it’s a regular stance. If you have a leading right foot, you belong to goofies then.
The Location to Start Learning
The ideal place to learn skateboarding is an even spot away from the traffic. This could be an empty parking lot, a wide sidewalk, a bikeway, or a running path in a park. Just make sure it is not really crowded and the road surface is smooth and free from cracks and splits. It shouldn’t be paved with tiles or have any tiny obstacles scattered. The terrain simply should be comfortable to ride.
Before heading off to the skatepark, you need to learn the basics of how to push with one foot, straight-ride, make turns and stops. Skateparks are usually crowded, so this is not a place for learning the basics.
How to Push
Pushing to gain speed is a basic skill one needs to master after learning to stand still on the board.
To make a push:
- Place your leading foot (pointing 30-45 degrees to the side) above the front truck’s bolts;
- Bend your front leg to allow for the rear foot to stand on the ground;
- Transfer your weight onto your front foot and push your back foot;
- Place your back foot on the bolts of the rear truck and keep rolling;
- Keep your weight on your front foot, but don’t bend to the front too much.
Hint: if you’ve got problems keeping your body weight on one foot — which is a fundamental skill for pushing — you should practice standing on this foot for as long as you can: begin on the ground, then while standing on the skate over the grass, and then over the asphalt surface. You may use some support to hold onto if needed.
With regular practice, you’ll master your balance and will be able to accelerate steadily by pushing your foot.
How to Stop
There are several ways to stop while you skateboard. The easiest way is to put your rear foot on the ground and brake by the friction force between the asphalt and the bottom of your shoes.
- Transfer your weight to the front foot, the same way as you did for pushing;
- Instead of pushing by the back foot, start pressing it slowly against the terrain, with your body weight remaining on the front foot;
- The stronger you press your foot against the ground surface, the faster you’ll brake;
- After the skateboard slows down to the desired speed, place the foot back to the skateboard. If you want to stop, though, just leave the foot on the ground until the full stop.
Hint: do not put your foot on the ground all of a sudden: it may work when the speed is low, but with high speed, your chances of falling are quite high too.
The other way of stopping is to jump away from the skate and have a little run extinguish the remaining speed. The trick is to begin jumping off way ahead to avoid bumping into an obstacle.
How to Turn
There are several ways to make turns on a skateboard, the basic ones being carving turns and kickturns.
The technique used to perform carving turns is leaning the board. With the weight transferred onto either side, the truck’s hangers turn to one another, thus changing the motion path of the skateboard.
To make a carving turn:
- Gain a little speed;
- Bend your knees a little before making a turn;
- Turn your head and shoulders towards the turning side. You can stretch your front arm towards the direction of your movement;
- Transfer your body weight to your toes or heels depending on which way you are turning. The stronger the weight transfer, the steeper the turn.
- Recover your body posture after the turn.
Hint: If your board leans too easily and you lose balance, the solution is to tighten the kingpin nut a little. If the board doesn’t turn well, then loosen the nut. With a little bit of time, you’ll learn how to fine-tune the trucks for your needs.
A kickturn is a sharp turn for which the front truck is lifted off the ground, and the body position changes its direction. Kickturns allow drastic change of the motion drastically at a low speed. This maneuver can be very helpful for bypassing obstacles, rotating in a ramp, shifting the stance, and even gaining speed.
Here are the steps to make a kickturn:
- Place your back foot on a kicktail and shift a little bit of weight onto it to have the front truck lifted. Watch out: shifting too much weight on the back foot may result in the skateboard sliding away from under you, and you’ll fall and hurt yourself;
- When the front wheels lift, turn your shoulders and head in the direction of where you want to turn to;
- To stop turning, put the truck down and transfer your body weight back to your front foot.
We recommend starting with learning to turn the board as you stand, and once you’ve mastered that trick, you can proceed to perform kickturns in action.
Kickturn is quite a helpful trick for traditional skateboards, but for surfskates, to perform this technique, you should either have trucks tightened well enough or do this at a very low speed. In all the other circumstances, carving turns will work because surfskate trucks make surfskates very maneuverable boards.
Hints for Beginner Skateboarders
Bend your knees. A low and relaxed posture will let you restore your balance in good time if things go wrong.
Be persistent. Much practice is needed to become a confident skateboarder. Skateboarding is not easy, and to become a pro, you’ll need lots of patience and hard work.
Be ready to fall. Falling is an essential part of skateboarding. To be safe, get a set of protective equipment: a helmet, gloves, elbow pads, and knee pads. Being equipped with this protection, you’ll be less afraid and more confident. This will also reduce the possibility of getting injured. And it’s much more fun skateboarding wearing protective equipment.
Yes, you might be missing that cool look. But think about this: would it be cool to fall on your unprotected elbow, for instance, and then skip skateboarding for several weeks?
Use high-quality skateboarding equipment. A skateboard from a supermarket is not a good investment. It is definitely low-budget, but that will be some wasted money because if you develop a passion for skateboarding, you’ll want to buy a decent skateboard for sure. And at worst, a poor skateboard will discourage you from skateboarding at all.
Be confident. It doesn’t matter how cool you look or how well you skate. The more you skateboard, the more you progress. Persistence is the key to it. Even if you are a beginner, you’ll earn some respect from other skaters if they see you are making an effort.
Get yourself a team of friends. Skating together is much more fun. Besides, you will stimulate each other to improve if there are a bunch of you guys skating. It’s especially great for your progress if there’s some experienced skateboarder hanging out with you. Watching someone skating is helpful itself, and on top of that, they might give you some practical advice too!
So, to start skateboarding, you first need to figure out your leading foot. Then you need to learn to maintain posture, push your foot to accelerate, and, finally, you’ll need to learn how to turn.
And remember: the more you practice, the faster results you’ll get! If things don’t work out for some reason, have a look at other skateboarders around — they have all been in your shoes once, but now they are confident skateboarders.
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