How to skateboard for beginners
Skateboarding is more challenging than it appears. In the past two months, I’ve got four new scratches to demonstrate that, Skaters who have experience sliding up an unintentionally steep concrete ramp, turning the board in different directions on the top, and after landing back on it unharmed, appear incredibly natural.
But the reality is, that humans weren’t designed to sit on top of an unmoving board with four wheels. Most of the time the process of learning how to skateboard is not something that comes naturally. It takes many hours of practice, and most importantly determination.
The lengthy lectures that stress how skating is hard (surprise!) aren’t true to the spirit of the sport, are they? For a successful skateboarding experience, it’s just a matter of trying it. However, the decision of where to start for a beginner is a tangled maze. Even choosing what type of board to buy is a bit of a challenge.
Anyone can achieve this, claims Oliver from the London-based skating academy Skates and Ladders. “You will surprise yourself. You should believe that you’re going to outdo yourself, outdo your expectations,” Oliver tells me “because it happens with everyone I’ve ever seen.”
The man isn’t wrong. When I started my first skating session two months ago, as a gym-phobic klutz, whose prior experiences with skateboarding were about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the Pro Skater, I made myself a promise to make sure that I will be able to stick with it. Within three months, determined that I must be able to get to the park to “drop in”, the technique that requires you to stand on top of the halfpipe with your feet on the back of the board.
You then push your body weight forward in such a way that you slide down the slope… and not fall over. What do you think? I exceeded my expectations and I’m already doing it. It’s even more impressive. Oliver is also able to tell me about an elderly woman he instructed whom he once taught who “was scared of doing it and ended up being amazing”. If she’s capable of it, then what’s stopping you?
Getting comfortable with the board
The first thing you need to establish when you get your board is whether you should be riding it regular or goofy, which translates to standing with your left foot at the front of the board or your right. To determine this, stand on the ground with your feet slightly apart and ask someone (who likes you, preferably) to give you a gentle push from behind. Whichever foot you put forward to steady yourself is your dominant foot and should be placed at the back of the board and used for pushing.
Once you’ve figured that out, you need to practice standing on your board while stationary – it helps to do this on carpet or a patch of grass to make sure you don’t unexpectedly roll off into the distance. Your feet should be parallel to the board’s width, placed directly above the trucks, and your knees should be slightly bent. Rock forwards and backward a bit to help find your balance and get used to the way the board reacts to your movements.
From here, it’s helpful to practice switching from this position to where your feet should be placed while you push. Turn your front foot to face the front of the board and simply take your back foot off and place it on the ground facing forward. Do this in reverse to get back on the board and repeat the movement a few times to get comfortable. It may seem tedious, but focusing on getting techniques like this nailed down when you first start will make it easier to learn more advanced skills in the future. When you feel ready, move to a solid surface, and, when your back foot is on the ground.
Overcoming the fear of falling
If you’re considering starting skating, you’ll be faced with the fact that you will eventually fall over. Many. The first fall you take could make you shake up some, but it’s vital not to let it deter you from taking another shot. Return to the board as soon as it’s comfortable. The longer you put off and the longer you wait, the more you’ll start to psych yourself out.
“It’s about understanding why you fell over, which is hard to do if you’re doing it by yourself,” Oliver says Oliver when asked about the best way to get yourself back on your feet. “You have to determine the cause of your fall, then rectify yourself, and then attempt to repeat the fall. The majority of skating involves falling down and then getting up. If you can think about what led you to fall and rectify it you’ll be able to make a big difference to progress.
“Just take it slow, because you don’t want to hurt yourself and then create a mental block for yourself when you’re trying to do things in the future,” He adds. “That’s what happened to me. I tried to drop into a ramp when I was young and I dislocated my knee. Even to this day, I do not want to go near a ramp. I can skate ramps now, but it’s still there, all because I was a bit silly before.
The choice of your board
Before you start it’s best to be familiar with the various parts of the skateboard. First, there’s the deck, which is the wooden board that you’re to stand on. To it, you’ll find a grip tape at the top and adhesive sandpaper that keeps any feet that slide off from the floor, and a set of trucks at the bottom that connects the bearings and wheels and assists you in steering. The deck’s front is referred to as the nose. It typically is slightly bigger than the back of the deck, also known as the tail.
You can purchase each of these pieces in separate pieces to make your board, allowing you to customize it according to your preferences; however, Oliver recommends beginners begin by purchasing a “complete”: a ready-made beginner-level board designed specifically for beginners. “It’s a lot less expensive and you get everything included and set up for you,” Oliver explains.
When shopping for boards you’ll likely be surprised to see that boards come in a range of sizes and shapes. As opposed to other sports involving boards like snowboarding the size you pick does not depend on the size or weight of your body and is mostly based on your personal preferences. Anywhere between 7.5 and 8 inches is likely to meet the needs of novices. “People seem to think it makes a huge difference, but you’re only talking about half an inch in width. You start looking at bigger sizes when you skate and do transitional skating because you just have more space on the board.”
Essential skills to practice
You won’t be able to go anywhere on your snowboard if you cannot push. It’s easy to understand: simply press off of the floor using your foot, then return to the board. If you can push harder than you perform more quickly you’ll move. Make your pushes larger and you’ll be able to move faster. Make sure to bend your knees and push using your whole foot rather than only the ball to maximize acceleration. It is helpful to locate the flat area and practice pushing, but not taking off the board for the longest time you are able because this will allow you to learn to control the board using only your body weight. If you notice that the board is beginning to turn in the opposite direction you can bend your knee either inwards or outwards depending on the direction you’d like to move This should get it back on the correct path.
The most straightforward way you can turn the board you can carve it by leaning in the direction you wish to take. For turning inwards (frontside) move forward using your feet and upper body. for turning outwards (backside) Lean back onto your heels and lean back slightly. If you’re struggling, put your arm in front and point your arm in the direction you’d like to go. This will put your body weight in the proper position.
An improvement over the carving, kickturns can let you change the direction of your board faster. This is an essential ability to master if you need to steer clear of obstacles that might surprise you and move on into the skate park swiftly. To master the basic movement of this, go to some grass and put your back foot on the side of the board and place your weight on the board so that the tail is pointing upwards.
Next, you should lean forwards onto your front foot, so that the board is slammed back onto the ground. Once you’ve mastered it, you can turn the board as it pops up and you’re on your back foot. You can do this by shifting your weight in the direction of forwards or backward, based on the direction you’d like to move. Making sure you point in the direction you’d like to travel assists in learning the skill If you’re having trouble getting the knack of moving backward, take a look underneath your arm for the correct position.
Once you’ve got the kick turned down Try Tic-tacs, which are many kicks turns that move between. Once you’ve mastered them efficiently, tic-tacs aid you in moving ahead without pushing. They are an excellent way to improve your speed.