Tired of being on the sidelines and just watching your friends pass by with their longboards? Well, why not join in the fun and find out what you’ve been missing?
It is only natural to feel afraid at first, especially if you hate the idea of falling and getting hurt. However, before you decide to learn how to ride a longboard, you should be prepared and ready to accept that it may hurt a little. No pain, no gain, remember? So, here is a simple tutorial and guidelines to make your longboarding experience fun and hopefully a little less painful.
But first, what is longboarding? How does it differ from skateboarding? Or are they just the same? These are probably some of the questions that most people have when they initially want to learn how to longboard.
Longboarding is almost the same as skateboarding. However, it uses a longer board and bigger wheels. It is somehow easier to learn as a newbie compared to skateboarding. Longboarding sport includes freeride, speed, slalom, and slide.
Now that you have an idea of what longboard is and how it differs from skateboarding, let’s get it on and learn the basics of how to longboard.
How to Longboard: Step-by-Step Guide
1. Choose the right longboard
Obviously, you first need a longboard to get you started. Choosing a longboard is not as easy as just getting one from a skate shop or just because you like the graphics. It is more than just picking a nice-looking board to make you look cool.
Finding the right board is vital, especially for beginners like you. When choosing your board, you need to consider your size, age, skill level, and purpose for riding. Is your goal to cruise around or are you interested to hit downhills or you plan to spend more time at the skatepark? Whatever your reason is, there is a perfect longboard for you.
A shorter-sized longboard will allow you to turn easily and quickly but it’s a little less stable. Longer boards on the other hand are more stable but less nimble which is more suitable for beginners.
2. Safety first
It is no secret that you might get hurt while learning how to longboard. To prevent this from happening, you need to gear up with some safety equipment especially for your head, wrist, knees, and elbows.
Before you get into your longboard, do yourself a favor and wear a good-fitting helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, and wrist guards. They will save you from incurring serious injuries.
3. Find your riding stance
There two kinds of stance, the regular and the goofy stance. Everyone has their natural riding stance which sometimes also varies depending on the kind of board sport. For beginners, you may not know exactly what your natural stance is.
To find out, have someone push you forward without warning. The foot that you use to catch yourself with will tell you your natural stance. If it was your left foot forward, then you are a regular footer. But if it’s the other way around then you’re goofy.
4. Practice balancing in a steady mode
Now don’t get too excited and start riding your longboard just yet. Before you try moving, you need to learn how to balance first in a steady or static mode.
Best to practice it on carpet or grass. This will keep your longboard steady while you practice balancing. Step on your longboard with your natural riding stance and try to balance. Even on steady mode, you might find it hard to balance on your longboard.
To keep your balance, you need to lower your center of gravity. Bending your knees and using your arms will help you regain balance. Keep doing that until you can comfortably move your legs and arms while on still mode.
Normally, to do this your feet should be around shoulder-width apart, if not a bit wider. You know you are doing it right if you find your feet on top or are close to the bolts of your trucks. Leaning a bit forward will also help.
5. Riding on a smooth surface
Once you’ve learned how to balance on your longboard, it is now time to try it on pavement or a smooth surface. Now, don’t forget your protective gear in case you lose your balance and fall.
Stepping on your longboard on pavement will be more challenging compared to when it was on grass or carpet. Don’t try to put both your feet on the board at the same time; start with one foot, depending on your natural stance.
Place your front foot near the front trucks at around 45º angle. Then try to place your rear foot behind your front foot at about 45-90º angle. Now not all people find it easy to start with their front foot; some are more comfortable placing their back foot first. It doesn’t really matter as long you do the correct position.
6. Rolling down a gentle slope
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for – finally rolling on a soft incline. However, it is advisable to find something or someone to hold on to while you do this.
Once you are in position while holding on to a rail or wall or even your sibling, slowly get into your longboard. Don’t forget the proper way of riding on your longboard. Whenever you feel ready, let go of your friend or rail so you can gently start rolling.
Now, don’t panic and just focus on maintaining your balance and momentum. As much as possible, avoid pushing the balls of your feet to the sides of the board. This will cause you to turn, just move forward until you are comfortable. Wait for the longboard to lose its speed as you slowly reach the end of the slope, then be ready to get off your longboard.
7. Pushing on your longboard
How did you find your ride on the slope so far? If you enjoyed it, then you’re ready for the next step, learning how to push on your longboard.
This time, find a flat and smooth surface where you can practice. Once you are on your longboard, lower your hips by bending your front knee and take off your rear foot from the deck it should be close to the ground.
While in that position, put your front foot and point it forward on the board. Your rear foot should be touching the ground, now push into the back and let your wheels move.
Kick once or twice while keeping your balance with your front foot still on the deck. As you get some speed, put your rear foot back to the board and position your feet to a 45º angle. Now you know how to push on your longboard.
8. Simple turns
Practice first while on steady mode, you can try different turns by pressing with your toes and heels. If you feel you’re ready, you can now turn while moving.
To do this, be sure to start first on a smooth surface, kick and push your longboard so you start moving. While in motion, press your toes to the front side of your board. This will make your wheels turn to the right if you have a regular stance, and to the left if you have a goofy stance.
9. How to stop
Since you already know how to move and push on your longboard, of course, you need to learn how to stop. There are several ways to stop your longboard from moving or to get off the board.
For beginners, the simplest way is to jump off and outrun it. However, you can only do this if you can run faster than you ride. Another way is by rolling on a rough surface or better yet grass to make your longboard stop. Just be careful with rocks that may cause your longboard to a halt and throw you off the ground.
If you’re more confident with your longboarding skills, then you can use your rear foot to stop. Simply step out with your rear foot in front of your board. As you do this, your front foot will push the longboard backward and it will slow down your longboard.
So, do you think you are now ready to go longboard shopping? The things mentioned above are just the basics to prepare you for bigger things. There is still a lot that you need to learn, but once you’ve perfected the things mentioned above, you’ll be ready to explore other riding skills and even the different longboard disciplines.
Do not be frustrated if you do not get it at first and if you fall several times. As mentioned earlier, it is all part of the riding experience. Even the professional ones did fall quite a lot. So, don’t be embarrassed and lose confidence.
To recap, longboarding is a fun activity to learn whether you simply want to learn how to cruise or freeride and even freestyle. Whatever your goal is or whatever discipline you wish to be an expert at, don’t forget to have fun and remember that practice makes perfect.