Are you a thrill-seeker looking for the adrenaline rush of skateboarding and surfing? If so, then you might want to consider longboarding. Longboards are a type of skateboard, but as the name suggests they’re significantly longer—sometimes about twice as long as a short skateboard. The history of longboarding also has roots in surfing. What’s the connection? Surfers developed the board sport in the 1950s and 1960s when there were no monster waves to catch.
Longboarding offers some key benefits over skateboarding based on its surfing-inspired equipment. For example, features like the long length and wider “turning radius” or “turning circle” (space needed to make a turn) make longboards better than skateboards for specific activities like cruising and commuting. In fact, longboarders often reach speeds up to 65 miles/hour (105 km/hour) during downhill rides! While the activity certainly looks fun, the big question is: how difficult could longboarding be?
A Brief History of Longboarding
Longboarding or “sidewalk surfing” started in Hawaii and California. In the 1950s surfers would ride the long skateboards on days the surf was too low or too rough. Skateboards became shorter and wider for skateboard tricks, while the longboard became more popular for long rides.
The first longboards included a plank/board and wheels from old-school roller skates. They were generally homemade since commercial skateboards tended to be shorter. Do you know why the popularity of skateboarding and longboarding skyrocketed in the 1970s? That was due to the invention of urethane wheels.
Longboarding later made a comeback in the 1990s. This was due to celebrity skaters like Tony Hawk and the popularity of snowboarding. In fact, many snowboarders switched to longboarding during the spring and summer months due to no snowfall.
Are Longboards the Same as Skateboards?
Much of the general public has ridden skateboards since the 1970s. Public Skateboard Guide reports over 8% of young people have skated during the past year. Still, fewer people are familiar with longboards than skateboards.
The main difference between the two is the length. Skateboards are generally 28 to 32 inches long, while longboards are typically 33 to 60 inches long. Meanwhile, while both boards have an average width of up to 10 inches, longboards are generally wider. Longboard wheels are also larger and softer than skateboard wheels.
How do these differences affect riding? If you have the need for speed then longboards are a wiser choice. UK longboarder Pete Connolly holds the current Guinness World Record for “fastest man on a longboard” by clocking a top speed of 91.17 mph (146.7 km/h). Meanwhile, American longboarder Emily Pross holds the World Gravity Speed Association (WGSA) record and is reportedly the first woman ever to break the 80 mph (128 km/h) barrier.
Differences between Longboarding and Skateboarding
Is longboarding better than skateboarding? That’s debatable, but these two similar recreations and sports have clear differences:
The Boards’ Shape
Which board is available in more shapes? The sidewalk surfboards provide various surfing experiences through more shapes and sizes.
Trucks and Wheels
The trucks of skateboards and longboards are quite different. Longboard trucks are more rigid, which makes them more practical for cruising. How do they differ from skateboard trucks? Skateboarding trucks are more flexible for tricks and grinds. Longboard trucks also tend to be wider than skateboards.
The wider and more rigid structure of longboard trucks provides smoother riding. You should still select a truck width based on the deck’s width.
How about the boards’ wheels? Longboards feature larger and softer wheels, which provide faster riding on different surface types. You also get a comfier ride from longboard wheels since they absorb road obstacles like pebbles and cracks better.
Unlike skateboards, longboards are designed for transportation rather than ramps and tricks. If you want to do downhill or cross-country skating then you should definitely consider longboards.
Important Longboarding Skills to Master
Finding Your Stance
It’s important to figure out if you’re more comfortable leading with either your left or right foot. In most cases, the dominant foot is in the back. Which one is that? It’s usually the foot you’d use to kick a soccer ball.
You should start longboarding in a non-hilly area with minimum traffic and people. Put your front foot on the longboard then use your back foot to push off. When you’re ready you could try riding on some small hills.
This skill is about turning and riding around curves. You must shift your weight to either the heels or toes based on which direction you’re turning and if you have a regular or “goofy” stance.
Why is this such an important skating skill? It’s critical if you need to stop quickly and you can use different techniques. “Footbraking” creates friction by dragging the back foot along the round by gradually applying more pressure. Another option is to “bail out” by jumping off the board if you’re nearing a big pothole, for example.
After learning the basics you can practice some tricks including:
- Early grab
- Ghostride kickflip
How does the ‘safety first” rule apply? Here are some guidelines. It’s important to maintain safety at all times when riding longboards. For example, always stay in your lane. You should also obey all stop signs, speed limits, traffic lights, etc. just as would while driving a vehicle.
It’s also helpful to anticipate the actions of dogs, bikes, cars, etc. Can you always guess their behaviors? No, it’s not always possible but always stay on the side of caution to help prevent accidents.
Tips to Improve Your Longboarding Skills
Start with the right board and stance.
The key is to select a longboard model that’s right for you. This is based on factors such as your:
For example, what’s your particular riding style? This should be a key factor in determining which longboard you pick.
It’s also important to determine your natural longboarding stance. This is a key step for all board sports including skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding. If your left foot feels natural in front of the right foot then this is a “regular stance.” However, if your right foot feels more natural in front that’s a “goofy stance.”
What’s the big deal about the longboarding stance? This issue affects whether you press on your toes or heels to turn left or right. The process is also the opposite based on whether your stance is regular or goofy.
Find your static mode balance.
It’s important to find your balance in static mode before you start rolling around. Try practicing on green grass or a thick carpet. Step onto the board and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. They should roughly be atop the truck bolts.
How should your feet be angled? The back foot should basically form a 90-degree angle to the deck. Meanwhile, the front foot should be angled to about 45-degrees with the deck. Bend your knees and lean forward slightly to increase stability.
Practice your turning stance.
You should also practice these stances on grass or carpeting. Practice turning by leaning to either side by shifting your bodyweight. You should also roll your ankles back and forth so the deck tilts to either side as if you’re making a real turn.
Next, lock the ankles and shift your body weight either forward with toes, or backward with heels. This will cause the deck to lean. Do you want more practice? If so then consider using a “balance board” to practice on before on a real longboard.
Try the push and break stance.
This is a key skill that involves using one leg to balance on the longboard, while the other leg either pushes or brakes. The front foot, and your shoulders and hips should all face forward. You should then move the back foot off the deck to the ground, which prepares for pushing off or braking.
Work on your rolling.
What’s an ideal location? Start on a driveway or parking lot with a slight incline. Let gravity move you downward. Then use your push stance to increase the deck’s momentum. The low speed can help to increase stability and balance.
This process is similar to pushing, but this time use the sole of your foot to brush the ground rather than pushing off. The friction created can help you slow down. Keep your foot flat to prevent the toes from getting caught on any bumps or cracks.
This is the real deal after practicing your stance. What surface should you start on? It’s better to practice first on flat ground. When you’re ready to practice on a small hill, tighten the trucks to reduce the board’s turning.
Learn how to fall.
While longboarding can be fun, you should also prepare to fall “correctly” since it will happen eventually. Make sure to avoid falling on stiff arms or hands to prevent broken arms and wrists. What’s a better option? Make sure to tuck your arms across the torso. Then land on the forearm and roll on your shoulder sideways.
Longboarding is quite similar to skateboarding and surfing, but also provides some different features and challenges. Is longboarding hard? The key is to start out slow and master the basics. After learning how to cruise, carve, and stop, you’ll eventually be ready to try a Ghost Ride 360 Shuvit.