Do you spend most of your time cruising with your board? Or, are you hoping that one day you’ll be able to charge off a long road ahead with more than 10 mph? Cruising is great when it’s just a short trip to the nearby convenience store. But if you’re looking to use the longboard to go to a place that’s miles away, you’d better learn how to pump.
Are you among those who have the habit of carrying the board pretending to look cool? But deep down, your legs are already aching from constant pushing. It’s high time you start learning how to pump! Start practicing it today and be among the likes of Elissa Steamer, Jay Adams and Nyjah Huston.
The History of Longboard
The 1990s marked the most significant years of longboards. It was at this time when longboards saw massive commercial production. Online communities of longboard fanatics also emerged in this era as the world wide web began to flourish. It was also in the 1990s when reverse kingpin trucks were invented. This invention made longboards more suitable for carving and turning.
But how will this creation benefit a newbie like you? The reversed version of trucks can help prevent the so-called wheel bite. Thus, making the longboard more capable of great pumping actions. But, how do you perform this pumping technique on the road? Read further.
What is Longboard Pumping?
Pumping is better described as “snake-like surfing” wherein the entire body of the rider moves back and forth while he digs his toes and heels into the board. It’s much like doing a monkey toe action wherein the rider dives and releases his weight to keep the board going in a forward direction.
To start, you should see to it that your board is up to speed so you can find a good rhythm to begin pumping. Pumping on the board should not only be done with your toes, heels and body weight. You have to use your shoulders and arms so that your torso will also follow. When you allow your whole body to get on with the rhythm, your legs will also less likely to get tired soon.
But what makes the board ideal for pumping? The good news is, you don’t have to own a very expensive Landyachtz or a Makaha. Just see to it that your equipment has the following specs:
Can I use just any kind of board for pumping? If you’re talking about smooth pumping, then the answer is no. Your board specs can largely affect your ability to perform the pumping action. If it does not possess all the ideal specs, you are more likely to struggle doing everything with speed and precision.
Is it okay to use larger boards for pumping? Boards that are too large may turn out to be too heavy for pumping. This is because larger boards also need larger wheelbases to meet the extra length of the board. Unfortunately, these will make tight turns too difficult to do.
A flexy deck is a must when looking to do more pumping. Why is it too important to have a flexy deck? Since you will be using much of your weight to flex the deck, make sure that your board meets this requirement. The center of the deck stores the energy that your body weight has put into it. This stored energy will then come back as quickly as you stored it there, in order to propel you into the opposite direction. Therefore, your deck has to possess enough flex.
They say wheel cutouts are crucial for longboard pumping. Why is this so? Boards with cutouts on the wheel part are ideal because they allow you to keep pumping without being prone to experiencing wheel bite. Unfortunately, wheel bites can increase your risk of being stopped and then thrown forward.
Is it more advantageous to use a board with a shorter wheelbase? Yes, it is. A shorter wheelbase gives you an advantage of being able to make wider turns compared to longer ones. You can definitely pump on a 41-inch board but a 38-inch one will do you better. This is because the shorter wheelbase helps a lot in tightening your turning radius thus making your pumps more efficient. Note that tight turns translate into fast pumps.
Which is better, a conventional or a reverse kingpin truck? Boards with conventional kingpin trucks can be good for pumping. But those with reverse kingpins are better because they provide greater stability. They are not prone to speed wobbles even when riding on faster speeds. Reversed kingpins allow you to do lots of other things aside from pumping.
Do you need to have tighter kingpin nut adjustment? The answer is yes. This is true especially if you are still a newbie trying to learn the technique. Start with tighter trucks to ensure deck stability for you to gain more balance. However, as you become more adept at achieving balance, you must loosen your trucks so that pumps will be easier to do.
Take note that the trucks do not have to be super tight. Once you have completely learned how to pump, you will realize that trucks don’t have to be too tight nor too loose. Keep in mind that you need some amount of resistance when moving your board in different directions. As you find yourself leaning heavily into each carve, it’s the resistance that enables the board to return the weight in the form of energy to keep you pumping.
The same thing is expected with wheels. It should not be too soft nor too hard for it to provide enough grip. Wheels that have gummy softness are not ideal for pumping because they will only create more friction, thereby slowing you down because you’ll have difficulty maintaining the momentum.
Proper wedging is also important when pumping. Many longboard fans claim that having a proper set of wedging can do wonders in boosting the stability and maneuverability of the board. Inclined pads must be coupled with a base plate for an increased turning angle of the wheels.
Now that you know what equipment to use the next question would be – how do you practice longboard pumping? Here are some helpful tips:
Helpful Tips for Practicing Longboard Pumping
Master the carving technique first.
In reality, pumping is just the exaggerated version of carving. It involves a lot of tilting the board for it to turn right or left. Are you afraid that you’d fall over while pumping? Don’t be. It is normal to have this feeling when you’re still trying to learn how to pump. However, the more you practice it, the more you will realize that centrifugal force will help you stay upright on the longboard.
Avoid over-reliance on heels or toes.
Is it normal for beginners to have the tendency to rely on which is stronger, i.e., heels vs toes? Yes, it is. But depending too much on either of these two will prevent you from pumping with more efficiency. You have to be good at turning on both sides using your heels and toes. You may feel less strong on one side but in order to keep you moving forward, you have to practice working around that drawback.
Make sure you know the right way to push effectively.
Do you still need to do some pushing when starting? Definitely. Pushing is an important technique that will keep you going especially when you’re running on flat ground. This may sound counterproductive to the aim of pumping but when you’re riding on flat tarmac, there is no other way to get off the starting block but to keep pushing.
Know how to do vertical springing.
Vertically springing is important as this helps you push the board forward. Springing upward makes you feel that you are weightless for a few seconds. Be careful not to go totally airborne. A small part of your feet should still be in contact with the board. Note that vertical springing would be impossible if your deck is not flexy enough.
Be one with the momentum.
Make sure your upper body is being thrown along with the momentum. Subsequently, the heels, toes and legs must translate this momentum into a smooth pumping action. Note that you should not only be pushing sideways but you should also do some forward digging and pushing in each carve.
Why is it beneficial for newbies to learn about longboard pumping? It will not only make you look more of a pro than a newbie; it also spares you from too much leg strain. In fact, seasoned longboard riders are able to avoid the tendency to put their feet on the ground as they go pumping. Once you master this technique, you can go pumping for an extended period and still continue to gain speed. You have to feel the energy of your board, man!