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How to Ride a Longboard

You’ve made it here after hearing about longboarding. We don’t blame you for wanting in!

It’s a fun sport that can be shared with friends year-round, all throughout your life.

Let’s go over the basics so you can confidently get out there and learn for yourself.

We’ll cover how hard longboarding is, how it compares to riding a shorter skateboard, and skills to focus on when you’re getting started.

Is it hard to learn to longboard?

The learning curve to longboarding is largely dependent upon what baseline you’re starting out from.

If you’ve built muscle memory by riding other types of boards, like skateboards, surfboards, or snowboards, you’ll likely feel more comfortable on a longboard than someone who is brand new to that type of balance.

This shouldn’t discourage you from trying it if you are a total newbie—everyone you have ever seen on a longboard was a beginner at some point.

The only way to get cruising is to start somewhere.

Is Longboarding Easier Than Skateboarding?

Riding a longboard is very similar to learning how to skateboard in general.

Longboards and skateboards have the same basic parts and same basic mechanics.

Longboards have more deck volume and larger wheels, making them more stable than a standard skateboard.

Because of this, the rider doesn’t need as much balance to get moving.

It’s a great board for beginners to learn on.

Once you’ve mastered the longboard, then you can work on your balance further by transitioning to a smaller skateboard, but this definitely isn’t necessary.

Longboards are great for cruising with friends, bombing down hills, and riding around town. 

Equipment Needed to Start

The first and most important rule of beginning to longboard is safety first.

Before you step onto the board for the first time, arm up in protective gear.

This will keep you cushioned in the event you fall, and you’re going to fall.

Make sure you have each of these items:

  • A certified helmet.
  • Knee pads.
  • Elbow pads.
  • Slide gloves (if you’re working on learning sliding).

Once you’re in your protective gear, it’s time to have fun. 

Steps to Get Started

You’re getting ready to step foot on your longboard. How exciting! Focus on these core areas to get started on the right track. 

1. Find a Good Spot to Learn

Beginning to skate is demanding physically and mentally as you master balance and maneuvering.

It’s best to practice in a safe place without traffic so you can focus on mastering your skills without having to constantly move out of the way of cars.

Walk around your neighborhood and scope out flat-open spaces like empty parking lots.

This is the perfect place to get familiar with your longboard. 

2. Find Your Stance

Before you get going, you’ll want to determine your natural stance.

You’ll either be regular, with your right foot in the front of the board or ride goofy, with your left foot at the front of the board. Learn more about goofy vs. regular here.

Neither is necessarily better than the other, it’s all about what feels best to you. 

To learn your stance, step on the board without giving it too much thought. Which foot did you put in front when you stepped onto the board? Practice cruising with that stance.

You can always switch it up later on if you’re feeling wobbly on the side you start on.

3. Get Comfortable With Where to Step

It’s good you’ve identified your front foot because that’s where you’ll get your stability.

When you step onto the board, position your front foot right behind the front truck of the deck at an angle.

You’ll find that standing shoulder-width apart will be comfortable and stable, but don’t overthink it, follow what feels most comfortable.

Bending your knees and keeping your weight forward will help you stay at equilibrium.

The lower you bend, the easier you’ll be able to find balance.

Be mindful of stiffening up—keep your limbs loose so they can guide you into balance and flow. 

4. Learn How to Roll and Push

Now that you’ve gotten your stance down, it’s time to start moving.

Get onto a flat surface with your feet in place.

Lean forward slightly, with your knees bent, and use your back foot to push yourself forward.

Once you gain momentum, place your back foot onto the deck, adjusting both feet back to face sideways towards the edge of your deck. 

5. Gain Stopping Skills

Essential to learning how to move is learning how to stop.

When you’re ready to stop, use your back foot to brake by touching it to the ground in front of your board and stepping off.

Your board will move backward as you step off, stopping or slowly rolling, which makes it easy for you to grab.

It’s typical for beginners to stop by jumping off of their board without placing a foot down, which is okay but causes them to lose control of the board and have to chase after it.

6. Turning and Carving

Now it’s time to practice turning.

Once you’re rolling, practice leaning to the front of your board by pressing your toes into it. This is a toeside turn.

Next, you can practice leaning toward your backside and heels to master the heelside turn.

It’ll take some practice to learn the appropriate amount of weight to apply in order to not turn too fast. Over time, you’ll be able to make smoother and more controlled turns.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with turns, you’re ready to get into carving.

Carving is essential to speed control (and it’s fun).

It requires similar movements to turning: shifting your body weight between the toe edge and heel edges of your feet. The difference is you’ll want to continuously shift your weight back and forth, replicating an “S” pattern with your board as you cruise forward. 

Nobody is good at a new sport or hobby the first time they attempt it.

Skill comes from consistency. Stick with it and you will find yourself getting a little bit better each time.

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