How to Start Skateboarding: Tips for Beginners

Like surfing, skateboarding is a challenging and rewarding sport whether you’re a beginner or you’ve done it hundreds of times.

The good news is you can get started at any age as long as you have the determination and nerve to try it out.

Another benefit of skateboarding is that you can do it all on your own.

Plus, you can do it practically anywhere you’ve got a solid surface.

If the waves are flat or you’re far from the ocean, skateboarding may just be the ultimate remedy.

Check out these tips and tricks to get started.

Is it Hard to Get Started?

First, know that fear is normal.

Nobody has ever started skateboarding with an absolute absence of fear.

Falling on the pavement can pack a greater punch than falling in the water.

While this feeling can be important to keep you safe in certain instances, too much of it can hold you back completely from experiencing something you may learn to love.

Start slowly while you work on your confidence.

And remember, don’t be embarrassed at your lack of skills – everyone was a beginner at some point. 

Another common mistake is that people give up too easily.

Skating is a complex sport and cannot be learned in one day.

Have fun and practice often.

Consistency is the best way to improve.

Muscle memory will be built every time you get out there and try it out. 

Small sessions over time can really add up.

If you’d like, you can take lessons or get tips from somebody you know. This could help you get started on the right foot and practice techniques correctly.

Building upon good technique and fundamentals can help to prevent yourself from developing bad habits that could hold your progress back later.

This is also a good way to get informed on skateboarding etiquette before you go out to a park.

Equipment to Skating

Here’s what you’ll need to get out there and practice for the first time.

1. Skateboard 

Obviously, you’ll need a skateboard to start skateboarding.

You’ll want to buy a decent quality skateboard that isn’t cheaply made, but don’t spend too much on the first one.

The type of board you will want to buy will depend on what you want to do with it.

A longboard or cruiser skateboard will fit you best if you’re looking to use it for basic transportation or cruising and carving around.

If you’re looking to street skate or skate transitions, you’ll need a board created for that.

If you’re looking for something that requires less energy, there are also electric skateboards on the market. 

Most importantly, look for a deck from a quality skateboard company and avoid toy stores or knock-off brands, as these decks tend to be overly heavy, low quality, and break easily.

You can expect to spend around $80 to $120 for a decent quality setup (or less, if you’re lucky).

2. Proper Skating Shoes 

The second most important thing you will buy for your new hobby is the right shoes.

The perfect skate shoes balance a flat sole that can take high impact with flexibility that ensures you can feel your board.

Investing in the right pair of shoes will protect your heels from injury.

You’ll also need to look for something that can stand up to grip tape.

Leather or suede shoes will last longer than canvas. Canvas shoes will tend to develop rips and holes pretty quickly.

You’ll also want something with a strong sole.

Popular brands to consider are Vans, Adidas, New Balance, Emerica, and Etnies.

Foot pain is a common complaint of skaters whether they are beginners or seasoned, you should get used to it over time.

3. The Right Socks 

Running or skating socks are awesome for absorbing sweat and preventing blisters.

While more of a nice-to-have, they’re worth considering.

High, thick socks are usually a good choice to protect your feet.

4. Protective Gear 

Wearing protection is important.

You are going to fall down when you’re learning to skate.

Not only will it keep you safe from injuries, but it will also give you more confidence while you’re starting out.

These are the most important pieces to buy:

  • A certified helmet.
  • Knee pads.
  • Elbow pads.
  • Wrist guards.

Take the time to find gear that is comfortable and fits right.

The more injuries you can avoid as you’re learning, the faster you’re going to progress.

5. A Place to Skate

Lastly, you’ll want to find a good surface to practice skating on.

If you’ve never stepped foot on a skateboard before, it may be a good idea to get a feel for it on carpet or grass because it will keep your board fairly steady.

You can get a basic feel for your stance and general balance on the board.

After that, any level, concrete surface (eg. a driveway or parking lot) is a good place to get comfortable with your board.

Be careful with any cracks, potholes, stones, or pebbles.

Even the smallest pebble can cause a fall.

Once you’re feeling more confident about moving around on a board, you can consider visiting a local skate park.

However, if you visit before you’ve built up to that, it will likely be intimidating as you’ll be busy constantly moving out of other people’s way. 

Take your time and start small.

Beginner Skateboarding Tips

Before you start clearing stairs or doing hand plants on the pool coping, you’re going to need to master the basics.

The more comfortable you are on your board, the easier and more natural everything else you try to learn will be.

Simply riding around, moving on the board, turning, pivoting, and stopping will help you build your skills and confidence.

How to Stand on the Board

The first thing you will need to do is choose a stance.

The two stances are:

  • Regular, which means that you skate with your left foot at the front and push with your right foot,
  • Goofy, which means you skate with your right foot at the front and push with your left.

The best trick to learn if you’re regular or goofy is to stand up straight and have someone gently push you from behind.

The foot you use to brace yourself from falling should be your lead foot on the skateboard.

How to Push 

Use your front foot to step on the board near the front truck bolts.

Your foot should be facing toward the front of the board at a slight angle rather than completely perpendicular or parallel to the deck.

Use your back foot to push the ground away as you “pull” yourself forward with the board and front foot.

More pushes will give you more speed.

Once you gain speed, you can place your back foot onto the back of the board at or behind the rear bolts.

You can then pivot your front foot inwards so that it’s at a similar position to your back foot.

Experiment with what feels the most comfortable.

How to Turn 

Once your feet are in riding position, lean in whatever direction you want to turn.

This can be done by either adding pressure to your heels or toes.

Bend your knees and keep enough center of gravity on your board so that you don’t lose balance.

How to Throw it Down (Moving Start)

Mastering the art of throwing down your skateboard will allow you to get moving with some speed.

To do this, hold the front of the board with the hand that’s on the same side of your front foot, take a step forward with your back foot and extend the arm that’s holding the board, lower the board and drop it into your front foot so you can move from a step to the first push.

You’ll be getting on the board in a fluid drop>step>push motion that will give you more speed that starting with the board on the ground.

Don’t get frustrated if this feels complicated at first, it takes practice.

How to Stop 

While you are moving at relatively low speed, remove your back foot from the board and touch the ground parallel to your board on the toe side.

Drag or step with this foot until you fully stop.

Try to keep your weight even across both feet to avoid your board continuing the ride without you.

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