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How to Turn On a Skateboard

One of the most important fundamental skills of learning to skate is turning.

There are two main types of turns you will want to focus on first to get good at skating: kick turns and carving.

Get familiar with how to start turning on your skateboard with the tips below.

How to Turn a Skateboard

Because a skateboard doesn’t come with a steering wheel, it’s up to you to move your body to change the direction of your momentum.

All turns are done by leaning your body from side to side, focusing on applying pressure to the side of the board you want to turn towards using either your toes or your heels.  A bigger turn will require you to also turn your head and upper body in the direction you want to go.

Bending both knees and staying centered on your board will often be best to help you maintain balance.

If you’ve turned while surfing or snowboarding, you’ll turn in a very similar fashion while skateboarding.

It’ll take some practice to maintain speed while turning. Follow these step-by-step instructions if you are just getting started.

Step By Step: How to Turn Your Skateboard

  1. Stand on your skateboard in a comfortable position.
  2. Push, using your back foot, to start moving forward.
  3. Bend your knees to maintain balance on the board.
  4. To complete a backside turn: lean forward towards your toes, shifting your weight to the balls of your feet. Lean in that direction with the top half of your body, too. End the turn by standing back up straight.
  5. To complete a frontside turn: bend your knees and lean back on your heels, using your upper body to lean back. End the turn by standing back up straight.

It can be difficult to maintain balance while turning if you’re a beginner. Persistence and practice are key.

Maintain your weight distribution by applying equal pressure to your front and back foot.

The more pressure you apply to the turn, the sharper it’ll be. A fun way to practice turns is to set up cones and skate through them.

PRO TIP: The tightness of your trucks is going to affect how quickly you can turn.

Looser trucks enable quicker turns, but there are many experienced skaters that prefer them tight. It’s all up to personal preference.

Another factor that will make your turns more noticeable is traveling at higher speeds. The faster you are going, the more you will notice your turn.

Types of Turns to Work On

Now that you’re getting comfortable on your board, it’s time to venture into different types of turns. Get familiar with kick turns and carving to level up your skills.

Kickturns

Kickturns are best used when you’re moving slowly or fully stopped and you want to change direction. Or, if you’re skating transitions.

This is a fun turn to practice once you’re gotten comfortable with standard turns using leaning.

When you do a kick turn, you balance on your back wheels and swing the front of your board in the direction you want to go next. 

To practice, stand on your skateboard with your back foot on the tail of the deck and your front foot either on or near the front bolts.

Bend your knees to maintain balance and shift your weight to your back foot, which will lift your front foot and enable you to move your board in a new direction.

As you’ll see when you first attempt it, it takes a little bit of practice to get good at. It is a good idea to practice this on carpet or grass before on smoother ground so your board won’t roll away from you. 

Carving

Carving is a great skill to master in order to keep your board stable at high speeds.

You’ll find it handy whether you’re bombing a hill, cruising around flat streets, or skating a pump track or pool.

It’s done by leaning left and then right consecutively and completing ongoing S turns. 

To practice, get balanced on the middle of your board in a regular stance. Use your back foot to push and start moving.

Practice turning inwards towards the front of your body, putting weight on your toes, and leaning your upper body forward. This is a frontside carve.

Stand back up straight once you finish the carve.

Now practice your backside carve by pushing yourself forward again, bending your knees, and putting weight into your heels. Lean your upper body back as if you’re getting ready to sit. Return back to normal position.

Once you get comfortable with this motion on flat ground, it’s fun to go practice it while skating down a hill, which will give you more speed.

Once you’re ready, find a good hill, and start going down it with your knees bent extra to maintain balance—the lower the better.

Practice carving between your frontside and backside.

Slow down by standing back up and using your foot as a brake.

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