Longboarding can be a fun and challenging sport that offers hours of fun and long-term benefits. Experienced riders frequently use longboards to navigate their way through cities, and other riders use them for tricks, and downhill fun.
What Is Longboarding?
A longboard is, in essence, a more extended version of a skateboard that serves as a form of transportation and fun. Longboarding has gained in popularity as of late, and more and more young people are lining up to buy longboards over skateboards.
Skateboarding is derived from surfing and became a favorite pastime in the 1970’s. It wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that longboarding caught on, and today there are several kinds of longboards available.
Transportation or cruising longboards are often used in city settings to get people from one place to another without all of the bulk of a bike or scooter. There are also slalom, freeride, and downhill longboards available, and each is customized for their purpose.
Transportation longboards are popular partly because they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and most come with a design as well. Slolam longboards are meant for weaving between obstacles, and freeride longboards are best suited for doing tricks.
The most extreme version of the longboard is the downhill version which is for riders going down steep inclines at the highest speeds possible. While this may sound dangerous, longboarding can be quite safe with the proper knowledge and safety equipment.
Where Do I Get A Longboard?
There are numerous websites online where you can buy longboards, but many experienced riders insist that you try them before you buy. Local board shops in your city will undoubtedly carry them and other extreme sports centers may as well.
Sporting goods stores, skate shops, and climbing gyms sometimes offer longboards in addition to all different kinds of gear, but make sure to shop around and get the board that works best for you.
There should be a bit of spring to the longboard given your weight but depending on the kind of longboard you choose there should be a coordinating amount of stiffness. Hardware is also essential, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you start shopping to make sure you are getting high-quality components on your longboard.
Longboards are often customizable, and the part you stand on, or the deck, can be swapped out for a different design. The wheels and other parts of the longboard are replaceable as the hardware can wear out over time, and you may want to upgrade in the future.
Longboarding for Beginners
Learning to ride a longboard will not be an easy task for most people that are new to the sport. Quite a bit of skill is involved, and good balance and coordination are also necessary. Many individuals have no idea how to start riding and longboard and ultimately decide that just jumping on is the best course of action.
For most people, this tactic won’t work, and you may become easily frustrated. By following a few simple steps, and practicing quite a bit, you should be able to slowly learn how to ride a longboard well enough to use it as a form of transportation.
Set Your Stance
Having the correct stance when you begin longboarding can make a huge difference in your performance when you start out. In fact, a proper stance will ensure that you not only ride the longboard comfortably but that you are also safe and fall less often.
For many, this means figuring out which foot you are most comfortable putting in the forward position on the longboard and which one is in back. This positioning is referred to as “goofy” if your right foot is in the front, or in the direction that you are moving. If your left foot feels best in the forward position, then you “skate regularly.”
There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to goofy versus regular, but your dominant foot typically will feel the most comfortable as the foot you push with to gain speed.
Move Your Feet
Correctly articulating your feet can help you stay on the longboard and prevent 80% of the failures that you’d most likely endure otherwise. Placing your front foot straight with your toes just behind the front screws on the deck will give you some stability. Setting your other foot just in front of the rear screws will help you keep your weight centered.
When you use your dominant foot to push off, keep your other foot in the same straight position it was when you started. Begin with lighter pushes to get a feel for the movement and maintain your balance. At this stage, speed is not the concern, and staying on the longboard to work on balance should be your priority.
When you finish pushing with your foot and put it back on the board, make sure it is at a 90-degree angle to your other foot, or you may experience some unpleasant wobbling. You can then rotate your front foot 90-degrees to reduce the wobbling further.
Find A Partner
Longboarding may take quite a bit of practice to get good at and during that process you may find yourself falling a lot. Falling is normal, and eventually, it will begin to happen less often, but you may benefit from having a partner to lean on or push you.
Depending on your comfort level, a partner can offer a stabilizing hand when needed, or gently push you while you are on the board so you can practice your balance. Taking away the footwork of pushing can help accelerate your progress and focusing on your balance will increase your comfort on the longboard.
A partner can also help to spot you and make sure you don’t take any unnecessarily nasty falls while practicing. Safety equipment is always a good idea, but falls can still hurt and severely damage your enthusiasm.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, as a partner can give you some much needed time to iron out mistakes and form good behaviors and balance before adding in the aspect of pushing again.
Once you have your balance down, it’s time to start learning how to turn the longboard and curve around different objects. Turning right or left is referred to as either toe edge curving, or heel edge curving and neither require you to move your feet from their 90-degree position to the longboard.
Dipping your toes forward towards the ground is toe edge curving, and this will cause the board to turn right. Similarly, if you wish to turn left, you lower your heels to the ground to achieve heel edge curving. How much pressure you put on your heels or toes will determine how much you turn and how quickly.
Turning can be challenging to learn if you haven’t mastered the aspect of balance, so be sure that your balance is stable before attempting turns. When learning to turn, a partner may also be helpful as you work on staying upright.
When practicing your turns, it’s generally a good idea to be on a flat surface or very gentle slope. Some prefer to work on their pushing and turning at the same time, while others will find that the soft hill moves the longboard slowly without their help and makes for the perfect turning environment.
Stopping can be an issue with longboards because there is no onboard braking system. It is also important to remember that sudden stops could cause you to fly off the board. Therefore, there are a few things to keep in mind before stopping your longboard when you are at speed.
First, you can jump off the longboard and allow yourself to run a short distance to exhaust the momentum that you have. Jumping is often the best option for many beginners as it will enable you to quickly exit the longboard and rely on your own two feet.
Second, you can try shuffling or dragging one foot to slowly reduce the speed of the longboard and bring yourself to a more gradual stop. This method is notoriously more difficult for many beginners and may be best left until the basics have been mastered.
While both methods have their merits, knowing how to jump off the board in a hurry can save you from hitting unforeseen obstacles in the road such as glass, grass, puddles, or ditches. It can also help you avoid collisions with another pedestrian or biker.
When longboarding, there are a few safety precautions that you should always take to protect yourself from potentially serious injury or harm.
- Always wear a helmet. There are special ones for sports like skateboarding and longboarding but be sure it’s not a knock-off or low-quality product.
- Padding is always a good idea: Hip, knee, and elbow pads should be worn.
- Wear closed shoes made of durable material like leather
- Use a mouth guard
- Ride where there is minimal traffic when you are first starting out.
- Avoid steep hills in the beginning.