So you're interested in extreme sports? And you're looking for something wicked fun?
If you have a need for speed, then let me introduce you to the longboard.
Longboarding is like skateboarding, but it's way more fun.
Today I'm going to teach you all of the basics that you need to know before you start riding. Stick with me until the end because I'm also going to show you how to do your first trick on the longboard.
Now let's get after it!
A Longboard Doesn't Sound Familiar
A longboard is a type of skateboard, and just like the name implies, it is longer than a standard skateboard.
The basics of the longboard are the same as a shortboard. They both have a deck made of wood or a composite material. On both boards, the wheels attach with squat T-shaped mounts which are called trucks.
So you might be wondering:
What is the difference between the shortboard and the longboard?
Well, aside from the length, the difference is found in their use. Skaters use longboards for cruising and carving hills. Shortboards, on the other hand, are more for jumps, kicks, and tricks on the halfpipe.
The truth is:
They're both a hell of a lot of fun to ride.
But with the longboard, you can reach higher speeds because of the longer board and bigger wheels.
A shortboard is typically 30 to 33 inches long and 8 inches wide. For some comparison, the longboards are usually around 42 inches long with a width of about 8.5 inches
If you're very tall, you can find longboards as long as 50 inches. You can also find shorter longboards for kids that are as short as 34 inches.
And if you're used to skateboarding, you will find that the longboard gives you more stability. But the tradeoff will be that you'll have less agility.
Here's another difference:
The overall look.
Skateboards usually have a symmetrical design with the head and tail. While longboards come in different shapes for different riding styles. In just a minute we're going to talk about some of those shapes.
9 Easy Steps to Longboarding like a Boss
If you're a beginner on a longboard, there are just a few basics that you need to know before you start riding.
I'm going to go step by step through those basics, ending with your first longboard trick.
Beyond what we're going to talk about here today, longboarding is going to take a lot of practice. You know what they say. Practice makes perfect.
Well, it may not make you into Tony Hawk, but it will sure give you some rad rides.
First Things First: Choosing a Board
Okay, let's talk about the board itself for a minute.
The first thing that you should know is that the longer your longboard is, the more stable it will be. So beginners should look for a long one.
But here's something else:
You also need to know that the longer boards don't turn as easily or as quickly as shorter boards.
There are many different longboards available. And it can get overwhelming and confusing to know which one to get. But that's why I'm here!
Before you choose your longboard, think about how you want to use it.
Maybe you just want to do some cruising. Or maybe you're more interested in freestyling or freeriding. Or is it downhill carving that's your thing?
Once you figure out your specific purpose for your longboard, it will be easier to choose the right one.
Do you mainly want to use your board for cruising around town or commuting from one place to another? If your answer is yes, then you want to look for a cruiser or a pintail board.
Cruisers have a slightly rounded tail and a gently pointed nose.
Pintails, on the other hand, have a more sharply rounded nose and the tail tapers to a well-defined point.
Both of these boards are excellent for cruising.
If you're brand new to longboarding, the cruiser and the pintail are the best way to start in the sport.
Freestyling or freeriding
If you're more into technical downhill riding or if you want to use your board for dancing, which shows off a whole other range of skills, then you'll want to look for a dropdown or a dropthrough board.
Both of these boards have symmetrical, narrow heads. And the tails have blunt ends.
Here's what you need to know:
Freestyle longboarding is a very technical type of riding. Freestyle boards are mainly for riding on the flat ground. Freestyling also utilizes things like curbs, stairs, and other obstacles.
Freeriding is a bit different. It's a lot of downhill skating using slides to control the speed.
We'll get to slides in a minute.
If speed is your thing, then you're going to want a stiff cruiser deck, a speed deck, or a top mount.
Speedboards look a lot like dropthroughs, but they have asymmetrical heads and tails.
Topmounts, on the other hand, have symmetrical heads and tails.
What about the wheels?
Glad you asked!
First of all, longboard wheels are wider than the wheels on shortboards. The broader wheels are usually urethane material. And they will assure that you get a smooth ride.
The wheel edges will be:
The square edges are best for cruising flat surfaces. They're also great for straight, smooth hills.
Now if you want wheels made for twisty roads, then you will need beveled edges.
About the safety gear
Longboarding is an extreme sport. It's thrilling. But it's also quite dangerous.
So it is vital that you wear safety gear when you ride.
Protective gear will prevent you from sustaining serious injury when you fall off your board.
And believe me, you will fall.
The essential gear that you need includes:
Okay, now that we've got you all padded up, let's get to the fun stuff!
It's time to ride that board.
Riding regular vs. riding goofy
First, let's talk about how you stand on the board.
You will either ride with your right foot forward or your left foot forward. In longboarding, it's called riding regular or riding goofy.
If you put your left foot in front, then it's called riding regular. Goofy riding means that your right foot is in front.
That front foot is your balancing foot.
You will lean on that front foot when you turn or accelerate.
Your back foot is your kicking foot. It's the one that you will use to push off the pavement.
If you already know how to skateboard, snowboard, wakeboard, or surf, then you already know how to stand on the board. Use the same stance with your longboard.
On the other hand:
If you're new to boarding altogether, then you will need to figure out which foot forward feels more comfortable. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It depends on whichever way feels best for you.
As a general rule, most people use their predominant leg in the back. The best thing you can do, though is to try out both regular and goofy riding. One of them will feel more natural for you. That's the way you want to stand.
Now that you know whether you are goofy or regular, it's time to talk about the stance.
Start by standing in the middle of your board. Make sure that you start on a smooth, flat surface that is free from traffic. When you stand in the middle of your board, you can get a feel for how springy it is.
Practice bending your knees and crouching down and then standing back up on the board. Get used to shuffling your feet on the deck without stepping off.
What you have to know is:
Most of the time that you're longboarding you will keep your feet between the trucks, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Try to keep your front foot pointed diagonally on the board at around a 45-degree angle. Your back foot should slightly turn out a few more degrees.
Are you ready to bomb some hills?
Spread your feet a little wider.
Do you want even more speed?
No problem. Just adjust your feet and point them downhill. You will also pick up speed if you bend your knees more.
Bombing hills is super fun. But you need to keep your board in control. To do that, try keeping your weight focused on your front foot.
Pushing off is how you propel yourself forward on the longboard.
Start by standing on your board. Then place your back foot on the ground and push off.
You can push several times to build up speed. Or you can do one big push off. Once you get moving, put your rear foot back on the board.
Remember a minute ago when I told you that there was no right or wrong way to stand on your board?
Well, there's also no right or wrong way to push off. In fact, you can even push off with your front foot if that feels more comfortable. Pushing with your front foot is called "pushing Mongo."
Practice pushing off and riding first on a flat, smooth surface. Once you get the hang of it, you can try out a small hill. Notice that I said small hill, not a steep drop. We'll get to those but start with the small slopes so you can find the right balance on your board.
Keep in mind:
When you start on hills, don't push off, just let gravity do the work. The second time you go down, try pushing off only once. Get a feel for that, and then you can start pushing off more to gain speed.
So how the heck do you stop this thing?! There are no brakes!
It's true. Longboards don't have breaks. The question is, how do you stop a longboard. The answer is, very carefully.
For beginners, there are basically two different ways to stop your longboard.
Have you ever ridden on a moving sidewalk? You know that feeling when you step off of it? That's pretty much what it feels like to run off of a moving longboard.
You can practice this method by riding on a flat surface near grass. Leap off into the grass so you won't hurt yourself if you fall.
I'm not going to lie:
It takes practice to get the hang of jumping off. It's essential that you wear your pads and protective gear because you are probably going to fall a lot before you get a feel for it.
Time to do some carving!
Okay, now that you know how to move forward and stop, it's time to learn to carve.
Turning on a longboard is called carving.
Just by leaning your weight in one direction or the other your board will turn. You can carve by using your toe edge or your heel edge.
The deeper you carve, the more you will turn.
When you're first learning, try riding down a small hill and practice leaning your body from one side to the other, making very gentle turns.
But you should know:
Turning will slow you down so you will have to give a more forceful push off or several of them.
Once you get comfortable leaning your weight to turn, you can try to build up more speed by crouching down. When your center of gravity is lower, you will go faster.
And watch out for this:
One common mistake that beginners make when they first start carving is that they look down at their feet. I know it's tempting, but don't do it.
Instead, keep your eyes focused straight ahead or slightly downhill. The board tends to go wherever your eyes are looking. So don't look down!
Now let's take a closer look at toe-edge and heel-edge turns.
As you just saw in the video above, turning involves your entire body. But the basic motion with toe-edge carves is that you put your weight on your toes and push the board down on one side to make the turn.
When you do the toe-edge turn, you will shift your body weight slightly so that it's focused more on the front foot. And you will lean forward. Be sure to keep your knees bent and let your shoulders and head turn with your board.
And what will happen is this:
The toe-edge carves will turn your board in the direction that your body is facing.
If you are riding regular, with your left foot in front, then when you do a toe-edge turn you will be turning toward the right. If you are riding goofy with your right foot in front, then a toe-edge turn will make you go to the left.
Heel-edge turns come from leaning back a little and putting your weight into your heels, causing the board to go down on the heel side.
Like with the toe-edge turns, you should do the movement with your whole body, not just your ankles.
You already know that with toe-edge turns, you will be putting more weight on your front foot. It works in reverse for heel-edge carves.
Put more weight on your back foot.
If you are riding regular, then a heel-edge turn will make you go left. If you are riding goofy, then a heel-edge turn will make you go right.
Now that you know how to carve, are you ready to learn your first sick trick?
You know it!
Check out this video on sliding.
Sliding is a way for you to check your speed. It's also super fun.
The basic movement is similar to a carve, but you're going to turn even more. Some slides will turn you 90 degrees. Others will spin you a full 180 degrees.
Here's a truth bomb:
And I'm not going to sugar coat this.
Slides are crazy scary when you're first learning them. But suck it up buttercup. You can do this!
Practice will make you more comfortable.
And trust me; once you get the hang of this, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about anyway.
The first thing that you need to know is that you must wear your protective gear including a helmet and knee and elbow pads. For sliding, there's also one more piece of equipment that is essential.
Don't attempt any kind of sliding without gloves. Not if you like your skin.
The next thing that you need to know about slides is that they work much better when you're going fast. You can start by trying them slow just to practice the mechanics before you try it full out.
But to do this move correctly, you will need speed.
The Coleman slide
The Coleman slide is one of the most popular moves in longboarding. It's also the easiest and safest way to slow down or stop.
As I told you a minute ago, you need gloves for this trick. Your hand is going to scrape along the ground, so don't even think about trying this without gloves.
Your blood and skin look much better on your hand than on the road. Let's keep it that way.
A guy named Cliff Coleman first invented this sick move way back in the 1970s.
Basically what you're going to do is a deep heel carve that will turn you 180 degrees and slow you down a bit.
Watch the video below to see more of the Coleman slide.
But before you watch that, let me give you a few tips about the Coleman slide.
Be sure that you have mastered carving before you try the slides.
Don't let fear stop you.
Start easy. Then work up to higher speeds before you slide.
Keep most of your weight on your front foot.
When you touch the ground allow some of your body weight to go into that hand.
Crouch all the way down when you slide and grab the longboard with one hand.
Rotate your shoulders all the way around.
Learn how to fall
Now I'm going to drop a truth bomb on you.
You are going to fall.
You're going to fall a lot.
And it's going to suck.
There are no two ways about it. Falling hurts. But that doesn't mean that you have to injure yourself when you do it.
So as crazy as this sounds, you have to learn how to fall.
One of the most common injuries in longboarding is a broken wrist.
The reason that so many people break their wrists is that they haven't learned how to fall safely.
The natural human tendency is to use your arms to break your fall. You're going to want to land on your hands with your arms straight. But unless you want to dislocate your shoulder or break your wrist or elbow don't do that!
The video below will go through some things for you to practice so that you can avoid injury when you fall off of your longboard.
But here's what you want to remember:
You don't want to try to stop your fall. Instead, you want to roll out of it.
Let your body collapse into a ball and roll.
Start by practicing this in the grass so that you'll know what to do when it happens on the less forgiving road.
Safety Tips for Longboarding
Now you know all of the basics to the longboard. You're almost ready to take a ride on that board.
But before you start let me just go over a few safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Wear a helmet!
You should look for a helmet that has a label reading ASTM F1492 or Snell N-94. That label will tell you that the helmet was made specifically to protect longboarders.
Wear protective gear
Wear protective gear including knee pads, elbow pads, shoes with flat bottoms, and if you are sliding, you will need gloves.
Make sure that all of your hardware and wheels are secure before you start riding
Check the local laws before you ride.
Check the local laws before you ride. Some areas have specific rules about where you can and can't use your longboard.
Never ride alone or after dark.
Rocks and holes !
Look out for rocks and holes in the pavement.
Never ride after you've taken drugs or alcohol.
Look out !
Look out for cars and dogs.
Do Not use a longboard.
Children under the age of 5 should not use a longboard.
Kids age 5 through 10 should only ride with adult supervision.
One Last Thing
You're ready! Now it's time to jump on that longboard and start working on some of the things you just learned.
As we've discussed, longboarding is an extreme sport. That means that it's extremely wicked fun.
Image By: Free-Photos
But it also means that it's extremely dangerous.
The best advice that I can give to beginners to the sport is to learn how to fall.
And I don't mean just reading about it either.
I'm talking about getting out there and purposefully falling safely so that it will become like second nature.
An excellent way to do that is by standing on your board in the grass and diving and rolling off. The grass will cushion your fall a lot more than the pavement. But it's an excellent place to practice.
Because the truth is:
Most of the time when you fall there's no time to think about it. So you have to rely on your body remembering what it's supposed to do. The only way to get that muscle memory is by doing it over and over.
If you know any great tips for falling or for longboarding in general, please share them with our readers in the comments section below.