I was a beginner at one point. That’s something that you have to remember. Every pro, builder, and legend was a beginner at some point in their career.There was a point when they indeed did need to learn how to push, how to turn, how far to lean.
And that’s where a lot of people are right now, and that’s okay.
The first longboard I ever had was a tiny minicruiser with these really dorky lightup wheels. It was an impulse buy. It was maybe 22 inches long, 7 inches wide.
It was definitely not a comfortable board to be pushing around on. I didn’t have skate shoes nor a helmet. I had running shoes (they got destroyed in a few sessions), which really didn’t serve me incredibly well but that’s what I had.
I learned a lot on this tiny little board. I learned to push, how to use a kicktail, I think I ollied a few times, and I also did my first major bail.
This brings me a point that I like to capitalize on with a lot of people: you don’t need something expensive to learn. This board cost me a little over 100 Canadian dollars. It was far from being what I really needed to start downhill, but it did let me play around and have a lot of fun.
And then I got a semiproper cheapo longboard. This one cost me a bit more. It also wasn’t the best for anything downhill or freeride, but I made do with it, since it was a present from my mother.
I shredded the living hell out of this board. I screwed around with the trucks and bushings, sold the trucks, got new ones, put new bushings in it, got new wheels, put those on, and during all of this, I was having tons and tons of fun.
This then brings me to the point that your gear should evolve alongside your progress.
I see guys everywhere with these really nice nine hundred dollar setups showing up to skate meets (faces we’ve never seen before), only to find out that they’re just starting out.
This advanced gear doesn’t support them, but it only hinders them because it forces them to adhere to the specific style of riding that the said gear is built for. For example, one of the most expensive trucks on the market are highangle, highrake trucks that are built for really, really sharp freeriding.
I see kids trying to downhill them, and having to alter their style completely in order to get even the slightest amount of juice out of the trucks. And this is pretty unfortunate because they could be so much better on a cheaper setup.
Another thing that I think is incredibly important is learning to stop.
One of the things that scares a new skater the most is not being able to stop, because if you look at a board, there’s not really a logical way to stop since you can’t really see any brakes on it.
Because of this, it’s incredibly important that you learn to stop easily and efficiently. Personally, I’m a big fan of footbraking. It’s fast, and if you don’t really care about your shoes, you can stop very, very quickly. Not as quickly as sliding, but it is the best thing before, and it’s pretty easy to learn.
I think a really big part of progression as a beginner is the community. The sooner you get into a community and start getting support and advice from seniors and superiors, the faster you will pick up certain skills.
They will push you past your limits, take you to new spots, give you advice on gear and just generally boost your morale incredibly.
My progression was at a stalefish for around 5 months after I started. During this time, I was skating alone or with a few friends that I picked up around the city. I tried sliding on bad gear that didn’t make
much sense, I was going down the shallowest of hills because there was nobody to tell me to send it harder, nobody to push me past my limits.
As soon as I found my city’s longboarding scene, they invited me out to the weekly nightride and I fell in love with downhill for the first time. It was a great night. 24 degrees outside at night, we only needed a sweater.
Garages, mellow slopes and lots of fun with 12 other skaters. My ankle is broken right now, but I have been dying to get back and skate with my friends again for so long.
Longboarders are also some of the best, most genuine people that you could ever hang out with.
I’ve gotten advice from them on countless occasions, where I’ve talked to them about some personal issues I’ve been having and they gave me the most personal opinions and advice they could possibly give me, driving me home and to the store to get me donuts.
I believe that a beginner though, should most importantly feel at home. You shouldn’t need to worry about progressing or getting to the level of the other skaters around you.
No, you should feel right at home, get a board from your favourite longboard store, ride it and you should feel that the sport loves you dearly, and it does.
Stay safe. – Ryan the Longboarder.