Skateboarding may be a sport that looks incredibly easy but it is a bit more complex than it may seem. Because there are no handles, you have to learn how to perfectly balance as well as get the basic techniques down. But that is why you’re here.
We’ve researched and gathered everything you need to know about introducing yourself to skateboarding so you don’t have to. We’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about learning to skateboard.
From selecting your skateboard to the basic tricks and techniques you need to master. Once you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll be more than ready to start your skateboarding journey and will be filled with the confidence and expectations needed.
The great thing about skateboarding is that you can start learning it at any age no matter how young or old you are. However, bear in mind that the older you are, the longer it may take for you to get the basics perfected as well as longer for injuries to heal.
Regardless, skateboarding is a fantastic skill to have. A great way of travelling around that is cost effective, kinder to the environment as well as being a minimal piece of equipment unlike other similar modes of transportation such as scooters or bikes.
We’ve got lots of advice that you should consider before you even select your skateboard to reduce the risk of injuries as well as making sure you have those realistic expectations in check rather than trying to skateboard, finding it difficult and storing the skateboard away where it will collect dust.
Buying a skateboard
The first thing to think about when you’re choosing your skateboard is what kind of skateboard you want to purchase.
On the surface, the skateboards may not have a lot of differences between them but the design and functions will have an affect on performance meaning that it is important to get a skateboard that is going to suit your lifestyle and needs. Among the most popular kinds of skateboards are: cruiser, longboard, electric and old school. So which one is best for you?
For those wanting to use their skateboard for basic transportation and going at a slower speed are best suited for cruiser and longboard models. This is because, as suggested, the deck is larger meaning that it is easier to balance on.
Cruiser and longboards are also great for older learners because they can learn the basics easier thanks to the balance. Bear in mind that because of the larger area of the deck that cruisers and longboards do not go as fast so may not be suitable for doing flips or using ramps because they don’t have that speed and are heavier in weight.
If you’re a little bit older and are intimidated by the idea of a manual skateboard then there are electric skateboards that are available. These are extremely easy to handle and don’t take as long to learn to use as well as reducing the risk of the user falling off because it is electric.
For those who are wanting to learn the more adventurous and exciting aspects of skateboarding such as flips and going to skateparks and ramps then finding an old school skateboard with a smaller deck is the best.
These are the more traditional size and shape and are for those who want to master a lot of tricks. The smaller deck space means that learning how to balance will be trickier as well as the increased chance of falling off and injuring yourself, but this is the choice for those who want a skateboard with speed.
So what kind of skateboards should you avoid? Novelty and toy skateboards, usually made by toy brands with limited experience in sports equipment should be avoided at all costs.
Although they are sold at cheaper price points and may seem as ideal for those who want to learn they will actually do more bad than good in the long run. These skateboards are usually not made from quality materials and are usually all about the aesthetic rather than the functionality.
It’s always advised to go to a proper skateboard shop where you can receive professional advice from a sales assistant who will point you in the right direction in terms of the best first skateboard.
So you’ve decided to do the smart thing and go to a professional skateboard shop. What should you be thinking about when you are looking at the different models?
Firstly is the budget. The idea of visiting a professional skate shop may seem like a daunting task that is going to drain your bank account, however, not all skateboards cost ridiculous amounts of money.
You can easily find a high quality beginner skateboard for under $100 with ease. Knowing that you’ll probably need to get a lot of wear and tear out of your beginner skateboard before the need to upgrade models, you’ll be getting a lot more for your buck in the long run without having to splash out lots of cash.
So you have found the perfect skateboard for you and now is the time to consider the apparel that you will have to wear whilst skateboarding.
The most important piece of apparel to invest in is the shoes. You need to make sure that the shoes you purchase are made from fabric with a flat sole and are shock absorbent.
This means that you’ll be preventing any heel injuries. It’s advisable to go for a brand such as Vans or Lakai that are known for their trusted designs made from the highest quality material. Their shoes have the longevity required and can withstand the conditions faced through skateboarding.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of purchasing shoes that may look the part such as Nike or Converse that may seem like they are suitable but actually are more fashionable than functional.
Although there is a lot of fashion based around the skater aesthetic, it’s important to buy clothing and shoes that are actually going to keep you safe and be appropriate.
As well as shoes, it’s important to purchase appropriate socks. Just as you would select suitable socks dependent on what sport you’re partaking in whether it is running or cycling, you want to make sure that the socks you wear are going to assist in making your skateboarding experiences as positive as it can be.
Although many skateboard shops sell their own socks, it is best to go with runner socks rather than regular socks that may have a pretty pattern on them.
Runner socks are ideal because they absorb sweat which is definitely needed because skateboarding will cause your feet to sweat. Runner socks are also thicker meaning that you won’t be suffering with blisters
Lastly, you need to think about safety gear. It’s important whether you’re young or old that all beginners need to don safety gear. It’s almost certain that you will fall off your skateboard, especially when learning, so wearing safety gear is going to stop you from having to go to the hospital.
When you first learn how to skateboard, you’re at a higher chance of bad injuries because you won’t know how to properly fall.
Safety gear simply prevents any serious issues from occurring and can give you the piece of mind and confidence to try new tricks without worrying about any long lasting injury that is going to put you off skateboarding any more.
The basic protective gear that you should purchase is a helmet and knee pads as these are the most likely and sensitive body parts that are likely to be impacted.
Using the skateboard
So now for the part that you’ve been waiting for - actually using your skateboard. Even if you’re extremely excited to get on your skateboard and go, it’s important to familiarize yourself with how going on a skateboard feels.
So where should you start? Put your skateboard onto some grass where it won’t be able to roll away and then put your feet in the right position on the deck.
Start to jump on and off the skateboard and lean forwards and backwards. This will give you an idea for the feel of skateboarding without posing any risk of injuring yourself.
Even if you do stumble off then the grass will ease the fall. The skateboard will stay in position so you can take your time trying to practice these basic techniques.
It’s so much better to do this in a stable environment rather than out on the street where you could injure yourself and also damage the skateboard.
Preparation for skateboarding for the first time
As previously mentioned, the most important skill to learn and develop is balance no matter what kind of skateboard you have purchased or what you are using the skateboard for.
When positioning yourself on the skateboard, you want to keep your center mass over the skateboard in the middle. It will take a while to find where that is for you.
Start with a small, slow ride initially as this will mean that you have more control over the skateboard itself and will be able to reduce the chance of falling off and hurting yourself.
Make sure you are wearing the appropriate clothing and safety gear at all times, even if you are going on short rides. The best places to try out your skateboard are flat surfaces and empty places that are not heavily populated. Areas like car parks are great places if you are unsure where to learn.
Bear in mind that you will find that learning the basics will take some time but you’ll start to feel confident before long and expand your knowledge and skill set before you know it.
It cannot be said enough that skateboarding does take some technique and skill to master and how important it is to restrain your expectations to avoid any disappointment.
So you’re now ready to learn how to skateboard. However, there are some last minute tips you need to carry out before doing so.
Inspecting your skateboard
Before using your skateboard, you need to inspect the equipment to make sure that it is in top condition and can be used without risking your safety.
Things to look out for include sharp edges, worn out bearings and loose bolts. If you use your skateboard and it has issues then it can cause serious issues, increasing your chances of injury and also potentially causing long term damage to the skateboard.
It’s best to check it frequently when you’re learning to skateboard but the more you use it, you’ll be able to inspect it less. When you’re a more advanced skateboarder, you’ll be able to tell immediately whether something is out of place.
So what can happen if you don’t fix any problems?
If your wheels aren’t secure then they will fall off or a broken bearing will prevent any wheel movement. Make sure the grip tape hasn’t worn out as this will reduce any chances of you losing balance and falling off.
Lastly, it’s important to not be self conscious when you’re starting out. A lot of skateboard beginners get into their own head about what other people may think of them or how they will react when they see you trying to learn the basics. The most important thing is to ignore them and know that this is something that’s going to make you happy.
Following on from the previous paragraph, feeling fearful and scared of the possibilities that come with skateboarding in terms of injuries is a very real thing that every skateboarding beginner feels at the start of their journey.
Making sure that you were wearing safety gear will help to prevent any injuries that could easily be avoided. Always make sure that you are doing your training at your own pace and don’t do anything outside your comfort zone that you’re really unsure about.
The more you skateboard and adjust yourself to the different techniques, you’ll be able to learn how to fall properly. Falling properly means being able to control your fall in a way that prevents any serious injury.
You need to go into skateboarding knowing that you are more than likely to fall off your skateboard but following the safety tips given above and you’ll be able to reduce your chances of a hospital trip or any long term serious damage.
So when is the best time to learn how to skateboard?
Make sure you are learning to skateboard in dry and clear weather. If it is raining then it’s important not to go out skateboarding. Not only will the ground be more difficult for you to have control over but your skateboard itself will begin to deteriorate in quality due to the hardware being worn down by the poor conditions.
Also, rain will damage the grip tape meaning that there is more chance that you will fall off the skateboard and potentially cause a lot of damage.
More advanced skaters have an older deck that they use for poor weather conditions but only because they have the skills and expertise to use skateboards in poor weather conditions. For beginners, it’s advised to completely avoid skating in poor weather overall. It’s best to learn the basics in the easiest conditions so you can learn how to fully control the skateboard.
As we have also touched upon in this guide, finding a smooth surface is going to be the easiest kind of ground to skateboard on. If you skateboard on uneven surfaces or paths that are full of twigs and rocks then that can cause damage to the board as it will get in the wheel mechanism as well as making it highly likely that you will fall off.
With this in mind, always scout and check the area where you plan to ride. Make sure you are checking the ground for any rocks, glass or twigs and try to ensure that you have found as smooth a surface as possible.
If you’re wanting to learn how to skateboard in a skate park then it’s best to go in the early morning when it is more likely to be emptier. As skate parks get extremely busy during the middle of the day and can become quite congested that you may not have the space you need to learn those basic techniques.
Going to a skate park while it’s busy may intimidate you as well as a lot of experienced and advanced skaters tend to use skate parks to show off their skills and tricks. A great alternative is definitely empty car parks that provide the space that you need.
For those who really don’t have the confidence and don’t know where to start, lessons are a great introduction to the sport. Finding someone who can teach you one on one may be your preferred way of learning.
If you’re an older learner and really unsure on how to go around it then getting an instructor will help boost your confidence as well as ensuring that you are doing the basic techniques correctly to avoid any injuries.
Lessons are not mandatory when it comes to skateboarding but for some people, this route helps them with their posture and techniques in a way that they may have been doing before.
You can even take one lesson just to get some general guidance and advice from a professional. Alternatively, you can turn to more modern tools such as YouTube which is a more cost effective way that will also show demonstrations from someone else in order to help you.
Make sure that you repeat your exercises in order to teach your muscles what they must do when you skateboard. Much like riding a bike, you want to practice to the point where you don’t have to think about the basics.
This means you’ll have the memory space to learn more advanced techniques as well as avoiding any overthinking and fear that may occur if you think too much about what you are doing.
How to treat fellow skateboarders
Being respectful to other skaters is also extremely important, as can be expected. If you decide to learn how to skateboard at a skatepark then it’s important to be aware of the amount of space you are using and try not to get in other people’s way just as they will be aware of you also.
Not only is this polite but this will prevent any potential collisions that can cause serious injury to yourself and others. If you are struggling to get a technique perfected, you can ask for help and most skaters are usually very happy to assist you in any way they can.
It’s all about having fun and a respectful attitude towards everyone and you’re more likely to receive the same treatment back.
It’s very important to be respectful to your fellow skaters. Skaters will be very supportive when you ask for guidance, like for example dropping in a mini ramp for the first time. They will help you show how to do it and even lend you protective gear.
Have realistic expectations
Because skateboarding is just you and the board itself, a lot of people believe that skateboarding is something that is extremely easy to master and only takes a few days.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you do take to it quickly, it’s important to really take your time getting those basic techniques learned before trying to attempt the harder tricks.
If you are an active person who is regularly taking part in sports then you’re more likely to become accustomed to skateboarding sooner because you’ll be able to find that balance quicker.
For those who aren’t as sporty or active, getting used to skateboarding may take a little bit more time. However, do not let that put you off. It’s more important to take your time, have fun and make sure you are learning at your own pace. This will mean that you’re alleviating yourself from any unnecessary pressure and you’re more likely to be a successful skater in the long run.
In order to familiarize yourself with the basics of skateboarding, you should practice your balancing which will mean that you can improve your core strength as well as foot accuracy. This will help you to master the basics in a short amount of time and will ensure that you’re going to be a successful skater in the long run.
Make sure that you practice every day to really familiarize yourself with skateboarding. If you’re out of shape then try to add in additional workouts besides skateboarding in order to achieve a better result. This will help with your balance as well as ensuring that you’re not tiring yourself out after a short skate.
By practicing as much as you can, you’ll be able to get to grips with the basics quicker. Try to incorporate skateboarding into your daily routine.
Whether you’re commuting to school or work or perhaps meetings with friends. Try to get from A to B on your board as it allows you to use your board in real life situations.
Learning how to fall
So we’ve discussed learning how to fall previously in this article but what does it mean? To put it simply, learning how to fall is how it sounds. Start by riding into a patch of grass and fall off your skateboard on purpose.
This may sound ridiculous but there is a purpose to this. You’ll get to know how it feels when you fall off the board but also you can teach yourself how to position yourself if it happens in real life.
It’s important to learn how to fall when you’re learning how to skateboard because it is highly likely that you’re going to fall off the board at some point.
Learning how to fall will keep you prepared should something unexpected happen and reduces the risk of serious injuries. When falling, try to slide on your knees and wrists as this will reduce any impact thanks to the knee pads and risk guards.
There are techniques that you can learn should you choose not to wear protective gear but those techniques are reserved for advanced and confident skaters. Beginners should always wear protective gear because this will reduce any fear and risk, especially when learning the basics.
Another important aspect to bear in mind is ensuring that you control your speed. Like riding a bike, you want to make sure that you are starting off slow.
Not only is this going to be helpful in order to learn the basic techniques but you’re also ensuring that you are safe as well as others around you. If you go too fast and need to stop quickly, you’re not going to have the control you need at a beginner level.
Even if you are wearing safety gear, it’s incredibly important to make sure that you are still being safe at your speed. You’ll be able to tell when you are ready to go faster but make sure you do this gradually rather than going from slow to super fast immediately.
If you’re planning to skate far away from your home then it is wise to equip yourself with a tool kit should you skateboard encounter any damage while you’re practicing.
There are plenty of tool kits on the market but be sure to invest in a high quality one that is going to do its job properly. If you purchase a tool kit that is cheap then the tools may incur long term damage to your skateboard in the long run because they won’t do their job properly.
We’ve touched on how age can affect your ability to learn, however, do not let it worry you.
For older learners who have never skateboarded before, make sure that you’re investing in your safety gear and a cruiser as this is going to prevent the risk of any injuries. The older you are the more time it takes for injuries to heal.
When you see kids messing around and falling over every five minutes covered in cuts, they’re usually healed and gone within days. However, older learners are more likely to incur long term damage if they don’t follow the proper precautions.
Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough to make sure that you are doing everything you can to prevent accidents.
Riding the skateboard
Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’re now ready to get onto your skateboard properly for the first time on a hard surface. The likelihood is that you will fall off because of how strange it will feel and it’s difficult to get your balance when the wheels are able to start rolling. However, there are ways in which you can master your balance quickly.
Make sure that your feet are positioned correctly. You can practice this when your skateboard is unable to move on surfaces such as grass as explained before. This will help you get used to where your feet need to be and you’ll be able to center your core and find the balance in your body as well.
After doing this, you should be able to step onto the board on a harder surface without worrying that you will fall off. The key is not to be scared about the movement of the skateboard. It’s natural that it will move but making sure that you keep control is what you will quickly learn when you start to properly ride.
When you have found that balance, push your skateboard forward with one foot keeping both feet on the board and bend your knees slightly. This will keep you closer to the ground and in more control of the board.
The foot that you use to push your skateboard forward is known as the “push foot” and should be the same foot used to stopping and stepping off the board as well. Bending your knees allows your center of gravity to be controlled and balanced, meaning that you’re less likely to fall off.
So how much should I skateboard?
When it comes to actually skateboarding, try to properly ride at least 3 times a week as this will allow your muscles to remember what to do in a shorter amount of time.
If you can do the basics everyday in terms of keeping the skateboard on a patch of grass or in a position where it cannot roll and practice embarking and disembarking it then that will make your skateboarding trips even easier and make you a more consistent skater.
Try to figure out if you prefer the regular stance where your left foot is in front of your right or the goofy stance where your right foot is in front of your left. Despite their names, you can choose one or the other without any concerns. It’s genuinely whatever you are most comfortable with.
Knowing which stance you prefer is hugely important because this will impact your push foot and make your skating experience more consistent when you are learning new techniques.
For example, if you opt for the goofy stance but learn a new technique that requires a regular stance then it’s going to cause accidents and frustrations and means that you’re more than likely going to end up falling off the board at some point.
So what stance is the best for you? The best way to find out is to run and imagine you’re going to slide on a slippery surface ahead. Jump and land, putting a foot forward.
The foot that goes forward will most likely be your front foot. An alternative method is asking someone to push you and the foot that you use to save yourself from falling will be your front foot.
Now that you know which foot is going to be in front, now is the time to practice giving yourself a little push on the skateboard. Make sure you are giving it a small push and keep your foot over the ground if possible so you still have control should you stumble. This will take some practice but it’s important to do this gradually before actually trying to skateboard with both feet on the board.
Now you’re ready to try putting your push feet on the deck which is where you actually try to skateboard properly. When you push your foot and it is hovering over the ground, spin your front front sideways as this will help you gain balance and then place your push foot on the deck.
Bear in mind that it can take a while before you gain complete control and you may fall off as it is a different kind of feeling when you are actually skateboarding.
It may take a while before you feel completely comfortable but it will come with time. As stated earlier in this guide, using your skateboard as much as possible in your everyday life will speed up the process and get you used to the skateboarding feel. If you’re still not feeling completely comfortable after a while then try skateboarding with the other foot in front and see if that makes any difference.
Skateboarding is like any sport or hobby, it takes time to fully master it. Going in with the expectation that it will take time is smart because it’s best to learn skateboarding gradually.
Trying to learn everything quickly will result in mistakes and accidents whereas taking the time to really master the basic techniques before advancing is crucial and will ensure that you get the most out of your skateboard. It’s important to make sure that you are pacing yourself and not trying to do ollies and kickflips right after learning how to do the basics.
Once you know how to skateboard straight, the next thing to learn is to turn. Again, it cannot be stressed enough not to attempt any ollies or kickflips until you have the skills to do so.
A lot of people, especially those who want to go to skateparks, are wanting to learn how to do those major tricks and show off their skill. However, you’re definitely not ready to attempt them yet as you still need to learn more basics.
Also, getting the basics down will mean that when you come to learning more advanced techniques will be easier.
Learning how to turn
The best way to learn how to turn is stepping on the skateboard with both feet then lean to the front back using your feet. You’ll find that the board will follow your movements and you’ll be able to learn quickly how easy it is to turn. There are two kinds of turns that you should learn at the basic level. These are the carving turn and kick turns.
Carving turns are the easiest kind of turn as you simply lean in the direction that you want to go and the board will go. Make sure that your trucks are not too tight or the board won’t turn.
On the other hand, kick turns are more difficult and this is when you put pressure on the tail with the back foot which then lifts the front wheels off the ground. This is a harder skill to master because you have to learn how much pressure to apply without falling off the board.
Learning how to stop
Now you need to learn how to stop. It’s not going to end well if you know how to skate straight ahead and turn without knowing how to stop. Stopping is simple, you just need to reduce speed by dragging the soles of your feet.
First use your back foot as this will assist in gradually slowing down as it will apply the pressure to the ground. Position your front foot to face forwards as if you are starting to skate as your back foot is dragging. This will gradually slow you down in a way that will prevent any injury or damage.
If you are going too fast and are heading towards traffic then you’ll have to jump off the board before it’s too late. This is why it is important to go slowly at first to build up your muscle memory and skill set.
So there are your basics to learning how to skateboard. Once you’ve mastered these techniques then you’ll be ready to do your more advanced tricks such as flips and ollies but be sure that you have really got these basics perfected before even attempting them.
It’s important to know how to balance and apply pressure because if you are slightly off then it will cause serious injuries when you go to attempt the harder techniques. You’ll find that learning these basic techniques will open up a whole range of endless possibilities and you’ll be using your skateboard everyday before you know it.
Not only is this convenient because you’ll be saving money from not using public transport but also it will reduce commute time as well as proving to be great exercise as it works all of your core muscles.
So to conclude, there are some important things to keep in mind before you embark on your skateboarding journey. The first thing is to make sure that you are following the tips and tricks that we have laid out for you in this article and make sure you are going at a gradual pace.
When it comes to skateboarding, it’s important to make sure you’re not skipping on those important basic techniques because going for the more advanced tricks is going to result in accidents that may injure yourself or others.
You want to ensure that you are taking the time to develop your confidence and skills in skateboarding and wearing the appropriate clothing. Not only is this because it is going to increase your safety but you’ll also feel comfortable and will have the most positive experience when you’re learning those techniques.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Make sure you feel comfortable and happy with your new skill and you’ll find that the techniques will be easier to learn once you’re feeling confident in yourself.
It’s important not to overthink it when you’re skateboarding and eventually your muscle memory will kick in and you won’t have to think about it at all.
Making sure that you don’t let fear get the better of you will also prevent any accidents or injuries as fear can make you lose control of the board.