I suppose it all depends on your definition of skateboarding.
I mean, if you’re asking whether it’s hard to learn how to push yourself along on a skateboard, the answer is, not really.
But if you asked; is it hard to learn how to do kickflips and ollies? Well, it’s certainly a lot harder than just pushing.
The key to learning how to skateboard is to start with the basics. That will give you the best chance at success.
We’re going to talk you through some of the best ways to learn how to skate. These tips should suit young learners as well as older learners.
The key thing to remember is to take at your pace and be brave. Skateboarding isn’t for the weak of heart!
Begin at the Beginning
The problem most people have is that they try to skip the basics and go straight for flashy, technical tricks.
While it might be cool to be able to pop an ollie it’s not going to help you become a better skater in the long run.
If you’re going to learn you should learn properly, right? So here are the first things you need to master:
You’ll want to have a handle on these skills before you can start doing tricks or hitting the halfpipe.
Let’s take a closer look at each skill.
To start with, you’ll want to learn to balance on the board when it’s not moving.
Place your board on grass or thick carpet and stand on it. You’ll notice that even though the wheels aren’t spinning, your board is not stationary. Skateboards have quite a bit of give around the axel. This is so that you can control the movement of the board.
Once you’ve gotten used to standing on the board, try leaning side to side, back to front. Get to know the limits of your board and get used to balancing in those positions.
You’ll find out naturally that the lower your body, the easier it is to balance. Standing poker-straight will not help!
Your stance is either regular or goofy and it refers to the positioning of your feet rather than the way you hold your body.
A regular stance is when your left foot is towards the front of the board and your right foot is behind. In this stance, your right foot is used to push.
A goofy stance is the opposite. Your right foot is forward and your left foot back. Your left foot is used to push the board.
Generally, lefties tend to skate goofy but handedness doesn’t always transfer to footedness.
The best thing to do is try both stances and see which feels more comfortable to you.
Once you’re feeling comfortable and confident with your stance and your stationary balance, you’ll want to get to grips with pushing.
Before you start pushing, it’s important to get your foot placement correct. This will help you keep your balance and help you transition between pushing and riding.
To begin, your front foot should be just behind the front bolts. When you’re pushing, this means your toes should be just touching the front bolts, when riding, the edge of your foot should be just below the bolts.
The difference between riding and pushing is the orientation of your front foot. When you’re pushing, your foot runs the length of the board. This allows for maximum stability.
When you’re riding, your foot runs horizontally across the board. This gives you lots of control over turns and carving.
Your first push should be a single push. Make sure your front foot is in the right place and give a firm push with your back foot.
As the board starts to move, bring your back foot onto the board near the tail and pivot your front foot so it moves into the riding position.
Keep your knees bent and your body low and ride out the push.
You can repeat this until you feel confident and in control. To progress, you’ll want to try adding in additional pushes to keep the board moving.
For beginners, carving means turning. As you get better, you can start doing more complex carving like downhill skateboarding or carving up bowls.
Initially, you’re going to use the carving method to turn your board. Put simply, carving involves leaning on the edges of your board to make it turn.
You should have got a feel for this when you were practicing your balance. That side to side movement you get around the axle of the board is how you control direction.
If you want to turn to the right, you lean towards the right side of the board. If you want to go left, you lean left.
Depending on whether you ride regular or goofy, leaning left could mean leaning back or leaning forward. That’s why we tend to stay away from those terms.
When turning, you need to remember not to lean the top half of your body too far over the edge of the board. This will end up with you in the dirt!
Using the carving method to turn isn’t particularly sharp. You need a bit of space to finish these turns. Try to keep this in mind if you’re trying to avoid objects!
Stopping is super important in the beginning because there will be lots of times where you feel out of control. Being able to stop the board will give you the chance to adjust and try again.
The simplest way to stop is to drag your back foot along the ground as you ride. This will bring the board to a slower pace and you can hop off.
Don’t try stepping off a fast-moving board. You will end up on the ground. The same goes for trying to dead stop your board. You’ll go flying over the nose of your board.
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, you're ready for the next skill; falling.
Falling is a part of skateboarding. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro or a noob, you’re going to hit the deck fairly often.
Learning to fall properly is going to help you avoid serious injury.
When you do fall off your board, the aim is to use the momentum to reduce the force on your body. You do this by rolling or sliding. These actions transfer the force across the whole body and the ground rather than through a single limb.
To practice, ride your board into grass. As you go over the nose of your board, reach your hands to the ground and swipe. This swipe gives you the time to tuck your head and roll over your shoulder.
If you are going to slide, you need to be wearing knee pads and wrist guards. The slide fall is generally used on ramps or hills. The idea is that as you come off the board, you land on your knee pads and let them carry you down.
To make the slide work, you need to lean backward. If you try to slide sitting up you’re going to overbalance and face plant.
You should practice controlled falls before falling for real. The last thing you want is to be hurtling through the air wishing you knew how to fall.
When you start getting some confidence on your board, you’re going to want to start speeding up.
Speed can be helpful because it gives you the momentum to pull off tricks or get up ramps. However, too much uncontrolled speed can be incredibly dangerous.
Make sure you can stop yourself at the speed you’re going. Bailing, that is jumping off the board, at speed can become incredibly dangerous and painful.
If you’re skating on the streets around traffic or pedestrians, you must control your speed. If you fly out into the road at the wrong time, you won't be getting up.
Wear a helmet. There’s no ifs or buts. Just wear it. This is especially important for beginners because you’re more likely to fall.
Yes, it might not be incredibly fashionable, but it is a literal lifesaver. Helmets should always be worn.
Other forms of protection like knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads can help protect your joints from impact damage and general wear and tear.
We always recommend wearing knee, elbow, and wrist protectors. They will protect you in a fall and can save your joint so that you don’t end up with pain in later years.
Skate shoes may have entered the realms of mainstream fashion over the years but that doesn’t negate their main purpose.
Skate shoes are shoes that have a flat sole, canvas upper, and laces that are out of grip range.
The flat soles are important because they put more of your foot in contact with the board, therefore giving you more control.
The canvas upper, gives you support and holds your foot in place, but also allows you to bend and flex your foot.
What you need to look for in a skate shoe is plenty of grip, strong stitching and seams, and durable nose tips.
The nose tip should be slightly longer than a normal shoe. The tips are subjected to more friction and stress so they need to be sturdy.
Skateboards might look simple compared to the gears, brake lines, pedals on a bike. The truth is, the right board makes a world of difference to your skating.
Learning to skate on a cheap board with low-quality wheels, bearings and trucks is going to be much harder than learning on a quality board.
Your best bet is to buy from a reputable brand or store rather than the sports section of a supermarket.
If you’re buying online, make sure to do your research. We have lots of advice and reviews of different boards to help you choose the best board.
The thing to remember is that all the different parts of your board, even the tiniest bearings, work together to give you a great ride. If one piece is off, you’ll feel it.
Be prepared to rework and replace parts of your set up as you become more comfortable and confident. You’ll figure out which brands and parts work best for your style.
One of the best ways to learn new techniques or tricks is to watch videos. There are so many tutorial videos out there that you won’t have any trouble finding ones that suit you.
When watching these videos, pay close attention to foot positionings, body movements, and where exactly the contact with the board is. These minor details are the things that are going to help you pull off new tricks.
When you’re practicing you should film yourself too. That way you can watch it back and zoom in on those small details.
Age and Fitness
I won’t lie, learning to skateboard is easier sub 30. You’re more supple, less cautious, and generally fitter.
That being said you can still pick up skateboarding later in life, but you’re going to have to work harder and you’ll find it more physically demanding on the joints.
Like any other sport, skateboarding is much easier if you’re in shape. You need to have decent muscle tone to be able to balance on a moving skateboard let alone find the power for some tricks.
We recommend working out before hopping on that board. Get a basic level of fitness and then apply it to skateboarding. You’ll find the transition much easier.
Also, being in shape and exercising regularly conditions your joints for impact. This means that they will ache a bit less after some spills compared to a sedentary person’s joints.
Ultimately, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to skateboard. You do need to have some stamina and some physical strength to progress in this sport.
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated as you learn is to integrate yourself into the skateboarding community. Find your local skate scene and introduce yourself. In general, skaters are a friendly bunch who will be more than happy to give you some tips.
You should also scout out your local skate shop. These guys will be able to help you make the most of your board and point you in the right direction.
If your skateboarding community is a bit thin or non-existent locally, hop online and join some skateboarding forums. Reddit is a wonderful place to get advice and support from fellow skateboarders.
To circle back to that original question; ‘Is skateboarding hard to learn?’ Well, no as long as you take it bit by bit.
That’s the takeaway here, don’t run before you can walk or you’ll end up hurting yourself!