The learning curve for longboarding is pretty small and in fact learning how to longboard can be pretty easy if you know the basic steps to take.
That’s we here, at Review Longboards, decided to write this guide to help out beginners to longboarding.
Before you start riding, always make sure you have the right equipment. The most important of course is your longboard. The type of longboard determines how it will ride: whether it will be stable, very responsive, flexible, and more. For more information about how the type of longboard influences the riding style see Choosing a Longboard and the Best longboards for beginners.
Besides a longboard, you might also need some safety equipment. For beginner riders, we commonly recommend at the very least a helmet (see our preferred helmets to wear).
If you feel like you might need more protection, consider checking out the Triple 8 wrist and elbow pads which are shown above and to the right. These will prevent you from serious damage after falls.
Make sure to look down at your shoes before you start riding! You want flat bottomed shoes as these will help you with foot braking, discussed later in the article. A very common longboarding shoe is a pair of the Vans Vulcanized Skate Shoe.
How to Longboard: Get Moving on Your Board
To help you start riding quickly, we broke down the process of how to longboard into several simple steps that can easily be completed. If you can already push off and ride comfortably at low speeds, see section 3.
1. Find Your Stance
Place your longboard on the ground in front of you. Stand on it with one foot forward and one foot back.
Which foot did you place at the front of the board? If you placed your left foot at the front of the board, you ride in a regular style. If you placed your right foot at the front of the longboard, you ride “goofy”.
If you ride goofy don’t be ashamed of it! It’s simply a word to distinguish between the two different stances. Even if you are a regular stance, there a number of instances where it’s useful to learn how to ride goofy (such as when learning to slide on a longboard).
2. Stand on top of your longboard
Before you ride, you should always simply stand on your longboard and bounce up and down on the deck for a couple of seconds. This allows you to get a feel for your board. Is it very flexy or does it barely flex even when you jump as hard as you can on it?
When you first start learning how to longboard if your board is flexy you should try and stay at slow speeds for a little while. This is because the flexy-ness of the deck will introduce speed wobbles at higher speeds.
Note: Speed wobbles are when the board shakes back and forth uncontrollably. They occur at higher speeds and can cause riders to lose complete control of the board and crash. If you start getting speed wobbles, you should put more weight on your front foot or start carving to slow down.
Another thing you want to do in learning how to longboard is to try moving your feet around the board while it is stationary. When riding, you’ll have to shift your feet to brake and to turn so you should practice moving your feet now before you start riding.
3. Start Riding Your Longboard!
This is it! Get in your stand on your longboard (regular or goofy) and start pushing. To push, take your back foot off of the board and put it on the ground. This is the position you should be in when you’re ready to start skating.
With the foot that is on the ground, push off! And there you go, your longboard is rolling. Just experiment with pushing from a stop and pushing while the board is in motion.
To push while the longboard is in motion, gently shift your front foot from the top of the longboard and more towards the center. Once your front foot is close to the center of the board, take off your back foot and start pushing against the ground.
When pushing, I find it helpful to bend my front knee a little. This puts more weight on the board and helps keep the longboard underneath you.
Now that I’m moving, how do I stop? – Braking Techniques
There are a number of different braking techniques and we will outline most of them in this article. Beginners though should be focused on the most important: footbraking.
Remember how to push on a longboard? Footbraking is mostly the same movement except instead of pushing; you will be dragging the sole of your shoe on the pavement.
The full movement is this. Take the same foot you push with (your back foot) and gently press it against the pavement. Try and keep the bottom of the foot flat against the pavement.
As you press harder, you’ll slow down faster. This is where the importance of skate shoes comes into play. The friction from the road can tear apart the sole of regular shoes. Skate shoes have reinforced rubber soles which take longer to wear down (see our top recommendations for skate shoes).
While footbraking is the method most recommended to beginner longboarders, there a number of other braking techniques such as:
Air braking – This involves stretching out your arms to either side of the longboard and relying on wind resistance to slow you down. This is typically only used at high speeds and can only slow you down slightly.
Run outs – These are generally not advised but can be useful for beginners. This braking technique involves jumping off of your longboard and essentially running at the same speed of your board while slowing yourself down. This can work but you have to make sure you are going at a speed that you can run at. At high speeds, this method is not advised as it might cause more harm than good.
Slide Braking – This is a more intermediate technique for braking which involves the rider pushing against the back wheels causing them to lose traction and allowing the board to slide. Riders often use longboard sliding gloves, to steady themselves against the ground. Beginners just learning how to longboard should not try slide braking and should instead focus on learning to carve instead.
How to carve on a longboard
Learning to carve is an important part of learning how to longboard and is essential to longboarding. Do you ever want to turn on your longboard? Keep reading.
To carve on a longboard, simply shift your weight to your toe or heelside. The direction that you shift your weight is the direction that the board will start to turn.
The more weight that you put on the edges of the longboard, the harder the carve. Typically riders like to carve in an S-shape.
In this shape, you first put weight on your toes to shift the board in the direction that your toes are pointing. Then you simply put weight on your heels to bring the longboard back the other direction.
Carving on a longboard is a good way of ensuring that you have control of your longboard and should be practiced frequently. For practice, start out in a long flat area such as parking lot. Place your back foot on the ground and start pushing your longboard to start moving.
Once you reach a comfortable speed, bend your knees slightly and push your heels down into the board’s edge. The longboard should start moving to the left if you are in a regular stance. Return to a normal position and stop the board using footbraking.
Carving on a longboard using your toes can feel uncomfortable for some riders as you are leaning over the board. When turning to the right (if regular stance), press your toes into the longboard’s edges. Try not to let your heels completely leave the deck of the longboard as this might put you off balance.
Some longboards will respond to every shift of your weight while others will require you to push down deeply on the edges in order to carve. Knowing how your longboard carves is essential to mastering how to longboard.