- 1 How to slide on a longboard: The Materials
- 2 How to slide on a Longboard: The Technique
Learning how to slide can be difficult for beginning and intermediate riders but it can add an entire another dimension to your rides.
Do you want to perform a simple speed check when flying down a hill? Perform a slide on your longboard. Do you want to experience drifting around a curve? Sliding is the answer.
The difficulty in learning how to slide on a longboard comes from forcing the wheels of your longboard to lose traction while also maintaining your balance. The good news for you is that there are a number of established and easy-to-learn ways to do this and we at Review Longboards are going to teach you them all.
This article is going to focus on how to Coleman slide, also referred as the 180-degree heel slide. It’s commonly regarded as the easiest slide to start with.
Note: It’s called the Coleman Slide after Cliff Coleman who invented it in the 1970’s to ride the steep hills in California with safety and speed. To quote Cliff Coleman, “If you can crouch down and ride a skateboard, then you can learn this slide.”
How to slide on a longboard: The Materials
I’ll start this out by saying an experienced rider can slide a longboard without a lot of gear or preparation. However, if you are just starting to learn how to slide on a longboard, you should take some time to make sure you have everything you need.
Choosing a Sliding Longboard
A rider can slide any longboard but the type of longboard can make a big difference in how easy/hard it is. To make it easy to learn how to slide on a longboard, choose a longboard setup which is suitable for sliding.
After all, when you first learned to drive (if you’re that old) did you start out with a 40 foot long 18 wheeler or a normal passenger car? Make it as easy as possible to master the technique and then move on to other setups.
If you simply want a complete longboard suitable for sliding, I would recommend the Landyachtz Switch (our full review here). In the best sliding longboards, you want to look for a lowered deck and preferably one with spaces that you can jam your feet into as you slide. The Landyachtz Switch has both of these which make it ideal for beginners.
For a cheaper choice, check out the Sector 9 Dropper (our review here). It has a drop through trucks and comes complete with Butterball Wheels which is the next important longboard piece that we’ll discuss.
Choice of wheels
If you already have your longboard and don’t want to buy a new one, take a second look at your wheels before you start learning to slide on a longboard. Your wheels are essential as they govern how easy/hard it is for you to slide.
The best sliding wheels have a narrow contact patch of around 60 -65mm and a hard durometer(80 – 100A). For the best sliding wheels, the Sector 9 Butterballs (65mm 80A) are a popular choice as are the Mini Zombie Hawgs (70mm 86A).
These wheels are known for sliding because they are made up of a urethane that breaks up quickly which helps to create an ultra-smooth slide. Other wheels sometimes come with a shiny coating on their surface (referred to as the skin) which is quite grippy. For these wheels, it often takes a number of slides to wear down the skin to produce quiet and smooth slides.
Note: Sliding wheels are designed to wear down rapidly in order to produce good slides. I would recommend two sets of wheels – one set for sliding and one for regular skating if you don’t want to slide regularly.
Sliding Gloves: Are they necessary?
Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: Not really but they help. Confused? Let me explain. Slide gloves provide an additional point of contact on the ground which helps maintain your balance on the board.
Slide gloves also help you control your motion during your slide. Are they completely necessary? No. But I would not attempt learning how to slide on a longboard for the first time without them.
Too expensive? You can also make your own slide gloves out of a cutting board, Velcro and a glove for much less. Don’t let the price make it harder for you to learn how to slide on a longboard. Make it as easy as possible to learn the technique and then progress.
Side note: Although not discussed in it’s own section here, always make sure to wear a helmet (our recommendations) when longboarding. Especially when sliding you might also want to consider knees and elbow pads such as the Triple 8 Pack, as you will be falling off your board and landing roughly on asphalt as you practice.
How to slide on a Longboard: The Technique
A quick summary of how to Coleman slide on a longboard: Drop down into a crouched position and center your weight on the longboard. As you initiate a slight carve, let the momentum of your body carry the board into the slide.
Stand on your longboard with your feet shoulder width apart. Imagine a clock face around each of your feet. Your front toes should be pointed at 11 am while your back toes should be pointed at 1. This assumes that you are a regular stance. If you are goofy simply reverse this.
Your feet should not be entirely centered on the longboard. You should let the heels of your feet hang a little bit over the edge of the board to help carve harder on the heel side.
To help get comfortable in this position, start out on flat asphalt and as you start moving on your board, simply drop down into a crouch: bend your knees and drop your butt. While in the crouch, attempt to do some toe and heel side carves. This should be relatively simple and not take too much time.
Sliding on a Longboard: The Most Important Part aka the Drop Knee Crouch
While maintaining your foot position, lower your back knee down toward the board. You can rest it on or near your front foot.
When in this position, make sure that the side of your back foot is flat on the board (this is important) and positioned overtop of the rear mounting screws of the back truck. This position is referred to as “the box” and is a very stable way to ride your longboard.
Note: Don’t lift your back heel up off of the board! It’s tempting to lift the back heel to use it to help slide the longboard. This shifts your weight, however, and will simply cause you to fall backward off your board after the slide.
Again practice this position in a flat area. As you pick up a little speed, go into a crouch and then drop your knee. Practice carving in this position.
How to slide on a longboard: Bringing it all Together
Ok, you’ve got the drop knee crouch down amazingly and you have your slide gloves, helmet, and knee/elbow pads on. It’s time to slide.
I’ve found that the best places to practice sliding are a large flat area, a semi-steep hill, or a hill leading into a parking lot. Wherever the place, just ensure that A) you have enough space to get up a moderate speed and B) you have enough space to perform wide carves.
To start practicing, pick up some speed that you’re comfortable with and drop into the drop knee crouch. In this position, start a long heel side carve. As you are carving, keep your side of your back foot on the board!
As you start to carve, put your left hand (with the slide glove on!) behind you and on the pavement. At the same time, move your right hand from the 3 O’ clock position to 11 or 12 O’ clock. Essentially you want to swing your arms to help you slide on the longboard.
Where you place your hand on the road behind you really varies and can be found out easily by testing. You want to place your hand close to the forward trucks of your longboard and behind a little distance.
The distance varies person to person. Too far and you’ll fall off the longboard but too close and it won’t be comfortable for your hand or wrist.
Remember to let your momentum start and carry you through the slide! You should not be moving your legs at all during the heelside carve; they should stay in the drop knee position. This will allow your weight and speed to start the slide.
Note: During your heelside carve, keep your head up and looking in front of you. The key things to remember in a Coleman slide are head up, front knee pointing up, and your back foot flat against the longboard.
One more thing to note is that sometimes beginner riders like to use their left hand to grab the longboard in between their feet. Don’t do this!
By grabbing the board there, it actually makes it more likely that you’ll fall off your board. Instead, keep your hand right in front of you. Make a shaka or something to keep your hand busy.
Learning how to slide on a longboard: Final Words of Wisdom
Does the entire process of learning how to slide seem like a lot? I’m sure it does. It certainly intimidated me a little when I first learned.
People will tell you there’s a special trick to learning how to slide in 10 minutes or less and there’s not. It’s purely practice. I’d suggest grabbing your board and gear and heading to the local skate spot for an afternoon and only practicing sliding.
Grab some friends when you go. They might be more experienced and can help cut the learning curve in half. Even if they’re not(or you’re better than all of them), you’ll all have a good time laughing at each other’s attempts to slide.
It can be hard to learn how to slide on a longboard. But once you can, it opens up entirely new possibilities for you and your longboard. Always wanted to try that absurdly steep hill near your house but were always too unsure of your footbraking? Try a little slide halfway down as a speed check.