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How to Ride a Skateboard: The First-Time Rider's Guide

Skateboard riding is a physical sport with so many levels and steps to master that, if you have no experience, getting on one seems scary.

It's essential to have a solid foundation before you even attempt to do your first trick. This article will teach you how to get on a board, how to ride, what to wear, where to skate, and a few other tips and tricks to help you get started.

 

Safety First

Skateboard riding can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. As a result, you must wear the proper equipment to reduce your chances of suffering a serious injury.

Start slowly and be cautious of your surroundings. Make sure to skate in a safe area with less foot or car traffic. Also, it's best to stick to flat surfaces, as it lessens the possibility of a fall.

Finally, if it's your first time skating, don't do it alone. Skating with a group of experienced riders is better, so you can learn from them and avoid injuries.

 

Choosing your first skateboard

Getting the right skateboard goes beyond picking the one with the best-looking decal. It's about getting the board that will give you stability, comfort, longevity, and the best experience as you learn. To do this, you need to be a bit technical, and that's where this article comes in. We will help you pick the perfect skateboard without making it too complicated.

 

Choosing the Right Deck Material

Skateboard deck materials vary from wood, composites, aluminum, nylon, fiberglass, resin, Kevlar, Plexiglass, and other artificial materials.

The skateboard takes the full weight of your body as you step on it. It's crucial that you choose the right material for your deck.

Due to the weight applied, a skateboard deck needs to be flexible to perform tricks or maneuvers. A rigid skateboard is more durable but less responsive. A flexible skateboard is more responsive and performs better technical maneuvers.

different-skateboard-decks

Wood is the best material if you want a lesser impact on jumps. If you want a deck that gives you the most pop, holds the best shape and has strong material, choose a board made from bamboo. You can also choose decks made from Canadian maple veneer or Baltic birch veneer. Decks made from these woods are proven to be flexible, durable, and easily shaped. Best of all, they are affordable and friendly to the environment.

 

Choosing the Right Deck Width

The Skateboard deck width ranges from 7.5 inches to 8.5 inches. If you are learning to skate, the one-inch difference makes a big deal

One of the best ways to determine the right shoe size is to visit the store and step on one. Most stores offer several skateboard decks for you to try. In principle, the smaller your feet are, the narrower the board should be; the bigger your shoe size, the wider the board has to be.


Here is a more detailed look at each board based on its width:

7.5 inches to 8 inches

This board is ideal for kids and teenagers who have mastered the riding basics. In technical riding, the narrower the board is, the easier it is to manipulate, as they are lighter and easier to flip.

It will be harder to control if you have a small shoe size and too much board around your feet. In contrast, learning to skateboard could also be more challenging if you have a small board and your shoes are wider than the deck. Either way, it's unsafe.

 

8.1 inches to 8.4 inches

This board width is the perfect start-up board for teenagers and adults. Many skaters prefer it because it offers better control and speed when doing tricks, skating in parks or bowls, or just skating around.

 

8.5 inches wide and above

A board of 8.5 inches and higher will be the best deck for you if you have a larger shoe size. It's stable and perfect for those just learning how to skate. This board offers unmatched stability, ease of movement, and confidence when doing all kinds of tricks.

 

Choosing the Right Wheel (Size and Material)

Consider the following when choosing your skateboard wheel:

  • wheel diameter
  • width,
  • core size,
  • contact patch,
  • toughness,
  • material used.

For beginners, it's advisable to use a mid-size wheel (between 52mm and 54mm) with a medium durometer (hardness) of 90A to 99A. This wheel configuration is perfect for beginners because it offers the best control and stability.

 

skateboard-wheel-diameter

The wheel diameter measures the width and changes based on its shape. Smaller wheels are best for beginners because they tend to be slower (hence, safer). Advanced users prefer larger wheels because of their ability to achieve speed with less effort.

 

skateboard-wheel-core

The wheel core is vital to getting the most out of your skateboard wheel. Generally, the smaller the core size, the more polyurethane is available. The only issue with a small core wheel is the urethane's uneven wear, which results in poor handling and control.

For better handling, proper weight distribution, and faster rolling, go for larger cores. A wheel with a larger core is practical for downhill rides, allows for graceful drifting around curves, and maintains a superb grip.

 

skateboard-contact-patch

The contact patch is the area of the wheel in contact with the pavement (hence the name). They also come in different widths and are essential for stability and weight. For beginners, using a wheel with a wide contact patch is recommended, as it offers superb handling and control. Once you are ready to do some tricks, a smaller contact patch is best. It allows greater maneuverability and control needed to pull off stunts.

 

The wheel's toughness (also called durometer) is crucial for skateboarders. It determines how well a skateboard wheel can handle impacts. For beginners, a softer wheel will make the ride slower yet more comfortable, which is right for anyone learning to skate. Once the skill and experience, a stiffer wheel will allow you to do cool tricks like kickflips, toe flips, spins, etc.

If you want a more comprehensive guide on choosing the right wheel, click here.

 

Choosing the Right Trucks for your Skateboard

Skateboard trucks are like car axles in function but are far less complicated in design. The deck is attached to the trucks, which are connected to the wheels and held together by strong bolts and locknuts. As such, the trucks must be strong and well-made.

skateboard-trucks

Most skateboards come with a preinstalled truck, but you can always swap it out for another. Remember that buying a truck means knowing your board's width, as it needs to be flushed to the deck to function well.

A skateboard truck has several parts: a baseplate, hanger, axle, pivot, pivot cup, kingpin, bushings, and kingpin nut. On the skateboard deck, you will find the mounting holes where the trucks and wheels are installed.

A skateboard truck has two heights - a high truck and a low truck. Low trucks accommodate smaller wheels and are prone to "wheel bite." High trucks are best for beginners because they can accommodate large-sized wheels and are not inclined to accidents.

For an in-depth look at skateboard trucks, click here:

 

Choosing the right skateboard shoes

Choosing the best skateboard shoes is tricky but essential to comfort. There are many factors to consider when selecting skateboard shoes, including your budget, style, the material used, design, and foot size.

Think about protection, comfort, and durability when choosing skateboarding shoes. Remember that wearing shoes that do not suit your needs will leave you at risk of hurting yourself.

Type of Soles

Cupsole Shoes

Cupsole-shoes

A cupsole shoe is a great way to protect your feet from landings. They are constructed with a single rubber sole with the upper section sewn to it, making them durable. Cupsole shoes are best for beginners.

 

Vulcanized Shoes

vulcanized-shoes

If you want lightweight shoes with less bulk, then the vulcanized (or vulc for short) is the one for you. But note that this type of shoe does not offer the protection level provided by cupsoles.

Vulc shoes are wrapped with a band of foxing tape to fuse the shoe's top (vamp) and bottom (sole). Then, they are baked in a low-temperature oven to melt the foxing tape and create a seamless bind between the two sections. As a result, the shoes are lighter and with less bulk.

A Vulc skate shoe is excellent for street cruising, transition, or learning how to do tricks on paved surfaces.

 

Type of Material

Believe it or not, the right material matters when talking about skateboard shoes. Because there are many options, it can be confusing.

You'll want to choose a flexible shoe that provides good protection and help you prevent blisters. Here are the different materials that make up a skateboard shoe:

Textile: Skateboarders prefer fabric because it is easy to clean and dry. It is lightweight, breathable, and durable. Although they provide decent support, they are not durable and may wear out after extended use. Most companies use textile uppers to reduce the weight of the shoes and offer better padding.

Suede: Also known as nubuck or calfskin, suede is a soft leather treated with chemicals to give it a matte finish. It is lightweight, flexible, and offers decent support. Suede is more expensive than textiles but less expensive than genuine leather.

Leather: This material is the most popular option for skateboard shoes. Leather is heavy, supple, durable, and resistant to water and wear. The main disadvantage of leather skateboard shoes is their lack of breathability. Leather shoes are hot to wear, especially for skating.

Canvas: Shoes with this type of material are lightweight and breathable. For these reasons, they are popular among skateboarders. But, they are not the best choice due to their tendency to break down quickly. Shoes with canvas materials are best for street cruising and long rides.

 

Skateboard Shoe Features

Ankle injuries are common in skateboarding. So, choosing a shoe that fits, offers ankle support, and has a good heel cup is necessary. Having the right shoes can help prevent sprains and other skateboarding-related injuries.

a-skateboarder-with-an-injured-ankle

Here are the features you need to look for when choosing a skateboard shoe:

Good heel protection

Nowadays, heel-saving technologies make it into most sports shoes. For instance, if you lose balance while performing a trick, you can slip and fall and hurt your heel. For this reason, heel protection is necessary to reduce any injury-causing impacts.

Shoes with Toe caps

Toe caps are rubber strips that protect areas of the shoes that are prone to damage. These areas include the toes, the sides, and the bottom of the shoe. Toe caps protect your toes from minor impacts and ensure you stay comfortable over time.

Gusset Tongues

Gussets are curved materials extending between the skate shoe's top and sides. Its purpose is to create a stronger connection and support between the tongue and the upper, allowing the shoe to flex in all directions. Tongues with a "gusset" prevent the shoe from rolling up and down the angle; it also helps it stay centered.

Double-Wrapped Foxing Tape

A skate shoe with double-wrapped foxing tape is more durable and lasts longer. Manufacturers know that skateboard shoes get the most damage from jumping, pivoting, and flexing. So, they addressed this issue by adding a layer of foxing tape to keep the upper and sole together despite the repeated impact.

Double-stitching

This is a common practice when manufacturing skate shoes. Double or triple stitching is commonly applied around the areas that receive frequent impact and need extra support (e.g. toe box). The stitching holds the upper and lining together for long-lasting durability.

Lace Protection

Like most parts of the shoe, the shoelace takes a beating during skateboarding. The lace area is the weakest point in the shoe, but by adding lace protection, manufacturers ensure that they last longer. Also, lace protection reduces the chance of cutting, fraying, or loosening the laces, which can cause you to trip over them.

 

Skateboard Shoe Styles

Personal choice and style are still big parts of skateboarding. The skateboard market evolves, so manufacturers adapt their designs to serve their needs.

Skateboard shoe styles come in four categories:

low-tops-shoes-skateboarder

Low-Tops: These are the most common type of skateboard shoes. It's easier to use on stairs, ramps, or other hard surfaces. They are lightweight, have high flexibility, and allow the skater to do all kinds of tricks.

high-tops-shoes-skateboarder

High-tops: This skateboarding shoe offers stability and better protection for the rider. It also allows better ankle flexion and provides good control and balance while doing flips and tricks.

mid-tops-shoes-skateboarder

Mid-Tops: This skateboard shoe style gives the skater the best of both worlds. It provides the rider with a solid connection with the deck. It's perfect for cruising, street skating, and downhill riding.

Slip-ons: Slip-on shoes offer very little support, stability, and protection. Slip-on skateboard shoes are like the low-top style, but they're more comfortable and easier to put on or take off than the low-top. Slip-on shoes are great for casual street skating and commuting.

 

What to wear when skateboarding

Skateboarding is not strict with clothing compared to any other sport. So, whether you are a first-timer or a veteran skater, your style, comfort, and practicality are essential factors in your choice of clothing.

Generally, you should wear comfortable tops and pants that can take the beating while giving you the flexibility to move.

Tops- Shirts or Hoodies?

Can't decide what to wear for your skateboarding session? Think about comfort.

Cotton and polyester shirts are best as they are soft, breathable, and offer the best stretch and range of motion. But don't exclude technical performance apparel from famous brands like Nike and Adidas. These apparel items are designed to keep you cool and dry and perform better on the board.

You can wear t-shirts, hoodies, tank tops, etc. If you prefer to be unique, try graphic t-shirts. If you want to stand out, try wearing custom t-shirts with your branding.

Sweatshirts are great to wear with a hoodie underneath for the fall, and in the winter season, a thick hoodie is a must.

Bottom apparel: Shorts or Pants?

Again, think about your comfort and mobility. Also, consider the weather and the season. Shorts are best during the summer. But in the wintertime, pants are the best choice. Pants also offer better protection for your shins. We recommend denim or chinos for pants, as they are comfortable and versatile.

Safety Gear

skateboard-safety-gear-and-pads

Wearing protective gear is mandatory, whether you are a beginner or a veteran skater. Helmets protect you from injuries such as skull fractures, concussions, etc. Elbow, knee, and shin pads help absorb and protect against impacts, thus preventing serious injury.

 

Skateboard grounds - where to skate as a beginner?

There are many places to practice your skateboarding skills. As a beginner, try to find a skatepark or an open area with a smooth, well-maintained surface.

skateboard-on-the-ground

Note that skate parks are usually populated. Learning to skate around experts can make you feel self-conscious and intimidated. If that is the case, you and your friends can always find an empty parking lot or a driveway where you can learn the basics.

But rest assured that most skateboarding communities are friendly. Many skaters will be happy to help you and teach you something new, making them an excellent resource for anyone who wants to upskill.

Once you get the basics down pat, you can start cruising around local skateparks. Skateparks usually have walls or fences to contain skaters, prevent them from falling over, and keep them safe. They also have guard rails, ramps, and other obstacles for the skateboarders to use to build their skill and technique.

 

The Art of Skateboarding

Like any sport or activity that requires balancing, skateboarding is about proper body alignment and form. Most importantly, you need to know how to fall safely. This section will take you through the basics of riding a skateboard.

The Stance - Regular or Goofy?

When it comes to skateboarding, there are two main stances to be aware of: regular and goofy. 

regular-stance-of-skateboard

A regular stance means you are more comfortable with the left foot on the board.

goofy-stance-of-skateboard

A goofy stance means you are more comfortable with the right foot on the board.

 

Pushing on a Skateboard

Besides balance and flexibility, pushing is one of the most fundamental skills a skateboarder has to learn.

First, stabilize your stance by putting your front foot on a 30-degree angle close to the front bolts of your deck. Bend your front knee to let your back leg reach the ground. Push your rear foot while balancing your weight with your front leg on the board. When your board is in motion, return your rear foot to the board near the back bolts. Keep practicing until you can balance.

 

Turning on a skateboard

It's easy to turn if you keep practicing. The skateboard trucks help you turn the board based on which side you lean on. Still, it requires training and practice.

There are two different kinds of turns you need to master:

Carving Turns

how-to-craving-turn

Bend your knees to lower your body for balance and stability before turning. Then, use your arms and shoulders to lead where you are going, then use your toes or heels to carve the turn. Once the turn is complete, return to your natural stance and push off to get going again.

Kick turns: 

Kick turns are best for avoiding obstacles and moving from a straight line to a turn or vice versa. But this trick requires practice on a flat surface. In short, you need to get used to it first.

If you want to do a kick turn, place your foot on the kick tail and lean back. Lifting the front wheel off the ground will allow you to move the front of the board in any direction. When the front wheel is in the air, use your body to lead the board in the direction you wish to go. Once the turn is done, remove your foot from the kick tail, balance your body, and roll away.

Stopping on a Skateboard

Stopping on a skateboard is tricky but possible. If you feel the need to stop or you're about to lose control, balance your weight on your front foot and put your back foot on the ground. Then, drag your back foot while maintaining balance using your front foot. You have to keep doing this until you can stop. If you need to make a quick stop, stomp on the ground, but be careful, as this move can throw you off balance and cause you to fall.

Throwing Down on a Skateboard

Throwing down your board is essential, as it allows you to hop on it while it is in motion. But, before learning this trick, make sure you have mastered balancing and pushing forward.

Throwing down your skateboard requires practice. Start by holding the nose of your board with your front hand. Step forward and drop the board tail first. As the rest of the board comes down, hop on the board with your back foot, followed by your front foot. Then, roll forward and push with your rear foot to keep going. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature to you.

 

How to ollie on a skateboard

Like throwing down, the ollie is the first trick every sidewalk skateboarder has to learn. An ollie is an excellent move to launch the board off the ground, get you in or out of a trick, avoid an obstacle, and jump over gaps.

To perform an ollie, start by standing on the skateboard. Then, place your back foot on the tail and your front foot on the center of the deck. In an ollie, your rear foot will flip-kick the tail and launch it as you jump, while your front foot stops it mid-air and brings it back down.

Surfer Today recommends practicing the ollie technique by pushing down with the back foot and ankle to build muscle memory and repeating this process more than a hundred times.

Here is a video on how to do the ollie.

First, stand on the skateboard with both your feet. Position your rear foot on the tail, then put your front foot in the center of the deck after the front trucks.

Second, while keeping your head and shoulders straight, bend your knees, lower your arms, and crouch low.

Third, keep your weight balanced on both legs while looking down at the skateboard. Then jump as if you didn't have a board under your feet.

Fourth, as you jump, push down on the skateboard's tail using your ankle and the ball of your foot. When the tail hits the ground, your front foot should come in contact with the board mid-air.

Fifth, let the front foot catch the board's nose, then extend your leg to push it forward. This action will force the board to lift your back foot upwards and the nose of the board downward.

Sixth, level the skateboard while you are in the air and get ready for landing. Then, land and roll while maintaining your balance.

 

Falling the right way

Falling is a part of skateboarding, whether you are a beginner or an expert. But while falling is easy, landing the right way takes practice. Landing right makes the difference between being in the hospital and getting up to skate again.

skateboarder-fell-down

Getting up and skating again means wearing the right safety gear and the skill to land after a bad fall.

Falling from a skateboard has three types:

  • Falling Off is when you fall and lose your balance without falling to the ground.
  • Bailing is abandoning a trick when you suspect you are about to fall.
  • Slamming is when you lose control and balance, and your last recourse is to slam your body to the ground.

How to avoid a severe injury when you fall

Skateboarding is all about learning different tricks. Since you are still learning, a fall will be inevitable. So, here are some tips on how to land so you don't injure yourself in the process:

  1. Learn when to abandon a trick: One way to learn a trick is to watch someone do it before attempting it. This way, you have a mental image of what looks and feels right. If you suspect that you are about to fall, bail on the trick before you lose control.

  2. Don't use your hand to catch yourself from a fall. Humans instinctively use their hands to mitigate injuries during a fall. The problem is that many things could go wrong, and having a broken wrist is one of them. But, since falls are unavoidable, ensure you wear quality gloves or wrist guards to support and protect your hands. Instead of using your hand to catch yourself, learning to abandon a trick and land safely is better.
  3. If you must fall, roll to land on your shoulder or back, and tuck your elbows. The rolling action reduces the energy and impact of the fall. Do note that it will hurt a little, but compared to a broken wrist, you'll still be able to get up and skate again. Remember to stay relaxed during the fall to reduce the possibility of breaking any of your bones.

 

Skateboarding Tips

1. Improve balance and stability by bending your knees.

Good posture and balance are everything in skateboarding. Bend your knees and keep them low and relaxed to help you achieve better balance and the ability to move around.

2. Expect to fall.

Falling and getting a minor injury is part of skateboarding; even professionals can get hurt. Be extra cautious and prepare to fall by wearing the proper gear and learning the right landing.

3. Allow yourself to be a beginner.

Every great skateboarder was once a beginner. They just kept going.

Nothing beats practice, repetition, and the discipline to keep going despite repeated falls.

Skateboarding needs skill development, excellent coordination, and muscle memory. Once you develop these traits, you can skate for hours.

4. Besides wearing the right shoes, wear thick socks.

Your skateboard will hit your ankles, so a good amount of protection provided by the shoes and your socks is needed. Roll the socks to cover the ankles so that the bones are not in direct contact with the skateboard.

5. Avoid skating in the rain.

Skateboarding is fun, but not when you have wet pavement. Control is difficult, and the likelihood of a fall is high. Plus, remember that your skateboard has metal parts, which can rust.If you've skated in the rain in the past, read this article to learn how to care for your board.

6.  Baby steps

Don't rush your learning. There is no such thing as skating perfectly on day one. Practice your skills a little at a time. Start with simple tricks, then work on the more advanced ones. When you are comfortable, try a bigger ramp or an obstacle.

 

Conclusion

Learning to skateboard is all about practice, patience, and proper guidance from someone who can teach you how to do it. It may seem frustrating on your first few tries, but the experience will be worth it.

When you've mastered the fundamentals and are ready to move on to more advanced tricks, learn to analyze each move and correct your mistakes as you practice. Keep doing this. You'll be riding flawlessly in no time.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to you!

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