If you’re new to longboard or skateboarding in general but have had your eye on one of the best beginner longboards then you might be wondering how to actually use a longboard. Well in this post we’ll take you through everything you need to know about how to longboard. We’ll cover stopping and starting, a little about turning and carving and just general beginner longboard tips and tricks to do with how to ride a longboard.
Before we get into details it’s important to remember that the best way to learn longboarding is taking it slow and getting comfortable with the board then progress at your own rate. For example, don’t try to rush into downhill speedboarding that you see on YouTube if you’re not comfortable with stopping. That could go very very wrong.
Anyway, here are some of our basic tips to get you started on your journey to becoming an expert thrasher.
Goofy or Regular?
Goofy and regular refers to your stance on the board. This is how you actually stand on the board, it decides which foot you lead with and which foot will do the majority of the pushing. Regular footed means you are most comfortable riding with your left foot in front and your right foot in back. If you ride goofy, that means you are most comfortable with your right foot in front, and your left foot in back. This basically means that a regular stanced longboarder will be facing to the right while riding forward, and a goofy footed longboarder will be facing left. Despite the unfortunate name, there is nothing wrong with riding goofy and it is almost just as common as riding regular.
One quick way to find out which stand you naturally are is to have a friend come up behind you and lightly push you forward. Whichever leg you catch yourself with is likely to be your dominant leg. Of course this isn’t always accurate and the best way to know which you prefer is to simply practice. Try each stance and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.
How to Push on a Longboard
Pushing is how you propel yourself forward. This is where you take one of your feet off the board, place it on the pavement and push with that foot. This propels you forward whilst that foot stays in position. This is a very simple example of transfer of motion.
There are two basic styles of pushing, normal and mongo. Normal pushing means you push with your back leg. Mongo is when you push with your front leg. Mongo pushing has a slight disadvantage of you having to swing your body around to get into a normal riding position, so it’s for this reason that normal pushing is generally considered the “correct” way to push.
We would recommend trying to learn to push in the normal way. This will benefit you in the long run when things start to get a little more tricky.
When you actually get on your longboard make sure all the nuts and bolts are tight, and that you have the right safety gear on. With your board on the ground in front of you, place your front foot on the board facing forward while keeping your back foot on the ground. You want to now keep most of your body weight over the center of the board and gently kick off the pavement, pushing yourself forward. When you’re moving try to get your front foot into a 45 degree position from directly forward and your back foot in roughly a 90 degree position. Once you get this down, practice going faster, and doing multiple kicks before placing your back foot on the board.
It’s important that you keep your head up and looking forward. This will obviously help stop you crashing into things but will also help keep your whole body in line and will help with balance.
Speaking of balance, one of the trickiest things about starting pushing on your longboard is the fact that you’ve only got one foot on the board. To get used to this you can simply stand on the ground and lift up one foot and move it around to improve your balance. Then step onto your board and do the same whilst stationary. Next move towards actually pushing and even let yourself coast along on one foot. Keep this up until you’re comfortable and you’ll have quickly learnt one of the trickiest first skills. This will also allow you to focus more on getting power into your kicks rather than having to worry about managing your balance.
How to stop a longboard
So now you’ve got good at the basics of pushing you might be wondering how to stop on a longboard. Stopping is definitely something that you must learn how to do and do well.
The most basic beginner method of stopping is called footbraking and is the best way for beginners to learn to stop safely. Footbraking requires you take your back foot off the deck and gently drag it on the ground. The friction between your foot and the pavement is what slows you down. Remember to be gentle whilst you’re learning as you don’t want to do it too hard and accidentally go flying forwards. You’ll need to practice increasing your foot pressure to stop more quickly, and performing a foot brake at increasingly higher speeds.
When you master these basic skills, you can practice them while going faster and move on to more advanced techniques such as slowing down by carving.
(Carving is where you shift your bodyweight and turn the board to make an S pattern as you move – it’s a lot of fun and feels great but can also be used to help slow down)
Carving can be a great way to slow down as it doesn’t require you to take your feet off the board or even to shift position. Slowing down whilst carving will require much deeper carves which will come with time. When you get good at this the next stage to stopping is implementing a slide. This is where it gets much trickier so we’ll leave sliding for another time.
How to turn and carve on a longboard
Once you’ve got to grips with pushing, it’s time to practice your turning and carving.
It’s important to take note of how your feet are positioned, and how much weight you have over each foot. Try to keep them at roughly the positioned we mentioned before and your weight over the center of the board with a little more weight over your front foot. Keeping the weight over your front foot will become more important later as you attempt to go fast downhill as it will help reduce the chance of speed wobbles. But importantly, you want to find a foot position where your feet and body feel most comfortable and secure.
To turn, you simply lean in the direction you want to go. This can be helped by moving your shoulders to open up or close off your chest in addition to applying pressure with your toes or heels. If you find yourself having difficulty with basic turning we find it’s helpful to look in the direction you want to go. Your body will subconsciously follow where you are looking which will make turning easier. When you are comfortable with basic turns in both directions, it’s time to practice carving.
You’ll need to start by going at a moderate speed, so make sure you’ve got your pushing and balancing down. Do a deep turn to one side and then the same depth of turn to the other side. Keep this going until you get a nice smooth S type shape.
Carving is a great way to control your speed and slow yourself down if you are going too fast. When you feel comfortable with simple carving back and forth, try to practice it at higher speeds and tighter turns. Carving is an essential skill that all longboarders need to have and will be used all the time when you start doing really intense maneuvers.
One of the most important things with longboarding, like everything in life, is to make sure you’re consistent. Keep practicing, read through our guide a few more time, maybe watch a video or two, talk to other longboarders and you’ll soon be exactly where you want to be.
We hope this post has been of some use to you. If you’d like to know more about longboarding then we have a ton of resources on AltRiders including The Ultimate Beginner Longboard Buyer’s Guide and some lists of the best longboards.
If you think we’ve missed anything or you would like to ask us some questions then please comment below or connect with us on our Facebook.