All Things About Longboarding For Beginners
If you are just getting into longboarding, then you will notice that there are quite a few differences between it and other sports which are available. Even the closely related skateboarding has its differences from longboarding. Primarily, a longboard is intended for travel while a skateboard is intended for tricks. Those which have some experience in skateboarding will find the transition to longboarding a bit easier than a complete novice. However, if you are a beginner, do not worry, this longboard for beginners article is intended for you.
What is a longboard?
The longboard design resembles a surfboard. This means that he nose is tapered to a point. Sometimes longboarding is referred to as street surfing due to the design of the board. If you keep this in mind, then you will note that the center is wider than the nose and tail of the board. Those which have found balancing on a skateboard a bit difficult may find that the increased width is easier to balance upon. The board often rests higher than a skateboard, making you less apt to hit debris and allowing for more control.
Before you buy a longboard, you should ask yourself what your goals for the board are. Do you intend to use the board for decline sliding, riding, and high speeds? Are you more interested in doing ollies, grinds, and tricks? If you answered that you want to do tricks then you may want to consider a skateboard or at least look at the differences between a skateboard and longboard.
Apart from the width of the board, the longboard is named such due to the length of the board. Typically, the longboard is around 40 inches or so (give or take a few). The increased length, though more stable for riding, is prone to breaking in half as the only thing supporting the wood are 2 trucks housing 4 wheels. On a longboard, the wheels are a bit wider than they would be on a skateboard. While this is important, it is also important to note that the type of wheel will vary from brand to brand. Some are great for sliding, some for curbside and urban leisure boarding, and some are all-purpose.
How to choose a longboard
Once you have determined that you want to take up longboarding, then the next step is to find a great board. There are a great many boards which are on the market, some of them are good and some are not so good. Just because a brand claims to offer a longboard for beginners, does not mean that the board is well built. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are choosing a board.
- The flex or bend to the center of the board when you are on it. Too much weight and it will break when doing turns and such.
- The curve of the sides
- The EG or amount of bowl shape that the board has. Some boards hare flatter than others. For a beginner, having a moderate amount of EG may help to keep the feet from sliding off.
In terms of design, most longboards are constructed of layered plywood, maple, or Bamboo. When picking out a longboard for a beginner, look at the way in which the layers are presented. There should be no gaps at all. Ideally, you will want to have a board which has a clear coat finish on the wood to minimize the risk of water getting into the layers. Aesthetic woods, such as the Bamboo board usually have such a coating. However, cheaper boards may not. Look to avoid any boards where there is visible signs of layer separation, cracking, or chipping.
Second but just as important to the functionality of the board are the wheels and the trucks. There are basically two ways in which the trucks can be mounted to the board. You will either have the wheels mounted on the underside of the longboard, which is the most common way, or you will have them top mounted. I would advise against the top mounted trucks for a beginner as the metal and the bolts may make the learning experience a bit more cumbersome than it needs to be.
Finally, when picking out a longboard, consider the length and the weight. Remember, you will have to pick this board up and carry it when not in use. If the board is too bulky or too heavy then you may want to look for a lighter alternative. As stated earlier, there are a ton of boards out there, one is sure to meet your needs. In addition to the boards weight, you should realistically determine if your weight can be supported by the board.
We have an article about choosing the best longboards. You can read it and choose for yourself a best longboard
Skateboarder / Longboarder
Keep in mind that after you purchase your board you will need to maintain it well. It is a common lack of care which causes boards to warp and break. Do not leave your longboard outside. Rain as well as over exposure to sunlight can warp the wood. Additionally, leaving your board in an insecure space is a sure way to have someone steal it, step on it and break it, or for a car to run over it. When not in use keep it inside in a dry area.
Attire and Safety Equipment
Before you start riding your longboard, you should take the proper measures to increase your safety, especially since you are a beginner and the likelihood that you will fall off the board at least once is great. To ride a longboard you will need:
- A safety helmet that fits and snaps (it does no good if it flies off your head when you fall)
- Tennis Shoes or Skateboarding Shoes. The key is to have shoes with a flat bottom and moderate grip. You do not want too much grip or you may find that maneuvering your legs while in motion is a bit restrictive.
- Elbow and knee pads
- Band-Aids, especially if you are doing downhill slide attempts
- Sliding gloves. These gloves have plates in them to keep you from scraping up your palms when doing slides. The gloves should fit snuggly on your hands but allow the fingers to move about freely.
Note: If you wear glasses, you should secure the glasses with a sport’s wear strap or the equivalent. As longboarding can encompass high speeds, it is more advisable that a person use contacts instead of glasses, especially on downhill or highspeed longboarding to minimize the risk of breaking the glasses and receiving eye damage as a result.
Do not wear overly baggy clothing when you longboard, you do not want the material getting stuck in the wheels. If you have a backpack or a tote, keep the straps snug to enable you to balance upon the board better.
How to ride a longboard
Get on the board. Don’t really think about your footing at this point. You want to see what your instincts tell your feet to do. Once upon the board look down. Is your right foot forward? If so then you prefer to ride goofy. If your left foot is forward then you are considered to be riding regular. It really does not matter which foot you have forward so long as you are balanced and you are comfortable with moving. The only time when your foot placement may become an issue is when looking up and trying to perform specific maneuvers. An instructor may assume that you are a regular rider when you are goofy or vice versa. Just something to keep note of.
When standing on your longboard, you do not want to have your foot resting evenly on the board, meaning that your toe and heel are centered. Instead have your toes just barely hit the edge of the board, your heel should extend off of the side. Bend your ankles to a 45 degree angle and slightly bend the knee. This is your starting position. Over time you will make your own custom stances and also find that certain starting positons are better than others depending on what you are trying to accomplish. For movement, push off with your back leg with one fluid motion. You do not want to beat down the pavement, one strong push should work.
How to slide on a longboard
Perhaps one of the more desired traits of longboarding it to be able to slide. Sliding is when the board is turned sideways and the person “drifts” along the pavement in a sliding motion. A slide on the frontside (heelside) is when the longboarder faces the thing they are sliding upon or facing the direction that he or she is traveling if doing a downhill slide. Backside sliding is when the person is facing the opposite direction from the direction he or she is traveling. For a beginner longboarder, it is not advised that you attempt backside or toeside slides until you have mastered the frontside slide. When performing a slide you will want to pull your board out so that the wheels move freely without gripping the pavement. The type of wheels that you have on your board will have a lot to do with the success or failure of sliding.
This trick requires you to have sliding gloves. You will be placing your hands on the pavement, concrete, or asphalt and you do not want to have cut them to shreds. The plates in the gloves also provide enough friction to help you stop the board after doing a slide or to reduce the speed on a down hill slide.
To perform a longboard slide:
- Start at a moderate speed you do not want to be flying as you can quickly lose control. Have your feet spread wide apart but do not have them hugging the nose and tail of your board. Shoulder width distance is ideal for this trick.
- As the board will be going back, you will want to lean forward to balance the weight. Crouch down and lean forward on the board. Be careful not to overcompensate on the lean or you will end up rolling off the board. Try to get about 45 degrees if possible.
- Once you have crouched down, put your hands on the ground and push your heels up off the board.
- Extend your body out as far as it can go as the board carves.
- Stop the longboard using your sliding gloves or
- Return to a crouching position and return to standing to perform another trick
There are a few variations to how to do a slide and everyone has their own way of mastering the look. If you see someone that is really great at slides, mimic their technique. Remember, longboarding is an art as much as it is a skill. There is no definitive way to pull of a trick, just definitive results.
Some tips to sliding which will help you are to keep your weight distributed to the front of the board. Some people even turn the back leg down sideways to put more weight on the front to increase the weight. This is a bit difficult and beginners may are not advised to try it. When trying to maintain the weight on the center of the board do not hunch over the board to avoid shooting the board out from under you.
How to stop on a Longboard
While getting up and going is the main part of riding on a longboard, it is also important to know how to stop, especially if you are going downhill or traveling fast. Granted, you could just try to jump off the board, but realistically this is unsafe for you and leaves your board unattended (with possibly you running after it). Here are three ways in which you can stop your longboard.
First, you can use the footbrake. This is by far the easiest method to stopping the board. To do this you simply lean back on the toe and turn the board to the side. The foot break should only be used on slow speeds. If you are traveling fast and push down on the tail, then you will probably end up flipping the board up into the air. Both you and the board will go flying.
The second method to stopping a longboard is to perform a slide and use your sliding gloves to slow you down to a stop. Of course, this means that you have to master the slide. In this technique, instead of standing up and continuing with your longboarding, hold the slide to reduce speed. Once the speed is slow you can take one foot off the board to come to a complete stop.
The last method that a beginner can use should also be conducted at slow speeds and that is the kick up dismount. You need to be on a somewhat flat surface to do this trick/stop. What you will need to do is to step off with your front foot while applying pressure to the tail of the board. The board will kick up when you do this. Reach down and grab the board by the nose.
How to slow down on a longboard
There will be times when you gather up a bit too much momentum, but how do you slow down? The best way in which to reduce your momentum is to perform a slide or a 180. By changing the direction of the board you cause the wheels to re-orient themselves and there to be friction between the board and the pavement. You do not want to slam your foot down to try to slow down. One of two things will happen if you do. In the first scenario, you slam your foot down and you stop but the board does not leaving you on your back. In the second scenario, you slam down your foot and it has no effect but to drag your leg against the pavement. Neither is desirable.
The best way to get started
Longboarding is a sport and like any sport, it takes a level of dedication and practice. You will need to brush up on your terms as there is a definitive lingo to the skateboarding and longboarding community. Whenever you practice or ride your board, ensure that all of your gear is in working order. The wheels should be checked on the board for any wax accumulation and the bearings should be cleaned periodically to keep the longboard in good condition. If you find that your feet are sliding too much on your longboard, consider a different pair of shoes (remember to keep the soles flat) or apply tape to the nose and tail section of your board.
Now that you have the basic information on how to get started longboarding, the only thing that you need is practice and dedication and in no time you will be a master.