By Ryan Allison
Longboards are a longer and more stable skateboard than your traditional trick oriented skateboard. They have softer wheels, which allow a rider to roll right over rocks and twigs. Longboards are a great way to get around college campuses or even your neighborhood. These boards carry their speed well, are fun and an easy way to get out and get moving. Longboards have a great range of use–from the neighborhood cruiser, to the fast downhill carver.
Skateboarding can be difficult and intimidating; but longboarding is much easier and more rider-friendly. This is due to the larger size of the board and wheels, which adds a great deal of stability compared to the traditional skateboard. This stability takes a lot of the hard falls out of the learning process.
What do you need to get started?
Well like all sports, there is probably no end to what you could choose to invest in regarding gear; but to get started, you really only need a longboard and a helmet. Always wear a helmet. There is other protective gear like wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and even tailbone pads. Although these options are out there, one can easily and safely learn how to longboard with only a helmet and a good attitude. It also helps to have a pair of shoes with a flat bottom which will give the rider more control and stability. Once you get the hang of it, you can ride in just about any type of shoe.
Finding the Right Longboard
There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes of longboards a person can choose from. As with regular skateboarding, there isn’t really one right way to longboard. You may be a rider who cruises to and from work or class. Maybe you like to bomb hills or skate bowls. However you want to ride, there is a board for you. The longer a board is the more stable it tends to be. This length can affect the turning ability or agility of the board, so a person who wants to ride in a skate bowl would want a shorter board than someone who wants to ride down hills, since a shorter board is better for tight turns but less stable for high speeds.
Now we need to know which foot to place in the front and which goes in the back. If you have already ridden sideways while wakeboarding or snowboarding, then just go with the same stance that you used in those sports. If this is your first time riding sideways, we need determine which foot is your comfortable foot with which to lead. Riding with your left foot forward is called “regular stance,” and riding with your right foot forward is called “goofy.” Again, there is no right or wrong stance– there is only what is comfortable to you. There are many ways to determine which foot you are most comfortable having forward. Here are a few that we find work well.
Finding your Lead Foot
One way to find out is to imagine you are just in your socks and you are going to run and slide on a wood floor. Which foot would you lead with? That’s your stance. A different way to determine your stance would be to either imagine or actually kick a ball, and the foot you kick with is typically your rear foot in your stance. For instance, I kick with my right foot and ride sideways with my left foot forward, which is regular stance. Lastly, you can have a friend help you by standing with both feet together, and have your friend give you a push backwards. Whichever foot you put back behind to brace yourself is typically your rear foot.
Time to Ride
Now that you know which foot is your lead foot, you can begin to familiarize yourself with standing on and pushing the longboard. Your rear foot is your push foot. To start out, it is good to place your lead foot right behind the front trucks (the things that hold the wheels) at around a 45-degree angle (whatever is comfortable to you). Next, with your rear foot, you can give a push. Then place that push foot right in front of the rear truck. Now you’re longboarding! As you get more comfortable with your balance and control on the board you will be able to move your front foot with your toes facing the nose of the board while you push then when you pull your rear foot on. You will adjust your front foot back to that 45-degree position mentioned earlier.
Once you are able to push around, you can start learning to turn or carve on your board. Carving is done by leaning your weight onto your heels or your toes. The direction you lean is the direction you will carve. You can adjust the trucks of your board to make turning easier at low speeds or tighten them for more stability at high speeds. Find a nice open space with no traffic to practice carving and go down small declines. You can stop by turning away from a decline or by slowing yourself down by dragging one foot on the ground.
However you choose to longboard, always wear a helmet, and remember to have fun! Longboarding is great because there is no wrong way to do it. Just go put down some carves and enjoy being outdoors!