When you're aching to surf, or improve your longboard surfing skills, a great supplemental workout to include (along with yoga, a balance board, and a healthy lifestyle) is longboard skating!
You can set muscle memory and get familiar with the dynamics of cross-stepping whilst moving and/or turning; here's a quick instruct for a longboard. This length is great for land paddling AND cross-stepping!
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Step 1: Materials!
1) Plywood of your choosing; and this can depend on your budget. Generally, thicker is better, and you get what you pay for:)
2) Old hardware, Trucks, and Wheels from your old skateboard/cruiser/longboard.
3) Grip-tape is optional.
Step 2: Template
1) After cutting your plywood to the length and width you want, and marking its lengthwise centerline, place one of your favorite longboards (grippy side on your plywood), and trace the edges, tail and nose section onto your project.
2) Once you're happy with your outline, use a jigsaw to carefully cut out your board.
Note: I used my Sector 9 Luke Nosewalker 55" longboard as a template.
Step 3: Flex and Rigidity...
An extra piece of plywood strip/rib (cut wider than my base-plates, and spanning the length from the front to the rear trucks) helps to stiffen up the deck. It can feel unstable to attempt cross-stepping on a board with too much flex, so don't be afraid to add this strip; it can even act as the first riser pad to help deter wheel-bites!
Step 4: Mock Fitting!
Place the rib onto the centerline of your board. Once you're happy with the placement, and the rib is centered, drill the holes for your hardware. You can do this easily by marking a center-line on your board, rib, and truck base-plates, then lining them all up, and marking the location of the mounting holes onto the rib.
Then, fit your trucks and wheels and make sure everything is set and straight!
Step 5: Refinements...
Riding around town with your board this way works, but it behooves one to put in at least some mild mild mild elbow grease into this thing!
Start by getting some rough sandpaper (of your choice and going to town on all the splintery, crude edges, then go to a finer grit and smoothen out your work even more.
I like shaving/sanding off a few layers of the ply to make the tail mimic a tail-block:)
Step 6: Finishing Touches...
...are anything that makes you happy!
Find a picture of your favorite longboard and copy the paint job, or do something original with stains and waxes or oils --you can never go wrong when it comes to art!
Apply your grip-tape directly on top of the board, and feel free to make designs with the shape of your cuts.
Step 7: Gift It!
You can spread aloha, by giving this away as a gift (i made this for my GF:) or use this longboard as ur own trainer. You'll find that the sheer size gives you peace of mind when rolling at cruising speeds and slowly learning your comfort level with cross-stepping:)
To break from the norm, try land paddling once in a while and really get those core muscles into your surf training!
You can see that this board is about 62" in length...
Step 8: Safety, and Details...
Always practice safe skate, wear a helmet and/or pads if you're going to be performing radical stunts.
My girlfriend and I absolutely love surfing. When we are short on time, landlocked or within 3 days post rain and drainage, we maintain by skateboarding (long-boarding) and land paddling. Here are a few shots of my beautiful and talented GF (cross-stepping) on her S9LNW longboard.
Don't forget to consider wheel size, durometer, truck height and width, and all the minutiae of technical information once you get better and want to dial-in your skateboard:) Google is your friend! (May I suggest: Silverfishlongboarding.com, for all your skateboarding needs).