You have likely seen someone traveling to class or around your neighborhood on what looks like a stretched-out skateboard. This object is called a longboard, and riding a longboard—“longboarding”—can be a very practical mode of transportation. It’s also very fun, and easier than one might think. This skill can especially benefit college students, as they frequently travel short-to-medium distances and may find themselves too busy to formally block off time for exercising. Thus, this guide is intended to help a college student, though longboarding is a fun and useful activity for almost anybody.
Though longboarding may not be as difficult as it seems, one should spend a bit of time practicing before hopping on and trying to ride at full speed. This guide breaks down the act of longboarding into small, doable steps, allowing the reader to progress safely and at their own pace. You’ll be a pro in no time!
You will need:
(1) A longboard
(2) Shoes will good grip
(3) A long, smooth, paved surface
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Step 1: Practicing Your Form (practice Makes Perfect!)
a. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, facing forward
b. Bend your knees slightly
c. Shift your weight slightly from the soles of your feet to your heels and back
Don’t take this step for granted! Having good form is essential to riding efficiently and safely, and you won’t be able to practice good form on the board if you can’t do it on the ground. An additional step you can take to test your stability is to have someone push you (not too hard!) from either the front or back. If you fall, consider bending your knees more, or widening your base. You will want to practice this relatively easy step for at least five minutes.
Step 2: Getting on the Longboard (getting Started)
a. Place left foot near the front of the board, toe pointing towards the front of the board
b. Push gently with your right foot while facing forward
c. Place right foot on back of board, parallel with the axis of the wheels
d. Rotate left (front) foot to be parallel with right (back) foot
This is one of the more difficult steps, as it is the first time you leave the secure ground. One strategy you can try is first placing your longboard in a grassy area, or some other place it won’t roll. This way you can get some experience with all of the motions without having to worry about the board sliding from under you. Don’t worry about completing the motions in rapid succession at first; this will come with experience. To gain this experience, try spending 15-20 minutes on this step, or until you feel comfortable.
Step 3: Speeding Up (have the Need for Speed?)
a. Point front toe towards front of the board, and repeat step (2) two to five times
If you spent enough time on the previous step, this portion should be pretty easy, as it is basically an extension of getting on the board. The picture is a good example of transitioning after a push: the back foot is back on the board pointing along the wheel axes, but the front foot hasn't yet been rotated to match. The footwork will become natural with practice. Warning: don’t go too fast until you’re comfortable with stopping (see step 5). If you feel comfortable with getting on the board, this should take no more than five minutes to master.
Step 4: Coasting and Turning (go With the Flow)
a. Push with back foot as needed to maintain speed
b. Shift weight towards toes (see picture) to turn right, or towards heels to turn left
Coasting and turning are lumped together, because you never want to speed up and turn simultaneously. Coasting is easy—it is the same as speeding up, but less aggressive—but turning is more difficult to get down. A great place to practice turning is the top floor of a parking garage: the terrain will be very smooth, and the gentle curves provide an easy but well-defined goal. Spend 30 minutes turning, taking sharper turns as you get the hang of it.
Step 5: Slowing Down (take It Easy)
a. Lightly place back foot on ground, dragging it softly
b. Hop off when you feel it is safe
This is likely the hardest step, as dragging your back foot requires you to stay balanced on the board with your front. Therefore, one should ease into this step: if you’re not ready to balance with one leg, consider coasting until you come to a stop until you’re ready to attempt this procedure.
If you drag your foot too softly, it will take a long time to stop. Conversely, planting your foot too hard may throw you from the board. Practice until you establish a pressure that feels right. Mastering this step is important to keep you safe, so be sure to practice for at least 30 minutes.
Step 6: Conclusion (congratulations!)
Be proud--in less than the amount of time it takes to watch a movie, you learned a brand new way of getting around and having fun. With additional practice, you will be able to ride faster and take sharper turns (and finding time to practice should be easy--you're undoubtedly already hooked). Just be sure to be courteous around others, and to remember that you're not invincible on your board. Have fun!