Column: A beginner's guide to skateboarding
Despite the world shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, skateboarding saw an increase in participants hitting the streets and skate parks, but it isn’t as simple as one might think. Before everyone jumps on a board, thinking they’re Tony Hawk, it’s important to do a little research about how to skateboard. Here are some COVID-19-safe skateboarding tips and tricks that will have you ready to hop on a board in no time.
Before you go out and buy a skateboard, make sure to research what style of skating interests you. Ultimately, this will decide what kind of board you need and how much protective padding you should invest in. You should be able to find all of the necessary gear at your local skate shop or online retailer. Going to a shop is preferable because you can see the product yourself and get a feel for the equipment.
Skateboarding requires a bit of athleticism, even for those who are just riding to their next class on a Penny board. Simple balance and strength-building exercises will dramatically improve your ability to skateboard.
Find an open area where you can safely practice your techniques, preferably a place with smooth concrete. Empty parking lots, basketball courts and entry-level skate parks are great places to learn for a first-timer. Although you can practice by yourself, it’s more fun and safe to practice with a buddy. No one likes limping back to the car alone after a gnarly spill.
Another way to prepare is by watching skateboard tutorials before going out. It’s a nice way to focus your mind on the task at hand and think through the motions before attempting it.
Before trying to roll around, do a full-body stretch to help you get loose and ready to shred. Find a patch of grass or a crack that will hold the skateboard in place, so you can practice balancing on top of the board. The basic foot positioning includes placing your front foot behind the front bolts on top of the board.
Your pinkie toe should be between the two bolts with your back foot across the tail, also known as the back end of the board. Your toes should be flush with the shape of the tail. By putting your feet in this position, you are centering your weight on the balls of your feet, which gives you more balance and control over the board.
To figure out which foot is your front, lean forward until you’re about to fall and whichever foot moves to save you is your front. When standing on the board, don’t stand too tall, or you’ll be too top-heavy. Instead, squat a little bit and slightly bend your knees. This keeps your shoulders and hips parallel to the board, making it so that you only have to turn your head and neck to see.
Practice leaning on your toes and heels with a good skate stance to get a feel for turning the board.
Set the board down in front of you and step on only with your front foot, angling it in the center of the board below the front bolts. Slowly walk your board forward using your back foot to push. This will determine how much weight you need to put on each foot while pushing.
Once you’re comfortable with that, gradually gain speed and place your back foot on the board after pushing, twisting your front foot sideways from the pushing stance to the riding position, with your back foot on your tail and your front foot sideways behind the front bolts.
Keep your knees bent and eyes forward as you slowly go back and forth in a straight line. After a few laps, point your shoulders in the direction you want to go and lean to that side to make the skateboard turn.
To stop, place all your weight on your tail by leaning slightly back and stepping down on your back foot, dragging the tail on the ground until you stop. You can also drag your foot on the ground; however, that requires more balance.
Recording yourself skating can also be beneficial, so you can review the footage later and pinpoint the areas you need to work on. Once you’ve gone over these steps, you’re ready to give it a go. Now get out there and start pushing some wood!