Learn To Skate Guide

Skating down a deserted road

Always Skate Safely

As Skateboarding may be a completely new thing for you, make sure you're in a safe place to practice, and consider wearing some safety gear. Don't get too ahead of yourself, and always skate within your abilities. Ensuring you're always safe and comfortable will help you learn and progress faster, and make the learning experience more fun overall too. Don't be afraid to take a fall, as that is a part of skateboarding, but learning to fall properly and wearing the right safety gear will help with avoiding injuries.

Location

More important than anything is to always be skating in a safe place that you feel comfortable skating at. Empty parking lots, and mellow neighborhood streets with lots of space are the ideal places to learn. Avoid areas with high traffic, places with lots of people, and hills that are too steep.

Skateboard

Having the right Skateboard under your feet is always a good decision. The wrong board can make it much harder to learn, so make sure you are skating the right board depending on your abilities, goals, and the locations you are skating at.

Take a look at our Buyer's Guide to choose the best board for your needs and aspirations.

Shoes

Shoes that are flat and have a grippy rubber sole, are going to make things much easier. More durable shoes made from a better sole material will last longer, as grip tape can really chew up the soles. Board feel is very important and thicker-soled shoes can feel too bulky, and also get in the way of feeling the board under your feet.

Helmets

Protect your dome, a helmet can really help to avoid serious head injuries. A helmet with a hard outer shell and with a dense foam inside is always going to protect you more than a soft helmet. Don't ever use a helmet that has been involved in a serious crash, or shows any signs of cracks or deep scratches, as that will prevent the helmet form doing its job as intended.

Pads

If you want to avoid losing any skin, pads can help. They can also build confidence when you're first learning and might fall more often. Make sure they fit well, and stay in place while you're skating.

Gloves

Gloves help protect your hands, which are often the first point of contact when you fall. They can also help you once your skating progresses, and you want to learn how to do hands down slides.

Scenic downhill skate ride

Fundamentals

Before getting too ahead of yourself, make sure to learn the basics first. This will help you learn faster, and ensure you're always following a safe progression.

Skateboarding

Stance

Figuring out your stance is important before you even get on a skateboard. Most people are Regular of Goofy, and usually skate the same stance as they already Surf, Snowboard, or Wakeboard. If you haven't ever done any of those sports, there's an easy way to determine your stance. Stand in place on the ground with both feet about shoulder's width and have a friend push you from behind. The foot you step forward on to first is usually the foot you would lead with. Left foot forward is called "Regular", and right foot forward is called "Goofy". But, also try both stances and see if one is more comfortable for you.

Foot Placement

Now that you know which stance you are, now you need to learn the best location to stand on the board. Placing your front foot on top of or just behind the front truck is usually best, as your steering is mostly done from your front foot. You should stand roughly shoulder width, so place your back foot where it feels most comfortable on the board.

A more relaxed body posture is also important; don't be too stiff and stand too straight up, but crouching down too low can also make balancing more difficult. Try find a natural way of standing that provides the best balance. Again, feel out what feels best for you, as you want to stand in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.

 

Pushing

A good push will get you to where you want to go more effectively, and also help avoid extra fatigue. It's best to push with your back foot, as pushing with your front foot is much harder to balance and less common (AKA Mongo; some people might make fun of you for pushing that way).

Pivot your front foot so it's facing the direction you're heading, and take the back foot off the board, placing it parallel to your front foot and facing the same direction. With one smooth push, then place your back foot back on the board, and pivot your front foot back to your original stance placement. You could also make a few consecutive pushes before putting your back foot back on to the board, just make sure you have good balance when pushing more times.

Watch out for kicking your back wheels when you're pushing, as it's easy to get your foot caught on them and might make you lose your balance. Boards with cutouts can make it easier to catch the wheels, so make sure to practice pushing slowly at first before staring to push too fast and hard.

Foot Braking

Now that you know how to get moving, it's also important to know how to stop. There are a handful of ways, but Foot Braking is generally easiest to learn at the beginning. It's best to start practicing this technique with the board moving slowly, and then you can try with a little more speed after you're more comfortable.

Very similar to pushing, pivot your front foot before taking your back foot off the board. Instead of pushing with your back foot, gently place it next to your board flat on the ground, and let the friction slow you down. Start with a little pressure at first, and apply more pressure to make quicker stops, always making sure you have good balance while practicing this technique.

Pushing through the Desert
Coastline Cruise
Carving
Ah Carving, now you're talking. This is probably one of the most fun and simple things you can do in almost any boardsport, and essentially how you steer a skateboard. Remember to keep your upper body relaxed with your arms down, and let your lower body do most of the action.
 
Most of your weight should be over your front foot and balanced in the middle of the board. With just a little speed, first look where you want to go and then aim your front shoulder in the direction you want to turn towards.
 
Transition the weight of your front foot from your heels to your toes to turn one way, and vice versa to turn the opposite. As you get better and more comfortable at carving, you can start going faster and lean even more weight into your turns, to make more aggressive maneuvers.
 

Kickturn
Kickturns are usually easier on boards with kicktails, and are another great way to maneuver your skateboard. They can also be done in much tighter areas, as it is generally a turn done in a smaller radius. Bend those knees and make sure your balance is centered over your board. It's best to practice this first at slower speeds, before progressing to faster speeds.
 
Start by moving your back foot to the tail and your front foot near the front truck. By putting more weight on your back foot and leaning back a little, you will pick the front of your board off the ground. You can then pivot the board, and change directions quickly.
 
By rotating your shoulders in the direction you want to maneuver, it will help spin your lower body, and the board will follow. Once you have changed direction of the turn to where you want to go, let the front of your board sit back down on the ground. You can evolve this maneuver from starting on flat ground, to smaller transitions like driveways and banks, and eventually larger transitions like ramps, and vertical walls.
 

Tick-Tack
The Tick-Tack is a maneuver you can do to generate speed on your skateboard without pushing. Just like kickturns, they are easier to do on boards with kicktails. You should also have your back foot on the tail, and your front foot by the front truck. Keep those knees bent and your weight over the center of the board to maintain good balance.
 
Similar to a kickturn, put weight on your tail while leaning back and pick the front of your board off the ground. Rotate your shoulders in one direction, but don't go as far as you would with a kickturn; it should only be about a 45 degree rotation. Let the front of your board sit back onto the ground, but be prepared to swing your body in the opposite direction as soon as that happens.
 
Push your tail down again, and swing the opposite direction of your first 45 degree rotation. If you continue to repeat these motions back and forth, you will start generating speed, but go at a comfortable rate of motion at first to get used to the maneuver.
 

Power Slide
Power slides are another way to slow down or stop, but are more advanced than doing a foot brake. You should first be comfortable at doing kickturns and foot braking before practicing this maneuver. It is done by turning your board in a quick sideways direction, and letting the friction of your wheels skid sideways and slow you down. You can do them frontside; where you are sliding with the front of your body facing forward, or backside; where you slide with your back facing the direction of where you are going.
 
You'll need to try this with a little speed, but make sure you are comfortable and in control first. There are a few different foot placements you can try for a power slide, but it's best to start with both feet on top of both trucks. Having good balance and bent knees is very key to this maneuver.
 
Shift most of your weight to your back foot, kicking your board sideways, while straightening your back leg. Lean back when your board goes sideways, while pushing your feet out, and your wheels will start to slide while reducing your speed, or even coming to a complete sideways stop. As you learn this maneuver more, you can do a kickturn to push your board back to being straight in the motion of travel, and eventually straightening out without a kickturn.
 
As you progress with the power slide doing it either frontside or backside, try practicing the other way as well to master the power slide both ways. You can also develop your power slide even further with advanced techniques like the blunt slide, bert slide, and even 180 or 360 slide.
 

Ollie
Invented on a vertical surface by Pool Skater, Alan "Ollie" Gelfand, then adapted to flat ground by Freestyle Skater and Trick Innovator, Rodney Mullen, the Ollie is the first trick most learn on a skateboard. It can also lead to more advanced tricks like the shove-it, kickflip, 360 flip, and many, many more tricks.
 
This trick is typically done on skateboards with kicktails. You can first try an Ollie not rolling at all, like on carpet or grass, and then progress to doing the trick while you're actually rolling.
 
Place your front foot between the middle of the board and front truck, and move your back foot to the tail of a board on the ball of your foot. Pop your back foot towards the ground in a quick motion while bending your knees. Once your tail hits the ground, jump in an upwards motion and slide your front foot towards the nose of the board.
 
After you are in the air, prepare for the landing. Keep your body over the center of the board, and land with both feet on the bolts of your trucks. Cushion your landing by bending your knees and roll away with pride and more confidence as ever! Keep trying to refine this trick to gain muscle memory, and add even more style over time.