All-terrain longboarding can be fun. However, like with every other motor skill, you need to learn the basics before you can truly enjoy all that the sport has to offer. Thankfully, getting started with longboarding isn’t all that difficult, and neither does it have to be a daunting challenge.
The problem with some beginners is that they want to take to the steep slopes and the hills right away without learning the basics first which is how injuries occur.
If you are an all terrain longboard enthusiast and a novice in the sport, these pro tips and tricks will help you get started on the right foot (no pun intended).
Top Pro Tips to Get Started with All Terrain Longboarding
These tips not only delve into the skills required to enjoy longboarding but also cover how to stay motivated when things aren’t going as spectacularly as you had hoped they would. That said, let’s dive right in:
Pro Tip 1: Get the Right Longboard
It might sound easy at first, but choosing the right longboard for your specific needs is not only one of the most important steps you will take towards enjoying this sport, but it also happens to be one of the most complicated processes. Thankfully, it’s only complicated if you are all over the place and don’t have a strategy in mind.
Listening to experienced longboard enthusiasts is a good start, but remember that everyone brings their own biases into every argument. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you. As such, you will have to come up with a criterion of your own. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right all-terrain longboard for you as a beginner.
- Shape: As a beginner, you won’t have the expertise or riding confidence gained with experience. As such, you need to pick a board that compensates for these initial weaknesses. Choosing a wider board is best at this stage. It offers you better stability, control, momentum, and balance, all facets of the sport that you won’t have mastered yet as a newbie. At this stage, it is advisable to go for a board that has a deck measuring 39 inches or above.
- Size: This will entirely depend on where you intend to ride the longboard, as different sizes are ideal for different settings. For example, an all-terrain longboard with an overall length between one and 89 cm is perfect for urban settings and doing tricks. One that’s 90 to 110 cm is ideal for pretty much anywhere, and any longboard over 110 cm is excellent for cruising on a smooth surface.
- Deck: The kind of material used for the longboard deck construction determines the kind of grip you get, and the kind of grip you get determines the experience you have riding the board. All-terrain longboards with wood decks tend to offer better grip than those made out of fiberglass, plastic, or aluminum.
Of course, there are other things to consider, like the different longboard wheel and bearing options, but those are factors that will become more apparent once you have delved deeper into the sport and know exactly what you want, as opposed to simply dealing with your first all-terrain longboard.
Pro Tip 2: Work in Groups
While you can pretty much learn anything you need to on YouTube these days, when it comes to longboarding, it’s often more fun and more beneficial if you start your experience in a group setting. It’s best if the group you choose has at least one seasoned longboarder as well as newbies.
Not only will you quickly gain confidence, especially when you see even the more experienced riders wiping out, but you will also get the benefit of having readily available tutors should you need them. Groups also bring a “collective mindset” where members encourage each other to push themselves further and, in turn, get better faster. Plus, you get to learn what everyone else knows, which isn’t exactly something you can find on YouTube unless you watch hundreds of different tutorial videos.
Pro Tip 3: Find Your Stance
Every sport has its lingo, and in longboarding, you are undoubtedly going to hear the terms “goofy” and “regular” whenever you stand on your board. These refer to your kind of stance. Everyone has a natural stance when they get on the board. In some cases, one person can have different stances on different boards. If it’s natural for you to stand with your left foot forward when you get on the board, then you have a “regular” stance. If it’s natural for you to stand with your right foot forward, then you have a “goofy” stance. Regardless of the type of stance, you have to find your rider style.
It’s common for beginners to want to adopt one stance over another because they think it looks cooler. However, “cool” isn’t one of the stances. One of the best ways to discover it is to simply stand with both legs together and have a friend push you from behind. The foot you instinctively put forward to keep you from stumbling over is your front foot, and therefore your natural stance.
So why is finding your natural stance so important? Apart from the fact that it helps with your natural balance, it also determines how you will maneuver the board. Regular people will turn right if they press on their toes when riding their board and left if they press on their heels. The exact opposite is true for goofy people. Knowing this will save you a lot of falls and help you master some tricks quicker.
Pro Tip 4: Learn How to Effectively Brake
One thing is certain: once you start moving, you will come to a stop at some point, whether you know how to brake effectively or not. Your braking skills will determine exactly how much pain you will feel when you eventually come to a stop. Learning how to brake is an essential skill every all-terrain longboard enthusiast needs to master.
Some boards may have regenerative braking, but one of the first longboarding techniques you will learn is called foot braking. Here’s a video giving you a quick tutorial on that:
Pro Tip 5: Learn How to Fall
Yes, you are going to wipe out and fall when off-road longboarding. Even the best of the best fall sometimes. The difference is that the most experienced riders know how to fall so that they don’t run the risk of breaking their neck or injuring anything vital. As counterintuitive as it might sound, it all comes down to learning how to fall off your all-terrain longboard.
The very first thing you need to understand about falling off your longboard deck is that you should avoid falling on a stiff arm or hand to keep from breaking your wrist or, at worst, arm. When falling off your longboard, you will need to learn how NOT to fall. You may naturally put your arms out to break your fall, but this can cause significant injury when moving at high speed. Instead, tuck your arms across your torso and land on your forearm so you roll sideways onto your shoulder.
Here’s a quick video showing you how to do that:
As you can imagine, this takes some practice.
Another trick is to try and keep yourself from falling at all. When you are headed for a fall, get low on your longboard. This positioning might keep you from falling by lowering your center of gravity. If that fails, though, do not lock your elbows when you hit the ground.
Finally, you should always wear your gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads. With this kind of protection, you can easily slide off the board and roll away.
There are many other tips and tricks you need to learn, such as finding your static balance, learning how to roll, and how to turn your all-terrain longboard. It’s advisable to start your journey in a group setting, as these are all basic techniques that you will learn quickly when you spend time with a seasoned longboarder.