Learning skateboarding is like learning how to bike and truly it is scary for the first time. You lose your balance, you fall. You fall and you get hurt.
If you are the determined type of guy, you know that pain is part of learning. No pain no gain.
However, once you learned primarily the techniques of balancing, here comes the fun part because skateboarding can be the most exciting thing you can do outdoors alone or with friends.
So here is my idea now. How about if I tell you everything you need to know as a starter starting out by giving you the details about the parts of a skateboard so that you’ll know what’s under your feet when you skateboard and then way up to telling you about skateboarding techniques? I’m sure you’ll be excited to know that skateboarding, though seems to be a bit hard to learn, can be easy to master once you focus on the basics. So does that sound good to you? Ok, let’s begin by telling you the various components of a skateboard and these are only a few.
This is the plank or the board that you will be riding on. It is generally made of thin layers of wood glued together to make your board pliable, springy but solid. There are also decks made of bamboos for more pliability and durability but the best decks are made of carbon fiber materials.
Usually made of thick sandpaper with black or clear color, this is glued on top of the deck to provide grip to your shoes when riding the skateboard.
All skateboards have 4 wheels and these are commonly made of plastics of different sizes and hardness and are graded in scale and measured in millimeters (mm). Manufacturers have different scaling system when it comes to the hardness of the wheels. Some companies use GradeA scale for harder wheels while other companies use GradeB scale with 20 points lesser but of equivalent hardness. For example, 100A rating = 80B rating.
Size of the wheels also matters. Big wheels are for speed but it requires the rider to put more effort to push forward. Small wheels are less faster but it is more relaxed for the rider to push. Hard wheels slide more easily on hard surfaces so these are best for grinding tricks. Soft wheels, provide more traction which allows the driver to easily control the board especially when turning.
There are always two trucks for each skateboard which are mounted on the underside of the deck. Trucks have several parts attached to them like the hanger and axle which are held together by the kingpin. There are also the base plate, riser, the wheels that are installed right through the axles and the bushings that allows the kingpin to pivot when the rider wants to turn or carve.
Bearings are the rings that are mounted in the center of the wheels. Inside these rings are small metal balls that enable the wheels to rotate very fast and with precision. Bearings are rated in ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineering Committee) which represents the tolerances of the ball bearings to tension. ABEC ratings are 1,3,5,7 and 9. The higher the rating, the higher the tension tolerance of the bearing and the more it is précised.
Some bearing manufacturing companies do not use the ABEC rating with their bearing products like Bones and Osprey but only their system.
When it comes to skateboard decks, they also come in different shapes. Each type is designed for you to do certain kinds of skateboarding style. So choose which better suits your desired play once you get the hang of skateboarding.
These are typically the shortest style board. The design and shape of it is for air to freely pass through the board which helps the rider in performing the tricks better. It is also best adapted for street and park skating.
The cruisers are those that have the kicktails (raised end of the board). These are designed basically for cruising or simply for basic skateboarding ride. With mid-length decks, these are best for maneuverability and versatile in their performance thus making them the best choice for sailing on pavements to commuting.
With typical flat deck and with a kicktail, these have asymmetrical (irregular) shapes with a wider front. These are ideal for skating pools, ramping or carving.
Most people think that longboards are of separate variety from the skateboards. However, longboards are also types of skateboards but with wider and longer board, bigger hardware and designed for unique purposes. Though these are not as versatile as the skateboards in terms of executing tricks, they are best for cruising, transportation, downhill racing, carving and all tricks that do not require your feet to take off from the board.
Watch this video to know the difference between the skateboard and the longboard.
Normally, skateboard beginners would just buy skateboards as they like the design and color of it when they’ve seen it. But once they try it, the board does not suit their size, weight and design. So here is a primer on the different dimensions of skateboards to give you an idea which size will suit you.
Now to give you a clearer outlook on what size of the board that can fit kids and adults’ age, shoe size and height, I have also included here more detailed specs for each age bracket.
There are four main skateboard sizes, re: micro, mini, mid-size and full size.
Here is a chart from Warehouse Skateboards that simplified well the differences of board size with regards to the users’ age or size:
Now that you know what board size that can best fit for your age or feet size, you must also know your choices for the shape of the board.
The shape of the board has an influence on how you can perform the various tricks you want to do when you are already practicing your tricks. There the flat boards which are the most common, the radial, 2-concave, progressive, asymmetric or convex and the flat-cave.
You also have also to consider the camber of the board. Camber is the arch of the board that slopes down towards the trucks so you can see it on both tips of your board. There is the positive camber, negative chamber or no camber (just flat). The camber has an effect on the board itself. It can raise or lower your deck but can also strengthen it. If your deck is flexible enough, the camber can help you have a carvier curve and a smoother ride.
Another thing that decks feature is the rocker. This is the opposite of the camber. As the camber is the arch of the board from tip to tip, the rocker is the arch towards the center of the board. What does the rocker do with your board? It makes your board a little lower to the ground which makes turning easy and your skateboard sliding easily. However, having a very low rocker can make your skateboard pretty unstable and the tendency to have a wheel bite.
So you have an idea now what your board would be when you are on the beginner level, up to scraping the road practicing your tricks. We now go to buying your skateboard.
There are two options in having your own skateboard. You want to buy it factory assembled or assembling it yourself. There are conveniences and downsides, of course. So here are your choices:
You checked Amazon and you see a skateboard complete with parts already installed. The skateboard has many great reviews and looking great and you ordered it. It comes to you just as you’ve seen it on your laptop. You take it out from the box and use it instantly. That’s the preassembled or complete skateboard. You can buy a complete skateboard from $50 to $250 range.
Preassembled skateboards, as experts say, are great for novice skaters because these have the complete parts already installed on the board. More so, these are also best choices for level 2 skaters and master skaters who know what they want with their skateboards. Pros usually based their choices with the best skateboard brands because a lot of skateboard companies now manufacture good quality decks as well as their own hardware and accessories. Complete skateboards are also basically cheaper and you don’t have to spend time figuring out how to assemble it.
Some of the most distinct disadvantages in buying complete skateboards is that some of the hardware installed like the bearings, bushings or nuts don’t pass the quality standards of the riders. And most of the times, these break easily, lose the grips or just get stacked up. Especially if the riders do rough plays, these parts take the brunt. The wheels, most of the times, may not also suit up the type of play the riders do.
Put it simply, this is assembling your own skateboard. You buy the deck and the hardware that includes the wheels, bearings, bushings and the grip tape individually. This endeavor may be a bit expensive but the outcome is always favorable. It may cost you $150 up to $300 if you will be assembling your own quality skateboard but the parts of it are your personal choices which means the hardware have better quality than the installed ones.
In this scenario, you can buy parts that you think have the best quality thus making your skateboard to perform better. Most skateboarders love brands that have durable boards/decks. But when it comes to the assembled skateboard parts, most of these are not what they want with their boards especially when they need more speed with their wheels and bearings and want more twists with their hangers and bushings. So in essence, assembling your own and buying your hardware makes up for a better-performing skateboard.
Usually, buying parts for your skateboards could be little costlier if you want to install the best brands and top quality parts. On the one hand, professional skateboarders don’t mind buying expensive parts to enhance their skateboards and make them adapt to their kinds of play.
If you are a beginner, it is advisable that you to master your basic or preassembled skateboard first before assembling or enhancing your skateboard.
Now that you know a bit of things about skateboards, let’s talk about how to be safe when learning skateboarding the first time.
The first thing you want to consider before taking your first ride is protecting yourself with safety gears like kneepads, wrist guards, elbow pads and of course a helmet because for sure, you’ll fall a lot. The kneepads and elbow pads will protect your limbs once you fall. The wrist pads will protect your joints as the weight of your body is pulled by the gravity onto the ground. Well, the helmet is of course for your head’s protection.
You’ll know that skateboards are some of the most unstable rides on earth once you step onto it. They are pretty shaky and softy on both sides. So imagine stepping on a wobbly piece of board with wheels and have to move it forward using one foot, isn’t that a pretty scary thing? So why not practice your balance and ride on softer surface like on a lawn or on your living room carpet so even you’ll fall it is unlikely that you’ll suffer a broken bone or a contusion.
Remember that if you are a beginner, do only simple movements first. Step your left foot on the board and push your weight forward using your right foot. As you get comfortable, change your feet position – right foot on the board, left foot for pushing. Imagine yourself walking slowly so you don’t lose your focus. And while building your speed, balance your body also with your feet on top of the board once in a while as you glide slowly.
In skateboarding, braking is called foot braking. As you are moving, you just take your back foot from the board and step it steady on the ground to slow your movement until you stop. Skate and stop, do this many times until your body and feet get used to the movements. Soon, your feet will build its own reflex and will brake abruptly once your brain tells you to stop.
Once you have mastered the basics of skateboarding, your creativity will naturally occur to you. You can now bring your skateboard anywhere, to school, work, park or do the weekend practice. Watch videos and go out with your friends for a skateboarding trip. In no time, you’ll be messing around with your skates and will know what you need to change to enhance your own skateboard.
If you need more basic guides on how to skateboard, watch this skateboarding beginner’s video.
Now, let’s say you already know how to ride your skateboard, let’s begin talking about doing the basic tricks which I am sure you would want to do after spending a lot of time hooking up with your skateboard.
So here, I give you the tips for each trick and show you some videos for each. You may think these tricks are hard to execute after watching these but once you get to control and maneuver your board, every trick will come easy.
Dropping and pumping is the most basic moves you can do with your board on a skate bowl so to pump, you have to practice this on a U-shaped bowl. Ride your skateboard facing one side and as you go up the slope you drop down your body a little like you do crouching and raise your legs to pump up momentum. This activity will power up your slides. The pumping action is called the “transition”.
The Drop In, on the other hand, is also doing the pumping but you have to take your skateboard on the edge of the bowl first, hanging the board where the wheels are not touching the edge of the bowl while stepping only the kicktail of the board. As you step on the front of the board, the board drops and you begin to slide up and down the slope.
Tip: This trick may seemed scary especially the Drop In. So if you want to try this trick but without a skate bowl, find a mini-ramp that has shallow ramps so that you can practice your dropping in.
Here is the video that shows you exactly what I mean.
So called the Grind because you will be grinding your wheels and trucks on the edge of a raised platform as you do the ollie so basically this trick requires your little knowledge with “ollie”. With ollie, you can jump with your board as you pop and landing your feet still on top of your board. With 5050 grinding you skate towards the platform on sideway position and instantly pop the kicktail of your board as your get near the platform thus making your board to jump and land it half-board at the edge of the platform and slide.
Practice this trick on a very low deck first to avoid getting an injury in case you fall. It will also enables you to control your board better.
You want to see how you can perform this trick easy? Just watch and learn.
This trick seems a little bit hard to do but once you learn it, you would think it’s pretty cool and easy. Bend your knees in a crouching position to prepare to pop. Then as you pop the kicktail hard, you lean your kick towards the side of the board so that when the board jumps into the air, the kick will make the board spin 180 degrees. As the board spins into the air, your feet must stop the spin before you land on the board.
Do single Pop Shove-it first before doing the multiple spins. Your skills in ollie will also help you master this trick. This is actually an ollie with a single spin of the board.
This video will let you see how to do the basic Pop Shove-it.
The Frontside trick is actually using the front side or the nose of your skateboard and grinding it on the edge of a platform. You skate straight to the platform and once you are near, you turn your body sideway and do the pop landing the nose of your board on the edge of the platform and slide. With this trick, it requires your skills with ollie and of course proper timing for turning your body and landing only the nose of your board.
This trick is a little bit hard to do but you can practice this on a low platform also to get the proper timing even with a little popping of the board.
Here is how you do the Frontside Noseslide trick.
This trick is a tricky maneuver in which a skateboard is popped high and as it is flipped into the air 360 degrees, it should land flat on the ground and your feet landing perfectly on the board. So essentially, this is like doing the ollie but the board is flipped sideways fast.
The kickflip is one of the most favorites among beginners who want to learn tricks. The trick to learn this quickly is you must know how to do a solid ollie. And as you learn how to flip the board, you should know how to catch the flipping board with the back of your foot. It requires patience to master the kickflip so the best thing you may want to do is doing the flips on a soft surface first without skating. This is to familiarize yourself on the act of flipping. Once you get to do the trick well on one spot, you can now kickflip while skateboarding.
Watch this video for the step-by-step guides on how to Kickflip.
There are two things you do with this trick. The Rock Fakie is a little bit of doing the “dropping in” trick but you do not start at the top of the bowl and instead you slide up and down the bowl as you skate and let your skateboard’ nose passes the edge of the bowl and then dropping your way again into the bowl and do the same thing on the other side of the bowl.
The Rock n’ Roll is also like doing the Rock Fakie but this time you put your weight into your backfoot then twist your shoulder and pivot the front of the board around so that your body turns 180 degrees everytime you rise up to the bowl.
Try to learn these tricks on a mini ramp to get use to doing the fakie. Then as you go along and easy for you to fakie, switch to Rock n’ Roll from time to time. You’ll see in no time that you can do these tricks easily.
This is the other version of 50-50 Grind. The only difference is that you have to scrape or grind your trucks all the way to the ledge of the bowl then twist your body to drop the nose of your board and slide down. Unlike with 50-50 Grind where the side wheels of the skateboard grind to the edge of the ledge, the backside grind is more of grinding also the trucks. So what you need here are more durable trucks for your skateboard because you will be practically grinding them right on the ridge of the bowl. Basically, if your body is already used to doing the grind, you can easily do this trick with confidence.
This trick may be hard for beginners to do on rails but makes it easy on a U-shaped bowl. As long as you know how to grind, it won’t be hard for you to do the backside grind.
See how simple to do the backside grind.
Now that we have told you everything you need to know as a skateboard starter, perhaps now we could also tell you about the best skateboard for beginners so that you will have safer and more reliable skateboards. All these products were the most popular ones last year and the most positively reviewed. This year, they remained to be on the top list.
For those who are on the intermediate level, we also know a lot of popular skateboard brands out there that are selling quality skateboards that even the hard-core skateboarders would love to have. In fact, these are the best skateboard brands to watch out for 2017 that are beginning to be taken seriously by skateboard experts. To name a few of these brands, these are Plan B, Element, Zero, Almost, Girl, Baker, Enjoi, Flip and Birdhouse.
All the brands above present the latest in skateboarding designs and innovations as they were created by professional skateboarders themselves. You can see in their designs, hardware and artwork that they are different and yet posses what the beginners and expert skateboarders want with their skateboards.
Basically, everything you need to know if you are beginner or wants to buy your ideal skateboard are all here. From identifying the parts of the skateboard, to categorizing the types of decks, their styles, board sizes and shapes to choosing between buying preassembled to purchasing parts for assembly, we gave all these full attention.
So as a whole, this article may serve as your primer in skateboarding.
We have also identified the best skateboards for beginners because people who want to start off with skateboarding deserve to know the best.
Skateboarding may seemed to be difficult to learn and most of the time, people leave the idea of acquiring the skills through practice because they see that the risk of falling and hurting is there. However, if you will be cautious with your movements plus a little courage to go on, you will definitely survive the basics without hurting yourself. And once you learn how to ride and get the hang of it, you’ll know you will be in for a more exciting skateboard adventures.