Learn How To Ride A Longboard (You Can Teach Yourself)

Longboarding can seem a bit intimidating.

You’re controlling a large board with only the movements of your body, while also trying to maintain your balance.

I’m not going to lie to you, balance on a longboard is a learned thing.

You will have to put in a little effort to be comfortable when you first step on a board.

But it might help you to know that, due to its larger size, riding a longboard is actually easier than riding a skateboard, at least when it comes to balance and stability.

Learning to Ride a Longboard

To get started longboarding, beginners need to master only four skills –

  • Balancing
  • Pushing
  • Stopping
  • Correcting/Steering

These are the four main actions that make a longboard go, keep a skater on it, and allow a skater to come to a safe stop.

All four of these actions are performed just like on a standard skateboard or shortboard.

Once you have these basic movements down you can skate any straight shot on your longboard, like a boardwalk or river path.

How to Keep Your Balance on a Longboard

The first step in longboarding, as in skateboarding, is to get a feel for how to balance on the board.

Good balance on a longboard starts with a proper stance.

A proper longboard stance is similar to a proper skateboard stance.

Your feet should be roughly hips-width apart, knees slightly bent, upper body upright.

You should stay relaxed and let your body shift with the movement of the board.

See our article How to Stand on a Skateboard for help getting into a proper stance.

However, since longboards have longer decks, they are more forgiving when it comes to stance.

Widening your feet just a little more (beyond hips-width) can give you more stability on the board, especially when carving (see below), and make you more comfortable on longer rides.

It can also help you maintain your balance, which is 90% of longboarding.

For more on balance, see our article Skateboard Balance: What You Need to Know.

How to Push on a Longboard

Once you can stand on a longboard, the next step is to make the longboard move.

Pushing is the main movement that makes a longboard go.

It looks like this –

created by Active Weekender

The first time you step onto a longboard, you only need to push off once.

This will start the longboard rolling forward and allow you to get a feel for how to balance as the longboard moves.

Practice pushing off and staying on your longboard on a straight stretch where you won’t need to turn. (The flatter and smoother the surface, the better.)

Later, you will learn how to push while the longboard is moving. But, to start, just try to make the longboard go forward and stay on it as it rolls.

For an in-depth introduction on how to push properly on a longboard, see our article How to Push on a Skateboard (Quick Beginner’s Guide).

Longboard Pushing Tip: One issue that may arise when pushing on a longboard (as opposed to on a skateboard) is the size of the deck.

Since longboards have such wide decks, they can be harder to clear when pushing and stopping than narrower skateboard decks.

To overcome this issue, try scooting forward on your longboard’s deck, so the toes of your front foot slightly hang off the edge of the deck.

For most skaters, this will be a natural stance anyway and leave you roughly centered over the board.

For skaters with smaller feet, this may be a slight adjustment and require settling back to center once you complete your push.

By favoring the frontside or “pushing” side of your skate deck, you should have enough clearance to swing your leg down by the board and bring your foot back up without striking the deck’s edge.

How to Stop on a Longboard

Stopping is the final skill you need to learn on a longboard before you can safely roll in a straight line.

The most common way of stopping a longboard, the foot brake, is a very simple method that involves putting one foot on the ground to bring the board to a stop.

It looks like this –

created by Active Weekender

Other means of stopping a longboard include:

  • Riding onto a rough surface, such as grass (though, this has the potential for causing too abrupt a stop)
  • Running off (simply stepping off a longboard while it’s in motion and running alongside it until it comes to a stop)
  • Carving (making long turns back and forth to slow down, often used before applying a foot brake)
  • Sliding (turning the board sideways so the wheels scrape along the ground)

But all of these means of stopping are more dangerous or more advanced than foot braking.

At the start, just learn the foot brake.

It will get you going.

For more on foot braking on a longboard, see our article How to Stop on a Skateboard (Beginner’s Guide).

Longboard Stopping Tip: One issue that may arise when stopping on a longboard is the same issue that arises when pushing.

Longboards have such wide decks, they can be harder to clear than narrower skateboard decks.

To overcome this issue, try scooting forward on your longboard’s deck, so the toes of your front foot slightly hang off the edge of the deck.

You can do this while in motion.

When stopping, simply scoot your stance forward a little at a time until you are at the edge of the deck, and then put your foot down.

This can help you avoid the deck when lowering your foot to the ground.

How to Turn on a Longboard (Longboard Steering)

The final basic move you must learn in longboarding is how to steer/turn.

You will develop a feel for how a longboard steers while practicing pushing, balancing, and stopping.

Each shift in your balance to one side of the board or the other makes slight changes in a longboard’s direction.

This is the basis for all correction and steering on a longboard.

It looks like this –

longboard carving
created by Active Weekender

As soon as you learn soft corrections on a longboard, you can typically start skating around other people.

Soft turns are all you’ll need on many boardwalks and recreational paths.

To get started steering on a longboard, see How to Turn on a Skateboard (Beginner’s Guide).

Once you learn to correct/steer on a longboard, you can start pushing into deeper, sharper turns that help you avoid obstacles and take tighter corners.

Deeper turns are also the basis for the riding technique that sets longboards apart from skateboards in terms of cruising – Carving/Pumping.

How to Carve on a Longboard

Now that you’ve learned the basic moves of longboarding, you can move onto the technique that makes longboarding truly special – Carving.

It looks like this –

longboard carving
created by Active Weekender

The unique design of longboards with their cut-outs (drop-throughs/drop-downs) and tapered ends (pintails/dancers) make this general riding technique considerably easier and safer than on a standard skateboard or cruiser.

Carving is a basic longboard technique that can either speed you up or slow you down.

Which sounds mad. But it all has to do with centripetal force.

Carving can be done on any type of skateboard to some degree, but it is best done on pintails and other top-mount longboards because of their deeper turning angles.

To start learning how to carve on a longboard, see our article Longboard Carving.

Keep Calm and Longboard On

Cruising on a longboard is one of the chillest forms of skateboarding.

Most longboarders skate for recreation or transportation alone.

When you’re first learning to longboard, the most important things are to perfect the basics – pushing, balancing, stopping, steering, and, to a lesser extent, carving – to stay relaxed, and to accept that there’s a learning curve.

You’re not going to learn to longboard in a day.

But if you just keep grabbing your board, throwing on a helmet and pads, and trying to stay zen, you will get a feel for it eventually.

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