Skateboarding can look quite difficult. And the way you see it done at the X Games or skate competitions, it certainly is.
But the main aspects of riding a skateboard are not complicated.
To get started good and proper, beginners need only master four skills –
These are the four main movements that make a skateboard go and allow you to ride safely.
If you can perfect these movements, you can skate any straight shot, like a boardwalk or river path.
And, once you can comfortably skate a straight shot, it’s not too hard to start working in more movement.
But, for now, the most basic of basics.
How to Ride a Skateboard
Before getting started with riding, you need to know how to stand on a skateboard.
When it comes to keeping your balance on a skateboard, stance and upper body posture is key.
To stand strong on a skateboard, your feet should be hips-width apart, knees slightly bent, and upper body upright.
You should relax into this stance and allow your body to shift with the movement of the board.
For more on skateboard stance, see our article How to Stand on a Skateboard.
Once you can stand on a skateboard, the next step is to make the skateboard move.
Pushing is the main action that makes a skateboard go.
It looks like this –
The first time you step on a skateboard, you only need to push off once.
This will start the skateboard rolling forward and allow you to practice balancing as it moves.
Practice pushing off and staying on the board 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 already moving on a skateboard.
But, for now, just try to make the skateboard go forward and stay on it as it moves.
For an in-depth introduction on how to push properly on a skateboard, see our article How to Push on a Skateboard.
Balance is the main skill required for skateboarding, and the skill you will use the majority of the time.
You need balance to lower one leg to the ground to push.
You need balance to stay centered as the board moves.
You need balance to stop the board without stumbling or falling.
You need balance to lean into turns.
You will eventually need more balance to make sweeping turns.
Once you perfect your balance on a skateboard, you are a long way toward riding a skateboard well, because it truly is the basis for every other movement, from riding a straight line to the most complex of tricks.
To learn how to balance on a skateboard, you really have to get on a skateboard.
There is simply no other way to get a feel for the way a skateboard moves.
For help getting started, see our article on Skateboard Balance.
Stopping is the final skill you need to learn on a skateboard before you can start to safely roll for extended stretches.
The most common way of stopping, 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 –
Other means of stopping a skateboard include:
- A tail scrape (front of the board popped and kicktail dragged along the ground)
- A heel scrape (front of the board popped and the heel of the foot dragged along the ground)
- Carving (weaving back and forth to slow down)
- Sliding (turning the board sideways so the wheels scrape along the ground)
But these are all more advanced methods you’ll learn as you progress with your skating.
To get started, just learn the foot brake.
For more information on the foot brake method of stopping a skateboard, see our article How to Stop on a Skateboard (Beginner’s Guide).
As you learn how to push, balance, and stop on a skateboard, you will get a feel for how your body responds to the movement of the board and how the board responds to the movement of your body.
This is the basis for all correction and steering on a skateboard.
The slightest shift in balance can give your board a little nudge that directs it one way or the other.
It looks like this –
Learning to make soft corrections on a skateboard is typically enough to start skating around other people.
Soft turns are all you’ll need in skate parks and on many shared recreational paths.
As you progress, you’ll learn deeper, sharper turns that let you go faster, avoid obstacles, and turn tight corners.
But there’s no need to rush it.
Start with soft corrections and work your way up as described in How to Turn on a Skateboard.
Keep Calm and Skate On
Despite what gets featured on TV, skateboarding isn’t all about high-speed downhill runs and throwing up tricks.
Plenty of people skate for leisurely recreation or transportation alone.
When you’re first learning to ride a skateboard, the most important things are the basics – pushing, balancing, stopping and correcting – staying relaxed, and accepting there’s a learning curve.
You’re not going to learn to skateboard in a day.
But if you just keep grabbing your board, throwing on a helmet and pads, and trying to have fun, you will get a feel for it eventually.