Longboard Carving: How To and FAQs

When you first start to longboard, you have several essential techniques you have to learn.

The first of these techniques – balance, pushing, stopping, and turning – are the same techniques used to ride a skateboard or a cruiser.

The design of longboards, however, makes them good for another basic skating technique – carving.

What does ‘carving’ mean in longboarding?

Carving on a longboard means making back and forth turns on repeat, so you are basically drawing continuous “S” shapes along the ground.

It looks like this –

longboard carving
created by Active Weekender

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Why do longboarders carve?

Longboarders carve to control their longboards’ speed.

But the most unique thing about carving on a longboard is that it controls speed in two completely opposite ways.

On flat ground and going uphill, carving can help longboarders maintain (or even gain) speed.

Rapid quick turns engage centripetal force, which increases momentum.

Another name for carving like this is “pumping.”

When riding downhill, carving can help longboarders reduce speed.

Instead of riding straight down, long wide carves lessens a longboard’s angle of descent, preventing it from picking up too much momentum.

How to Carve on a Longboard

If you can turn on a longboard, you can carve on a longboard.

It just takes a little more practice to learn to do it well.

To start carving on flat ground:

  1. 1Choose a wide, empty, flat surface like a driveway or tennis court.
  2. Push off with your back foot like normal and bring it up to the deck.
  3. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet and lean slightly forward to start turning frontside.
  4. Let your board move a little ways in that direction.
  5. Shift your weight to the heels of your feet and lean slightly backward to start turning backside.
  6. Let your board move a little ways in that direction.
  7. Turn frontside again.
  8. Turn backside again.
  9. Pick up your pace when you start to feel comfortable with the rapid back and forth movement.

As you practice carving on flat ground, you should notice the faster you shift your bodyweight back and forth, the more your longboard will accelerate.

This is a great skill for cruising on a longboard without having to push.

To start carving on hills:

  1. Choose a wide, empty, sparsely-trafficked hill with only a slight incline. (Ideally, a recreational path or protected drive, something other than a street.)
  2.  Start partway up the hill, just far enough that you can make a few wide turns before you reach the bottom.
  3. Step onto your board and let gravity start to carry you downhill.
  4. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet and lean slightly forward to turn frontside.
  5. Keep turning until you near the edge of the path or drive.
  6. Pay attention to the feel of your wheels against the ground. The wheels of your longboard should skid a little along the surface, but not too much.
  7. Shift your weight to the heels of your feet and lean slightly backward to start turning backside.
  8. Again, pay attention to the feel of your wheels against the ground. Let them skid slightly, but note how your board feels. If your wheels feel sticky against the ground, or it feels like you might tip, reduce the depth of your turn.
  9. Keep turning until you near the edge of the path or drive.
  10. Turn frontside again until you near the edge of the path.
  11. Turn backside again until you near the edge of the path.
  12. Continue to the bottom of the hill.

As you practice carving downhill, you should notice how you slow down while turning, but pick up speed each time you change direction.

The longer your turns (the more time your wheels spend moving at a sideways angle instead of straight down), the slower your descent.

The quicker your turns (the more time your wheels spend pointing down the slope), the faster your descent.

You can get a lot of control over your downhill speed by carving, but you must be aware of your wheels’ skid.

If you get too much skid (especially at high speeds), you can lose control of your board.

When you first start to practice, just take it slow and easy.

Keep the inclines small, make large turns, and don’t hesitate to bail if you feel like you’re losing control.

skateboarder carving

What Makes The Best Carving Longboard?

Pintail and drop-through longboards are the best longboards for carving, but, in a board to board showdown, pintails win the carving race overall.

When it comes to carving, there’s a reason it’s designated to only certain types of boards.

Carving requires deep turns that can push the limits of a skateboard’s undercarriage.

Since the most popular longboards (pintails and drop-throughs) have tapered ends and cut-outs, they are the safest (most effective) boards to carve on.

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However, pintails and drop-throughs don’t carve the same.

Since drop-through longboards sit nearer the ground, they are less responsive than pintails, so it takes more effort to make them turn.

This can be problematic when you are trying to “pump” or carve for speed.

Since pintail longboards have higher decks, they are more responsive, which makes quick carving, or pumping, easier.

When it comes to downhill carving, drop-through and pintails are equally good. (Though, drop-throughs offer more stability.)

When it comes to flat-ground and uphill carving, nothing beats a pintail.

Can you carve on a cruiser?

While it’s possible to carve on a cruiser skateboard, it’s not as easy as on a drop-through or pintail and carries more inherent risk.

Cruiser skateboards are not designed with cut-outs or tapered ends like drop-throughs and pintails, which gives them major disadvantages when it comes to carving.

The first disadvantage is that you can’t turn as deeply.

The design of a cruiser board, with the wheels beneath the deck, just doesn’t allow for such deep turns.

The second, more dangerous, disadvantage is that, if you do attempt to turn as deeply on a cruiser as you do on a drop-through or pintail, you risk wheel bite and potential injury.

So, while some slight carving is possible on a cruiser (you can make wide turns to slow down on a hill), you can’t really carve for speed.

Is a carving longboard good for beginners?

Yes, a carving longboard is good for beginners, no matter which type of carver you choose.

All longboards (including drop-throughs and pintails) are wider and longer than standard skateboards, which give them more stability and make them easier to balance on than shorter boards.

But a drop-through longboard is easier to learn on than a pintail.

Learning to Carve

Carving is one of the unique advantages longboarding has over skateboarding.

Skaters who learn to carve effectively can go for blocks, even miles, without ever putting a foot down to push.

Carving isn’t easy. It takes practice, flexibility, and some serious core strength (especially if you’re pumping for speed).

But, like any skateboard discipline, carving is an entirely learnable skill that can enhance and add variety to your longboarding routine.

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