The low-down on learning to longboard

Sarah Ross

longboard
Road Rash (via Collegian)

Alternative transportation: it’s important. While biking is the obvious favorite on campus, with more biking spots than actual parking spots, there remains a popular contender: longboarding.

Longboarding is arguably the cooler option, albeit slow, but there is one problem: learning to longboard is much less cool. The stumbling, tripping, falling, aggravated walking behind the board as it rolls away again is much less suave and lacks that effortless look. But, it is possible. You just need to accept a few simple things.

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  1. The first thing you need to learn to do is trip. You will trip. Sometimes that will even lead you to falling. Sometimes that falling will lead to road rash, twisted ankles, maybe even a busted tooth. But, it usually all starts with tripping. If you can survive the feeling of falling forward when you hit those first couple bumps without the proper speed to go over them, you will be well on your way. If you can fall right, even better. The better you fall, the less injuries you’ll sustain. I say this as I ice my ankle, so believe me when I say it. 

    A student longboards past the Study Cube on his way to the library Sunday afternoon. The new Study Cube will have wireless internet, overnight laptop check out, and entrances from the east and west.
    A student longboards past the Study Cube on his way to the library Sunday afternoon.
  2. Second thing to learn is to stop. Stopping is the next step. It’s the alternative to falling, but if I’m honest, you’re going to fall first. So that’s why this is second. There are lots of videos or tutorials online about foot breaking, so start there, but this is better learned by someone else. Luckily, if you’re starting out, there won’t be enough momentum to do any damage if you stop wrong while trying on your own, so take it at your own pace. 
  3. Start somewhere flat. This is imperative. If you start on a hill, you are going to need to have already mastered steps one and two. If you were to skip one and two, just imagine this: Splits at high speeds. You think I’m kidding. But if you take a step off at high speeds without knowing what you’re doing, it will happen. Start somewhere flat. Tackle the hills in a few months. 

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    Longboarding with Slide Gloves (via Collegian)
  4. Start somewhere unpopulated. You will look uncoordinated. You will swear. You will stumble, trip, fall, and aggravatedly walk behind the board. It will do you some good to do this in privacy. 
  5. If you start somewhere populated, either don’t care or look unassuming. People will look. They will also say things. Some may think you’re a nuisance, some will find you funny. Some will just give you this gutting, pitying look. You can avoid it by going elsewhere, but if you can’t, wear something less flashy and try and blend in. If you can’t, just tune it out. Angry mumbling can help with that, but maybe that’s just me. 
  6. Buy an ice pack. Specifically one that does well with ankles and wrists. You’ll need it at least once or twice. Gloves might be a good purchase down the road, but ice packs are multi-purpose and cheaper.  

    Local artists were given the opportunity to show off their work at the All Hands on Deck skateboard art show. The show is a being held this weekend at 222 Walnut Street.
    Local artists were given the opportunity to show off their work at the All Hands on Deck skateboard art show. The show is a being held this weekend at 222 Walnut Street. (Collegian File Photo)
  7. Get a good teacher, or at least a good partner. Like I said in step 2, it’s better if you learn from someone else. I have my boyfriend, who has the patience of a saint as I angrily mutter after my board or try and pick it up for the twentieth time, and trust me when I say it, it’s better if you find someone.  They’ll know how to teach you how to stand, how to push, how to stop, all the basics. They’ll pick you up when you fall, and encourage you when you’re tired. If you find someone else learning, that’s a good close second. It’s better to suffer together than to suffer alone. 
  8. Your feet will hurt. The board vibrates on hard cement. It may differ with different boards, but it’s pretty common. Wear good shoes. Even that might not eliminate it, but with all the ankle and calve work you’re doing, you may as well just put it down as your leg day for the week. 

What tips did we miss? Have you ever learned to longboard? Have you wanted to? What did you struggle with? 

Collegian Blogger Sarah Ross can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com or on Twitter at @HowSarahTweets. Read more of her content on AltLife or at collegian.com under Music. Leave a comment!