There’s nothing quite like riding a longboard. Even if you’ve been riding a traditional street skateboard for years, you’ll find that riding a longboard is a different type of fun and a new challenge. Longboarding has a wide range of riding styles that can suit different types of riders.
You will want to consider all of the longboard riding styles discussed below to see which one might work well for the way you want to ride. Of course, the best way to know what you like best is to try all of them that interest you. There’s a chance that you will end up enjoying a couple of different styles.
Check out the riding style options:
- Downhill Riding
- Cruising and Carving
Now, let’s get a closer look at each of these to see which might work well for you.
Downhill riding, also known as bombing, is more than just taking an average hill with your board on the way to a friend’s house. This is an extreme type of longboarding that’s favored by those who love speed. The speeds achieved with downhill longboarding can reach 60mph on some hills.
This type of riding is fast and furious. It requires drifting, flipping, and hand sliding to get down the hill safely. It’s for those who like the more extreme side of things when it comes to boarding, and it’s not for everyone.
To do this type of longboarding, you will need to have slide gloves with plastic pucks. These are to help keep your hands as safe as possible. After all, you will be sliding along the asphalt and performing maneuvers. Your hands would be torn up if you didn’t wear high-quality gloves specially made for this purpose.
In addition to gloves, riders will often wear full leather suits and full-face helmets to ensure their safety. Falling off the board at high speed would cause a significant amount of damage otherwise.
Only expert longboarders should attempt this type of boarding. It’s also dangerous to perform on the road, so it should only be attempted in a safe area where there’s no traffic or dangerous elements and obstacles in the way.
You will find that freeriding and downhill riding both utilize power sliding, and the moves the riders can pull off tend to be quite impressive. The longboarders will also be using slide gloves with plastic pucks for this type of riding. They often have to put their hands on the surface of the road to maintain proper balance.
The maneuvers performed with this type of riding include spins, curbs, slides, change slides, and drifting without the need to use their hands in most cases.
Freeriding is not as extreme or dangerous as downhill riding, and even beginners can partake in this style. It can give them the skills they need to learn proper balance on the board and to control the speed. Of course, it’s also just as fun for expert skaters, who like to drift when they are moving at high speeds.
Freestyle riding is popular because just about anything goes. This type of riding is all about creativity. You’ll find that riders will switch stances on the board a lot when freestyling. This is so they can perform different types of moves and tricks that require different positioning, and so they always maintain control.
Side-stepping tricks are popular with freestylers. Some of the other tricks include kickflips, shove-it’s, cross steps, and tiger claws.
Because there aren’t any rules or requirements for this type of riding, it’s a perfect way for beginners to start getting used to their board. Many riders start with freestyling and then decide that they want to try something that presents them with a new challenge, such as freeriding.
Cruising and Carving
While this might sound fancy, these are simply terms for getting around on your board. It’s a basic style used to ride around the city and have fun. This is the most common type of longboarding style, and it’s where most beginners start, even if they soon move on to freestyling. Others are perfectly content to continue with cruising, as it’s their preferred method of getting around.
Cruising can work well with a wide range of longboard types. If you want to travel long distances on your board, you will likely want to opt for a full-size longboard. If you have shorter travel times and you want to have tighter turns on your board, you could opt for a mini-cruiser. This is essentially a longboard that’s a bit shorter and that has a tighter turning radius.
Carving isn’t necessarily a riding style. Instead, it’s more of a technique that’s often used alongside cruising. It’s used to help turn, pump, and slow down. It will also help riders to make turns and to keep headed in the direction they want to go.
The rider turns back and forth in a serpentine pattern. It allows for smooth, fluid riding that lets you build and maintain momentum while controlling your speed. Surfing and snowboarding have similar techniques.
Longboard dancing is an interesting style that focuses on creativity. It’s a visual style that combines the skills that are required with freestyling with the movements and rhythm associated with dancing. The board and your body move to the rhythm of the music. It is as much visual art as it is a boarding style.
Often, there is music accompanying the dancing, but there doesn’t always have to be. Many people will listen to headphones while they are dancing and carving their way down the road on their longboard. The choreography of the dance can be planned, or it might be improved on the spot.
This can be a fun option for beginners to try once they get the hang of carving, discussed above. When you’re dancing for yourself, there aren’t any rules. Just let the music take you and have some fun with it.
There are, of course, longboard dancing competitions. If you plan to compete, be sure you know the rules for the competition, and that you outfit your board with wheels, bushings, etc. that work with your style.
When most people think about the word slalom, skiing is the first thing that comes to mind. However, it’s also possible with longboarding, and it is quite popular. Slalom longboarding is similar to downhill skateboarding. However, it can also be done on banked surfaces and flat ground.
The riders have a series of cones set up in front of them. The cones are variable distances apart from one another. The rider has to weave their way through the cone course without touching any of the cones. If they are competing, they will receive a penalty if the cones are touched.
This is not a new type of longboarding, either. It first started in the 1960s, but it fell out of fashion for a while. It has started to gain more recognition in recent years. Slalom boarding requires a lot of precision at higher speeds. It takes a lot of skill to do well.
However, it’s accessible even for beginners who have gotten the hang of riding and turning at speed. It’s generally advisable for beginners to start on a flat area or a location where there is just a small grade rather than a steep hill. Once they can master a simple slalom course, they can increase the difficulty.
This is less of a riding style and more one of the main reasons that people get longboards in the first place. Riding longboards makes it easier to get to places faster. This form of transportation is a good way to tour areas, visit friends, commute to work, and more. You never have to worry about getting stuck in traffic. Those who use longboards to get around will find that it’s a fantastic form of exercise, as well.
If you only want to use the longboard for transportation, you don’t have to worry about learning any other fancy riding styles or tricks. All that’s needed will be simple maneuvers, learning how to cruise and carve, and how to stop properly and safely.
Tips for Riding the Longboard
New riders are often concerned with how they are going to stop the board. Since the longboards and mini-cruisers tend to be faster than traditional street skateboards, beginners might find that stopping feels more intimidating. It doesn’t have to be, though.
You’ll find several great techniques that can help you brake when needed. Knowing that you have this control over the board will take away a lot of that worry. Let’s look at the ways that you can brake better.
- Carving – Remember carving? This technique helps you to control your speed when riding. You can control how much you are accelerating without changing the motion to help you stop.
- Foot Braking – This is a braking technique everyone needs to learn when they are getting onto a longboard for the first time. It’s one of the first things you should learn. You will take your pushing foot off the board deck and drag the sole of the shoe onto the road to help you slow down. This is the most common and safest technique for braking. Of course, it will wear down your shoes, so make sure you have a quality pair.
- Slide Braking – Slide braking is typically used for downhill riding and freestyle riding. It will help you to better control your speed before you go into a corner. It involves traveling sideways to have the wheels slide against the ground rather than roll. Slide gloves are used for this method to keep your hands safe in case they need to touch the asphalt.
- Air Braking – This technique can be used to help you slow down slowly when you are going at high speeds along the road. You simply put your hands out to the side, carefully balancing on the board. Keep your palms open and facing forward. This will create some drag, which will start to slow you down. It will generally be combined with carving, while will help you to decelerate quicker.
- Sit Breaking – You will go from a standing position on the board to a sitting position with both feet down, sliding on the ground. It’s similar to foot braking, but you have to sit and use both of your feet. It is typically used at the end of a run when you want to get off the board.
Take the time to practice different types of braking based on the style of riding you are doing. Practice your braking at slower speeds when you are starting and then gradually build up speed as you become more confident. It won’t take long to get a handle on braking and learning how to have full control of your board.
Choose and Use the Right Safety Gear for Skating
Different types of longboarding styles can result in different types of injuries. This means that the type of safety gear you should wear may differ between the styles discussed above.
With downhill longboarding, for example, you will want to make sure that you have full coverage, such as a leather suit, a full-face helmet, and slide gloves, as well as high-quality shoes.
Cruising doesn’t require nearly as much safety gear. However, it’s still a good idea to at least wear a helmet and some pads. This can keep you safe in the event of a fall. Choose the gear that will keep you safe and that is best for your riding style.
Have a Great Time
These are some ways to ride and have a great time with your longboard. Try out the various styles, make sure you have a board equipped for that type of riding, and wear your safety gear. If you are a beginner, take your time to get acquainted with the board and how it works before you try some of the more difficult styles.
You won’t become a master of the styles overnight, of course. Take your time and improve your skills each day. Before long, you will be having a lot of fun with your longboard.
Valerie Mellema is a writer living on Lake Fork in East Texas with a crew of three border collies, goats, horses, and a whole bunch of chickens. When she’s not writing or riding, she enjoys knitting and needle felting, a hobby she picked up in Ireland.