Unlike bikes, snowboards, skateboards, and longboards have no brakes, and boardriders have to be creative when it comes to stopping and/or slowing down. If you’ve ever gone snowboarding, then you’re familiar with “carving” and “sliding”, and doing these on your longboard would serve the same purpose, with one major difference. Sliding with a longboard takes a bit more finesse and guts than sliding with a snowboard simply due to the, let’s say, less than forgiving nature of the surface.
To cut long story short – slides in longboarding are used to check your speed. Once you slow down, you can either come to a full stop or keep on boarding at lesser speeds, having more control over the board. There are a few longboard sliding tips you need to follow, especially if you’ve only recently taken up longboarding, the first and most important being – play it safe. Longboarding is an extreme sport, and can be very unforgiving to those who take it lightly. So, first thing’s first – get your safety gear the minute you get your first board. A helmet is a must, as well as knee pads, elbow pads, gloves and slide pucks.
Another important safety tip, especially if you’re a newbie and still practicing the slides, is to do it on a stretch of road that you know well. Let’s face it; where else are you going to practice longboarding, a skate-park? Always make sure you have a good view on the road ahead, so that you avoid getting hit by a car or caught in its wheels. It’s not called extreme sport for no reason. It would be a good idea to always have someone with you, whether it’s a fellow longboard enthusiast, or just a dude with a camera, to scout the road ahead and keep an eye on you while you perform your slides.
Now, on to the technicalities – before you learn to walk the walk, you need to talk the talk. There are two basic slides you will need to know, and you can build upon these – the stand-up slide check and the Coleman slide. All of the sliding tips in this article will relate to either or both of these, and you’ll find them applicable to most other longboard tricks. Both are good for slowing down and coming to a full stop, if necessary.
The stand-up slide is pretty much what it says on the tin, and doesn’t require any fancy motions. This is a great start, and a good way to build up your confidence before you move to the more difficult stuff and trickier slides. On the other hand, the Coleman requires you to drop a knee, place your downhill hand on the surface, and grab the rail with your other hand. This may sound intimidating to the uninitiated, but it’s a move that you’ll learn pretty fast, with the right teacher. Reading this article is a good way to start, also. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
What many people get wrong about doing slides is that they forget about their shoulders. In longboarding, as well as any sport of this type, it’s the shoulders that dictate the way you’re travelling. So, before actually setting off downhill, take some time to practice the key shoulder motions for your slide by the side of the road, or you can do this in the comfort of your room, even, in front of a mirror, to get the feel of it.
Also, it’s the rule of thumb among longboarders to always have a visual on where you mean to go. In other words, always have your head turned to the direction you intend to go when you come out of a slide, and your body will automatically follow.
Another important thing for executing the perfect slide is the foot placement. Whether you do a Coleman slide or a stand-up check, you need to position your feet right. Your front foot (for the right-handed, that’ll be your left foot, ideally) will not move in any of these, and it will also bear the bigger part of the weight. This is just like driving a car – you steer from the front. For a stand-up slide, some boardriders let the front foot lie perpendicular to the deck, but if you want to maximize the control over your board, cock it sideways, having the toes point to the front. In a Coleman, have your front foot at an almost 45-degree angle, so that you can put your other foot down and bring the knee almost to the board.
The back foot does the majority of work, so it has to bear less weight. The weight distribution ratio may vary depending on the slide, but it should be no more than 40 per cent on the back foot. You’ll always want to put more weight on your front foot, which, automatically, means you’ll have less weight on your back foot.
This is important because the more weight you have on your back foot, the more traction you get, and you won’t be able to execute the slide. With even weight distribution mid-slide, all you will get is a wobble, but if you distribute more weight to the front, you’ll free up the back side so it can actually slide.
In a Coleman, you want to have the front foot pretty close to your tuck position, slightly pulled back over the rail. What this does is give you better grip on the deck and prevent the board from getting away from underneath you. Conversely, your back foot should be pulled back to the “meaty” part of the sole, with the heal, or a little bit more than your heel hanging over the back. Some riders like to have their back foot pulled back as far as the sole and leaning against the rail. What this does is allow you to have the ideal ratio of weight distribution placed both on top of the board and to the side of it from the rail, so that you have easier time kicking it out.
For a Coleman slide, it’s imperative that you practice the knee-bending motion until your muscles remember it, so that you can do with your eyes closed (don’t actually do this). What you want to do is drop your knee to your front foot. Also, drop your back foot on its side, so that your body is directly over the board and exerts its weight over it.
The key is to have most of your weight on your front foot, which will prevent you from wobbling, and facilitate steering (remember, longboarding is in a way like driving a car, because you steer from the front). Moreover, this will allow you to moderate the amount of weight that you place on your back foot and move it in or out, keeping your options open. Once you’ve got this move in the bag, you’re ready to go down the hill.
The correct placement of the knees is just as important as that of your feet, and you also have to develop the feel of how much bending is enough. This will come with experience, but here’s a pointer that you can benefit from even before you buy a longboard – for a stand-up slide, have your knees as wide apart as your shoulders. This will enhance your balance, which is key to executing a proper stand-up, and shaving off excess speed.
One last word of advice – never have the board perpendicular to the direction you’re travelling, because that will flat-spot your wheels (stop them dead in the tracks), and you’ll fall on your face. Have it a little under or a little over 90 degrees, but not perpendicular.