Learn to Longboard & Skateboard with the master Alex Hannigan
Alex Hannigan is a long-serving Landyachtz team rider and all through this year he’s going to take you on a journey through a series of videos as you learn how to ride your new skateboard quickly and safely. In the first video Alex will take you through the basics, covering everything you’re going to need to know to start cruising your neighbourhood confidently and having fun.
Learn to Skate!
Before you start learning how to ride your board, you will need some safety gear and a safe place to learn at. There are a couple things to consider with both things that will make your experience much more enjoyable and help speed up your progression. You are definitely going to fall off your board at some point, and protective gear can help keep you safe when that happens. Learning how to fall and getting comfortable with coming off your board can also go a long way to preventing serious injuries.
Helmets are a must have!
The next piece of equipment to consider are your shoes. You’re going to want a pair of skate shoes with a flat, all rubber sole. Shoes with a bigger heel or a lot of arch in the middle are going to make it harder to feel what’s happening under your feet and will generally make learning how to skate more difficult. Make sure that the soles are completely rubber, as shoes with foam on the bottom will get chewed up very quickly by your griptape and when you start learning to footbrake.
Gloves & Pads
Pads and gloves can also be super helpful for preventing injuries and increasing confidence while learning. There are a variety of different types of pads and finding some that fit comfortably is the most important thing, pads can’t help you if you don’t wear them.
Choosing the right place to learn
Finding a safe spot to learn will also help you speed up your progress as well as making learning to ride more fun and less scary. An ideal spot would be an empty parking lot or dead-end street. You’re looking for somewhere that has plenty of space to maneuver, little or no traffic, and ideally a very slight incline from one end to the other.
Related: How to choose the right skateboard!
LEARNING TO RIDE:
Stance: am I goofy or regular
The first thing you’re going to want to get comfortable with is standing on your board and finding out where your balance point is. To do this, you’ll need to find out whether you are naturally regular footed (left foot forward) or goofy footed (right foot forward). Try both and one stance should feel much more comfortable. Otherwise you can get a friend to push you forward and whichever foot you stick out to catch yourself should be your front foot.
Once you’ve found out which stance you ride, you need to get used to standing on the board. You’re going to have most of your weight on your front foot while riding, and you want your front foot to be right behind your front truck. This gives you the most control over your steering while also keeping you stable. Your back foot placement is less important as your front foot will be doing most of the steering, your back foot will naturally sit wherever it’s comfortable.
How to slow down? Footbrake!
Before you start skating around and exploring, learning how to confidently slow down and stop by footbraking is a good thing to do. Footbraking is essentially removing your back foot from your board and sliding it along the ground so that the friction slows you down. To do this you will pivot your front foot to parallel with your direction of travel and then lightly place your back foot on the ground. It’s important not to press too hard at the beginning, start lightly and increase pressure as you go.
How to push your longboard
Now that you can stop comfortably, you can start pushing around and exploring a bit more. Similar to footbraking, you push by pivoting your front foot parallel with your direction of travel then removing your back foot and pushing yourself forward with it. You may feel like using your front foot to push, it’s much better to learn with your back foot as it gives you much more control pushing and will make it easier to learn other things down the road if you get the proper muscle memory now. Make sure to be aware of your back wheels as it can be easy to kick them while pushing, especially if you have a drop-through board, or one with wheel cutouts.
What’s next? Carving!
Once you’re up to speed, you’ll be able to start getting in some carves and deeper turns. This is where the fun stuff really starts. With your front foot in a position where you have leverage over both your heelside and toeside rails, you can start keep most of your weight over the front of your board and shift your weight onto one rail and then the other. It’s important to look where you want to go and think about pointing your front shoulder in the direction you’re aiming.
Another way to turn your board is called a kickturn, to do this, you’ll need a board with a kicktail like a Cruiser or ATV Series board. Basically, this involves putting your back foot on the kicktail and leaning back a little to pick the front wheels up off the ground. Once you’ve done this, you’ll notice that you can pivot on the back truck to quickly change directions. Make sure you keep your knees bent and your legs loose. Think about rotating your shoulders first and letting the board follow you.
Now that you have the basics under your belt you can get out and explore your area on your skateboard, you’ll be surprised where it ends up taking you. In the next episode we are going to be showing you how to slide to control speed when you get going a little faster, so practice those carves in the meantime.