Your Skating Stance – Are you Regular or Goofy?
How you stand on your skateboard is called your skating stance. Most people skate with their left foot to the front of the board. This is known as the regular stance or being regular footed. If you stand with your right foot forward then you skate goofy.
There is no best stance, it just depends which you are most comfortable with. As a very general rule of thumb, if you are right handed you will probably skate regular and vice versa.
Some skaters are known as switch footers as they are able to skate equally comfortably switching between regular and goofy stances.
But before you worry about being goofy or regular let’s just try standing on the board. Set the board down somewhere safe so you don’t roll all over the place. Nice soft grass is good for this.
Now hop onto the board and just move your feet around to get a feel for it. Try balancing on one foot at a time but make sure you don’t put your weight over the nose or the tail as you may tip the board and fall off.
Finding Out if Regular Stance or Goofy Stance is Right For You
Probably the easiest way to find out is to just step onto your board and see which stance feels best. It might take a while for any stance to feel comfortable until you get used to having a rather unstable platform under your feet.
Another way is to run up to a football and kick it. Usually the foot you kick with will be your back foot on your skateboard.
Finally you could get a friend to come up behind you and give you a gentle shove, preferably when your not expecting it. The foot you put forward to stop yourself falling flat on your face will most likely be the front foot on your board.
There is no foolproof way to tell until you get up and skate. Just play around a bit at first and you’ll very quickly develop a preference. If both ways work for you that’s great.
Being able to comfortably switch stances is a gift.
Skateboard Pushing – Let’s Get That Board Moving
First thing to note about skateboard pushing is that most boards have a natural lean to one side or the other. This will make the board turn slightly towards the lean.
Before you get on the board just place it on a level surface and give it a shove to see which way it turns.
When you start riding the board try to keep your weight slightly to the opposite side of the lean to counter this tendency to turn.
So, now you’re ready to hop on and push. First make sure you’re in a safe place with a clear, smooth surface and away from traffic and pedestrians.
Start off pushing on the flat or going slightly uphill. Avoid going downhill until you’re quite confident on your board.
Place your front foot on the board just behind the bolts. Once you feel secure, place your back foot on the ground slightly ahead of your front foot (the way you do when you walk) and push off with a firm and confident stride.
When you’re first getting the feel for the board it seems less scary to start pushing with your back foot either in line with your front foot or behind it.
Try not to get into this habit. You’re most vulnerable to falls when you only have one foot on the board. One or two good strong pushes will get you moving faster and further than five or six tentative jabs, which is what tends to happen if your pushing foot is too far back.
A Word About Pushing With the Front Foot
Skateboard pushing with the front foot is called pushing mongo. There are a couple of good reasons why this is not the best way to push.
When you come to learn tricks it takes more work to get your feet in the right position if you push mongo.
Also, you will be less stable on the board with your weigh towards the back.
So, if you are just starting out, it will be well worth the effort to learn to push with your back foot even if you tend to favour your front. If you find it really difficult to change, try changing your stance and see if that feels any better.
However, if you’ve been pushing mongo for a while and your happy with it, carry on.
Getting Your Pushing Foot Back on the Board
When you’re standing on the board your front foot will be facing more to the side than forwards like it is when pushing. The first thing you need to do is turn it sideways and then step smoothly onto the board with your back foot.
Both your front and back foot should be slightly behind the bolts. This will give you a good stable riding position.
Practise skateboard pushing, stepping onto the board and just cruising on the flat until you are really comfortable on the board and can get your feet into the right position with ease.
Skateboard Stopping – Before You Move Too Fast, Learn to Stop!
Skateboard stopping is easy once you get the hang of it but it takes a bit of practise to nail it. Learn to stop your board before you need to. If you wait until you’re hurtling towards something big and hard to try foot braking for the first time you will do damage!
We’re going to learn a couple of skateboard stopping methods in this beginner’s section.
Foot braking involves gently lowering your back foot and letting it skim the ground to slow you down.
To perform a foot brake, turn your front foot and upper body to face forward. Now transfer your weight forward so you’re balanced with all your weight on your front leg. Don’t lean forwards or backwards.
Keeping your back leg straight, lower your foot until just it skims the ground. Using too much pressure at this time will make your foot skip like a manic kangaroo and pitch you off your board.
The faster you’re travelling the more your foot will try to skip so learn to stop at low speeds first. Once you’ve slowed down a bit you can apply more pressure.
The Tail Stop
If you don’t have a tail saver on your board, tail stops will scrape your board up a bit. This is more cosmetic damage than anything and some skaters like their boards to look well used, so it’s up to you.
However, if you use the tail stop a lot, tail stop from high speeds, or ride on rough ground you will eventually wear your board down enough for it to break.
As with foot braking, learn your tail stops at slow speeds first.
Push off and ride a little way then, when your ready to try the stop, transfer your weight to your back foot and push the back of the board firmly downwards until it hits the ground.
Your front leg should naturally bend as the front of the board comes up in the air. This will grind the tail along the ground and bring you to a stop.
Learning tail stops will improve your balance as well as stop the skateboard.
A word of Caution
When you first try a tail stop you may find your balance isn’t as great as you thought it was. Be careful or the board could shoot out in front of you and you may end up flat on your back.
Bailing simply means abandoning your board.
Okay, so bailing is not technically a skateboard stopping technique but if it’s a toss up between you or the board, do it!
If you feel you’re in danger of a collision, or if you just think you’re going to fall, forget about stopping and jump off. The board will stop eventually and if it gets damaged you can replace it.
Don’t risk hurting yourself to save your board.
If you do bail, try to jump in the direction of movement and run off the momentum.
Skateboard Turning – Changing Direction
Once you’re happy pushing and stopping, skateboard turning is your next step. As a beginner you need to learn to carve and to kickturn.
But before we start talking about turning we’re going to confuse the issue with a bit of skateboard terminology, frontside and backside.
In the simplest of terms, if you’re facing the arc of your turn, it’s a frontside turn and if your back is to the arc of the turn, it’s a backside turn.
Not at all confusing right, wait until you start doing tricks. But we’ll leave that for later.
This is the easiest method of skateboard turning and you’ll be doing it a lot. All you need to do is adjust your weight on the board and it will turn. So, if you want to turn in the direction your toes are pointing then shift your weight onto your toes. If you want to turn the opposite way, shift your weight onto your heels.
The more you shift your weight the tighter your turn will be. Leaning your body in the direction of the turn will make it easier as will bending your knees and getting low over the board for tighter turns.
Kickturns are not as easy as carves but they will point you in the direction you want to go much quicker. Before you attempt this method of skateboard turning make sure you’re confident with your balance and can happily push, stop and carve.
To do a kickturn you will need to learn to balance on the back wheels of the board. You might want to practice this on some soft grass initially, just so your board doesn’t shoot out from under you.
First stand with your back foot over the tail and your front foot just behind the front bolts. Now, begin to transfer some of your weight to the back of the board. You’re just aiming to lift the nose, not let the tail touch the ground.
As the nose comes up try to hold it for as long as you can. Practise this until you feel quite confident balancing on two wheels. If you’re trying this on the grass, now’s the time to graduate to the hard stuff. Remember, your board will be more apt to do its own thing, so be careful.
If you’re happy with your balancing ability we can begin the turns.
Most people find frontside kickturns easier than backside turns so we’ll do that first.
The Frontside Kickturn
Start by moving your weight back on the board and lift the front end. If you’ve been practising this step you should be quite confident with this part.
Now, grip the board with your front toes and swing the front of the board back behind you and lower the nose. Don’t try to swing it too far at first. If you can only turn it through a few degrees initially, that’s okay.
As you gain confidence with your balance, use your upper body to help you turn the board. Twisting your shoulders and swinging your arms and hips round will help to push the board round further.
The Backside Kickturn
Like the frontside kickturn, you start the backside kickturn by transferring some of your weight onto the back foot to lift the nose of the board.
This time, however, you’re going to use the heel of your front foot to push the skateboard’s nose forward and round. Again, don’t try to turn too far at first. Rather let the nose come down after a short distance than risk a fall.
Skateboard turning takes practice. The more you practice, the further round you’ll be able to turn, and eventually you’ll think nothing of turning a full 360.
You’ll probably find kick turning in one direction a lot easier than the other. Practice until you are comfortable both ways, it will be well worth it in the long run.
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