In short, YES longboards are good for beginners! The increased board surface area (for your feet), wider stance, beefy wheels and overall stability of a longboard make it ideally suited for beginning skateboarders.
If you have previous experience surfing, snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, rollerblading or roller skating you are already well positioned for trying your hand at longboarding. Previous experience in these areas isn’t completely necessary but it will help you understand the basic concepts of balance and carving which are some of the most important to beginners.
Having a good sense of balance is by far the most import determinate for longboard success. If you feel like you don’t have good, natural sense of balance or you have an injury or disability that limits your ability to balance…longboarding (or skateboarding in general) may not be the sport for you.
To briefly touch upon my own experiences….I had a strong foundation from decades of skateboarding, roller skating, ice skating and skiing so I felt really comfortable giving longboarding a shot. I’m really glad I did because it’s a great way to have fun AND stay in shape.
Longboarding vs. Skateboarding…which is better for beginners?
Longboards are good for beginners. The increased board surface area, wider stance, wider/larger wheels and overall stability of a longboard make it vastly more suitable for beginning skateboarders. Longboarding is a great segway to skateboarding after you build basic skills.
I skateboard and longboard. I absolutely love them both BUT I think that starting out on a longboard is the best first step for beginners. I’m often asked what is the difference and the best way I can explain it is this….a skateboard is like a Porsche 911 and a longboard is like a Cadillac Escalade.
By that I mean that a skateboard is built for performance, stunts and speed. A skateboard is more ridgid and stiff and the board is shaped to aid in doing tricks. A longboard is meant for cruising, surfing the boardwalk and going down steep or long hills with unparalleled stability.
Longboards have larger, wider beefier wheels (with that additional wheel travel you get more distance out of every push). The desk itself is wider, longer & mostly flat so your feet can be more comfortable resting on the board over longer distances/rides. Those beefy wheels also absorb more shock from bumps, cracks & rocks (the bain of every skateboarder). The ride is soooo smooth & it’s the closest you can come to surfing on land when you hit a downhill.
I love my longboards and skateboards equally but I tend to use them for different applications. When I just want to relax and cruise for long distances I like to use my longboard. When I’m going a shorter distance, hitting the skate park or practicing some tricks I opt for the skateboard.
Most people are prompted to move on to skateboarding if they want to try advanced tricks or new challenges. If you are only interested in a new outdoor sport to keep in shape you may stay on a longboard forever and never even think about skateboarding.
Is Longboarding good exercise?
Yes, longboarding is GOOD exercise! Not only is it good exercise it is also great for muscle tone and weight loss! It works practically every muscle from the core & lower back to your feet. It especially works your glutes, hamstrings, quads & calves. The pushing (or “kicking” as it is actually termed in the sport) motion resembles (and feels like) your doing a bit of a gym lunge…over and over again. Learn about all the exercise & health benefits of skateboarding or longboarding HERE.
PRO-TIP: Be sure to change up your stance from one side of the board to the other so you don’t overwork one leg. Chances are you will become more comfortable with using just one leg in the beginning but as you grow try to change things up and kick with both legs as equally as possible. This rounds out your workout, builds your skill level and avoids single leg fatigue.
SO, you’ve decided you want get longboarding how do you get started?
The best way to get started is to step onto a longboard (in a safe, controlled environment) and see how you feel. If you know someone who who owns a longboard you might ask to borrow it for a day or two and step onto it while the board is sitting in the grass or on carpet in your living room.
Stand on the board (on the carpet or grass) with your feet shoulder width apart. Get a feel for the balance required and flex of the board. You’ll be able to see how pushing against the board with your heels or toes makes the board flex to the left or right. This heel/toe pushing against the board motion is how you carve and turn the board left or right.
While still on carpet or in the grass, practice “kicking” where you balance one foot on the centerline of the board and one foot “kicking” which is the motion of propelling/pushing yourself on the board. Being able to balance yourself on the board with one foot is absolutely essential longboarding skill. Make sure you practice using both feet.
If what I’m saying is hard to visualize then check out this video I made that talks about the basics you need to master before you take your longboard out to the pavement for the first ride.
If you don’t have a friend with a longboard you can try a local skate shop for a trial (if you have one in your area). Note! Longboards are not created equal. Some longboard styles are better suited to beginners than others. What longboard is best for beginners you ask? Keep scrolling to find out!
What Longboard is Best For Beginners?
If you are lucky enough to have a skate shop in your area to try out a board be sure to ask to see their selection of drop down longboards (which look like THIS). Drop down longboards are really the best longboard for beginners and I’ll get to why that is next.
The dropdown style longboard is THE BEST longboard for beginners for two main reasons. First, the bulk of the board is situated closer to the ground. SO, if you ever need to step off for stability sake you won’t have very far to fall. Two, the front and the back of the board is notched/tapered so that there is virtually no possibility for the board surface to come into contact with the wheels while you are turning or carving (a common problem for most other styles of longboards).
Where is the best place to practice longboarding?
The best place(s) to practice longboarding are all around you. Check your local parks for paved trails, skate parks, tennis courts or basketball courts. The sidewalk in front of your house (assuming it is relatively level) is often the best place because if needed you can fall into the soft grass.
I personally love longboarding on our local paved trail system (which used to be an old railroad track). These areas are commonly referred to as “rail to trail” systems and if you want to see if there is one in your immediate area you can visit traillink.com which has over 30,000 trail systems in their searchable database. You can cruise for hours, uninterrupted by cars or other hazards.
Before you head out for your first practice….we need to talk safety equipment mmmk?
What kind of safety equipment is needed for longboarding?
At a minimum you will want to invest in a helmet, elbow guards, hand/wrist guards and knee pads. These are the areas you are most likely to injure during a potential fall from longboarding.
Now I know safety equipment isn’t cool or sexy but when you’re a beginner it is absolutely necessary. Regardless of your background or experience you may take a spill (ummmm I’ve taken a few)….and you want to protect your brain bucket.
Story time! I was admittedly OVER confident when I started out longboarding. I felt like I was a world class roller skater already and had great balance from decades of skiing/skating. I took to it quite naturally and it wasn’t until my 5th or 6th trip out on my local rail to trail system that I took a nasty spill with NO protective equipment on.
It was towards the end of my ride (when we’re all pretty fatiqued you’ll find) that I hit a wedge shaped pebble while going too slow down a gentle hill. If I had been going faster I probably would have cleared that pebble with ease but I was getting tired and I wasn’t kicking hard anymore. This was mid summer and I was wearing a tank top and shorts….so needless to say I left a lot of skin on the trail that day when I went flying off the front end of my board.
Now as painful as that sounds it could have been a lot worse. If I had fallen on my back side there would be a decent chance of hitting my brain bucket on the pavement and that’s just no bueno. I wear safety equipment every time I go out now. So kids….don’t be like me….wear your protective equipment!
What are your best longboarding tips for beginners?
There are three mistakes that most beginners make. First, when standing on the board they stand at the center or too far back on the board. Until you are completely comfortable with moving around the entire board your stance should be slightly forward of board center.
Being forward of center prevents what I call the “bannana peel” effect where the boards slips out from under you and you fall unexpectedly on your backside because you’ve put too much weight on the back of the board.
Falling backwards vastly increases your chances for a head injury because you aren’t able to brace yourself properly with your hands. If you do fall it’s better to fall forwards (or on either side of the board) because you can better brace yourself with your hands or knees (which have that safety equipment on like I recommended right?).
The second mistake I see beginners making is a symptom of what was discussed above. Because someone is standing too far back on the board when they “kick” to push themselves on the board they end up making foot contact with a rear wheel. This usually causes the rider to get thrown from the board. Keeping your body forward of center and conscientiously “kicking” out and away from the rear wheels will keep this from happening.
The third mistake I see beginners making is that they don’t keep their knees bent. Don’t lock your legs…be flexible like a spring. You can do this by keeping a slight bend at both knees. That way you’ll be ready to physically adjust quickly for balance if needed and withstand any exogenous shock.
Someday you’ll feel comfortable exploring the whole board and know where the sweet spots are. Until then, stay forward of the board and keep your knees bent. If possible bring a friend with you on your first day out. They can hold your hand as you start out, provide moral support or be there in case you get injured.
Oh….and don’t forget that safety equipment!
What’s the best Clothing to wear for a beginning longboarder?
Wear comfortable loose clothing that will protect skin on your body in case of a fall. Loose fitting jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt is best when you’re starting out. When you get more comfortable and build confidence on you board you can switch to things like shorts and t-shirts.
Which Shoes Are Best for Longboarding?
I recommend that you start out with high top skate shoes like these Vans. Skate shoes are designed to give you more surface area grip on the board where most other casual or athletic shoes cannot. I also prefer high tops because you get more ankle support. It’s pretty common that you’ll have to step off the board and you want to avoid rolling an ankle if at all possible. High tops will help you keep the ankles supported and in tip top shape.
How Long Does it Take to Learn How to Longboard?
The answer here is going to be different for everyone based on their previous athletic experience, commitment to learning and ability to balance. When I talk to people who are learning the sport I always challenge them to practice 4-5 days a week, 30 minutes a day for a month straight. I believe that if you do that….if you make that time commitment…you will put yourself in a place where you can be comfortable longboarding.
I hope you’ve learned from this article that longboards are good for beginners. We love teaching others about this sport along with roller skating & skateboarding. If you want to learn along and follow along with us be sure to follow us on youtube and instagram and see what we’re working on to help you get better in any of these fun and athletic sports.