The Ultimate Guide to Skateboarding For Beginners
Welcome to my Ultimate Guide to Skateboarding For Beginners
In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know to get started with skateboarding even if you’re a complete beginner.
First off, congratulations on taking the next step to advancing your skills as a skateboarder. Skateboarding is a very rewarding and fulfilling hobby no matter what age you are, what skin color, what your income is, or where you are from, skateboarding can bring endless amounts of joy into your life.
The good always comes with the bad, however, so be prepared to face hours and hours of falling down, missing tricks, dealing with the pain of scrapes and bruises, and fighting against yourself to get the courage to try tricks and mastering the balance needed to land them.
Now that you’re ready to advance to the next level, let’s get started with the Ultimate Guide to Skateboarding For Beginners.
How to Start Skateboarding
So you want to learn how to start skating?
There is a lot to learn, but it is one of the most thrilling things you can do in life, so get ready to have fun!
Your First Skateboard
First things first, buy a skateboard.
You should buy two different types of skateboards. The first type is a street skating board for doing flip tricks, grinds, and learning how to skate mini ramps.
The second type is some sort of cruiser board or long board.
You don’t need to do this, but I highly suggest getting one of each because you’ll sometimes need to use the long board to travel to the skate spot or skate park so you can use your regular skateboard.
Before you start searching for your first board, you should learn common definitions so you will know a little more about skateboards before you go to buy one.
Here is a breakdown of each part of a skateboard
1) Deck: the wooden plank you stand on. It’s made up of 7 veneers of maple wood glued together, shaped, cut, and sanded. These range in size from 7” to 9” or bigger. Go with 8” if you street skate.
2) Trucks: the metal pieces under the board that turn when you lean. They hold the wheels to the board. These vary in width from 5.0 and up. Just go with 5.0 if you have a 7.75-8” deck, which is normal for street skating.
3) Wheels: the polyurethane round wheels that hold the bearings and mount to the trucks. They keep you rolling. These range from 40mm to way over 100mm. For street decks, stick to right around 52mm.
4) Bearings: the little round metal pieces that go into the wheels and attach to the trucks. These vary according to an ABEC rating which determines your speed. The higher the rating, the faster you’ll go. Some bearings don’t have ABEC ratings, like Bones Bearings. Just consider these ABEC-7 bearings that last longer than normal because they’re specifically made for skateboarding.
5) Hardware: The nuts and bolts that hold the trucks to the deck. These range in size from 7/8” to 1-1/2”. For street setups, go with the 7/8”.
6) Bushings: These are the little rubber pieces in the trucks that determine how easily you can turn on your skateboard. The harder the bushing, the harder it will be to turn.
7) Grip tape: The sandpaper that helps your shoes stick to the top of the board. This is required when doing flip tricks and anything else that requires an ollie because it helps your feet control your board. Without it, your board will slip away easily. Grip tape doesn’t have any specific rating, but each brand has a different grit. I suggest Jessup as a good brand to start with. Other great brands include Grizzly, MOB, and Black Magic.
To find your first board, you can visit your local skate shop or go online.
I suggest going to check out your local shop first because they will be knowledgeable about what you need and help you get the right stuff.
If you buy online, you might be upset when you get your product because you don’t know what to look for yet.
So go to your local shop, let the clerk guide you to getting the right board for you, and then you can go online later when you know which style and size of each component you like the most.
Before you leave the skate shop, be sure to pick up some parts and accessories like a skate tool, wax, and some skate shoes.
Skate Shoes Skate shoes come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t really matter which one you get, but just keep in mind that the simpler the better. I highly recommend sticking to core skate brands like Vans, DC, Emerica, Es, and DVS. These brands have only made skateboarding shoes and have been making them for a long time. They know what works and which parts of a shoe you don’t need.
Get a shoe that fits snug with your feet. You’re going to be doing a lot of moving around in them, so the snugger they are the better.
The best thing to do before you start learning how to skate is to watch a how-to series on skateboarding for beginners. When I first started skating, I watched the Tony Hawk Trick Tips constantly. There are multiple volumes that feature many pro skaters and they all break down very simply how to do the tricks.
They are pretty old, though, and there are beginner skateboarding video courses that are much more in-depth and newer like Braille skateboarding’s Skateboarding Made Simple. This program breaks down Aaron Kyro’s simple yet brilliant way of breaking down each trick to the individual movements so you will learn faster.
You should start watching skate videos too.
Watch some oldies like Es Menikmati (the first skate video I ever watched), Flip’s Sorry, any of the Zero videos, and any of the Transworld videos.
Once you start watching skate videos, you will find new ones to watch all the time.
I will warn you that they are addictive.
Once you start watching, you go into coma mode and can watch them for hours. 😂🤣😭
Sometimes I get overloaded with footage after just minutes of watching and need to take a break, but it is very inspiring to see what crazy stuff the pro skateboarders do.
These days, skate videos are readily available on YouTube. It wasn’t always like this. Back in the day, you had to pay a pretty penny to watch them. Today, even the oldest skate videos and most brand new ones are up there and it’s all free to watch granted you will usually need to wait for some advertisements.
One of the oldest forms of skateboard press is the magazine. The original skate magazine started in the 60’s and it is still a medium that is consumed every day. You don’t need a fancy expensive machine to consume the amazing pictures and interviews that are inside of a skateboarding magazine. Most of the time I just read them for the pictures, but sometimes I find an inspiring article or interview of a pro skater I really like and I get drawn into that as well. Some notable skateboard magazines are Thrasher, Transworld Skateboarding, and The Skateboard Mag. There are many others out there that are well known and independently published. One in particular independent magazine, Roll Dawgs Zine, is based out of Riverside, California and I personally know the creators. They are really cool people and the skaters they feature are all local skaters, making it a unique place to see new talent and skate spots you probably haven’t seen yet.
Skateboard Video Games
I grew up with Tony Hawks Pro Skater. I was one of the first people to buy and play the 1st release until my video game controller was worn out. The soundtrack played over and over again in my ears.
Years later, in 2016, I got a chance to hang out with Tony Hawk at the Transworld skateboard park in Carlsbad, California filming a behind-the-scenes documentary for a 360 virtual reality filming of the Birdhouse team. The drummer of Goldfinger, one of the punk bands featured in the first THPS, was there and we got to have an interview with him about his story with Tony and the video game. It was really cool to meet the people behind the video game that shaped my life back then.
I highly suggest picking up a copy of THPS if only to experiment with mind-blowing skateboard maneuvers and open your mind to the possibilities of skateboarding. I don’t suggest, however, that you play it more than you actually skate. It can become just as addictive as watching skate videos, so beware and be sure to get out and actually skate more often than you play the video game.
Learning the basics
Now that you have your skateboard, you’ve got your shoes, you have a basic understanding of the movements and maneuver names of skateboarding, it’s time to take it to the streets, your driveway, your backyard, or your local skatepark.
You’re about to embark on a journey unlike any other.
You’re going to finally get to experience the feeling that gets people addicted to skateboarding.
Are you goofy or regular?
The first place you should start is actually on your carpet. This is because you’re less likely to slip out and slam if you’re on your carpet. Try to pick a spot on a hard floor underneath so it doesn’t make too much noise or cause any damage. You can also use the grass or dirt in your backyard. When you’re ready to learn your stance, stand at the back of your board, both feet facing the board with the nose facing away from you, then jump on. Whichever way you jump on, right foot first or left foot first, is your most natural position. Stick with it. Right foot in front = Goofy. Left foot in front = Regular.
The terms mean nothing. Being goofy isn’t an insult, it’s just the way you stand. I’m a goofy skateboarder and I love telling people that. Whether you’re right or left handed doesn’t have any bearing on whether you should be goofy or regular footed either. I see a lot of both all the time. Everybody is unique and has their own preferences, so be sure to just go with whatever is most natural for you.
Now that you know which stance you are, take the board to a smooth stretch of concrete or asphalt and attempt to push yourself forward. Keep your front foot on the board and push with your back foot. Always push with your back foot, never your front foot.
If you push with your front foot, you’ll be labeled a “mongo” skateboarder and you’ll be made fun of for it.
Practice pushing as much as you can. It will be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll get the hang of it. It takes your whole body to perform a proper push, so use your shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and toes to propel yourself forward.
Turning and the “Tic-Tac”
Once you know your stance and how to push, it’s time to learn how to turn. There are two types of turns: the lean and the tic-tac. The leaning turn is simply putting weight on your toe or heel edge and the board will naturally turn that direction. This type of turn is good for when you’re moving forward.
The tic-tac is when you lift your front wheels up off the ground, pivot your back truck to the right or left, and put the board back down. This type of turn is for when you’re either standing still or moving very slowly. This takes more balance, so when you start to try these, hold onto something so you don’t slip and fall.
Both maneuvers take practice to master.
At a skatepark, you’ll be using a combination of both to move close to obstacles so you can jump onto them and grind or slide.
On a mini ramp, you’ll be using a combination of both to perform kick-turns, stalls, grinds, and slides.
In order to learn flat ground flip tricks, you’ll need to gain the proper balance to tic-tac and turn consistently.
All of your skateboarding will be based on these two maneuvers, so practice them every day.
Once you have some basic balance and are ready to progress, you can start learning how to ollie, 180, pop-shove, and Fakie Ollie.
Other basics you can progress with are learning how to manual, no-comply, and do all of this switch stance.
When you can perform basic flat ground tricks, it will be time to learn how to skate boxes, flat bars, round rails, pyramids, manual pads, mini ramps, launch ramps, stairs, handrails, wall rides, and lots more.
You won’t be able to learn these by reading a guide, you’ll need to watch videos, watch your friends, watch other skaters doing them, and by practicing them yourself. A great training program you should take online that is way better than any YouTube trick tip is the Braille Skateboarding Made Simple. It gives you a guide to learning tricks one small movement at a time so you can build your muscle memory slowly and consistently over time and fall less.
Another great idea is to take skateboarding lessons from a local pro skateboarder. Go Skate offers such lessons where the pro will meet you at your home or local skatepark. The lessons cost between $50-$100 per hour depending on the pro you choose and you’re guaranteed to learn faster and have more fun. If you can afford it, I highly suggest going this route as you’ll learn the secrets that no-one else knows at the parks.
I recommend checking out your local skateparks before street skating too much.
Skateparks provide a safe environment to learn in and you won’t get kicked out as much. Don’t be afraid of the bigger and more experienced skateboarders, they will not mind you as long as you don’t get in their way. Just choose one corner of the park to learn some tricks and slowly explore the different sections of the park.
Be sure to be respectful of what other skateboarders are doing around you.
Don’t sit or stand on obstacles that others are skating.
Make friends and ask questions about what’s skateable and what other skaters have done.
Add your new friends on Facebook and follow them on Instagram because they’ll probably be posting footage of their skateboarding all the time.
You should watch out for skateboarders that are into bad habits, though, like drinking too much or smoking a lot of weed or doing drugs.
Don’t get too close with them.
Stick to skateboarding, the sport, the art, and the creativity. Avoid getting sucked into the party scene too much as it leads down the wrong path and you can find yourself broke and out of luck pretty fast.
Instead, invite your friends to film you in exchange for you filming them. Make short skate videos and post them to Instagram and YouTube. This will help you get noticed by potential sponsors later on and allow you to give back to the skateboard community.
You’ll be able to look back on your accomplishments years later and enjoy them.
Play your friends in games of SKATE. This is like playing HORSE but with skateboarding. You ro-sham-bo for first, then you try a trick. If you land it, then your friend will need to try to land it too. If they make it, then it passes back to you. If they miss it, then they get a letter. This goes on until someone misses 5 tricks. This is the best way to have some friendly competition and advance your skill set. Try to play people who are better than you so you will have a chance to try new tricks you haven’t tried before.
When you’ve got a lot of practice and you know how to do all the basics, take it to the streets. Just be careful of pedestrians, cars, and unseen obstacles. Street skating can be one of the most rewarding feelings ever as you can skate your streets, sidewalks, ditches, and city architecture like a skatepark.
You can make things skateable that weren’t built for skateboarding. After a while, you’ll begin to develop an eye for skate spots. You might be like me and my friends and go on random missions in different parts of your city just to find skate spots. Keep your mind open and try new things, the world is your skatepark.
Have fun and be sure to film everything!