So you want to learn how to skateboard in a day? You could maybe ride a skateboard in a day in an awkward way. You won’t skateboard like it’s second nature, it will feel uncomfortable and will look unnatural. To get proficient at skateboarding you’ll need weeks or months. It takes time, practice and dedication before you can consider yourself proficient on a skateboard.
If you’re already good at other sports you probably pick up skateboarding faster. This doesn’t mean you’ll be popping kickflips or other advanced tricks but you’ll be able to ride. If you aren’t really good at sports it might be harder, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s all about having fun and like any sport you need to practice to become proficient. There are a couple things you can do to speed up the process.
- Try balancing on a skateboard on grass to improve the strength and accuracy of your foot movements.
- Increase your core strength by doing core exercises.
- Watch skateboard videos.
- Find someone who can teach you are take some lessons
- Practice every day!
In other words, get fit by working out if you aren’t already. People who regularly exercise will pick up skateboarding much faster. Skate at every opportunity you get, preferably every day. Take your board to work, school, friends etc.
How Hard Is It to Learn How to Skateboard?
If you are the type of person that is willing to fail, over and over again but persist, then skateboarding is for you. Skateboarding isn’t that hard as long as you are willing to invest time, persistence and aren’t embarrassed when you fall. If you have skateboarder friends you can speed up the process. They can teach you and provide valuable feedback, most skaters are willing to help out.
Skateboarding is hard to learn at first but once you get the basics you’ll improve fast. How long it takes to learn the basics depends on the person. The athletic type will learn faster, but if you’re not really into sports it can take a long time. Stick with the basics like balance, pushing, fakie and curving. Once you master those you can move on.
It Will Take Weeks Before You Skateboard Comfortably
Ok, reality check. Most of us aren’t natural talents and start rocking the streets on day one. It will take several weeks before you feel how your skateboard reacts and handles. You need to get muscle memory and find your balance. This can only be done by practicing as much as you can. Also, you’ll never stop learning. There’s no such thing as “I’ve mastered skateboarding”, no way. You learn every time you’re out there until you’re forced to quit.
Practice Your Balance First
Put your skateboard on grass or a piece of carpet. Make sure it can’t suddenly move and take off. Put your feet on your deck and lean forward and backward. You need to learn how a skateboard reacts and feels before you push. After that, you can start by doing gentle pushes and ride.
Next is curving, move your body into the direction you want to go by leaning forward and backward. Curving will also take some time before you get it but is essential to keep you from crashing into someone or something. Learn how to break by putting your push foot on the ground, apply a little pressure and let it slide.
Try some kick turns in a park. Ride up to a ramp and try to turn by gently pressing your kicktail and moving your shoulders into the direction you want to turn. The backside is easier than frontside, as it feels more natural and is less scary. If you go to your frontside you can’t see what’s behind you. So try backside first and get the feeling what it’s like to do a kick turn.
Muscle Memory and Repetition
Watching a couple of skateboarding videos help you to understand how to perform a trick. You got the theory and then you go out there and consciously tell yourself to do a trick in a certain order. “Pop my tail, move front foot forward, lift my backfoot”. That usually doesn’t work when you’re just starting out. The trick needs to be embedded in your muscles and brain, it should come naturally not forced.
Repetition is the key, doing it over and over again all day while trying to avoid getting frustrated. You learn tricks by doing them over and over again and using or learning the right technique.
Avoid Crowded Places
For your and others safety, avoid crowded places and traffic. You can seriously not only harm yourself but also harm others. I’ve seen people get badly hurt from skateboards flying around. Just pick a quiet parking lot, go to a skatepark early in the morning or practice at your driveway. Depending on where you live you might want to check your insurance. If your skateboard hits a car you can cause quite some damage.
Learn to Fall
You will fall so you better know how to fall. You can start by riding into some grass and just fall off on purpose. Try to roll if possible but sliding on your knees and wrists also will reduce the impact, assuming you wear protection. This may seem pointless (and maybe a bit awkward) but it’s better to be prepared.
The chances of smashing your face are low. If you don’t flop onto the ground like a drunken wet noodle and go limp. Stiffen your core when you go down, and embrace the impact. You’ll need to hit the ground a couple of times to get to know the feeling, it’s not that bad. Try to roll when you can!
Limit Your Speed
Once you get the hang of it, or so you think you’ll get more confidence. Keep in mind to limit your speed, more so when there’s traffic around you. If you gain too much speed and don’t know how to break you’re gonna have a bad time. I learned this the hard way while going downhill in France, I gained so much speed that I couldn’t break anymore. The only choice I had was to bail and of course, I was stupid enough not to wear protection. This was over 20 years ago and I still got some scars that remind me.
Wear Protective Gear and Be Safe
Make sure you wear full gear. You’ll need knee pads, a helmet, write guards and elbow pads. Many skateboarders don’t like to wear protection but as a beginner, you really should. A busted knee isn’t a big deal but brain damage is. So at least wear a helmet, some parks won’t even allow you to skate without one.
As I said, it’s perfectly ok and I think necessary to fall once every while. If you wear protective gear from the start you’ll adapt and develop falling techniques that will save you from ending up in the hospital.
Are You Scared? Mental Blocks Are Common
One of the things that can hold you back is the risk. The more risk you take the sooner you will learn as long as it’s responsible. You also will injure yourself more often. If you’re scared you will fall. Having doubt will tense your muscles and you might decide to bail at the wrong time.
I remember having second thoughts doing my first vert drop-in just as I went. I really shouldn’t have doubted myself and made the classic mistake of leaning backward and fell down hard. I was wearing full protective gear and was lucky, no pain and all was intact. I decided to do it again, this time without any doubts and nailed it.
The best skaters I came across we’re fearless, almost like their brains were wired differently.
If you’re over 30 it’s harder to learn skateboarding then when you’re in you’re early 20’s. You injure yourself sooner and it takes longer to heal. If you passed your 30’s don’t expect to learn skateboarding in a week, just take your time. The good news is that there are many older skateboarders out there, even beginners.
Don’t get bummed out by young kids. I’ve seen kids pick up skateboarding incredibly fast but if you’re a bit older it will take longer. Kids are more flexible and less scared and they don’t weigh as much, more weight is more impact. Make sure to keep your center of gravity low.
Take Your Time, but Go out There Regularly
It’s better to skateboard a full day than just a couple of hours a week. When you just start out make sure you try to go every day or at least every other day. Just cruise around, take your board to work or to your friends. Get to know the board!
It’s important to be patient, overconfidence is a oneway hospital ticket when you’re a beginner. You haven’t learned how to fall and you still lack experience. Soon you’ll be able to ride smoothly and enjoy the kicks you get out of it.
Don’t Get Discouraged
There will always be someone who picks up skateboarding faster than you. There’s always that guy that learns kickflips in a day. Don’t get discouraged by others, remember why you skate. I actually knew a guy that gave up skateboarding because he would never become a pro. He was the best skateboarders in the park and gave up because of this. Such a waste.
Many people give up because they had a nasty fall. It happens, just own it, learn from it and move on. Skateboarding is not about taking shortcuts, you’ll keep learning every day for the rest of your skateboard life.