It looks like you are wanting to learn to skateboard, but you are wondering how long it will take. Nobody learns absolutely “everything” on a skateboard. Learning to skateboard is an ongoing lifelong process starting with basics and progressing upon that. Let’s take a look at the different steps you might take on your progressive journey and see if we can figure out a timeline of some sort.
Depending on your athletic abilities, time available, and commitment it takes about one day to a week to learn how to ride a skateboard. It’s not just time VS dedication; the quality of your setup, skate facilities in your area, feedback from peers, and commitment all play a part.
If you practice every day and stick with the basics you’ll learn skateboarding much faster. Technical tricks will take more effort, tricks like ollies, shuvits, and kickflips require lots of sessions and dedication. So let’s dive a bit into what comes into play when learning how to skateboard.
What Does It Take to Learn Skateboarding?
If you have decent coordination and some athletic ability, you will have a smaller learning curve. If you are un-athletic with poor balance, skateboarding may take a bit longer for you to learn. We are all different and learn skills at our own pace. Skateboarding is like any other skill; it can be learned. How fast you learn it depends on the degree to which you commit, but you do not need to be a superstar athlete to learn to skateboard. You just need to put in a lot of practice, day after day.
We are going to assume that you have a reasonable amount of athleticism. You have played several different sports without difficulty and are in decent physical shape. You might be an average athlete among your group of friends and family. This will be the benchmark our timeline is based on. If you are more, or less athletic, the timeline may shift one way or the other.
Learning the Basics
Let’s look at the first and most basic maneuvers you need to learn and see how long they might take. This timeline will the amount of time it might take to do these moves at the very basic level, but you will not be able to do them well without a lot of further practice:
1. Balance- 10 Min
Balance can be learned in steps. First, put your skateboard on the grass or carpet, so it will not roll. Stand on it with both feet over the bolts and your weight centered over the board. Lean your weight toward the toe and then the heel. Do this many times to feel how the board reacts to your weight shifting.
Now take the board to the concrete or hard surface. Do the same thing. The difference here is that the board will want to roll forward or backward. Gently shift your weight from one side to the other and get used to feeling the board move forward and backward. It won’t move very far if you shift your weight slowly and carefully.
You should now be able to stand on the skateboard, without it slipping out one way or the other.
2. Pushing- 30 Min
Now we want to get the board moving forward. Keep your back foot on the ground and step on the front bolts with your front foot. Your back foot should be on the Toe-Side of the board. (READ THIS to figure out which is your front foot. AKA Stance). Center your weight over the front foot and lightly push yourself and the board forward with your back foot. It will probably be a bit like a shuffle. Try to keep yourself moving and then put your back foot onto the skateboard and let it roll.
Pushing is the most fundamental maneuver you will need to know and oddly it is often overlooked by new skaters. You should be able to learn to push fairly quickly, but it will not be a good push. You will need to work on pushing a lot in order to get good at it. The best way to practice is to push and roll everywhere.
3. Carving- 15 Min
Carving is how you make the skateboard turn. Remember in Step 1. Balance when you shifted your weight from your toes to your heels? Shifting your weight is how you will make the skateboard turn while it is rolling.
Give a couple of pushes and then put your back foot onto the skateboard and let it roll. Then lean to your heel or toe side and feel the board turn. You are now carving.
4. Stopping- 5 Min
You are going to need to be able to stop. The easiest way is to lightly put your foot on the ground and let it drag to slow you down. This will take a bit of practice, and a lot of balance, but should be pretty easy to learn. The important thing to remember is to keep your knees bend and weight centered over your front foot. This will help your balance.
How Long Did That Take?
60 Minutes, you technically learned the basics in one hour. Now, you will not be good or proficient at the basics, but you have technically learned how to ride a skateboard. You need to commit to continuing to improve upon these. You will need to put in many hours to get proficient at the basics before you will feel comfortable enough that you can move on to learn actual tricks. The only way to get better at the basics is to practice. The best way to practice skateboarding is to ride your skateboard everywhere.
The amount of time it will take to get proficient at the basics will depend on how much and how often you practice the basics. Like any other skill, the more time you put into, the better results you will see. If you skate every day for half an hour a day, you will get better sooner than if you practice for 5 hours once a week.
By practicing frequently you are building muscle memory. Muscle memory is when your body knows how to do something without thinking about it. Frequent repetition builds muscle memory faster than random sporadic practice.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Tricks?
This is a very difficult question to answer. There are many factors that affect how long it takes a person to learn how to do tricks, but it mostly comes down to how comfortable you are on your skateboard. Your fitness level, your coordination, your flexibility, how you handle fear, how often you skate, etc, will all have an impact on the amount of time it takes you to learn tricks. But do not get discouraged. It’s important to learn at a pace you are comfortable with, and push yourself further when you feel ready.
Simple Tricks You Can Learn Quickly
Once you are comfortable with the basics and riding your board there are some simple tricks you can learn in very little time. They may not be flashy or seem like much but they will help you get more comfortable with your board, and develop better board control. These tricks can all be done in the grass so when you fall it won’t hurt much. It should only take you about 10 minutes to learn each one of these, assuming you are comfortable on your board and with the basics. Don’t forget to check out my easy tricks for beginners post.
Flip your board upside down, so the griptape is facing down. Put your toes under the board. Jump up and on your board. The board will flip over to its wheels and you will land on it. It doesn’t take much effort to get the board to flip and you do not have to jump very high to get on the board.
Rail Stand On
Put the board on its side edge so that one set of wheels is on the ground and the other set is pointing to the sky. Stand on the edge of the deck and the wheels. Your goal is to get the board to roll onto it’s wheels. The hardest part of this trick is balancing in the Rail Stand. Lean slightly toward the wheels and hop a little bit. The board should roll over to its wheels and you should land bolts!
Hold your board in one hand. I find it easiest to hold the nose, but some people like to hold the side. Jump up, bend your knees, put your board under your feet and land bolts. I like to make the board touch my feet while I’m jumping then land with it, as opposed to dropping the board to the ground and landing on it.
This one builds off the Caveman. While standing on the board, bend down and grab the toe side with your back hand. Take your front foot off on the heel side, and jump off the ground lifting your board with you. Put your front foot back on the board and land bolts. The boneless is a handy trick that you can use while riding around to get up curbs.
Congratulations! You just learned 4 tricks in probably less than an hour. You are building a greater level of comfort on your board and board control. It is important to continue to practice these tricks and the basics to keep developing muscle memory and become more familiar with your skateboard.
How Long Will It Take to Learn Advanced Tricks?
That is another question that depends on the individual. Because skateboarding is based solely on the individual and their commitment to practicing and learning, it would be impossible to determine how long it would take a person to learn more advanced tricks.
Let’s use the Ollie as an example. It is probably the next trick you should learn. The Ollie is arguably the hardest and most important trick to learn in skateboarding. The motions that you need to do to Ollie are very unnatural. Outside of skateboarding, there are no activities I can think of that require you to do an “Ollie Motion”. The timing and motions of the Ollie can be difficult to put together, but most tricks in skateboarding are based require and will benefit from you knowing how to Ollie.
Depending on the individual, people learn Ollies at different rates. I have known people to learn to Ollie in less than an hour. I know some people that have taken several months to learn to Ollie. I was able to learn Ollies within a couple of weeks, but I don’t think I will ever have a perfect Ollie in my eyes. Sometimes, my Ollie is great and sometimes it is absolutely terrible. It is a constant work in progress for me, as any trick is.
There are a few factors that we should mention as well. It’s not just about time VS effort. A quality setup makes a huge difference and skating with others will speed up your progress. Also, if you have skateboarding facilities in your area there are probably many great skaters that can help you learn skateboarding much faster. Skating alone is like reinventing the wheel but don’t worry, there’s lots of helpful content available on Youtube.
Your Equipment Makes a Difference
Save yourself some frustration and don’t buy the really cheap stuff. At least don’t try to save money on trucks and wheels. The quality of your gear makes a huge difference. Even though beginners won’t notice this a lot, over time you will get frustrated with your cheap skateboard. Depending on where and what you want to skate you should consider your setup.
You need a different kind of setup for cruising, parks, bowls, street, etc. Basically this comes down to trucks and wheels and the board size you prefer.
Another factor that comes into play is the environment. For instance, it’s much harder to balance on rough terrain than it is on smooth and slick asphalt. Make sure you pick the right wheels and think about how hard and big (or small) you want them to be. Small and hard wheels are less suitable for rough roads, big soft wheels aren’t exactly great for technical tricks.
Speeding up Your Progress
If you can, skate with others. This will help you to progress faster as your peers can provide valuable feedback. Don’t try and kickflip straight from the start, this will only slow down progress. As aforementioned, stick with the basics and make sure you feel comfortable.
Try to practice as much as you can and take a break when you get frustrated. It often takes some time before your brain and muscles get used to new tricks, sometimes you pop them right away the next day.
You could technically learn to ride a skateboard in about one day. Within an hour you should have the very basics down, but it will be awkward. Do not get discouraged that it will take some time for you to get comfortable and better at skateboarding. Skateboarding is a life long pursuit of progressing and building your skills. The best part about skateboarding is that you can learn at your own pace and you will see progress. It is an extremely rewarding pursuit.