Is Skateboarding Hard to Learn? 11 Tips to Speed Things Up


skateboarder doing a drop in

Skateboarding is a great sport but can be hard to master. It really depends on your age, fitness, guts, and starting at the basics.

Skateboarding isn’t hard to learn if you start at the basics. Learning how to balance, carve, and push properly will be beneficial once you start learning tricks like ollies, shuvits, and kickflips. Many beginners make the mistake of going for harder tricks without even knowing how to properly ride a skateboard.

I learned skateboarding at a very young age by just sitting on one knee and pushing with my other foot. So how do you go about it? Here are a couple of tips to make skateboarding easier.

1. Take It Slow

Many beginners make it hard for themselves by immediately going for technical stuff. Skipping the basics will make it harder to progress later on. To be fair, landing a trick can be very rewarding but if you don’t master the basics, you’ll progress slower. Some tricks take time and you need to work your way up before you can nail it.

Also make sure you know which stance you prefer, goofy or regular. It’s harder to learn skateboarding if you don’t know your natural stance.

Start by just balancing or pushing. You need to be able to push around comfortably and learn how your board responds.  Here’s how your first day should look like.

  • Start on grass or carpet so your board can’t move
  • Lean forward, backward, sideways to feel how your board responds
  • Look for a clean (no rocks, glass twigs, etc) and safe spot (not crowded and limited traffic) where you can ride comfortably and stand on your board. Empty parking lots are great for example.
  • Now repeat your balancing repertoire before you start to ride.
  • Place your feet properly and give your board a small push. Push only once and ride it out, repeat until you feel more in control.

Once you can ride and know how to carve a little you can move on to really basic stuff. I would recommend to just practice and ride your skateboard for a couple of weeks first. After that, check out these basics tricks that still look impressive. If you master those you’ll have a much easier time to move on to more advanced tricks like ollies and flips.

2. Learn How to Fall

Sooner or later you’re going to ‘eat shit’ as skateboarders phrase it. Falling is part of the sport but you can learn how to fall properly. I already wrote an extensive guide on how to fall properly so I suggest checking out my guide on how to learn how to skateboard for beginners.

Basically you need to either roll or slide when you hit the ground. Sliding is recommended when you wear knee pads. Rolling when you don’t like to wear protective gear.

It will take time before you master this skill and it won’t be comfortable. Even if you know how to fall you can still hurt yourself, it’s all part of the game.

3. A Proper Skateboard Makes a Difference

A cheap skateboard it’s going to be a lot harder to learn how to ride. Quality wheels, bearings, trucks, and a deck are going to help you level up much faster. The problem with low-quality boards is that the wheels are of poor quality, boards delaminate and trucks break on minor impacts. Even the bearings play a vital role, if they don’t spin properly your wheels will give you a hard time.

Don’t go for any cheap skateboards that you can get at Walmart or Target but buy one from a reputable shop. It can even get frustrating because your equipment is trash, you need to stay motivated in order to get better at skateboarding so proper equipment is important. Those cheap boards can even be outright dangerous!

A good complete setup will cost you between $80 (bare minimum) and $140. Check out my post that lists complete quality skateboards. They come from reputable brands and will make skateboarding a lot easier to learn. I’ll also guide you through the process of picking your own parts, it’s really not that hard.

4. Shoes are Important

skateboard shoe

Another thing is to wear proper skate shoes. You really need skate shoes or at least shoes that are made of canvas and have flat soles. This will help you to actually feel the board and keep your balance. Runners of basketball shoes don’t provide any board feel so consider proper shoes.

There are many skate shoes to choose from, but not all shoes are equal. Check out my shoe buying guide or my recommended shoes.

5. Protective Gear

helmet on a skateboard

I can’t stress this enough, beginners should really wear protective gear. At least wear a helmet when you’re learning new tricks. Sure, you don’t see many skaters with helmets but that is changing. It’s not weird to wear one anymore and even some pro street skaters are wearing them nowadays.

Knee pads will help you to absorb impacts and you will be thanking yourself in 20 years from now for wearing them. I’m an aged skater and used knee pads most of the time, also when I was younger. My knees are fine unlike some of my friends who refused to wear them.

Consider elbow pads and perhaps wrist guards when you’re just starting out, they will prevent swellbows and painful wrists.

6. Places to Skate

Some people are a bit embarrassed to skate in public and it’s actually a pretty common feeling for newbies. I can tell you to not care about what others say, but I assume you already know that. There are lots of places where you can practice without too many people around.

Consider skating in an abandoned building, parking lots, your backyard or garage and even tennis or BB courts. 

7. Skate With Others

Learning to skateboard alone is a lot harder than skating with friends or people that share your passion for skateboarding. Skateboarders like to help others out in general (as long as you act nice) and can give you pointers on how to improve. Don’t be shy to ask for advice and I also recommend following skateboard etiquette when you visit a skate park for the first time.

As long as you don’t get in the way and follow the rules, people are willing to help. Everybody was a beginner at some point and people respect that. Experienced skaters can spot what you’re doing right and what you need to work on. Sometimes it’s just a matter of positioning your feet properly.

Skating with others is also very motivating, you’ll push your boundaries more but be careful there. If you’re not ready for a trick you need to wait until you feel you can. Overconfidence is a great way to get yourself injured, but sometimes you also need to get over it and do it. The fear of skateboarding is perfectly normal but never feel embarrassed.

8. Make and Watch Videos

A great way to learn is to just grab your phone and make videos. Observe what goes wrong and try to adjust, sometimes your balance is off which is easier to spot on a video. You can also save the videos and upload them to ask for advice.

Watching videos is also a great way to get some inspiration. I don’t know if watching videos will improve your skills but it certainly is a good way to see how it’s done. The only way to get better is by repeating until you nail it. If you’re getting frustrated it’s sometimes better to walk away and try again the next day.

9. Ask for Advice on the Web

There are tons of forums out there and Reddit is a great place to get feedback. Ask for advice (use the search first) about anything that comes up. There are many experienced skateboarders out there that will gladly help you out. Many post videos showing their technique and get solid feedback. It’s also a great way to watch yourself progress!

If you want to know what you’re doing wrong, uploading a video is all to get proper feedback. Make sure it’s not potato quality and to film your upper body, board, feet, and legs. This way others can see your posture and point out what to improve.

One thing though, people don’t appreciate the ‘how to improve my ollie’ videos as they get posted over and over again. There should be plenty of info there to learn how to ollie. Nobody will say anything though and you still get helpful tips to improve your skills. 

10. Consider Lessons

Not everybody can afford this but if you can, one or two lessons will help you to avoid rookie mistakes. There are many teachers out there that can give you a headstart and it really helps to learn how to stand properly and how to keep your balance.

If you can’t afford a couple of lessons consider some Youtube tutorial videos. It’s is a great source but won’t help you show what you’re doing wrong or right. You could always ask around at your local skate park if someone wants to help you out.

11. Age and Overall Fitness

It’s harder to learn how to skateboard when you’re older. I’m talking about 30+ here not people in their twenties. Sure many skateboarders started at a very young age but that doesn’t mean you can’t become a great skateboarder. If you exercise regularly it’s much easier to learn to skateboard compared to a couch potato.

If you’re not in top shape or haven’t done any sports in years, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to be an athlete at all. Skaters come in all sizes and shapes and some bigger people can pull off sick stuff. Just cruising around is a great experience and the perfect way to learn how to ride. 

Also, you’re getting out there and skateboarding is a good way to burn calories. Just take it slow and consider wearing a helmet and knee pads. Skateboarding isn’t dangerous, but taking precautions doesn’t hurt. Once you feel comfortable riding you can move on to tricks or just become a dedicated cruiser. I own a couple of cruisers and love them, check them out here.

Summary

Skateboarding isn’t hard to learn if you stick with the basics. Learn how to ride and balance before you move on to tricks, even though it’s tempting. You’ll reap the benefits later on and progress much faster.

The proper equipment makes a huge difference. Cheap skateboards can be a dangerous and frustrating experience. So many beginners give up because they ride a cheap low-quality skateboard, such a waste.

Ride with others, ask for advice online and in the real world, and don’t be embarrassed. Everybody was a beginner at some point, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ruben Vee

I'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can. Insta @skateboardershq

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