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Skateboarding and Longboarding: Comparing Learning Curves

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Longboarding generally has a gentler initial learning curve. The larger deck and wheels of a longboard offer more stability, making it easier for beginners to learn balance and basic riding. In contrast, skateboarding’s smaller deck and harder wheels make basic riding and balance more challenging.

Skateboarding and longboarding are quite different sports and also have much in common. In order to find out what works for you, ask yourself what you want to do. Learn tricks or cruise with ease?

Why Is Longboarding Easier Initially?

From a beginner’s perspective skateboarding has a steeper learning curve because you have a smaller surface to keep your balance.

Longboards have a larger surface which helps you to stay on your board. At higher speeds, you’re also less likely to experience speed wobbles because of the larger wheels, wider trucks, and wider deck.

When stepping on a longboard the first time you’ll less likely lose control if you’re stance is slightly incorrect.

longboard next to a skateboard

Once you attempt your first push you’ll notice that a longboard is also much more forgiving Just a gentle push will already be enough to roll for a while.

Because a longboard has more momentum it keeps going, so you don’t have to push as often as on a skateboard.

Pushing requires a lot of balancing and knowing how a board behaves. So the less often you have to adjust your body position, the more time you have to learn how to simply cruise.

The wider turning radius give you more time to position yourself correctly, and slightly misplacing your feet won’t immediately throw you off the board.

Unlike skateboards, longboards don’t get stuck when encountering pebbles or cracks, and bumps are easier to navigate.

Why Skateboarding Is Harder

A skateboard accelerates faster but also slows down faster. In order to get a lot of speed you have to push often and hard. This means you need to be comfortable balancing on your front leg while pushing with your other leg.

You also have to deal with limited space, so a proper stance and placing your feet correctly is important. Being slightly out of balance will make a skateboard less stable compared to a longboard.

Skateboards are much smaller in size, have harder and smaller wheels which make a skateboard very responsive. Skateboards have a shorter turning radius which feels unnatural for a beginner.

Bumps, cracks, and small obstacles are harder to navigate. This requires you to shift your weight and balance to more. Basically you have less reaction time meaning you have to focus consistently.

Skateboarding and Longboarding Learning Curve Compared

Skateboarding and longboarding have distinct learning curves. Initially, both require mastering balance and basic movement, but as skills advance, skateboarding focuses on technical tricks and agility, while longboarding emphasizes fluid cruising and style-specific mastery.

Both longboarding and skateboarding beginners start with learning basic balance and getting comfortable with their respective boards.

Skateboarding’s learning curve becomes even more steeper when advancing to tricks and technical skills. Tricks like ollies, kickflips, and grinds are central to skateboarding and require significant practice and coordination.

Longboarding, while it can include tricks (especially in freestyle longboarding), generally focuses more on cruising, carving, and speed, which are different skill sets.

beginner skateboarder practicing a trick

Early Stages

In skateboarding, beginners focus on mastering balance on the relatively smaller deck, learning basic pushing, stopping, and simple turns.

The challenge lies in managing a smaller surface area and tighter balance requirements. The achievement at this stage is confidently standing, moving, and learning turns on the skateboard.

For longboarding, the early stage involves getting accustomed to the board’s larger size and longer length. The larger surface provides more stability, making it somewhat easier to balance and push.

The primary challenge for beginners is adjusting to the longboard’s weight and size, with the achievement being smooth basic movement and stopping.

Basic Maneuvering Phase

As skateboarders advance, they build on their turning skills, start cruising more confidently, and may even begin riding off curbs. The challenge now includes navigating varied terrains and urban obstacles, with controlled cruising and navigating small features marking progress.

Longboarders in this phase work on enhancing their rides, improving turning techniques, and starting to carve. The longboard’s design facilitates longer and more fluid turns, with the goal being comfortable cruising, graceful turning, and basic carving.

Intermediate Stage

Intermediate skateboarders begin to learn tricks such as ollies, kickflips, and simple grinds. The focus shifts to developing precision for executing tricks and incorporating them into regular skating. Consistently performing these tricks signifies progress in skateboarding.

In longboarding, the intermediate stage introduces advanced carving, possibly beginning with downhill techniques or freestyle, and even dancing.

Longboarders face the challenge of handling higher speeds with control and starting to experiment with style-specific maneuvers. Achievements include smooth high-speed rides and initiating style-specific techniques.

Advanced Phase

skateboarder doing an advanced trick

Advanced skateboarding is about mastering complex tricks and specializing in a particular style like street, vert, or park.

The challenges involve pushing technical skills, developing a unique style, and possibly engaging in competition, with achievements marked by proficiency in complex tricks and style development.

For longboarding, the advanced phase means excelling in a chosen discipline such as downhill, dancing, or freestyle.

This stage is characterized by mastering advanced maneuvers specific to the chosen style and maintaining control at high speeds. Success is seen in mastery of a specific longboarding style and advanced technique execution.

Final Words

Both skateboarding and longboarding start with foundational skills in balance and movement but diverge as skills advance.

Skateboarding leans towards technical tricks and agility, while longboarders focus on fluidity, speed control, and style-specific skills. Each sport offers a unique journey of skill development, challenges, and personal expression.

Skateboarding and longboarding are quite different sports and also have much in common. If you’re in doubt about what works for you consider a cruiser, or read my article which compares cruisers, longboards, and skateboards.

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