Most skateboarders stop progressing at some point. You don’t seem to get better and learning new tricks seems impossible. Often this has to do with skipping the basics or you’re getting too frustrated and over-focussed.
To improve at skateboarding you need to slowly build up and make sure you master the basics. Sometimes your muscles and brain need time to adapt and a break can help you to improve. Make sure to get feedback from skilled skateboarders and film yourself to analyze your technique.
Often it’s not that you hit your peak, it’s just that you skipped a few steps along the way. Here are a few tips that might help you to move on your next trick.
1. Get back to the basics
Are you that guy? You started practicing ollies at day one but didn’t even know how to properly push. It’s rooky mistake number one and yours truly is guilty. It’s a crime and you probably skipped so many of the basics which at some point catch up with you.
This is a generic tip, I’ll go into it further down this post but if you skipped the basics you have a hard time progressing. Sure, doing basic stuff like learning how to ride doesn’t seem very appealing but it’s what makes you progress faster.
You need to be able to feel how your skateboard feels and behaves when you lean and carve. If you don’t even know how to do a Caveman, this post is for you. You can skip this entire post and go to my basic skateboarding tricks article and start from there. Check this link, if you can do all those tricks come back and continue reading.
I had to relearn some basic stuff because I just couldn’t progress, getting the basics down is a great way to get creative and set the bar for leveling up.
2. It all starts with balance
Balance, the most important skill to progress in skateboarding. Once you know how your skills will grow exponentially. There are a few ways to improve your skateboarding balance. It’s as simple as just filling up an empty Coke bottle with water and balance on top with your deck. Remove the trucks or grab an old deck and start leaning forward, backward, sideways etc.
After a while pop some shuvits, ollies or anything you can think of. It may not be the most effective way to improve your skills but it sure helps to up your balance.
3. Slowly build up
Let’s be honest here if you can’t or feel like you’re not ready for whatever trick you’re trying to accomplish you’re moving too fast. Many tricks can be done by just slowly building up to it. Take a drop-in, for example, you don’t have to commit right away. just push a mini ramp and once you get close to the coping give your tail a little tap. You can even start without even having the coping anywhere in sight.
Afraid to put both of your feet when trying to learn a kickflip? Just land it on one foot, try it a couple of times with your front foot and then move on to your back foot. At some point just commit and nail it.
4. Stop obsessing and step away
If you try something over and over again and you can’t seem to make it, move on. At some point, you’ll get frustrated and you’ll only be making it harder for yourself. Sometimes your brain and muscles need to catch up and when you try it again the next day you somehow manage to achieve what you want.
It’s weird but this really works in some cases. Move on to something you are good at and get back to that new trick you’re trying to learn later on. Stepping away is a great way to learn new tricks!
5. Need inspiration? Watch videos
Watching skateboard videos isn’t only a great motivator to get you stoked, they help you to nail those tricks down. You might feel like you can’t get that kickflip down, but perhaps you’re just not positioning your feet properly. Using the right stance and techniques makes all the difference.
I grew up in an era without internet, good luck learning the proper stance and flicks without someone showing you into detail on how to do it. Fortunately my peers and VHS helped a lot.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a chronological list of the best skateboard videos ever made. If those don’t get you pumped you might consider collecting stamps or go chase Pokemons.
6. Don’t ride mongo style
Guilty. I did it from the very first day I picked up a skateboard, I was like 8 years old and didn’t know any better. I still see kids making this mistake and have to restrain myself from correcting them.
So why is it bad? In essenc,e it’s not that bad, but you just aren’t able to get the stability you need to perform a trick and it looks bad. It takes some time to get back into a proper position to grind a rail or do a boardslide.
If this is you, take some time to learn how to push properly. Yes, it’s annoying but just do it and remind yourself everytime you push mongo to push properly. It take a couple of days to properly push, and after a few month,s you’ll be just as comfortable pushinf regular.
You have some benefits here, riding fakie and switch comes like second nature! Once you learn how to properly push you’ll easily switch positions and make it look easy.
7. Learn to ride fakie
You know how to ride properly, but you failed to learn how to ride backward. It’s time to practice riding fakie. It may seem trivial but comfortably riding faky opens a whole new range of tricks. Fakie ollies, fakie shovits, fakie big spins, fakie whatever comes up. The range of tricks is endless and it will help you move on to a new level.
It will feel a bit awkward at first, but learning to ride fakie is something you really need to master to get better. Many tricks require you to land fakie or require you to start in fakie stance. Seriously, do it.
8. Start practicing switch stance
Just like fakie, you should learn how to ride switch. I still struggle with nollies, they feel unnatural but damn it’s satisfying to pop a good nollie, even if it’s just. Once you know how to ride switch stance properly you can combine all of your tricks repertoire and show off.
If this is too difficult don’t sweat it, switch isn’t for everyone and you don’t need to be a pro. Maybe you’re not ready just yet, just try some fakie stuff and keep practicing until you feel like you can take on switch stance.
9. Learn from your peers
Skating with friends or at least a couple of people you like to hang out with is great for progress. Lose the competitive attitude and learn from their feedback. Don’t be affraid to ask, skateboarders like to teach anyone who is willnig to be humble. We all started out as newbies and all skaters realise that. As long as you don’t act like a dick, people will help.
Go to your local skatepark, do your best and ask for advice. Often skateboarders will come to you and share some insights when you fail over and over again, embrace the feedback and learn. They’re just regular guys like you and me and love skateboarding, you have a lot in common! I remember when I was a kid and a skilled skateboarder approached me and gave me tips, I was amazed that this skateboard god was aware of my presence and talked to me. We became best friends.
10. Skate with the best
I’ve talked about peers but try to get a bit close to the masters. You don’t have to become friends but they’ll be happy to help you out and give some pointers. As long as you use proper skate park etiquette and act like a human being you can learn a lot from. If you suffer from anxiety or lack social skills just do your thing and don’t get in the way.
At some point, you’ll run into a skilled skater, make sure to compliment them when they nail a trick and ask them how they do it if you get a chance.
11. Get those manuals down
Grab an old deck and attach your trucks. Manuals are difficult at first but if you devote yourself you can become the manual master. Learning how to manual is a great way to combine tricks. Ollie to manual, manual to ollie, kickflip manual, manual to kickflip, shuvits etc, it just looks rad.
Skateboarders love to see someone pulling off a great manual and finishing off with a trick, and the other way around. If you do it right you’ll hear the sweet sound of slamming decks.
Don’t just stop at regular manuals, start practicing nose manuals when you’re ready. It’s extremely difficult but a great way to get to know how your board behaves and rewarding once you can nail it for a couple of seconds.
12. Leave your comfort zone
Whether you like to just skate street or only dedicated yourself to mini ramps, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. Transitions skateboarding, bowl, vert, mini ramp, we all have our preferences but getting out of your comfort zone helps you to improve your skills.
I recently started to get back to the street and practice basic tricks, I tried many basic tricks and felt sore the next day. Props to you street guys!
13. Improve your style
These days I see many skaters pull off sick tricks, only they lack style. Style is what makes a trick look sick or just meh. Practice your trick over and over again and use your phone to make a video. Sure, a Smith grind is impressive but if you lack style it just doesn’t work for me. Somehow it looks a bit lazy, as if you don’t care.
This is really just my personal opinion and take it with a grain of salt. I would never ever call anyone out on lack of style, I applaud anyone pulling off a great trick but I’ll applaud you more if you do it with finesse.
14. Train your core
Skateboarding is about balance and core strength. I’m not saying you should hit the gym (it’s boring as hell) but try to exercise a little to increase your core strength. You can workout at home and increase your core strenth with basic exercises. It will help you to skate longer with more accuracy. Just Google for some core training and do it for about 20 minutes every other day, perfect workout when the weather sucks.