The best skateboarders make their flips and tricks look seamless, but it’s not as effortless as it seems. Skateboarding isn’t an easy activity to master for a number of reasons, and in this article we’re going to cover the basics. From the best workouts for skateboarders, your first goals on the board and how to kick it into high gear once you are confidently skating, you’ll be breezing by in no time.
One of the most popular sports in the world with over 11 million participants, skateboards were originally built in the 1940s by surfers in California, USA. During the off time of the surf, surfers would ride the streets with their surfboard-like boards with wheels. The 1960s and ‘70s were a turning point for the outdoor sport with global expansion, and in 2021, skateboarding became an Olympic sport, bringing street riding to the forefront of the athletic world.
The Mindset of Pro Skateboarders
Currently, skateboarders are becoming more aware that consistent conditioning, strength training and injury prevention is paramount to their maintaining their abilities. Skateboarding puts massive stress on joints, tendons and ligaments, and it’s important to keep yourself in tip-top shape.
What’s the best way to build your skill set? The hours and hours spent riding on top of the board every day, practicing new tricks—and spending a fair amount of time on their exercise routine. A skateboarder will ride most days of the week, and depending on the intensity of their practice, take some days off in-between to recover.
1. Work on Skateboarders Flexibility
This isn’t some crazy contortionist routine—those are cool too, but they’re not what we’re going for here. Being flexible is essential to any kind of physical activity, and skateboarding is no different. This will benefit you in your normal life, as well as your athletic lifestyle.
- Before you begin your workout, start with a 5 or 10-minute stretch session. This loosens up your muscles and ligaments, getting them in go-mode for the work ahead, and helps you limber up.
- As soon as your workout is over, stretch out again for a few minutes. Yes, you’ll be tired and not want to do anymore, but it’s much easier (and more satisfying!) to feel loose and limber after a great workout than it is to feel stiff and sore.
2. Build Your Skateboarders Routine From the Ground Up
There are countless types of exercises that focus on different muscles and parts of the body, and skateboarding demands a certain amount of physical prowess to excel. Make sure to research proper form when lifting weights and watch the video at the bottom of this section, so you can see how the pros do it. Let’s take a look at a few exercises that are perfect to up your game:
- The Thruster: One of the most beneficial exercises, that is a full-body movement useful in daily life. Thrusters help improve balance coordination and muscular endurance. They will help you build upper and lower body strength by working the glutes, shoulders and quadriceps.
- RDL + Row: The RDL (Romanian Deadlift) along with the bent over row is a killer addition to any full body exercise program. This exercise is a combo hip-hinge with pull that will target virtually everything on the back side of your body, hamstrings, lower back and glutes.
- The Lateral Skater: A cardiovascular exercise, this is made for skateboarders. The goal is to perform a lateral jump to get your heart rate up, strengthen your legs and improve stability and balance. The strengthening part of this exercise focuses on quads and glutes.
- Hollow Hold: A great way to strengthen the abdominal muscles that stabilize your spine—something paramount to skateboarding—the hollow hold is an isometric core exercise that every skateboarder should include in their workout plan.
- Feet Elevated Calf Raise: Doing this will activate the two muscles that run down the back of the lower leg called, the gastrocnemius and soleus. Integral in ankle flexion and extension, these muscles high action movements such as running and jumping.
3. Skateboarders Learn How to Fall Correctly
Learning how to fall correctly will help you avoid getting injured as you practice. It’s no secret with many types of athletic sports that you will fall and get minor injures—if you can avoid any major ones, you’ll be better off and on your way. One way is to develop a proper falling technique:
- When a skateboarder falls, the natural instinct is to throw your hands out to protect yourself. That’s fine if you are moving slowly, but it’s not a good habit to reinforce as you progress, as it can result in strained or broken wrists as you go faster and jump higher.
- The best way to fall typically involves tumbling or rolling. To practice, try skating towards or alongside a grassy area, and while moving step off the board and roll on the grass. It’ll be awkward and feel weird, but as you practice it will feel more natural, and feel better than slamming your hands on the pavement.
4. Skateboarders Know How to Stop
It may take a few weeks to get your balance, stopping and starting skill polished, and that’s to be expected when learning a new skill. You’ll be on your way to entering the X games in no time flat—the first step is to start—and next is to learn how to stop.
- Use the tail scrape method only when going slowly. It’s a basic stopping method, but you can easily lose control of the board without meaning to if going too fast. Try tail scraping when skateboarding casually on a hard surface by placing your non-dominant foot on the tail until it makes contact with the ground below.
- Another way is using the heel scrape. Heel scraping is similar to tail scraping, but your board’s tail will not make contact with the ground. Instead, extend your back foot out until your heel is not touching the board, press the tail back, and stop once your foot has made contact with the pavement.
5. Learn to Skate Backward
Skating backwards—called a “fakie”—is difficult at the beginning, but is a must in order to be able to excel at more complicated tricks as your skateboarding skills progress. Here are a few tips:
Riding a fakie takes a fair bit of time to get right, and it’s a crucial skill to master for those looking to ride any type of vert ramp, flat ground, and is a great skill to know in general.
Here’s how to practice in four steps:
- Place the skateboard on the ground and make sure that the tail is facing forward.
- Next, ind your footing. If you normally push off with your right foot, in order to ride a fakie, you’ll have to push off with the left foot.
- Start moving by pushing with the rear foot so that you can build momentum. Once you are at a good pace, use your front foot to smoothly pivot and swing your back foot around. Plant your back foot forward while moving to the tip of the board.
- For the last step, keep your balance by making sure that your front foot is firmly on the board before shifting or rotating your rear foot. This would now allow you to ride the skateboard normally, except that you are leading with the tail of the skateboard.
- Look forward in the direction you’re traveling. You should now be riding in the exact same stance as you normally ride, except you’re leading with the tail end of your skateboard.
Skate Your Way to Success
By now, you’ve got the basics covered and well on your way to becoming a kick-ass skateboarder. You’re rearing to go! Take it a step further: make a list of tricks that are easy to start out with, so you don’t get frustrated and consider quitting. Submerge yourself in all things skateboarding by following the greats and watching popular skateboarding content creators to learn as much as you can.
Getting the basics down takes time, and achievable milestones can be used as boosting motivators—adopt that mindset to succeed.
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