How To Skateboard

Everything you need to know to take up skateboarding. From proper stance and technique, to tricks, and flips.

This is part 2 of our beginner’s guide to skateboarding.

So, you’ve got your gear, and you’re ready to start skateboarding.

We’re going to cover things like stance, important techniques and tricks.

This should get you through your first few weeks of skating, at the very least.

Like many extreme sports, you really need to get out there and start practising.

You’ll start to find the limits from a technical standpoint, but also, how much risk you’re prepared to take.

Skateboarding Foot Position

We’re going to be including a few videos to help emphasise how to skateboard below.

But, before we do that, it’s important to determine what type of skater you are.

There’s two types of skateboard foot position. Regular and goofy.

I’ve seen a tonne of “goofy versus regular” tests. To be honest. They are all a bit pointless:

  • See which foot you use as your back foot to climb stairs
  • Throw a ball in the air and see which foot you naturally kick it with
  • Get someone to push you backwards lightly and see which foot you use to support yourself

There’s no need for any of that. It comes down to one simple thing.

Are you left or right footed?

It’s important you understand whether you are a regular or goofy rider before watching training videos, as you might ride the opposite way to the person in the training video.

Regular (Right-Footed)

You’ll have your left foot forward.

Your right foot will be used to push and stop, and when you jump on the board, the right foot will be at the tail of the board.

This is the typical skateboarding stance for right-footed people.

Goofy (Left-Footed)

You’ll have your right foot forward.

Your left foot will be used to push and stop, and when you jump on the board, your left foot will be at the tail of the board.

This is the most common skateboarding stance for left-footed people.

Goofy Versus Regular Video Explainer

Just to clarify, here’s a video that explains the difference between riding regular and goofy.

Is Riding Goofy Bad?

Just like being left-handed or footed, there’s nothing wrong with riding goofy.

In fact, if you’re naturally goofy and you try to ride regular, you’ll only be limiting your technical ability.

But, that’s not to say riding regular from time-to-time isn’t going to improve your overall skill set as a skater.

How To Stop On A Skateboard

I know what you’re thinking. You’re not even moving, why are we learning to stop?

Well, once you’re moving, it’s going to be a bit too late to read up on stopping techniques.

You’ll need to be moving to actually practice, and we’d recommend you start pushing slowly and practicing a few stopping techniques. That’s going to keep you and others, safe.

The type of brake you use to stop a skateboard will depend on what you feel comfortable with, and your speed.

But, assuming we’re all beginners here, let’s just fly through the most common ways to stop a board.

Tail (Heel) Brake

You’ll see a lot of people popping up the nose and dragging the tail on the floor to stop.

It’s a legitimate way to stop (although not exactly ideal for beginners), but it’s not recommended.

Sure, it does the job, but at a cost.

Boards lose their pop and durability over time naturally.

By dragging the tail, you’ll be speeding up the process of absolutely wrecking your deck. And, with decks costing $40-80, I’d prefer not to!

Foot Brake

No two people ride the same, but using the whole foot, is the most common way for beginners to stop a skateboard.

You’ll use your backfoot (right for regular, left for goofy) as a brake to stop you and your board.

Don’t just slam your foot down. You’ll stop too quickly and throw your centre of gravity too far forward.

And, that’s going to result in one thing; face-planting whatever rail or surface is in front of you.

Drop your backfoot off the board and touch it lightly on the surface you’re skating on.

If your centre of gravity seems stable, you can apply more pressure, and vice-versa.

Carving

Carving is an effective way to learn to control speed, but not the ultimate way to actually stop.

If you make short sharp turns, you’ll probably increase your speed, not decrease it. The key to carving is to make big sweeping turns to try and scrub off some speed.

This technique is usually used to slow down slightly, and not completely.

You’ll probably be home before you stop!

Powerslide

Don’t bother if you’re a beginner. Powersliding a skateboard isn’t easy, even for those that are intermediates.

We’d recommend sticking to low speeds, carving and using your foot as a brake.

Feeling confident? Check out this training video straight from the RIDE Channel and Spencer Nuzzi.

How To Push A Skateboard

Now you know how to stop, you need to learn how to push off on a skateboard.

It’s all about keeping balance.

#1 – Backfoot Positioning

When pushing a skateboard, your backfoot (right for regular, left for goofy), will be your “pushing” foot.

You’ll use it to gain speed, but also control.

#2 – Front Foot Positioning

The hardware on your deck is where the trucks bolt through. Look at the hardware at the nose (front) of the board.

This is where your front foot should be (left for regular, right for goofy).

#3 – Pushing & Body Position

Now you know where everything goes, you can start pushing.

As you push you’ll want to bend your front leg slightly and get a nice centre of gravity over that front foot.

If you are too far back and push too hard, you’ll send your centre of gravity backwards and hit the back of your head when you land on the floor.

So, start by pushing in long and smooth strokes, rather than encouraging bursts of short and sharp speed.

In most sports, you’ll go exactly where you are facing; whether that’s mountain biking, or golf.

It’s the same with skating.

Aim your body forwards, and keep your line of sight aimed in the direction you want to go.

Start small, push smoothly, slowly and with almost no power. The more you push, the more you’ll get used to the balance of the board.

You can then start to increase the power in your push, and your speed.

#4 – Gaining Control & Back Foot Positioning

We’d not advise going at your maximum speed if you’re a complete beginner. Get used to mounting the board, letting it slow down and pushing again. You need to be in control.

This is especially important if you’re on the street.

You might be prepared to get the odd scrape, but there’s a good chance pedestrians are not thinking the same thing.

Once you’re happy with your speed, you’ll place your backfoot (right for regular, left for goofy), over the hardware near the tail (back) of the board.

As you slow down and want to gain speed, rinse and repeat the process.

How To Turn On A Skateboard

Now you can push and stop, it’s time to learn how to turn on a skateboard. 

#1 – Adjusting Truck Tightness

Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure your trucks aren’t too tight, or too loose.

If they are too tight, you won’t be able to turn by leaning.

If they are too loose, you’ll have lack of control when turning, and feel incredibly unstable when cruising.

Stand on your deck and lean side to side. If your deck moves easily, especially if you can get the deck to touch the wheels, it’s probably too loose (if you like loose trucks, you’ll need risers).

If you can hardly feel any movement, your trucks are too tight.

You can tighten or loosen your trucks, by tightening or loosening the kingpin bolt.

Flip your board over and get to work.

Take the tool you use to tighten and loosen your trucks with you when you skate. That way, as you progress from a beginner, you can play with truck tightness to get to a setup that suits you.

#2 – Turning With Your Heels

If you’re rolling, you need to move your centre of gravity to the backside of your board.

The amount you need to lean will depend on how sharply you want to turn, and how fast you are going.

For regular riders, this is going to mean turning left, and for goofy, this means turning right.

You’ll be turning in the direction your heels are pointing.

#3 – Turning With Your Toes

If you want to turn on the front side, you’ll move your weight towards your toes.

The pressure passes down through your toes, and allows the board to turn slightly.

For regular riders, this is going to mean turning right, and for goofy, this means turning left.

You’ll be turning in the direction your toes are pointing.

#4 – Practising On Flat Ground

As a beginner, you’ll want to practise this on flat ground. Don’t carve to sharply.

Combine this with practising pushing, stopping and turning.

This will allow you to find the balance of your board, before you get to more technical turning techniques, and your first tricks.

#5 – Popping The Front Wheels

You’ll see a lot of skaters popping up the front wheels to turn their board. We’d advise practising a tonne of leaning before trying this, as it’s a lot more technical than simply leaning on your board.

To pop up the front wheels, you’ll keep your centre of gravity the same, but switch pressure from being evenly distributed across your legs, to being more towards the back of the board.

This allows the front wheels to come off the floor.

You’ll then be able to twist your torso right or left, to make a turn.

You’ll want to sight where you plan to turn and start twisting your body back into its straight position smoothly, before you get to that point; otherwise you’ll turn too far.

How To Ollie A Skateboard

Now you’ve learnt all the basics, you want to start progressing to tricks. 

The ollie is the most basic trick, but it’s also a fundamental part of skateboarding.

It’s going to allow you to get over small obstacles on the street and at a skatepark, but the ollie technique is the basis for a lot of tricks.

When you first start learning to ollie, practise from a stand-still.

That way, there’s nothing you need to focus on except for balance during the ollie, rather than having to compensate for speed and changes of surfaces that you’re skating on.

#1 – Foot Positioning

Your foot positioning when about to ollie isn’t the same as when you’re just riding.

You’ll move your back foot over the tail, and the front foot will be placed across the centre of the board.

#2 – Learning To Pop

An ollie is hard to break down into individual steps, as it’s each part combined that creates a swift and smooth movement.

You’ll snap on the tail with your backfoot to create the initial pop. To allow the pop, you’ll have to have relieved all weight on your front foot.

As you create this pop, you’ll jump upwards.

This pop needs to be countered to avoid the board shooting straight into your body, and so it’s flat when you land.

You do this by sliding your lead foot up the board as you pop it.

The pop, jump and slide all help to give lift and essentially, make you ollie higher.

#3 – Even Out The Board

Now you’ll be in the air, readjusting your body from the jump so you’re not stretched out, and levelling off the board (with your front foot that’s been sliding).

This is going to make sure you are prepared to land, without falling off!

#4 – Adjusting Your Feet

If you can you’ll want to adjust your feet to give a better centre of gravity. And, that’s going to be both feet moving nearer to each set of hardware.

You’ll naturally have moved your front foot forward towards the nose during the slide.

That’s important to give you better balance, but it also it puts less stress on the centre of the deck and prevents it snapping.

Likewise, if you naturally go right to the edge of the tail with your backfoot, you’ll be putting a great deal of stress on it. It will eventually snap!

Try to slide your back foot in slightly towards the hardware, even if it’s just a few cm.

#5 – Rinse & Repeat

Rinse and repeat this process, until you get to a point where you are consistently making one fluid movement to ollie.

#6 – Increase Height

Focus more energy on the pop and jump to create more lift. You can sometimes get a tiny bit of lift from the slide too.

#7 – Learn Rolling Ollies

Now you’re ready to try and ollie whilst moving.

Simply repeat the above process. For beginners in anything, it’s usually the best idea to start slow and small.

The problem is, if you roll to slow, adjusting your centre of gravity will rock the board backwards and forwards.

So, get up to a reasonable speed, allow the board to slow down, and ollie when you feel comfortable.

How To Do Tricks On A Skateboard

Nailing down a perfect ollie is fundamental to you progressing as a skater. If you don’t feel you can do this consistently, or gain much height – keep going.

If you can’t ollie properly, it’s going to hinder your progress when it comes to learning how to do other tricks on a skateboard.

Below, we’ve got a video series that’s going to help you learn how to do tricks on your skateboard.

How To Grind

How To Nollie

How To Hippie Jump

How To Ollie North

How To Blunt Fakie

How To Kick Flip

How To Pop Shove-It

How To Nollie Shove-It

Next: How To Build Your Own Skateboard

Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

View all articles
Leave a reply

Written by Grant Draper