How To Skateboard for the First Time

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At GOSKATE, we believe skateboarding for the first time shouldn’t be the scariest thing in the world. But we also know how important skateboarding successfully for the first time can be in determining if you’re going to stick with it. 

As lifelong skaters who deeply understand the profound and positive effects skateboarding has had on our lives, we wanted to create a detailed guide to learning how to skateboard for the first time. 

A guide that promotes not only having fun but being safe and establishing the necessary fundamentals to go on and skate skate parks, learn skate tricks and make friends with your neighborhood skate crew. 

In this article we’ll be detailing: 

  • Beginner Skateboard Tips
  • Choosing the Best Skateboard for You as a First Timer
  • Proper Protective Gear 
  • Where to Skateboard for the First Time

Simply put, we want every child and adult to fall in love with skating just as much as we have. 

That’s the whole reason GOSKATE was conceived and how we’ve managed to teach thousands of students with the largest network of professional skateboarding instructors

Either way, let’s get right into it and GOSKATE! 

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Beginner Skateboard Tips

Know Your Stance – You have to know your stance in order to maintain the best balance. You’re either goofy, with your right foot forward or regular, with your left foot forward. 

Need help learning your stance? Have a friend or loved one stand behind you and gently give you a nudge enough for you to take a step forward. The foot you step forward with is naturally your front foot. 

Proper Foot Placement – Proper foot placement should always stem from doing what is most comfortable. However, when you actually don’t know how to skate, what’s most comfortable is often far from proper. 

Have your front foot just below the front bolts of your front truck. Then have your back foot on the tail of your skateboard behind the back wheels. 

Need help with proper foot placement? Send in your stance to our free video feedback service! And get a detailed response from our team of skate instructors. 

How to Pedal – Essentially, there’s a right way and a wrong way to pedal on a skateboard. The wrong way is called mongo, or when a skater takes their front foot off the board to pedal. Make sure to pedal with your back foot and lean forward. Place your front hand on your front knee if needed. 

How to Stop – Stopping on a skateboard begins with knowing your limits. Don’t go down a super steep hill or attempt a drop in if you’re not an experienced skater. Instead, focus on braking with your back foot, taking it off the grip tape slowly and dragging it on the ground. This is often called foot braking.

How to “Pop Up” Your Board – Skaters are masters at getting their skateboard to do what they want them to do. Yes, we’re talking about an ollie or kickflip, but even learning how to pop up your board from the ground into your hand will help give you confidence and advance as a skater. Practice popping your board by smacking your tail until the nose reaches up to your hands. Master this and you’re on your way to not only advancing as a skater but looking like one too.

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How to Maintain “Your Center” – Maintaining your center sounds like something out of a Kung Fu movie but it’s actually an integral piece of advice for the first time skateboarder. Your center is the core of your body, it’s where your head, shoulders, hips, and legs all meet in the performance of skateboarding. As you learn to ride your skateboard and perform more and more maneuvers, always be conscious of your center of gravity and crouch or expand when needed to maintain it.

How to Turn on a Skateboard – Turning on a skateboard for the first time skater can feel like rocket science but in reality, there’s several proven tips our skate instructors have been teaching for years. One of which is to make sure your trucks are not too tight and able to flex when you change your weight. While the easiest way for beginners to turn is by lifting your nose and front wheels to “tic tac” to a new angle, eventually you’re going to want to shift your weight using your head, shoulders, hips and even your toes to “lean” into a turn. It might sound difficult but we promise the more you try the better you’ll get a turning on your skateboard.

How to Progress on a Skateboard – Progress is a tricky word (no pun intended) when it comes to learning how to skateboard for the first time. Because while it is a sport and we do want to progress and get better, we should never lose sight of the fact skateboarding is all about having fun. So just know if you’re having fun, you’re doing it right. That being said, progressing on a skateboard is really a two headed monster: consistency and challenging yourself. 

If you don’t skate as much as you can (3-5 days a week) it’s going to be hard for you to progress. And if you never push yourself, if you don’t face your fears, if you don’t fall down and get back up, well, you’re missing some of the prevailing aspects of what it means to be a skateboarder. However, don’t forget, it’s you who’s in charge of progress and it’s you who sets your own standards. 

How to Fall on a Skateboard – This one might seem strange to include on this list, however, in skateboarding you fall more than you land. Remember Tony Hawk’s 900? The Birdman had been trying that trick for literal weeks and several dozen that night before he landed the infamous trick. While we know him as a master of skateboarding, he is also a master at knowing how to fall. While protective gear is a great first step (read about this below!) knowing how to fall takes us back to our center of gravity: 

If you ever feel like you’re going to fall, maybe you have speed wobbles going down a hill or just rolled away from your first drop in and feel yourself slipping, crouch down as low as you can to lower your center of gravity. This way if you fall you have dramatically reduced the impact onto the ground. Additionally, building on this concept, consider laying yourself out horizontally and sliding as you fall. Many skaters become masters of sliding on their shoulders or their buttocks to avoid landing on their wrists or ankles. It might sound crazy but we promise you anyone can become a master of falls and most certainly will over time.

How to “Find Time” to Skate – While finding the time to skate might be more applicable to our adults learning how to skate for the first time, it can also be ogre parents who are finding time for their child. We get it, everyone has their own work schedule but there are certains times better for beginner skaters to skate the skatepark and some misconceptions about the time needed to advance as a skater. 

Skateboarding is just like any craft, the more you do it the better you’re going to get at it. However, cruising around the block even just for ten-fifteen minutes a day can do a lot for your skating. We recommend having your skateboard on you as much as possible. Why walk when you can skate? You’re a skater now… Skate to school, skate to the grocery store, skate to grab a coffee. 

Looking to skate a skatepark at the optimal time for a beginner or first timer? Skate as early as you can (even 7:am) on weekdays. Many skateparks before noon will be specifically for child hours. Avoid 4-5 pm when the older skaters get off work and charge the park before the sun sets. 

Skate in the Best Location – This might seem like common sense but many parents make the mistake of taking their kid to the skatepark before they are ready. A skatepark can intimidate first timers or discourage them; even worse a collision or the inability to stop correctly can lead to injury. Master your driveway or empty parking lot first in a safe space where you only have to focus on mastering the fundamentals. Read more about “Where to Skateboard for the First Time” below!

Choosing The Best Skateboard For You

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Knowing which skateboard is the best skateboard for you as a beginner starts with understanding your skateboarding goals. 

  • Do you want to skate at a skatepark? 
  • Do you want to just cruise around? 
  • What if my town doesn’t have a local skate shop? 

Well, we’ll answer all this and more shortly.

Longboard versus short board: Longboards are a great way to cruise around your neighborhood or ocean-side sidewalk with friends and loved ones. However, longboards generally are not skatepark friendly and do not allow skaters to perform traditional skateboarding tricks like the ollie or the kickflip. If you want to skate at a skatepark and do traditional skateboarding tricks versus just cruising around, you probably wouldn’t want a longboard as your primary skateboard. 

Complete Skateboard: While eventually, you’ll learn about the different brands and companies out there and will want to choose your skateboard piece by piece, a complete skateboard that’s beginner friendly will be your best option. That is precisely why we created the GOSKATE Beginner Skateboard Package, a package fully loaded with an assembled quality skateboard and even the necessary protective gear for beginners to easily master the foundations of skateboarding.

Free Skateboard Size Calculator: In addition to our beginner skateboard package, we also offer a free skateboard size calculator, which we use with our instructors to help you or your loved one not only pick the perfect size skateboard but the right type of skateboard and skateboard deck. Getting off to the right foot can make all the difference between weeks and even months of practice. 

If you’re a beginner skater, we recommend staying away from electric skateboards, as they can reach dangerous speeds upwards of 20mph.

Proper Protective Gear 

Knowing the proper protective gear as a beginner skateboarder cannot be understated in terms of your safety. Because obviously as a first time skater you’re going to potentially fall down and not know how to properly fall. 

In skateboarding, you fall more than you land. It’s a sign of progress. So without further ado, here is a list of the proper protective gear we recommend to all of our first time students.

  • wrist guards
  • elbow pads
  • knee pads
  • skate shoes
  • helmet

Each piece of protective gear can be added to our beginner skateboard package or found at your local skate shop or even online at Amazon. 

We also recommend skating with a certified skate instructor who’s highly trained to anticipate falls and prevent potential injuries. At the very least, skate with a parent or friend who can help monitor the situation. It’s all about two things when it comes to GOSKATE: Having fun and staying safe! 

Where to Skateboard for the First Time

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You might have been inspired by seeing local skaters at the skatepark do amazing skate tricks but it’s going to take some significant time before you’re at that level. We recommend you start off in an empty parking lot or neighborhood driveway. Somewhere there’s no cars or heavy flow of pedestrians. 

Keep an eye out for a freshly laid parking lot with a perfectly smooth surface. It’s the best type of ground for learning the fundamentals of skateboarding which will help you get comfortable on your skateboard enough to learn new tricks. 

A flat surface is also preferred so you don’t pick up speed. You’ll have to learn how to generate your own momentum: which brings us to our next point – beginner skateboard tips sourced from our 3,000 skateboarding instructors

GOSKATE invites you to check out our tutorials on beginner skateboarding tricks as well as submit to our free video feedback service. As always, connecting with your local GOSKATE instructor is the fastest and most proven way to learn how to skate. 

Reach out today and find out which skate instructors are in your area. Remember, have fun and GOSKATE!

Zane Foley

Zane Foley has been writing professionally since 2014, since obtaining his BA in Philosophy from the California State University, Fullerton. Zane is an avid skateboarder and Los Angeles native. Follow him on Instagram for links to his other published works. @zaneyorkfly

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