Skateboarding is a skill that some professionals make look absolutely effortless. It’s as if they were born to glide around the bowl and through the air; and as if it took no more effort than getting up from a chair and walking around. In reality, skateboarding is a very skilful thing, that can take years to perfect – and, as any sports person knows, there is always more than can be done to improve the technique.
So, how long does it take to learn to skateboard? Well, that depends on what you are trying to achieve!
What is skateboarding?
In case you have never seen skateboarding, imagine a flat board with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. This is about as simple as it gets – but the world of skateboarding has come a long way since its humble beginnings!
Skateboarding began in the late 1940s, and was developed by Californian surfers who wanted something to do when the surf was non existent, but it was nothing like the sport we know and love today.
It was around the 1970s, when the wheels started to be made from polyurethane, that the trend really started to take off – these new wheels allowed a great improvement of traction and performance, and the world of skateboarding started to evolve.
Skateboarding is a great activity; it is an aerobic exercise which is good for the body; it can be a great way to get around quickly; it is used as an art form, and in performance.
The world of skateboarding today is huge – it is estimated that there are over 11 million active skateboarders around the globe, and the industry is worth billions.
First steps to learning how to skateboard
There are a great many YouTube videos (see the one above), clubs and various other tutorials out there that will help you on your way to becoming a pro skater – or at least someone who can hold their own on a skateboard.
- Start by choosing a board. The different boards have a lot more to do with personal preference than weight or height or ability – some prefer a longer board, others a wider one. A width between 7.5 and 8 inches is recommended for beginners.
- Next, work out whether you are more comfortable riding regular or goofy (right foot forward or left foot forward), by getting someone to give you a gentle push from behind when you’re standing on the ground. Whichever foot comes out to steady you first is your dominant foot, and this one should be at the back of the board.
- Now, practise standing on your board. You don’t have to go anywhere to start with, just make yourself comfortable with the position – feet parallel to the board, over the trucks, with your knees slightly bent.
- After you are comfortable, find a smooth flat surface, give a little push on the ground with your back foot, then place that foot back onto the boar and enjoy the gentle glide!
- Turning a corner is called carving, and you can do this by leaning in the direction that you want to go.
- You can change the direction of the board much faster by trying out a kickturn, which is where you use your back foot to tip the weight of the board back so the nose pops up, then switching the direction of the nose quickly, then slamming the nose back to the ground by shifting your weight.
After these first steps, there is almost no end to the moves and tricks you can perform on your skateboard!
Practise these simple moves until you’re comfortable, and you will have a good base for moving on to complicated moves and tricks.
How long does it take to learn to skateboard
Mastering the basics of skateboarding can be done in an afternoon, but as any professional will tell you, getting really good at something takes years and years of practise.
Even the best skateboarders are constantly practising, honing their techniques and learning new tricks, so it’s really an ongoing thing that can take up lot of your time and energy!
Having a passion for it skating almost as important as having natural talent; if you love it, and live and breathe skateboarding, you are far more likely to master the skills quickly because you will practise more.
If you come to skateboarding later in life you can, of course, still become really good (there are many stories of older people taking part, including one lady who didn’t take up the sport until she was 75!) but you may have issues to contend with such as a lack of fitness or previous injuries.
If you love skateboarding and want to make it your career, you are not alone! The world of skating can be a lucrative one, and you can go down several routes to this end:
- These are a great way to practise, get your name out there, and even make some money.
- If you get good enough, a big company will pay you to skate in their gear.
- Sporting events. You can offer displays, talks and events around skateboarding.
- Taking pictures of pro skaters is great fun, and anyone with an eye for photography can get into this.
- Games design. The world of gaming is huge, and even people who love to skate in the real world will enjoy playing it on a screen too.
Skateboarding is fun, exhilarating and great exercise. Added to this it is a great way to get out in the fresh air, and mastering tricks and moves can give you a real sense of achievement, so skating is great for mental health too.
Learning to skateboard well takes time and dedication, but it is a rewarding hobby that is sure to hook you in for life!