Skateboarding is a great hobby to get into. It’s fun, unique, and a great way to get some recreational exercise. But it’s also got a pretty steep learning curve. If you’ve ever listened to a couple veteran skateboarders talk shop, it might have sounded like a totally different language, and watching skateboarders can sometimes be very intimidating due to their high level of skill. You may think you’ll never be able to keep up with them!
And while the basics of skateboarding are simple enough, it can be tough to get a real understanding of the mechanics and moves necessary to begin skateboarding, especially considering its reputation as a dangerous and hard-to-master sport.
Well, that’s why we’re here. If you want to learn the basics of skateboarding, look no further. We take you step-by-step through each basic riding technique you’ll need to know, and by the end of this guide you’ll even be able to do some beginner tricks.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll become the next Tony Hawk, but if you follow the steps laid out in this guide, you’ll go from falling off of your stationary board to kick-pushing down the block in no time at all.
In an effort to get you started from the right skill level, we’ve included a table of contents below. If you’re a relative novice to skating, you’ll probably want to begin from the beginning.
However, you’re already a competent skater, you may want to skip the more basic instructions, and get to the trick guides, so you can start shoring up your skills, and becoming a more advanced skateboarder.
Table of Contents
- Basic Riding Techniques
- Stance Drills
- Balance Drills
- Rolling Drills
- Stopping Drills
- Turning Drills
- Pushing Drills
- Beginner Tricks
- Fakie Rolling
- Safety Gear and Techniques
- Skateboard Parts
- Skateboard Terminology>
- Skateboard Basics>
- Buying a Skateboard
- Building a skateboard
- The Deck and Grip Tape
- The Trucks
- The Wheels
- Assembling Your Skateboard
- Next Steps
Basic Riding Techniques
There are only a few things you’ll need to follow the instructions in this guide. You’ll need the safety equipment mentioned above, a skateboard such as this inexpensive, prebuilt model, and a large parking or street with low traffic, bordered by grass or sand, where you can safely practice the techniques and drills that we will be discussing in this guide.
Now, the obvious goal of riding a skateboard is, at its simplest, being able to ride a skateboard for extended periods of time while maintaining control both of yourself and your board, avoiding obstacles, and avoiding crashes. That is the goal of our guide.
We want you to be able to safely and effectively ride your board for an extended period of time, and master the basics of skating so that you can do it safely, and enjoy yourself while doing it.
Just like most hobbies, the basics of skateboard movement are easy to learn, but hard to master. There are about a half-dozen techniques you’ll want to master to become competent at the basics of skateboarding. The above video covers most of them, but we’ll go over them in our guide as well, and include some handy drills that you can try out yourself.
The first thing you’ll want to learn how to do as a novice skateboard is fall.
This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, you’re not here to learn how to fall down, you’re here to learn how to skateboard! Well, if you’re a newbie skateboarder, falling is inevitable. You’re going to fall. You’re probably going to fall a lot, and key to your enjoyment of skateboarding is being able to take a fall without taking yourself out of skateboarding with a broken leg, face, or concussion.
So here are some tips on falling.
First, there are a couple different “falls” that are common. These are known as “falling off”, “bailing”, and “slamming.”
Falling off is just what it sounds like. You stumble off your board and manage to regain your balance without hitting the ground. This is the most common type of fall, and usually doesn’t lead to any injuries, except perhaps to your ego.
Bailing is when you bail from your board because you know you’re going to be in a bad situation. You hop off, regain your balance, and chase after your board. This is usually done when you know you’ve got to avoid “slamming”, which is the next type of fall.
Slamming is the worst kind of skating fall. It’s when you lose all control of your board, fall off, and can’t recover, and instead slam into the ground. This is where injuries like scrapes, bruises, or even broken legs and concussions occur. You want to avoid this at all costs, and there are several ways to do so.
When you get a better feel for your skating ability you can usually tell when you’re about to be in danger, and it’s easier to bail out before you get into a really bad situation.
Conversely, if you’re inexperienced and you’re trying tricks far beyond your skill level, you’re not going to be able to tell how to save yourself from slamming into the ground, and you’re putting yourself at risk.
So skate within your ability. You may stumble off your board a couple times, but you’re much less likely to hurt yourself,and usually you’ll be able to bail out before anything terrible happens.
However, if you do end up getting into a situation where you know you’re going to slam into the ground, there are a couple of ways to help avoid significant injury.
First, stay loose. Put your arms and legs out to break your fall, but don’t lock your joints. You want them to absorb impact without resisting the fall. They won’t stop you, but they will help cushion the rest of your body.
Second, get used to rolling. Instead of just slamming the ground spread-eagle, get used to curling yourself up a bit, and rolling upon impact. This helps channel some of your momentum into forward motion, rather than letting your vulnerable body absorb all of the impact.
If you stay loose and roll, you’ll find yourself coming out of bad situations in one piece far more often.
To get used to falling, you’ll need a soft, grassy or sandy area. Wear your safety gear while you do this, because basically you’re going to be falling off of your skateboard on purpose, and though the soft surface reduces risk, you don’t want to injure yourself just by practicing.
Stand on your board, and then just fall off while standing. You don’t have to throw yourself off your board like a maniac, just get a feel for the sensation of loss of balance and the difference between taking a small spill and losing total control.
This will help you when you get moving on your board and need to bail, or take a fall without injuring yourself.
Your stance is what determines what foot leads on your skateboard, and which one is pushing. Most people have a standard stance, where their lead foot is their left, and their dominant right leg pushes them.
However, you may feel more comfortable in a “goofy” stance, where your left leg pushes and your right stabilizes the board.
The simplest way you can improve your stance is by standing on your skateboard. Duh, you might say, but it’s really an important exercise when you’re starting out. We recommend taking your board to a grassy area, and practicing your stance and balance until it feels right for you.
The most basic stance is standing with both feet on your skateboard, usually right about where the baseplate of the trucks is bolted into the board. Keep your feet at a slight angle, and position them so that most of your foot is on the board, and your center of balance is squarely in the middle of your foot, going directly through the board.
Begin rocking back and forth gently, and slowly shifting your weight and center of gravity. Since you’re standing still on the grass, you’re in no danger of falling, and you can try different stances, positions, and shift your weight without fear of hurting yourself.
Once you’ve gotten a feel for your basic stance, you may want to try standing with just one foot on the board. This is what will be required when you’re “kicking” to build up momentum, so balance your dominant foot on your board, and lower your other foot off of it onto the grass, mimicking the position you’ll take when you’re “pushing.”
Now you’re ready to move on to more advanced balancing practice.
Stance and balance are closely related, but not the same. As before, to get a feel for your balance, take your board and set it in the grass, and stand directly on the bolts where your trucks connect to your board.
This is a very stable stance, and by standing on the grass where the board won’t move, you can practice rocking left and right on the board, simulating the feeling of a turn, without worrying about falling off at high speeds.
We recommend playing around with different positions on the board, to get a feel of how you should be balanced in all of these stances.
Feel free to play around with it. your front foot high up on the nose of the board, and put your back foot very far to the rear, and get a feel for how the balance will feel.
Place your skateboard back in that grassy area. Stand on it in your normal stance, and bend your knees to simulate a standard skating position. Shift your weight back and forth, and practice pushing the inside and outside of your board with your heels and toes, respectively. This is the motion you’ll make when you start turning, and familiarizing yourself with it while standing still will help a lot once you get rolling.
Speaking of which, once you get comfortable with your stance and balance on your board, it’s time to get rolling.
This is the “skate” part of skateboarding. Until now, you’ve been standing in stable grass, which has helped you get a feel for your balance and stance, but doesn’t really simulate the cement you’ll be doing real skating on.
So first you’re going to want to head to some flat cement and put your board down next to something that can support your weight. This can be a trash can, a light pole in a parking lot, or even your car. Make sure you’ve got a good grip, and stand up on your board. Ideally, you’ll want to point yourself towards the edge of the parking lot or street you’re on, somewhere with grass or other soft material just in case you have to bail out.
If necessary, repeat the stance and balance drills that you’ve practiced above to help you get a feel for yourself while your board is on cement.
Once you’re feeling comfortable with your abilities, find your center of balance on the board, get into your proper stance, and bend your knees and lean forward while maintaining your grip on the solid object. Then, when you feel comfortable doing so, push off of the object smoothly, and begin rolling.
Keep your knees bent, and maintain your balance as you practiced. You’re not going to be going too fast, so it shouldn’t be too tough. Remember that as long as you are balanced and in the correct stance, your board will be stable. There’s no reason to panic.
Simply repeat the process we walked you through above until you feel comfortable rolling on your skateboard.
Push off of the stable object while maintaining your stance and foot position. Keep your knees bent and stay loose, and roll all the way to the end of the parking lot, or wherever your momentum takes you, and bail out of the board.
Bailing out at a low speed is also great practice, helping keep you safe once you start having to bail out at high speeds.
Keep your balance and don’t panic. You shouldn’t be going too fast, but eventually you’ll want to stop without just bailing out of your skateboard, so now is a great time to talk about stopping techniques.
Stopping at low speeds is quite easy. Simply use your non-dominant foot; the same one you will be kicking with later, and place it on the ground. Your rubber shoe will act as a natural brake, bleeding momentum from your board and slowing you to a gradual stop.
Before you try this stopping technique, it goes without saying that you should be comfortable standing on your board with only one foot. Otherwise you won’t be able to drop your non-dominant foot off the back to slow you down. If necessary, go back to balance practice, and practice bringing your non-dominant foot next to your dominant foot, and dropping it off the side of the board.
Another similar method is called “toe-dragging.” Very similar in implementation, this technique has you resting your non-dominant foot on the rear of the board, and sliding the toe of your shoe off of your board while resting your heel on the deck, dragging only the toe of the shoe on the ground to act as a brake. This is a little harder to pull off, but if you prefer keeping both feet on your board at high speeds, it’s a good one to practice.
Another stopping technique is related to an ill-advised technique – the “tail-drag”. The tail drag occurs when you lean back on your board and drag the actual wood of your deck on the ground in order to stop yourself. Now, this does slow you down, but it also shreds up your skateboard’s deck pretty badly.
So, instead of using the wood of the deck as your brake, you want to use your shoe, just as in the above two examples.
Lean back in your stance, keeping your dominant foot far forward, and put the toe of your shoe on the rear of the board. Push with the toe of your shoe, and allow your heel to dip below the end of the board, making light contact with the ground and braking you.
This technique is a bit more advanced, and we don’t recommend using it until you’ve got a good idea of your sense of balance, otherwise you may overcorrect and send your board flying away from you.
The final stopping technique is simple, and you may find yourself using it quite a lot when you’re beginning to learn how to skateboard, and you probably already practiced it while learning how to roll.
Bailing out. All you’ve gotta do to bail out is just jump off the board. If you’re going too fast and need to bail out, this is the best way to stop if you’re uncomfortable with your ability to stop the board at high speeds.
It’ll roll on and you’ll have to go chase it, but chasing your skateboard under a parked car is a lot safer than running into that parked car at 15 mph. So make ample use of this stopping technique while you practice all the others!
You’re going to want to practice all of these techniques so that you can stop yourself once you start rolling.
The easiest way to do this is to go back to where you started rolling, a nice flat parking lot or street with a steady object to hold on to.
Start rolling as you did in your rolling drills, and then instead of bailing out, practice one of these stopping techniques. We suggest starting with the standard technique of dropping your non-dominant foot and dragging it on the pavement. After you’ve mastered that technique, move on to the toe-drag, or even the “shoe-tail drag” mentioned above.
You may also want to start practicing bailing out at a higher speed. Simply shove yourself away from your stationary object at a higher speed, maintain your balance, and jump off your board when you feel safe. That’ll give you all the tools you need to help avoid injury, and stop yourself on your skateboard when you have to.
After you’ve practiced your stance, balance, rolling and stopping, it’s time to learn how to actually turn your skateboard.
The easiest turning method on a skateboard is called “carving”. It’s exactly what it sounds like; your board moves from side-to-side, carving an imaginary groove through your path.
It’s achieved by either going “heel-side” or “toe-side”. In both of these techniques, you shift your center of gravity towards the inside of the board (toe-side) or the outside of the board (heel-side.) Naturally, leaning towards the inside of the board will cause the board to turn inward, and leaning heel-side will cause you to turn outward.
Care should be taken when first trying out these techniques. You don’t want to lean too much, you just sort of want to “push” with your toes and heels to add some downward force. You don’t want to put your whole body into it, or you risk over correcting and falling off of the board.
You can safely get a feel for this technique by placing your board in the grass again, and then slowly pushing down on the outside and inside of the board with your heels and toes, until you get a feeling of how to balance yourself while changing your center of gravity.
To practice turning, you’ll want to go back to a large open cement area where you’ve got plenty of room to move.
Push off, get moving, and begin shifting your weight to the inside and outside of your board. Get a feel for how much you need to push to turn, and how your balance and center of gravity shifts while you push with your toes, and heels, and toes.
Begin by simply making a serpentine path in a straight line, leaning forward and back as desired. Once you’ve done this a couple times, you can start trying to turn in circles by keeping your weight on the inside (or outside) of your board.
Just remember, if you lean too much you’ll probably fall off your board. You need to balance the sharpness of your turns with your ability. You’ll probably be making pretty wide circles at first; that’s fine. You’ll be able to turn more sharply with practice.
Keep doing this until you feel comfortable both carving back and forth in a straight line, and making continuous circles both inside and outside.
Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’re ready to get moving in a real way, by learning how to push yourself on your board.
The final technique for basic riding is pushing. This is how you gain momentum when you don’t just want to roll, or push off of solid objects. It’s pretty simple, but you want to do it right.
First, make sure you’re balanced with your lead foot centered on the board. Then, you slide your back foot off the board and place it near your front foot. This is the same position you take when you’re braking yourself with your shoe, so you may want to get comfortable doing that drill first.
You then drop your back foot and place it on the ground, while keeping your weight on the board. You then use your back foot as a level to push off of the ground and gain momentum. You may continue doing this until you reach a comfortable speed, at which point you’ll put your back foot onto your deck, assume a normal stance, and roll on forward until you need to push again
To get used to the sensation of pushing, and keep your balance at higher speeds, you can just practice this technique in a large, flat parking lot.
Remember to aim yourself at a grassy patch in the lot.
Step onto your board, assume your stance, and then drop one foot off and push. The first time you do this, you’ll want to immediately assume your stance again, and just cruise.
Once you become more familiar with the technique, you’ll want to do it multiple times to build yourself up to a decent speed.
Once you can push, you’ll start naturally combining it with the other techniques you’ve learned. You’ll achieve a good stance and balance while pushing, and will be able to roll around in straight lines with ease. From there, you’ll begin to be able to stop and turn easily while maintaining and regaining momentum.
That covers basics. The above techniques combine to give you all of the skills you need to ride a skateboard recreationally. Able to roll, push, turn, and stop (and even bail out if necessary) you now can ride your skateboard just about anywhere, safely and effectively. If you’re still having trouble, read through these techniques, and take a look at the embedded video, and remember that there’s no substitute for practice. Practice, take it slowly, and be patient, and you’ll be skating around like a pro in no time at all.
But what if you want to go further? You see all the skateboarders at the skatepark doing their fancy tricks. You want to be like them.
Well, it takes a long time to be able to do super advanced skateboarding tricks. But not all skate tricks are created equal.
Some of them can be done quite easily by anybody who’s mastered the basics of skateboard movement. We’ve included some of these below, along with some video guides on how to perform the more advanced tricks.
Fakie rolling is like a normal skating roll, except you’re going backwards.
This is achieved by simply reversing the direction that you push your rear leg in when you push your skateboard. It takes a bit of balance to do it well and consistently, as the backwards momentum means your balance will feel a little off when you first try it.
You’re going to want to practice doing this trick in an empty parking lot, or somewhere that you know doesn’t have a lot of objects or people around, because you’re going to be rolling (and looking) backwards, which makes it harder to ensure you’ve got a clear path.
Easy to master, this is a fun way to glide around streets and parking lots when you’re tired of just cruising.
A kickturn can be thought of as a sharper Tic-Tac. The above video helps give you an idea of how to kickturn.
Instead of angling yourself slightly by about 10-20 degrees, you sharply reposition the front of your board by 30+ degrees, quickly changing your direction and velocity by a significant amount. Unlike Tic-Tacking, most skaters don’t string together rapid directional changes when kickturning, as it’s a much sharper turn, and will cause you to lose a decent amount of momentum.
This is a more advanced technique, and requires good balance to do consistently. The sharp directional change makes it more challenging than Tic-Tacking, but once you’ve mastered Tic-Tacking, you’ll have no problem doing your first kickturn.
A manual is basically a wheelie on a skateboard. It builds upon the skills you’ve mastered while practicing your kickturns and tic-tacking. Check out the above video for some tips on this trick.
Think of it like an extended tic-tac; instead of using your front foot to readjust your direction, you instead just balance yourself to hold your front wheels off of the ground for a long distance, usually several feet. If you practice, you may even be able to hold a manual for quite a significant distance.
This trick requires a good sense of balance to pull off, and we recommend mastering the Tic-Tac and Kickturn before you try it.
The ollie is a complicated trick, and it’s the first step towards many skateboarding tricks, because it’s the first way that you’ll learn to achieve “air.” The above video will help you learn how to do an ollie, and go over many tips and tricks to getting air for the first time.
The ollie is the hardest trick to learn out of all of the tricks mentioned, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ve truly begun to master the basics of skateboarding, and will be ready to move to more advanced tricks like grinding, boardslides, kickflips, etc.
- HARDWARE- the nuts, bolts, and screws that hold the base plate, trucks, and bushings on the board. This is what keeps the whole assembly in one piece.
- BOARD (or “Deck”) – This is the main part of the skateboard, what you may be used to thinking of as the “skateboard” itself. It’s usually composed of layered pieces of wood such as maple, birch, or composites, which are laminated together and shaped into one of several unique board shapes.
- GRIP TAPE – This is the rough, sandpapery finish on top of a board, usually affixed with some kind of adhesive. This is what provides the traction that allows your feet to maneuver the board. It can be stock from the factory, or you can apply your own.
- NOSE – The front of the skateboard
- TAIL – The rear of the skateboard
- TRUCKS – This is the name for the front/rear axle assemblies that connect the wheels to the board and allow turning. They are load-bearing, sustaining the weight of the rider on top.
- BASE PLATE – this is the plate that attaches the truck assembly to the board
- AXLE – this is the metal rod to which the wheels are secured.
- HANGER – This is the metal piece attached to the BASE PLATE, which holds the AXLE and allows flexion of the TRUCK, allowing turning.
- KINGPIN – This partially threaded pin is what is placed through the baseplate and truck, and holds the BUSHINGS, HANGER, and BASE PLATE together.
- BUSHINGS – donut-shaped polyurethane pieces that are inserted between the BASE PLATE and TRUCK, controlling the turning radius and responsiveness of the TRUCK. The two BUSHINGS can be tightened and loosened, depending on your preferences. Tighter bushings mean stiffer trucks, which reduce the chance of WHEEL BITE Looser BUSHINGS mean looser trucks, making turns easier, but increasing the possibility of WHEEL BITE.
- WHEELS – Made of polyurethane and sized between 39-70mm, they come in a wide range of hardnesses, measured on a durometer from a range of 0-100. Wheels which have a reading of 85 or less are considered “soft” and “hard” wheels usually have a 98 or higher durometer. Softer wheels provide a smoother ride, making it easier to handle small objects such as gravel, while harder wheels are more responsive, making it easier to handle the board during quick, rapid movements.
- WHEELBASE – The distance between the front and back wheels, measured from the two sets of innermost truck holes. A longer wheelbase means a wider center of gravity, which means you’ll have a more stable board. Shorter boards are less stable, but more maneuverable.
- BEARING – these metal balls allow for a smooth turning of a wheel on its axle. Consisting of 6-8 balls, they are enclosed between two shields in a disc-like body. They are measured by an ABEC rating, and typically come in sets of 8, two for each of the four wheels on the board.
- CROWN – Also known as RETAINERS or CAGES, they are usually made of Delrin, a durable precision thermoplastic. These hold the BEARINGS in place.
- BEARING, C CLIP, and CASING – these pieces work together with the CROWN to hold the BEARINGS in place, and prevent ingress of dirt and other objects into the CROWN.
- AIR – riding with all four wheels in the air – the skateboard has lost all contact with the ground.
- CARVE – to skate in a long, curving arc, similar to carving on a snowboard or skis.
- FAKIE – rolling backwards while in a normal skating position.
- GOOFY-FOOT – a skater who rides more comfortably with their right-foot leading. As opposed to REGULAR FOOT.
- REGULAR FOOT – a stance where you lead with your left foot on the skateboard, using your right foot to PUSH.
- SWITCH STANCE – The act of skating with your non-dominant foot – applicable to both GOOFY and REGULAR FOOTED stances.
- PUSH – the action of pushing off the ground with your non-leading foot to gain momentum.
- POP – Striking the tail of the board against the ground, propelling it upwards.
- PUSH – to push off the ground with your non-dominant foot, propelling you and your board forward.
- OLLIE – The most basic of all skating tricks, the skater “POPS” the tail of the board on the ground, uses their front foot to even out their body, and attains AIR. Name after Alan “Ollie” Gelfand.
- KICKFLIP – an advanced OLLIE where the skater kicks the board in mid-air to roll it.
- GRIND – Scraping your truck axles on curb, railing, or other raised surface, riding on the trucks instead of the wheels. There are many different kinds of grinds, but they all involve this action.
- BOARDSLIDE – similar to a GRIND, but the DECK is in contact with the object, rather than the TRUCKS.
- WHEEL BITE – When your wheels come in contact with the DECK of the board, causing you to lose stability and momentum, potentially causing a crash.
There are two main types of skateboards purchased and ridden today. The first is what is known as a “standard” skateboard, and it’s what comes to mind when you think of a skateboard.
Round on both ends and typically 7 to 10.5 inches wide, and between 28 and 33 inches long, they are common, widely available and synonymous with “skateboards” in public perception. Made of a wood composite deck, metal trucks, and small, durable polyethylene wheels, these are the boards we will focus on in this guide.
However, there is another variant of the skateboard that may be more suitable for you if you intend to ride it as a form of transportation, rather than attempt to learn how to do tricks. This variant is known as the longboard.
Longboards are typically much wider, longer, and heavier than typical skateboards, as the name implies, measuring from 33 inches all the way up to 59 inches, there is a lot of variation in the body design and build of longboards. They are all designed to turn and ride smoothly, and to help maintain momentum over long distances, and you can reach very high speeds while riding. Typically the wheels of a longboard are large and soft, ensuring a smooth ride.
Though this guide is focused on the standard skateboard, we feel that it is important to at least mention the fact that longboards exist, and give you a basic overview of the difference between skateboards and longboards.
If you are interested only in riding your skateboard as a method of transport, and you don’t care for learning tricks or other advanced skateboarding techniques, a longboard may be right for you.
But that’s a guide for another day. For now, we will focus on standard skateboards, so let’s start from the beginning. What kind of standard skateboard should you be looking for?
Buying a Skateboard
Buying a stock skateboard has its advantages; they’re usually reliable and simple, and already assembled, making it easy to buy and ride.Prebuilt skateboards are great for beginners, as they are fully assembled and include everything you need to get riding.
Usually priced between $30-100, pre built skateboards are made with inexpensive and durable decks, solid, adjustable trucks, and high-quality bearing wheels allow you to just unbox it and go.
This is what we would recommend for a total newcomer to the sport, as it would be unwise to invest buckets of money into skating without first finding out if you like it or not.
So if you’re a total rookie, and unsure of your commitment to the sport, this is what we would recommend you purchase. It’s pretty much one-size-fits-all, and a great starting point when you’re learning how to ride.
However, if you’re a little more of an advanced rider, or you know that you really want to get into the sport, you’re going to end up building your own board out of custom parts. Almost all experienced skateboarders build their own boards.
It’s a relatively simple process, but it may seem daunting for a newcomer. But that’s what we’re here for. We’ll take you step-by-step through the purchase and assembly process, so that you’ve at least got a resource to turn to if you decide to dive further into the wide world of skateboarding.
Building a Skateboard
There are 3 main components you’ll need to purchase to build your own skateboard. They are as follows. We’ll pick some out to put together an example board that is suitable for most intermediate skaters.
Deck and Griptape
First, you’ll need to buy a basic skate deck. This is the wooden board that the rest of the components connect to. Not all skate decks are created equal, however, and you’ll want to make sure you pick one up that’s the right size for you. Here are some guidelines based on your size to help you pick out the right sized board.
Under 4’ – 29″ or smaller
4’ to 4’10″ – 29-30″
5’3″ to 5’8″ – 31.5-32″
5’8″ to 6’1″ – 32-32.5″
6’1″ and up – 32’4″ and higher.
As far as width of the deck goes, you can refer to your shoe size. Unless you’re above, say, a men’s size 12, most skateboard decks will be sized right for you, about 7.5″ to 8″ wide. If you have really big feet, however, you can find skateboard decks built for you. This skateboard deck is right smack in the middle of the sizing, and should be able to fit you quite well if you’re between 5’3″-6’1″.
It’s made of a durable 7-ply maple composite, and it’s blank, which means you can custom-apply decals, stickers, and grip tape to further customize it, making it a truly unique board.
If you are not in the 5’3″-6’1″ range, feel free to look around for another deck that’s sized right for you. There are plenty out there. We simply chose this range because it will fit the most people.
Also, you’ll need some grip tape. Most custom decks don’t come with grip tape applied, so you’ll need to pick some basic tape up. This grip tape is basic but top-of-the-line, with a great pattern and texture to help glue your shoes to your board, and avoid slippage.
Trucks come in different widths, suited for different width decks. So you’ll want to take the size and shape of your deck into account when making a purchase.
The deck we’re using for our example board above is 8.25″ wide, meaning we would want trucks that are in the 149mm class, or 5.5-5.75 inch class. Different companies use different measuring styles, either in imperial or metric units.
Trucks also come in a “low” “mid” and “high” versions, referring to how high they position the deck above the ground. Low trucks have the lowest clearance, meaning they lower your center of gravity and help you stay stable during technical tricks.
Mid trucks are what we’re looking for, as they offer a good balance of stability and performance. They’re more of a “jack-of-all-trades, and typically support wheels from 53-55mm.
High trucks are best for skateboards that are using big, soft wheels, and are intended to help avoid “wheel bite” and maintain high, stable speeds. These are best for commuter skateboards.
So for our example board, these Independent Skateboard 149s would serve our purposes perfectly. In the 149mm class, they are the right size for our deck, and the “standard” height means they’ll play well with many different wheel sizes.
While you could go for a more bargain-priced model such as the aluminum Havoc 5.0, high-quality steel trucks like the Independents are going to be much more stable, reliable, and long-lasting.
Cheaper trucks are generally less stable, less durable, and are more prone to looseness and wheelbite. Given that you’re building your own board, you probably want it to last. So don’t skimp on your trucks. They’re all that separates your deck from the ground, after all.
There are two main factors that come into play when purchasing skateboard wheels; size and hardness.
Size is what helps determine stability, as well as suitable/compatible decks and trucks. Standard-size wheels are usually between 52-55mm, and are compatible with the widest range of decks and trucks. Larger wheels will only work on high-trucks, and can be as large as 59mm, while smaller wheels are better for tight technical tricks, but are less stable.
Hardness determines how much “give” the wheel has, and is a major factor when it comes to the smoothness of your ride. Softer wheels will give you a smoother ride at the expense of handling, whereas very hard wheels will give you great control of your board, but may make handling small bumps and obstacles a bit more difficult.
Again, we’re aiming for a high-quality, middle-of-the-road skateboard, so we’re going to go with a mid-size, mid-hardness wheel, such as these 52mm wheels.
At 52mm, and with a hardness of 99A, they’re the perfect pair for our current mid-truck and mid-size board setup.
They also come with bearings and spacers, so you don’t need to worry about picking up another set of those, making things a bit more simple when it comes to assembly.
You’ll need an adjustable wrench and a phillips screwdriver. You can purchasea skate tool if you’d like both of those commonly used tools in a convenient package, allowing you to tune up your skateboard while on the go. Otherwise, you can just use the tools you’ve already got lying around.
Above is a great video guide that will help you put together your skateboard. After you watch this and put your skateboard together, you should be ready to ride. Let’s get to it.
Safety Gear and Techniques
An article about skateboarding wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the dangers of skateboarding. Skateboarding is sometimes considered an “extreme” sport, because many skateboarders injure themselves. 50.8% of skaters have suffered head injuries, and are also at in increased risk of injuries such as fractures and sprains.
This is partially because skaters tend not to wear recommended safety equipment, such as helmets and knee/elbow pads. Most skaters tend to see these items as “uncool”, which is unfortunate, as a helmet can be the difference between a minor bruise and a concussion, according to the Rothman Institute.
But just the act of riding a skateboard isn’t necessarily more dangerous than other skating sports such as inline skating, according to the British Journal of Sports medicine. Many skateboard injuries can be attributed to loss of balance (37%) and failed trick attempts (26%). Only 9% of skaters in the study were injured while simply riding along on a road.
This means that if wear the recommended safety equipment, are careful and realistic about your skills, and you don’t try to do tricks and moves that are outside of your skill range, skateboarding can be a safe, rewarding hobby.
We do recommend you purchase and wear the standard complement of skateboarding safety gear while you are learning to skateboard, and even once you become a skating master.
You may also consider some skating gloves, because during controlled falls, your hands often take the brunt of the impact, and can get pretty scraped up.
You also want to make sure that you’re riding safely. Always be aware of your surroundings, and factors such as where flow of traffic is coming from, where pedestrians and slower people typically walk, and the surface and type of material that you’re skating across.
You should also NEVER wear headphones while skateboarding. Wearing headphones, especially for a beginner, eliminates your sense of hearing, making it harder for you to check your surroundings and notice potential dangers such as approaching traffic.
Consider also purchasing a piece of high-visibility clothing if you plan to skate during low-light, or are worried about being visible to cars and pedestrians. It can be very helpful to increase your safety.
It’s also important that you understand your relative skill level. If you don’t know your skill level and your level of comfort on your skateboard, you’re putting yourself at risk whenever you try a trick or technique that’s too advanced for you.
Trust us; taking it slow and learning is much better than trying to do a kickflip and doing a faceplant instead. It may seem like slow going at first, but as your technique improves, you’ll feel more and more comfortable doing harder tricks, and you’ll be able to do them much more safely.
Once you have mastered the safety information, you’re ready to start rolling.
We hope this guide has been informative. It’s designed to get you rolling, so to speak, with the basics of skateboarding technique to spark your interest in the wonderful world of skateboarding.
What you’ve learned here is enough to make you a competent skateboarder. You’ll have no problems riding your board for transportation purposes.
And If you just want to ride around on your board and have a good time, we hope you do so.
But if you’re feeling ready for some advanced techniques, and want to expand your knowledge of skateboarding further, there are plenty of resources out there for you, and we hope that you keep learning and keep skating.
Above all, stay safe and have a good time.