Longboards are similar to skateboards in the way they respond to movement and the actions skaters use to make them go, turn, and stop.
Like skateboards, longboards require some coordination and a fair amount of balance to ride.
However, the larger a skateboard is (the bigger its base), the easier it is to balance on.
This makes the extended lengths and widths of longboard decks beneficial for people who are just learning to skate.
Still, there’s a technical aspect to longboarding that requires practice and dedication, and the biggest learning curve in longboarding comes at the very start.
Once you get a feel for how a longboard moves and the kind of balance it takes to stay on one, riding becomes a lot easier.
The Many Shapes of Longboards
First things first. Before we get into riding longboards, we should talk about what longboards are and the different types of longboards available.
The first part is simple.
Longboards are long skateboards. That’s it.
While different skaters (and manufacturers) have slightly different minimum lengths for longboards, generally speaking longboards start just above average skateboard length at 32-33″. (We use 33″ as our minimum longboard length).
Like shortboards, there are also numerous shapes of longboards, and each shape is good for different things.
The type of longboard you’ll want heavily depends on how you want to ride it.
To get a deeper understanding of longboard shapes, see Longboard Types: Drop Through vs Pintail vs Drop Down vs Dancer vs Longboard Cruiser.
Best Longboard for Beginners
Now, that we’ve gone over the types of longboards, let’s talk individual boards.
This list is, by no means, extensive, but here are a few longboards we put our faith in for beginners.
Best Drop-Through Longboards for Beginners
If you want to make learning to longboard less difficult, or plan to commute or ride at high speeds, a drop-through longboard is your best choice of board.
It is the easiest, most stable longboard to ride.
Since drop-throughs sit closer to the ground, they are easier to balance on, but still provide just enough dip at the trucks for comfortable steering.
The drop-throughs we’ve picked here are high-quality longboards that will hold up and offer slightly different features for beginners.
Why we like it: The Sector 9 Paradiso Monkey King is nice and big at 40.5”(L) x 9.75”(W).
The trucks are really smooth and the grip tape is sticky.
The 9-ply deck is sturdy enough to support 250 pounds. (Though, for the most basic of riding, we’d trust it at higher weights.)
And the deep concave helps you stay firmly in your stance.
When it comes down to it, all Sector 9 drop-throughs are quality rides, but this is just a good beginner longboard that ticks all the boxes.
Why we like it: Arbor’s Axis Flagship is long at 40”, but a little less wide than most drop-throughs at 8.75”.
The reduced width makes it a great board for beginners who want to start out on a longboard, but have eyes toward switching to a shorter board to learn tricks or for easier portability.
The Axis Flagship has a little more speed than the Sector 9 Paradiso Monkey King, which can be good or bad for beginners.
But, if you’re feeling frisky, this board will give you a smooth, fast ride.
All Arbor boards are also made to be eco-friendly, if that matters to ya at all.
Why we like it: Drop-through longboards’ wide bases make them ideal platforms for comfortable stances, and the Landyachtz Battle Axe Paper Tiger is no exception.
At 9.5” at its widest, the Battle Axe Paper Tiger has plenty of room.
But a longboard’s wide deck can also make certain actions, like pushing and stopping, more difficult for beginners.
This board addresses that issue directly.
With a tapered deck that narrows at the back, this Landyachtz is the best of both worlds, nice and wide at the front with a little more freedom of movement in the back.
It’s a great board for beginners who are a little on the shorter side or have small feet.
Best Pintail Longboards for Beginners
Pintail longboards are harder to learn on than drop-through longboards, because they sit higher off the ground and typically have slightly narrower decks.
Since they do sit higher, pintails are also less stable and have more responsive steering than drop-throughs, which can be difficult for beginners who are just learning to balance.
However, if you want a longboard that can seriously carve, you’re going to eventually want a pintail, so you might as well start learning to balance on one from the start.
These quality pintails offer some of the deepest turns, while still keeping things relatively stable.
Why we like it: At 44”(L) x 9.75” (W), the Sector 9 Maverick Crag is a big pintail, and we like a big pintail for beginners.
The bamboo plies in the deck are wonderfully thick and sturdy, which makes this pintail a workhorse.
It can handle a lot of weight over long commutes.
Mainly, this is just a good, sizable pintail that will give beginners a steadier base than most.
Why we like it: Another sizable pintail, the Globe Byron Bay comes in just shy of the Maverick Crag at 43”(L) x 9.5”(W).
The deck is smooth and solid, and the stock trucks are a perfect combination of responsiveness and stability.
Basically, just another solid, stable pintail.
Why we like it: A little smaller and a little cheaper than the other pintails on our list, the Santa Cruz Flame Dot is barely a longboard at all.
The Flame Dot comes in at the bare minimum longboard length of 33”, making it closer to a cruiser, but the 9.2” width is firmly longboard size.
Despite its diminutive length, the deck is roomy enough and 9-ply sturdy.
We prefer a bigger pintail for beginners, but we get that longboards can be a pain to lug around, especially at 43-44”.
This is a choice pintail for beginners looking for something with just a little more portability.
Cheap Longboards for Beginners
When it comes to longboards, you can expect to pay upwards of $150 for a sturdy board that’s built to last.
Less expensive longboards are typically shorter, which gives them smaller bases and makes them harder to balance on.
We recommend larger, good quality boards for beginners.
The cheapest longboard on our list is the Santa Cruz Flame Dot Pintail. It’s also the shortest board by far.
When it comes to quality longboards on the cheap, you are often trading size for price.
But if you have a limited budget, or price is an essential factor for you, you can find cheap longboards we give the benefit of the doubt here.
Learn to Longboard
Learning to longboard is like learning to skateboard in a lot of ways.
The same basic actions are used to make a longboard go, to balance, to steer, and to stop.
However, the design of longboards (with their cut-outs and tapered ends) allow for one other basic riding technique called carving.
Carving is an action used to either slow down or speed up on a longboard, depending on the circumstances, and can keep a longboard rolling for a long time without having to push.
Like skateboarding, most longboarders are self-taught. (You CAN find lessons if you want them.)
So, if you’re ready to wing it, you can learn the basic techniques of longboarding with our article Learn How to Ride a Longboard.
Beginner Longboard FAQs
If you’re just getting started longboarding, you probably have some questions beyond which longboard is best and how to ride.
Here, we try to answer some of the most common longboard questions asked by beginners to help you decide if longboarding is right for you.
Is longboarding hard?
Longboarding is not hard once you get the hang of it, but the bulk of the learning curve comes at the start, which can make it seem harder than it is.
The most difficult aspect of longboarding is learning to balance on a longboard.
Getting a feel for how a longboard moves and how you need to move to stay on it can take some getting used to.
Once you get the feel of a longboard down, balance becomes a lot easier.
How long does it take to learn to longboard?
When you’re first learning to longboard, be prepared for weeks (or even months) of practice.
You are not just going to step on a longboard and go.
If you have experience with similar board sports, like surfing or snowboarding, it will shorten the learning curve substantially.
But, even then, wheels on pavement move differently than a board on snow or water.
With zero experience at skateboarding, you can expect it take a few weeks to get truly comfortable on a longboard.
Even with daily practice.
If you have a poor sense of balance or weak core strength, it will take longer.
For some people, it takes months to get used to the feel of being on a longboard. (And to develop enough core strength to maintain balance.)
The more time you spend on your board, the more familiar you’ll get with the way a longboard moves.
It gets a little easier each time you ride, and one day you’ll realize you don’t even have to think about it.
The longboard will move exactly how you want it to.
The good news is, longboarding is easier than skateboarding, so if you already know how to skateboard, longboarding is a breeze.
Are longboards dangerous?
Studies by medical researchers have shown skateboarding to be a low-incident activity.
And, due to their substantial bases and the way they are ridden (fewer tricks), longboards are safer than skateboards.
Like on skateboards, injuries do happen on longboards, but injuries are generally not severe.
You can reduce your risk by only longboarding in protected areas, such as on recreational paths, in public parks, and on boardwalks.
And, of course, you should wear protective gear, definitely while learning, but even after.
Pads and wrists braces can prevent a lot of injuries that might occur.
What about drop-down longboards for beginners?
Since drop-down (or drop deck) longboards sit even closer to the ground than drop-throughs, they might seem like a good choice for beginners.
Drop-down boards are not really casual riding boards, though.
They are designed with specific purposes in mind – namely, freeriding and racing downhill.
Because of this, the decks are rigid, the trucks are stiff, and responsiveness is poorer than on a drop-through longboard.
Basically, drop decks just don’t have a lot of utility for beginners and can actually make learning to steer on a longboard harder.
So, unless you’re a beginner at downhill racing, we don’t recommend a drop-down board.
How to Get Better at Longboarding
Unless you are dancing or learning tricks on a longboard, longboarding doesn’t require a lot of ongoing effort.
Once you know how to do it, you know how to do it.
And, really, all you need to know how to do to ride a longboard for leisure is balance, push, steer, and stop.
Everything else is gravy.
But if you do want to get wicked good at longboarding, if you want to pump and carve and surf the streets like you’re on waves, there’s only one way to do it – practice.
The more you ride your longboard, the more natural the movements become, making it easier to start tackling more advanced techniques.
If you’re asking how to get good at longboarding, the answer is the same.
Great longboarders are great longboarders because they love to longboard.
They love the feel and the freedom of movement. They become one with their boards.
And you can’t become one with your board if it’s sitting in your closet.