Skateboarding can look a little intimidating.
Not only is it a clear skill with balance required, it’s largely done on paved surfaces where spills can prove painful.
When you first learn to skateboard, you can expect to feel a bit wobbly.
You might even feel somewhat nervous and take a few of those dreaded falls.
There is a technical aspect to skateboarding that requires training and dedication.
That said, the biggest learning curve with skateboarding comes at the very beginning.
Sure, those impressive tricks you see people pulling off on the halfpipe require their own special practice and dedication, and skating gets harder and more complex the more you try to advance your skills.
But, early on, it’s really about getting a feel for the board, how it moves and how you need to move with it.
Once you have the feel of a skateboard down, you’ll be surprised how much balance becomes second nature and the ways you can make your board move.
Choosing Your First Skateboard
First things first, if you’re going to start skating, you’re going to need a proper skateboard.
Skateboards consist of several components that can be mixed and swapped out to create the perfect set-up for your riding style and comfort.
When it comes to your first board, though, you’re probably going to want to start with a complete, pre-built board and go from there.
The main components of a skateboard are:
- The Deck (the main part you stand on)
- The Trucks (the metal hardware that connects the deck to the wheels)
- The Wheels (what your skateboard rolls on)
A skateboard also has many additional hardware components such nuts, bushings, and bearings that hold it together and make the main components work.
This is all it takes for a skateboard to be a skateboard.
However, another essential part of every skateboard is:
Griptape is what gives most skateboards their top-side appearances, because it covers the entire upper deck.
As the name implies, it also helps your shoes cling to the board.
For more information on the parts of a skateboard, check out our article on Skateboard Anatomy.
For help selecting your first board, see our articles:
- Basic Skateboard: Best Skateboard for Beginners
- Complete Skateboards Buying Guide: How to Select a Pre-Built Skateboard
Learn to Skateboard
Once you have a skateboard in hand, it’s time to start using it.
Anyone can buy a skateboard and leave it sitting in the corner of their garage.
Brave are the ones who actually put it beneath their feet.
Learning to ride a skateboard can be a casual or formal thing.
Though, the vast majority of skateboarders are self-taught.
Even those who go onto great things often start out with just a board and a little piece of pavement.
If you do want more formal training, you can find skateboarding lessons in both large and small cities.
In-person skateboard lessons typically exist wherever skate parks exist (and sometimes even where they don’t).
For less formal training, you can find a number of beginner skate videos on YouTube.
You can also learn from the best.
Skateboard legend Tony Hawk has a MasterClass on how to skateboard that starts with the basics.
Or, if you’re feeling brave and frisky enough, you can just grab your board and start playing around on your own.
For help learning to ride, check out our article How to Skateboard, which walks you through the first four skateboard actions you should learn.
Skate for Beginners FAQS
If you’re new to skateboarding, you probably have some questions.
Maybe even a few concerns.
Here, we’ve tried to answer some of the most common questions asked by beginner skaters.
Is skateboarding hard?
Skateboarding is not hard in the long-term. (Assuming you’re just cruising around and not learning tricks.)
It doesn’t require ongoing intensive effort, and, once you develop the skills you need, it feels a lot more natural than when you first start out.
However, skateboarding can be difficult to learn.
Learning to ride a skateboard is much like learning to ride a bicycle in that it demands a completely new way of holding and balancing your body.
Just like riding a bicycle, skateboarding is also fairly easy once you get it down. (The basic riding aspect, at least.)
But getting a feel for the board and the balance does take some time.
How long does it take to learn to skateboard?
When you’re first learning to skateboard, be prepared for weeks or even months of practice.
You are not just going to just step on your skateboard and go.
You’re more likely to step on your skateboard and have it go right out from under you.
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 skateboard.
Even with everyday practice.
If you have a poor sense of balance or weak core strength, you can expect it to take longer than that.
For some people, it takes months to get used to the feel of being on a skateboard. (Or to develop enough core strength to maintain their balance.)
So, don’t give up if it feels like you’re never going to get it.
The more time you spend riding, the more familiar you’ll get with the way a skateboard moves.
It gets a little easier every time, and one day you’ll realize you don’t even have to think about it.
The board will move exactly how you want it to move.
Is skateboarding dangerous?
Studies by medical researchers have shown skateboarding to be a low-incident activity.
Injuries do happen, but the vast majority of injuries from skateboards are not severe. (This is mostly due to the fact skateboards sit so low to the ground.)
You can reduce your risk of injury on a skateboard by only skateboarding in protected areas, such as on recreational paths, in public parks, and in skateparks.
And, of course, you should always wear protective gear.
Definitely while learning, but don’t be embarrassed to wear it beyond that.
Remember, even the pros have accidents.
How to Get Better at Skateboarding
It’s bound to happen.
At some point during the learning process, you will have all the main skating actions down and feel like you’ve hit a wall.
That’s because learning the basics of skateboarding is fairly easy, but learning to skate well is considerably harder.
If you’re asking how to get better at skateboarding, the answer is always the same – practice.
The more you practice on a skateboard, the more natural the balance and actions become, making it easier to start tackling more advanced moves.
If you’re asking how to get good at skateboarding, the answer remains the same.
Great skateboarders are great skateboarders because they’ve put in the time and the effort to become great skateboarders.
The Daewon Songs and Rayssa Leals of the world weren’t built in a day.
When you’re first starting out, it’s all about choosing the right board, putting in the time, and being willing to take a few spills.
If you’re a true skater, you’ll simply enjoy skating, even with the learning curve, and the will to work and evolve will just be part of the process.