Downhill Longboarding Tips for Beginners
Whoever said longboarding isn’t an extreme sport has never seen a longboarder bomb a hill. Downhill speed skating is a totally unique animal to its counterpart — where recreational longboarding tends to be a mellow, laidback cruising, its twin is focused on speed and speed alone. Before you take the plunge and test your skills at downhill skating, consider these longboarding tips.
It’s all about the adrenaline. If you bought your first longboard with the intention of getting to class on time, downhill longboarding is probably not your cup of tea. Downhill longboarders are in it for the thrill — the addictive heart-pumping feeling of living on the very edge. When you’re skating at speeds up to 65 miles per hour on rough asphalt, what else could the motive be?
Practice your speed control first. Don’t go straight to the steepest hill in your neighborhood — that’s a really dangerous tactic that you don’t want to test. Focus on learning to control your speed on slower hills. If you’ve ever gotten speed wobble going to fast, you know how difficult this can be when you feel like you’re getting ready to fly off the board. Think: foot breaking, carving and stopping. These strategies are vital to know before you tackle that hill.
Control your emotions. Fear is the kryptonite of downhill longboarding. As soon as you start to speed wobble, that anxiety and overcorrection will be the beginning of the end (okay, not the end, but probably a really bad fall). As you increase your speed, practice controlling your fear and trusting your own technical skill.
Gear up. It doesn’t look as cool, but it could mean life or death once you get going. Unlike regular cruising or street skateboarding, the intense speed of downhill longboarding requires some specialized gear that’s essential before you ride. Helmets for downhill skating are uniquely designed with aerodynamics in mind and a face shield for better protection. Slide gloves have hardcore pucks that protect your hands during those turns, and kneepads prepare you for the gnarly falls you’re bound to have.
Skate with friends. This isn’t just about having more fun. Riding with friends who already downhill longboard can help you progress faster by learning from them. It’s also a safety precaution: some of the biggest risks you take when riding downhill have to do with oncoming cars, cracks in the road and other dangerous environmental factors. Place friends at blind corners and at the bottom of the hill to warn drivers and catch you if needed.
There is so much more to downhill longboarding — these are just the basics. But you have to start somewhere, and these tips for beginners are the perfect start to getting into this addicting and extreme sport.
- Outdoors Staff