alternatives to skateboarding

Alternatives to Skateboarding: 10 Board Sports That Are Just as Fun

Skateboarding is one of the most exciting and challenging board sports. It’s exciting to perform all kinds of stunts and land tricks and, at the same time, challenging to ride. You need to maintain focus and master the different tricks and practice to get the best results.

Many consider skateboarding as a hobby or a pastime more than a sport. They ride their skateboards to go around town, meet with friends, or commute. But some are not too fond of skateboarding, labeling it as dangerous.

Nonetheless, skateboarding continues to flourish, and more and more alternatives to skateboarding have been developed. Let’s focus on ten of the most awesome board sports that you can master today.

Surfing

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Surfing is the most popular board sport. Skateboarding was fashioned from surfing. California surfers wanted to continue practicing their skills on land when it’s too cold to ride out at the ocean. They placed wheels on pieces of wood and rode these on the streets.

Surfing uses a board called a surfboard to ride the face of a moving wave taking the surfer to shore. The waves that are perfect for surfing are usually found along the shores of oceans but are also in standing waves that are found on open seas.

There are many variations of surfing, and one of these is body boarding, where a surfer rides a bodyboard. The surfer can lie on their belly, on their knees, and also in a standing position. Other variations are knee boarding, surf matting, and foil surfing.

Short History

The ancient cultures in Peru were the first people who surfed their watercraft to shore.  Their surfboards were made of reeds. In the ancient Polynesian culture, people surfed as a pastime. The Polynesians made their way to the Hawaiian Islands, and they brought with them various customs, including riding the surf on body or belly boards.

Various explorers from Europe saw surfing as a fun pastime in Polynesia and brought home their knowledge and newfound skill. Aside from the ancient Polynesians, records of surfing on planks and canoe hulls were also seen in the ancient peoples of Samoa and Tonga.

It was in 1885 when surfing came to the United States. In California, three Hawaiian princes showed their friends how to surf. They surfed along the mouth of the San Lorenzo River using redwood boards.

George Freeth is the Father of Modern Surfing and was credited as the first modern surfer. In 1907, Henry E. Huntington took surfing to California. He introduced the sport in Redondo Beach, and soon surfing became very popular but on boards that were half the size of the original surfboards.

Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian, took surfing from the United States to Australia. He won an Olympic gold medal for his swimming skills and talents in the 1912 and 1920 games.

Highlights of Surfing

In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records considered a wave of 23.8 meters or 78 feet in Nazare, Portugal, as the most enormous wave ever surfed. Surfer Garrett McNamara rode this wave with pride. 

In 2016, surfing was included by the International Olympic Committee as part of the Olympics, which began at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. The first surfer who won the gold medal in the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 was Italo Ferreira from Brazil and Carissa Moore from Hawaii, USA.

Various innovations have been introduced to surfing. One of the most popular is surfing artificial waves in a surfing or water park. Riding the waves in an artificial wave pool can help you perfect your stance, footwork, form, and skills. Only a few water parks can create large surf waves. One of these is the Seagaia Ocean Dome in Miyazaki, Japan.

Most surfers who want to improve their skills enroll in surf schools. These institutions can help young and old surfers learn the basics of surfing. Lessons are taught one-on-one, but some schools prefer group learning instead.

Equipment used

Surfboards were initially made from solid wood. These were very heavy to lift and move. Modern skateboards are made of fiberglass foam or PU with wooden strips or stringers. Surfboards are also composed of fiberglass cloth and PE or polyester resin.

New surfboards are also made from epoxy resin and EPS or expanded polystyrene foam. These materials are lighter but stronger compared to other surfboards.

Surfboards come with a leash that keeps a surfboard from drifting away during a wipeout. A leash also keeps a skateboard from hitting other surfers. Another essential part of surfing is waxing. Surf wax keeps the surfer from sliding off the deck while paddling to a wave. Waxing also improves grip. Surf wax is made from paraffin, beeswax, and other waxes.

Snowboarding

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Another very popular board sport is snowboarding. This board sport was inspired by surfing, skateboarding, sledding, and skiing. This sport was first performed in the United States way back in the 1960s. In 1998, snowboarding was included in the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. It is also a part of the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi in 2014.

Short History

Snowboarding as we know it today started in 1965. It was invented by Sherman Poppen, an engineer from Muskegon, Michigan. He used two skis and fastened these together, and tied a rope at one end for control. Poppen made the first snowboard called “snurfers” for his daughters, but soon, it was so popular that even their friends and neighbors wanted one.

Poppen went to Brunswick Corporation, which manufactured millions of snurfers, and soon, more than half a million were sold. Poppen also organized the first competition for the snurfer at a ski resort in Michigan.

Aside from Poppen, several snowboard pioneers developed their own boards, which were used on their local slopes. Jon Roberts and Pete Matthews were Welsh skateboarders, and they started their own snowboarding design in the 1960s.

Snowboarding competitions were also popularized, like the “King of the Mountain” snowboard competition in Colorado in 1981, the first USA National Snowboard race in 1982, and the first World Championship halfpipe event was in 1983 at Soda Springs in California.

The first snowboarding World Cup was in Zurs, Austria, in 1985. The International Snowboard Federation was created in 1990 to provide universal contest regulations.

Highlights of snowboarding

Snowboarding has slowly gathered a massive following. In 2004, the sport had 6.6 million active snowboarders. A study has found that young children are outriding adults when it comes to snowboarding. Also, the study said that most snowboarders are 18 to 24 years old.

In May 2012, para-snowboarding was added to the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The International Paralympic Committee announced this exciting news.

Snowboarding has various styles, and the most common are freeriding, freestyling, and freecarving or racing. Alpine snowboarding is performed on hard-packed snow and focused on carving turns. This is thought to be the most superior snowboarding style.

Other snowboarding styles, like the slopestyle, big air, and half-pipe, soon became very popular. Meanwhile, snowboard cross or snowboard X is about racing down a snowy course. Another style is snowboard racing, where riders move downhill with specific formats.

Equipment used

A snowboard is wider than other skis where you stand with your feet transverse along the length of the board. Commercially manufactured snowboards have extra equipment such as bindings that hold the feet securely over the board. A special snowboarding boot is also required. These boots secure the snowboarder who rides upright on the board.

Like skateboards, snowboards come in many shapes and forms. There are freestyle snowboards, park or jib snowboards, all-mountain snowboards, racing or alpine snowboards, and splitboards. Snowboards are made from hardwood and fiberglass. Modern snowboards are made from Kevlar, carbon fiber, aluminum, and piezo dampers.

Windsurfing

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Windsurfing is another alternative to skateboarding. This is a wind-propelled sport that combines sailing and surfing. Also called sailboarding and boardsurfing, windsurfing was first seen in California in the 1960s. It is a popular water sport with a massive following in Europe and North America during the late 1970s. The sport became widely popular in the 1980s and soon became an Olympic Sport in 1984.

Various windsurfing varieties, such as kiteboarding, wind foiling, and windfoiling. The structures under the board, known as the hydrofoil fins, allow the board to lift out of the water and seamlessly over the water’s surface.

Short History

The inventor of windsurfing is Jim Drake from California between 1967 and 1970. Peter Chilvers and Newman Darby were recognized as the inventors of the first sailboards. They created windsurfing to combine the sports of skiing and sailing.

The sport’s popularity exploded in the 1970s and 1980s from Europe to North America. It was deemed the fastest growing sport worldwide as it took off from 1972 to the end of the decade. During this time, all windsurfing boards had a long shape or longboards. However, this changed as this board was slower when it glided over the water. 

Highlights of windsurfing

Racing in windsurfing became extremely popular, and soon, there were longboard classes available. Olympic class longboards use the “One Design” boards, which means, all sailors sailed using boards with the same designs. This included fins, sails, and daggerboards.

The One Design Racing class has more affordable equipment. Intermediates race using the same gear design with the most popular Windsurfer class design. The Formula class is for Formula windsurfing is for high-performance competition used in light to moderate winds. These boards come with a single fin with a maximum length of 70 cm and sails of up to 12.5 square meters.

Equipment used

Windsurfers may use shortboards or longboards. Sailors plan ahead, considering wind conditions, ocean currents, and other factors for the right equipment to use. Large boards can plane wind speeds from 12 knots. Shorter boards work at lower speeds at 8 knots with 10-12 square meters sails.

Modern boards are polyethylene with PVC foam. Meanwhile, there are glass-reinforced epoxy resin boards. New boards are made from expanded polystyrene foam with a composite shell. These shells are mostly made of carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Kevlar.

The sails are made from monofilm or clear polyester, dacron, and mylar. The sail area with more load may be strengthened with Kevlar. The sail is similar to a sailboat but is more versatile, smaller, and more efficient than traditional large sails.

Bodyboarding

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Bodyboarding is another board sport performed in water. In bodyboarding, the surfer rides their board along the crest, curl and face of an ocean wave as this carries them back to shore. Another name for bodyboarding is boogieboarding because of the development of the boogie board in 1971 by Tom Morey.

A bodyboard is short, rectangular, and hydrodynamic. The bodyboarder has fins for improved propulsion and added control as they break the wave and ride it to shore.

Short History

Bodyboarding is said to have originated from an ancient way of riding waves by lying over a board. The Polynesians rode bodyboards on their knees, feet, and bellies. These boards were made from Acacia koa wood and had different shapes and sizes.

Bodyboards are different from modern surfboards as these don’t have ventral fins. Meanwhile, Tom Morey improved the old way of riding a bodyboard on a paipo board that was made from fiberglass or wood.

Highlights of bodyboarding

Bodyboards are available in different shapes and sizes. Choosing one depends on a rider’s needs and preferences, including the rider’s weight, height, and riding form. The three top bodyboards are prone, drop knee and stand-up boards.

Wakeboarding

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Wakeboarding is a watersport where the rider stands on a board called a wakeboard. The board is towed using a motorboat along a wake or a crest so the rider can perform different tricks and stunts. Wakeboarding is popular for riders performing tricks in midair.  This board sport is a combination of snowboarding, surfing, and skiing.

Short History

Wakeboarding was first called monowaterskis or single waterskis in the 1950s. However, the two are very different when it comes to the rider’s stance, and the shape of the board used.

The wakeboard developed over the years, especially the materials used to construct the board and the bindings. The wakeboard rope has also undergone many advancements to provide consistent pull and safety.

Highlights of wakeboarding

Wakeboarding is performed for pleasure and sport. Because of the increased demand, there are now many wakeboarding and wakeboard water parks. There are also more wakeboard events and competitions like the X-Games, Wakeboard World Championships, and many more.

Equipment used

Wakeboards come in various sizes and styles: continuous rocker, three-stage rocker, five-stage rocker, and the hybrid style rocker. Wakeboards come with fins and are made of wood and with a foam core or fiberglass cover. Aside from the wakeboard, riders also wear safety gear such as helmets, knee and elbow pads, and life vests.

Skimboarding

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Skimboarding or skimming is a board sport similar to surfing, but the board is shorter and does not come with fins. This board glides across the surface of the water to meet a breaking wave. The skimboarder rides the board to shore.

Skimboarding involves different surface tricks and air maneuvers such as wraps, 360 shoveits, big spins, and more. This sport drops the board on a thin wave of waves compared to surfing.

Short History

Skimboarding started in California in the 1920s when lifeguards rode rounded wooden disks to move seamlessly across thin water. The board was made of two pieces of redwood connected by strips of oak held by metal screws and nuts.

Locals from Laguna reinvented the round boards and changed these into ovals to move better and break the shore faster. As skimboarding became more popular, two varieties of the sport emerged: flatland skimboarding and wave skimboarding. The sport was meant as an alternative to flat surfing days, but soon enough, it managed to gather its riders and fans.

Equipment used

Skimboards are made from very durable materials with a foam core. Soft boards are best for making sharper turns but are not as quick as hardboards. Skimboards have a nose lift or a rocker. The most common is the hybrid rocker, where the board comes with a curve along the bottom. 

Riverboarding

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Riverboarding is a board sport where the rider lies on their board with their fins for improved propulsion and control. Another name for riverboarding is whitewater sledding, a sport popular in New Zealand. Riverboarding can be recreational or comercial.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Short History

Riverboarding started in the late 1970s in France. Riders used rafts stuffed with burlap and, when done, rode these on river rapids. In the 1980s, Rober Carlson began running rivers in California in 1981. In Europe, river boards are made of foam (called hydrospeed. These are plastic boards that are lighter and more resilient.

 Equipment used

Riverboards need fins to move quickly through currents and also improve buoyancy. You will also need wetsuits, booties, and safety gear like wetsuits, boots, and helmets.  These protect the rider from cold water and rocks. Elbow, knee, and wrist pads are also worn to provide protection.

Longboarding

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Longboarding is riding a skateboard for racing. Longboards come in different sizes and shapes and are very stable, and have improved traction because of their large wheels and lower durometers.

Longboards are now more technical and skill-driven, with smaller decks and narrower wheels. Some riders use longboards for racing, while some use this for dancing and cruising.

Short History

Longboarding started in the 1950s in Hawaii, where surfers wanted to surf on land during the cold months. They used thick plywood fitted with trucks and wheels. During the 1970s, longboarders used the sport as a way to express themselves as they were influenced by surfing culture.

It was in 1990 when brand Sector 9 produced longboards. Nowadays, there are wide varieties of longboarding, including slalom, long-distance pumping or pushing, freeriding, dancing, technical wheel sliding boards, and much more.

Sandboarding

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Sandboarding is a popular board sport that’s similar to snowboarding. It is riding down or across a sand dune as you stand on a board. Sandboarding while sitting or lying on your belly is also possible. The sandboard is used for this sport, but you can also use surfboards, snowboards, skateboard decks, and sleds.

Highlights of sandboarding

Sandboarding is common in countries and areas with desert areas or in coastal regions with smooth beach dunes. Participants need to ride a dune buggy or an ATV to the top of a dune to ride a sandboard down the slope.

All-Terrain Windsurfing

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All-terrain windsurfing is called terrasailing, land sailing, street sailing, and dirt windsurfing. The deck used has four wheels that are similar to a longboard or a mountain board. The deck has a mast or a sail to catch the wind and propel the rider forward.

Highlights of all-terrain windsurfing

Land windsurfing is commonly used by windsurfers during the cold season. Expert riders can perform different tricks with a land windsurfer board and sail. These tricks are patterned from skateboarding, windsurfing, and snowboarding. In 1979, a land windsurfing marathon event was organized across the Sahara Desert.

Equipment

Land boards are used for all-terrain windsurfing. These boards are easy to work with a mast base as these come with a hole at the front deck where the mast base is connected. These land boards come with all-terrain tires so you can move on any ground, such as grass, sand, dirt, asphalt, and cement.

All-terrain windsurfing boards need at least a five mph wind to move. Wind requirements vary depending on the type of ground you wish to move on.

Final Words

These top ten board sports are alternatives to skateboarding. Of the ten, the most popular is surfing, as this was also the inspiration for creating skateboarding. Other board sports borrowed skateboarding and surfing moves, tricks, and stunts.

And no matter what board sport you want to engage in, you must always consider safety beforehand. Wear safety gear, especially helmets, padding, and the proper footwear. Always practice a trick or stunt before you ride. And, make sure you’re using well-maintained equipment to stay safe as you ride.

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