what kind of sport is skateboarding

What Kind of Sport is Skateboarding? Everything You Need to Know

One of the most popular and highly-publicized alternative sports is skateboarding. To people who don’t patronize the sport, it’s extreme and hazardous. But for those who love a dose of adrenaline, skateboarding is fun, exciting, and challenging. In this updated guide, let’s find out what kind of sport is skateboarding.

Skateboarding Defined

Skateboarding is considered an action sport where the skater rides on a board or a skateboard. Skateboarding is a hobby or a pastime for many people, while some consider it an art form as you can ride a skateboard to perform artistic tricks and stunts.

Aside from these, skateboarding is also considered a method of transportation as people use their boards to commute along busy streets and high traffic areas. And of course, skateboarding is a competitive sport with national and international competitions held every year. The sport was first featured in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where male and female athletes competed.

Skateboarding has become widely popular in various countries. According to a 2009 report, the skateboarding industry is worth around USD 4.8 billion in annual revenue. The report also revealed that there are 11.08 million skateboarders around the world.

A Short History of Skateboarding

It was in the 1940s to 1960s when the first skateboards were introduced. These were simple wooden boards that had roller skate wheels at the bottom. In the early 1950s, surfers from California used similar boards to practice on dry land when the waves were still. They called the pastime “sidewalk surfing.”

The first commercially-available skateboards were from a surf shop in Los Angeles, California. The shop owner Bill Richard ordered skate wheels from the Chicago Roller Skate Company. These wheels were attached to square boards made of lightweight wood. Riders copied surfing movements and styles and rode the wooden boards barefoot.

It was in the 1960s when a few surfboard manufacturers started developing skateboards. Because these manufacturers built surfboards, the first skateboards resembled surfboards with wheels. Surfing companies such as Jack’s, Hobie, Kip’s, Bing’s, and others assembled skating teams to promote their skateboards further.

In 1963, the first skateboard exhibition was held at the Pier Avenue Junior High School located in Hermosa Beach, California. Larry Stevenson of Makaha sponsored this highly anticipated event. The event made skateboarding teams more popular, and in 1964, these teams were featured in the TV show “Surf’s Up.” This show helped make skateboarding more popular. People wanted to be part of this new sport which was carefree and fun.

The skateboard design changed dramatically over the years. The first decks were made of wood, but more robust and more rigid materials are now used.  Materials like wood and glue are standard, but you can also find very durable and high-end boards made from aluminum, nylon, fiberglass, Plexiglas, foam, composites, and other materials.

The first skateboard wheels were made of steel, making it very difficult to maneuver the board. Also, steel wheels offered minimal traction, which is hard to control on different surfaces. Other skateboarders used clay wheels.

In 1970, Frank Nasworthy of Cadillac Wheels discovered the first polyurethane skateboard wheels. With PU wheels, skateboards were easier to use, and skaters experienced amazing improvements in performance. PU wheels are still popular today but offer better traction, strength, and resiliency. Skateboard wheels with a higher concentration of urethane will perform better on the road and in the skate park.

Types of Skateboarding

There are many types of skateboarding, with most of this competition-type skateboarding.

1. Park Skateboarding

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Park skateboarding is possibly the most popular of all skateboarding types. Skaters ride their boards on a skating course with skate park obstacles, bowls, and deep pools. Park skateboarding started when skaters decided to ride their boards on empty pools. During this time, the pools were dry because of a severe heatwave.

Park skateboarding is a competition type of skateboarding. The rider moves along a set course to compete for the best out of three or four runs that last for 40 to 60 seconds, according to the size and layout of the skate park. The course typically has verts, tunnels, ramps, bowls, and transitions.

2. Street Skateboarding

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In street skateboarding, skaters perform different stunts and tricks using obstacles and structures found on the street. Instead of skate park layouts and bends, skaters ride and perform tricks on handrails, stairways, benches, slopes, walls, fences, and walls. Street skateboarding also became a part of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

3. Freestyle Skateboarding

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Freestyle skateboarding is a competition type of skateboarding performed on flat ground. Riders perform different tricks involving complicated footwork and technical flat-ground tricks. Usually, freestyle skateboarding competitions involve music and fantastic choreography. Judges would decide the winner based on the complexity of the stunt or trick, speed, originality, execution, and timing.

4. Vert Skateboarding

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In vertical skateboarding, riders ride their skateboards along a large ramp. They move up, down, and sideways and as they launch in the air, they include tricky airborne stunts as well.

Vert skateboarding started as pool riding as skaters practiced on empty swimming pools. This type became very popular, and soon, it was part of significant skateboarding competitions and extreme games like the Maloof Money Cup and the X Games.

5. Longboard or Downhill Skateboarding

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Longboarding is a type of race that involves a particular type of skateboard called a longboard. Skaters race downhill, usually on steep roads and hills. The board used is a longboard which is longer than a conventional skateboard. These boards are faster and more flexible because of their wheel sizes, deck materials, and stronger hardware.

Longboarding is also a hobby and a pastime. People preferred to use longboards to commute in cities and crowded areas. Longboard decks are available in many types and shapes, such as drop-through longboards, carving longboards, fishtail longboards, pintail longboards, and blunt longboards.

6. Mountain Skateboarding

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Mountainboarding is a competitive sport where a snowboard with wheels is used to ride cross-country areas. Mountainboarding is also known as offroad boarding, dirt boarding, and all-terrain boarding. 

How to Skateboard

Learning how to skateboard is a childhood milestone. Those who remember how they learned to ride a skateboard would recall that they just stepped on the deck and rolled. But there is more to just riding and rolling than skateboarding.

To properly learn how to ride a skateboard, you must consider staying safe by learning how to hop in, move, brake, and dismount on the board. Here are basic steps on how to ride a skateboard.

1. Stand on the top of the deck correctly

Place the skateboard on the ground, grass, or pavement and stand on the deck. Practice until you can stand without losing your balance or without falling. The best position to avoid falling is with the feet angled sideways and lined with the screws of the truck.

This is the time you’ll learn your stance. A regular stance is when the left foot is forward, and the right foot is at the back. You will use the right foot to push the board when you have a regular stance. A goofy foot or stance is when the right foot is forward, and the left is at the back. You will use your left foot to push the board in a goofy stance.

Once you’ve managed to stand on top of the board without falling or losing balance, rock it a little to feel how the wheels naturally move and how the trucks sway as you swing back and forth. You want to feel very comfortable standing on the board as much as possible.

2. Push off slowly

Now that you’re able to balance and feel the natural rocking motion of the trucks and wheels, you may now proceed with a push-off. To do this, turn your foot slowly so its’s straighter with the board. This is from a sideways to a straighter position in a few seconds.

Your other foot will push off the board. Push off slowly so you can ride steady and safe.  Once you’ve managed to get momentum, place your foot back on the board. Place it near the tail curl over the trucks. Maintain your balance as you move. You can bend your knees to remain balanced on the board.

Riding mongo is a term for pushing the board with your lead foot while the back foot is on the deck. Many experts ride mongo, but many professionals say that you should avoid this as riding mongo can hinder your learning of new tricks. So as early as learning how to push off, avoid riding mongo to prevent this problem in the future.

3. Practice slowing down

Now that you can stand and push off, it’s time to learn how to slow down. Repeat the above steps making push-offs and moving your feet seamlessly to slow down. Afterward, turn the riding foot to a straight position, push using the other foot, and turn back. Do these steps many times until they feel natural to you.

Once you’re ready, speed up slowly. Some first-time riders find it easier to maintain their balance when moving faster. At some point, you will feel that you’re wobbling too much. If this happens, stop and tighten the trucks until you’re back in control. You’ll find it harder to turn with tight trucks, so loosen these slowly until the wobbling is reduced.

4. Practice riding, shifting, and turning

Now that you’ve got pushing and riding perfectly, you may proceed with turning the board. This is by transferring your weight and riding with flexed knees. Remember to keep your center of gravity low to maintain balance. Afterward, shift the weight forward to turn right for regular riders and move the ankles to the rear if you wish to go to the left.

Earlier we recommended tightening the trucks to reduce wobbling. If your trucks are loose, you may only need to shift your weight gently. For tight trucks, you may need to bend and exert more effort.

Most newbies find it hard to balance or fall as they turn. For this, transfer your upper-body weight to the other direction. Your feet must pivot the skateboard deck as you leave the turning to your trucks.

5. Apply brakes

The most convenient thing about skateboarding is that if you want to stop, just put your foot down to do so. But to brake safely, slow down a little before completely stopping. Drag your braking foot on the road to stop you slowly and safely. Your riding foot must remain on the board at all times.

Another way is to stop safely on a skateboard is to shift your weight to the back and allow the tail to scrape the ground. This method can help you stop abruptly and slowly. There are skateboards with built-in plastic pads at the rear lip of the board.

Stop and get off the board safely. When practicing on flat ground, lift your back foot off the deck and walk away from your skateboard.

6. Practice riding switch

Switching is changing directions. You may start switching directions as you become more comfortable with balancing, riding, and turning. Ride using your back foot at the front and the front foot at the rear.

Good skaters will tell you that you need to be comfortable skating in both directions, considering that you’ll be switching directions when performing a trick or stunt. Tricks like riding a half-pipe or turning will lead to switching directions.

7. Practice how to fall properly

Some people avoid skating because they don’t want to fall. But actually, falling is a part of skateboarding. You can’t avoid it, especially when you’re just learning a new trick or stunt. Even top skateboarders fall; they fall safely.

Falling properly will prevent severe injuries as well as wearing the proper safety skating attire. Here are a few tricks to make sure you ride and fall safely.

Put your arms outwards before you’re about to fall but keep your arms loose and ready. Rigid arms will only lead to broken ankles and wrists, so avoid these to prevent severe injuries.

If you feel you’re falling, roll out of the board. You’ll get a few scrapes, but it’s better than landing flat on your face. And anytime you think something terrible is going to happen, bailout. When you’re too fast and you believe you are out of control, jump off the board and land safely on the ground or roll on a soft area.

Different Skateboard Tricks

You can’t be a skateboarder unless you can perform some of the most popular skateboard tricks. Here are some of them:

1. Axle Stall

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The axle stall is a fundamental transition trick used as a starting point for balancing the front and when pumping as you complete a trick. It’s called axle stall because you will stop while your trucks contact the coping for a few seconds. Practice makes perfect to get the axle stall.

2. Blunt Fakie

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The blunt fakie is an intermediate-to-expert skateboarding trick similar to the rock fakie. To perform it, go straight upwards to coping on a tail and then pop the board back with a fakie. No matter how amazing this trick is, you must be careful to pull it off perfectly.

3. Board Slide

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The boardslide trick is famous for being the railside trick among skateboarders. Performing this trick means you will slide a rail or similar raised structure using the center of the skateboard. This is the area between the trucks and wheels.

This trick is a fantastic stunt to see but is not for beginners. Ask an experienced rider to help you out if you want to learn this trick. Always practice at the park and not on the streets to avoid accidents.

4. Fakie Bigspin

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Another famous skateboarding trick is the fakie big spin. This trick is achieved by facing the opposite direction of your initial position on your board. In a fakie big spin, you rotate 180 degrees as the board spins 360 degrees in the similar direction as the deck.

The most common worry about this trick is that you become confused about what direction you need to spin. To avoid this, check your shoulders to determine your movement. Depending on the kind of fakie big spin you’re performing, you might be moving clockwise or counterclockwise. This could be a goofy fakie big spin if you’re moving anti-clockwise or a regular fakie big spin if you’re moving clockwise.

While you turn your shoulders, your feet must roll along the skateboard’s tail, moving in a similar direction to your movement. This stunt is a bit tricky during the first tries, but constant practice will help you become a pro.

5. Fakie Heel Flip

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This skateboarding trick is similar to the heelflip, and the only difference is that you must move from the fakie stance to perfect the stunt for this trick. First, ride fakie with your legs in a stance similar to the heelflip: your toes will hang over very slightly and sap using the front foot. Spin the board to complete a heelflip using your rear leg kicking this with your heel.

It would be best if you slanted back slightly with your board twisting in front of you as your board completes the flip; try to catch it. Afterward, land with your board on your feet and do a fakie. 

6. Grinds

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A grind is when you move along the truck hangers. This skateboarding form is performed along any stationary object that can fit in between your skateboard trucks. The grind started when skaters rode on pools and along high-speed tents along the walls of bowls.

7. Heelflip

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A heelflip is like a kickflip, but the former is performed in the opposite direction. In this trick, your back foot will raise the skateboard’s nose. Start with an ollie position, and your back foot taps the deck to lift it from the ground. Lifting the board should be simultaneous to you jumping from the ground.

While in the air, put your front foot along with the nose of your skateboard and flick it using the heel of your back foot. After flipping the board, hold it with your feet. This fundamental trick is easy to master as long as you practice regularly. Once you’re done, you can start learning other flip tricks like double and triple heelflips.

8. Inward Heel Flip

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This trick combines the heelflip and the backside pop shove-it and is like the hardflip trick. The inward heelflip is similar to the hardflip trick with your front foot like in an ollie. Your foot must be near the edge of the skateboard.

As you place your front foot along the side of the skateboard, position this diagonally while you slide in a heelflip. Put the back foot up in a heelflip but move it near the edge of the deck. As you perform the inward heelflip, place more angle on your foot. Practice makes perfect to get this heelflip.

9. Kickflip

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This fundamental trick is about lifting the wheels from the floor to 180 degrees. Lean back and raise the deck’s nose. Learning the kickflip is the best way to move to more complex tricks.

10. No Comply

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One of the most famous old-school tricks is the No Comply. It is performed on flat ground like a street, parking lot, or a skate park. You need to pop your skateboard in the air with your back knee while your front foot is on the ground for a short while.

11. Ollie

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The ollie is another famous fundamental trick wherein you lift your body as the board is on the ground. Bend your knees as you raise with the tail of the deck moving first from the ground. You need to land the same way as you jumped. Timing and excellent foot placement are crucial to perfecting the ollie.

Final Words

Skateboarding is a fun and thrilling sport. It is a pastime and a hobby. It is easy to learn, but the stunts and tricks can be difficult and dangerous if you don’t know the proper techniques. Overall, skateboarding is a great activity that everyone can enjoy.

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