The Board Blazers Blog


Longboard or Skateboard: Which is Best for Beginners?

When it comes to skateboarding, you have many choices on how to start (see our learning to skate article!), and one of the most fundamental decisions is which type of skateboard to choose? From Pennys to longboards, there’s a full spectrum of lengths available. But when it comes to making the transition from 2 feet planted firmly on the ground to four rolling wheels underneath those feet, which board will make that the simplest? 

First, you should know that all skateboards are skateboards. Does that sound ridiculous? Yes. But longboards, shortboards, and everything in between are all considered subsets of skateboards. The way to differentiate between the types is by length, so we have created a handy infographic for you:

 



All of this information brings us to today’s pressing question: which kind of board is most straightforward for a beginner skater to learn to use? Many people assume that a smaller skater means you should purchase a smaller board, and we’re here to tell you that’s not the case! While everyone has their opinion on this matter, we here at Board Blazers wholeheartedly endorse longboards as the board of choice for beginning skaters. You absolutely CAN learn to skate using a shortboard or standard skateboard – some people prefer that! But from an ease-of-use and safety standpoint, longboarding can’t be beaten. Longboarding is so much easier to learn because all of the skills used to skateboard (pumping, turning, balance, strength, etc.) can be broken down and mastered individually before combining them all. Whenever you’re learning something new, breaking it into chunks is the best way to tackle it and learning to longboard does this perfectly for the sport of skateboarding!

First (stick with us, here comes the science!), longboards are more stable because of their increased size, both their length and width. The simple matter is, takes more force to move a longboard along the ground than it does a standard skateboard. This need for additional power to attain speed minimizes the chance that your wobbly beginner pumping results in the dreaded oh-no-the-board-is-no-longer-under-me sort of wipeouts. In general, longboards are more forgiving of wobbles and mistakes than the shorter boards, and when you start out, you will have PLENTY of wobbles and errors. Longboards are also heavier and require stronger and larger pumps to work up speed. The need for powerful pumps means that beginning skaters will move more slowly, and the inevitable falls will be less injurious. There's more to know about the science behind longboarding and we rounded it all up for you here!

 



Turning is one of the more intimidating aspects of learning to skate. Wouldn't it be great if a board was designed to slide through large, gentle turns without the need for popping or pumping? Boom- enter the longboard! A turn on a standard skateboard would require shifting your rear foot to the back of the board and giving it a slight pop to complete the turn. Maintaining your balance with two wheels on the ground and two wheels in the air is a tough skill to master! Longboards eliminate the need for significant weight shifts and popping. Not only is this less intimidating, but it allows for the rider to concentrate fully on turning without also having coordinate much of their footwork (plus, all four wheels stay on the ground - win!). Longboards can undoubtedly perform pop turns, but it’s possible to learn to turn with both feet on your board first and then add the secondary skill at a later time.

Speaking of pumping, longboards are the only boards where it’s technically never necessary for your feet to push off from the ground (pump) other than the very first step! Just shifting your weight back and forth from heels to toes along the width of the board will pump a longboard. This “S” shaped motion will keep the board's momentum cruising along with no need for your feet to touch the ground. And while pumping is one of the more fun aspects of skating, it’s hard to coordinate just how to swipe the earth with your foot while staying upright on your board. After all, you and the board are moving along, and the ground is stationary; foot-to-ground pumping is rife with difficulty and initially avoiding it will make learning to skate simpler.

 



Once a skater is comfortable with turning, pumping, and balance, they can move on to more advanced skills like board popping and beginner tricks (ollies, nose slides, etc.). This is also the ideal time to transition to a skateboard or shortboard if that’s the skater’s desired length. All of the skills already mastered will be pushed and tested with a shorter board, but the foundational skills are there, and success is inevitable. If you’re looking for a big adventure, give a Penny board a try! These ultra-short acrylic boards come in every imaginable color, are crazy-portable, and will push your balance skills to the brink. Wear a helmet!

It’s an angsty business watching a person you love roll away on a four-wheeled adventure. But you’ll feel much better knowing your skater is confident and self-assured. And the best way to make sure that happens is to start them out on a longboard. We can’t promise they’ll return without bruises, but we can confidently say that it won’t be long before they’re upright and shredding safely.


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Top 7 Skateboard YouTube Accounts to Follow

Hold on to your longboards, skateboards, penny boards and scooters, friends – it’s a big day here on the Board Blazers blog! If you have eyes in your head and wheels under your feet, you need what we’ve got. Today we bring you a full rundown of the BEST YOUTUBE ACCOUNTS FOR SKATERS! If you’re not yet staying up way too late watching skating how-to’s, longboard dancing, and freestyle jams, then you will be soon. High quality, informative and fun skate vids aren’t just for the pros anymore. Below we’ll introduce you to our favorite YouTube skaters and longboarders, and tell you why they’re going to blow your mind. Read on, bros!


Ronnie Sarmiento

Our top pick had to go to our ultra-sick and super-nice longboarder friend, Ronnie, who shreds all four seasons in Washington DC. He has an easy-to-navigate channel and uploads videos regularly (win!), so the content is always fresh! He has a bunch of honest product reviews, and his “How to & tips” playlist will help you finally land that 360 boneless on your longboard. His Vlog and Grab Bag series will give you a laugh if all you're looking for is some fun entertainment. With regular, helpful content and sick editing skills, you'll want to make sure you subscribe, so you don't miss out. Vid of the moment:

 


Fabian Doerig

We can’t stay stateside for this list with all of the fantastic vloggers around the world! Hailing from Switzerland, Fabian has a City Trips series that gives us hardcore skate travel envy. For your viewing pleasure, he has an entire playlist devoted to single tricks (pro tip: slow the videos down to get an extra good look at exactly how to land that cab heelflip noseslide to backside!). Bonus points to Fabian for having some ultra-legit footage come from his quadcopter; it's worth tuning in just for this, guys. The cherry on top of the cake here is his series featuring Clement Zannini, a one-legged skater (Yep, you read that right) who shreds like you WON’T BELIEVE. Go check Fabian out right now. Vid of the moment:

 

 

Sara Dietschy 

Here we take a bit of a hard right turn. Sara’s channel isn’t exclusively skate related. While she LOVES skating (gets around NYC on her many boards) and does feature regular skate videos, she posts about style, travel, humor and many other topics as well. Her photography skills are legit incredible, and it's worth tuning in just for her shots in and around NYC alone. If you’re a gear junkie, you won’t want to miss her tech reviews. If it's technology you can use to skate, you can bet Sara has an unboxing and review video that you’ll want to see. She’s a phenomenal artist, creative, and young entrepreneur. If you’re trying to build your own skate empire, hers is a must-subscribe channel. Vid of the moment:

 


Natalie Pluto

One of the queens of longboarding as far as we’re concerned, Natalie's channel is rock solid. While she’s super sweet and friendly, she’s also in possession of some rock-solid skate skills. She features a whole series on travel skating, which is a bucket list item for just about every skater we know. Her Q&A sessions are relatable and raw, which we love. And what skating YouTube channel is complete without some freestyle jams? Natalie has plenty of them. Don’t miss out - subscribe to her channel. Vid of the moment:

 


Nick Jones

We here at Board Blazers have long admired Nick and his radness. His longboard dancing videos will have you mesmerized, and if you need any help mimicking his moves, he’s got a whole series of Trick Tips to help you out. He has incredible skills and loves to share them – even starting a Challenge series, which is a must see. And if you’re looking for ultra-real and unfiltered content, hit up his Day In The Life series, you’ll love it. Vid of the moment:

 


Hans Wouters

Headed to Europe again with this next YouTube king, Hans. Hailing from Belgium, his is an ultra robust channel. Looking to break into longboarding? His How I Started series is perfect for you. Don't miss his L.O.N.G.B.O.A.R.D. video expanding on the iconic S.K.A.T.E. game! His Story Time will have you rolling, and don’t worry; he’s heavy on freestyle content too. Plus the settings for his vids are often gorgeous European cities – it makes watching a feast for the eyes. Vid of the moment:

 


Lotfi Lamaali

Dude’s got STYLE. From his content to his photography, Lotfi is refreshingly original. He inspires us to be like him: coming up with something totally fresh and utterly unique. His videos are super short and easy to watch with crazy cool settings like the subway! With his dope rhythm skills, make sure you don't miss his longboard dancing vids. Vid of the moment:

 

If you didn’t have a clue about skaters/longboarders on YouTube, we bet you do now! And with hours and hours (days, actually!) of amazing content, what are you still doing here? Get to watching and subscribing!


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The Science Behind Longboarding Explained!

On the surface, longboarding may seem like a simple sport, but this assumption is misleading. At its most basic, a longboard is made up of a piece of wood, four wheels, and the trucks (pieces of metal) that hold the board and wheels together (Check out our whole post on the nitty-gritty of longboard design!). But far from basic, longboarding is a scientifically extreme sport involving the relationship between the physical components of the longboard (trucks, wheels, bearings, etc.), the skill of the rider, and the forces of the entire physical universe!

Longboards are technically just a subset of skateboards and usually have a range of length from 22 inches to 46+ inches, depending on the riders’ preferences (Looking for a guide on how to buy a longboard, skateboarder gift for your skater? Click here!). While a regular skateboard allows for freestyle and trick skating, traditional cruising is the preferred style for longboarders. But even without trick skating, there's plenty of science going on behind the scenes. Let's take a look!

Several factors go into understanding the physics behind any sport, and longboarding is no exception. If you remember anything about your high school physics class, you probably remember a dude named Isaac Newton and his three laws of motion. He states first that an object in motion and an object at rest will both remain that way in a perfect world without friction. Thankfully we live in a world full of objects that cause friction (like asphalt, and sidewalks) so that we can have the sport of longboarding! How does this work exactly? Your board starts rolling as you pump it. It would keep rolling forever and ever except that those friction-makers (like pavement) begin to slow it down. When you propel your longboard forward again, you restart the whole physics cycle. Don't you feel smarter already?


Mr. Newton's second law says that an object will accelerate (Speed! Sweet!) if the total force on the object is greater than its mass. Before we lose you with academics, lets put some real-world flesh on this idea. When you longboard downhill and speed up, this means that the forces acting on you and your board (gravity!) are more massive than what you weigh, so you start to move downhill! If you want to go even faster down the hill, we can hop back to Newton's first law, and you can crouch down to reduce your wind resistance (friction!). Without Newton's first and second laws, your downhill longboarding would be impossible!


Our man Newton has one more law of motion, his third, which says that every action creates an equal but opposite reaction. It seems ridiculous to think about, but did you know that when you place your foot down on the ground and push your longboard forward, that the earth is pushing right back up at you? Not only are you putting a force on the pavement, but the pavement is pushing that same force equally back at you! When you drag your foot to slow yourself down, the sidewalk is pulling you to a stop too. So next time you biff it on your board, don't be too mad at the ground. After all, you pushed on it first - it was just defending itself equally. 

So we have been talking a lot about friction, but did you know that there are two types of friction that affect longboarders? Fluid (also known as Static) friction keeps an object still. When you set your board down on flat ground, and it stays put, this is an example of static friction. To start moving, you have to put enough force into your push to overcome the force of static friction. For an example of how much the forces of static friction can vary, think about how much harder it is to start your board on bumpy asphalt versus a seamless new sidewalk (Need ideas about where to longboard? Check our post about where to skate!). Dynamic (or kinetic) friction is similar, but instead of being that amount of force to *start* an object moving, its the amount of force needed to *keep* an object moving. You have to keep pumping your board to keep it moving; you have to keep up the force to make sure it overcomes the friction slowing it down. 

Now wouldn't high school physics have been more fun if they used longboarding for all of the examples? We hope you've enjoyed this trip back to the (totally legit and rad) classroom for our study in the science of longboarding! 

This post was written for Board Blazers by Bryce Morris. Check out his site at SkateSet


Images: source 1, source 2, source 3.


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