Skateboarding Basics: How to Ride & Push on a Skateboard

By Published On: January 31st, 20220 Comments

It’s natural to want to excel at things right away, but as with all sports, learning how to skateboard can take time. After learning how to stand on a skateboard, other basics you’ll need to master before getting to the more advanced stuff include proper push off technique and how to ride a skateboard (and stay balanced while doing it). 

Rather than winging it, take the time to learn the correct technique. Practicing basic elements such as pushing off can seem like overdoing it, but in reality, a good push off technique can build a strong foundation for learning later skills. 

What You’ll Need

Before you start practicing proper push off technique, you need to have the right gear in order. 

  • Skateboard. You need to have a high-quality skateboard, not something too cheaply made or found at a toy store. You don’t need to splurge on your first skateboard either. If you’re a beginner, a quality complete skateboard is a great place to start. 
  • Protective gear. Protective gear is a must for all skaters, but especially for beginners. You’ll definitely need a helmet, one that fits your head snugly all around. Pads are a good idea too, considering you’re still learning how to push and keep your balance and falling can easily happen. 
  • Skate shoes. You’re not pulling fancy tricks yet, but if you haven’t already, you definitely want to consider getting a quality pair of skate shoes. Again, you don’t need to splurge on the latest drop, but avoid wearing runners and basketball shoes at all costs, even if you’re just practicing the basics. The thick soles of those types of shoes can make handling a skateboard pretty difficult. The best skate shoes for beginners are durable sneakers with flat soles and a low profile. They should be able to take an impact yet still allow your feet to feel the grooves of the skateboard. 

How to Push Off on a Skateboard

  • Set up your skateboard on flat ground in front of you. 
  • Take your lead foot (consider if you’re regular or goofy footed) and place it on the skateboard in between the center and the nose. A good point of reference is right above the front trucks or slightly behind them.
  • Slightly bend your front knee and lean forward.
  • Use your back foot to push off and propel yourself forward. Start to build speed by pushing multiple times. 3 to 4 pushes are usually a good starting point. 
  • Once you’ve reached your desired speed, bring your back foot up onto the board. 

How Not to Push Off on a Skateboard

A key part of proper push off technique is pushing off with your back foot. 

Pushing mongo is the practice (more specifically, malpractice) of pushing off with your front foot. When you push mongo, your back foot is situated near the center of your skateboard while your front foot pushes. Once you reach your desired speed and need to get into riding position, you have to bring your front foot up onto the skateboard while simultaneously shifting your back foot to the tail. It’s easy to see how this can cause problems for a beginner. 

Some skaters brush off pushing mongo as preference while others swear that proper pushing technique isn’t a matter of opinion. Pushing mondo can come in handy in situations like learning to ride fakie, but it’s generally frowned upon in other scenarios, especially if you’re just starting out and learning proper form. 

This style of pushing is not only inconvenient when it comes to bring your back foot up, but it can also make accidents more likely. Pushing mongo shifts your body weight towards the rear of the skateboard, which makes it easier for the front wheels to pop off the ground. 

While we won’t come out and say this is the wrong way to skate, we’ll say we definitely don’t recommend pushing mongo, especially when you’re new. Most concerns come from a place of safety

How to Ride and Stay Balanced

Once you’ve got a working knowledge of how to push off, it’s time to practice balancing and staying on your skateboard while it’s in motion. Most beginners will struggle to find and keep their balance but find it gets easier with time and effort. 

Once you’ve reached your desired speed during push off and bring your back foot up onto the board, practice the following steps to maintain balance on a moving board. 

  1. Get in the proper riding stance. You’ll want your feet to be slightly angled. A good frame of reference is about 50 to 90 degrees outward from the centerline of your board. 
  2. Position your feet so that your toes are touching the rails of one side of the board and your heels are touching the rails of the other side. Keep the middle of your foot over the centerline. This will help you stay balance and prime you to start learning and taking turns
  3. Keep your front foot positioned on top of near the front trucks, and your back leg over the back trucks. Avoid standing on the kicktail or too far back. 
  4. Stay on the board! Try and stay balanced until the skateboard stops moving. You may need to use your arms to remain balanced while in motion. Remember, try to keep your chest perpendicular with the board. 
  5. Focus your weight on your lead leg. Lean into that front leg and bend it slightly if you need to. If you want to start trying carves, put pressure into your toes or heels to turn in their respective directions. Bend into the motion to turn deeper. 
  6. To come to a stop, place your back foot on the ground and use the friction from your sole or foot to reduce your speed. This is called foot braking. 

Learning how to push off and stay balanced while the skateboard is in motion can be one of the trickiest parts of learning how to ride a skateboard. As with all good things in life, time, dedication, along with lots of trial and error are the secret recipe to getting it right. So, find a spot to practice and get to work!

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