Skateboarding Basics: How to Turn on a Skateboard

By Published On: January 31st, 20220 Comments

If you’re new to skateboarding and you’ve made it this far into our skateboarding basics guides, you’ve probably got at least a few fundamentals mastered. Once you feel comfortable selecting your stance, pushing off, riding in a straight line and staying balanced, and coming to a stop, it’s time to start practicing turns. 

For your first few practice sessions, turning may not have been too much of a concern. You were likely in an isolated area and focused on staying balanced in motion. But if you’re hoping to level up and start skating with others and in skateparks, you’ve got to master your turns. 

Learning how to turn on a skateboard may not be the most exciting aspect of the sport, but it’s an important skill to crush before you start moving on to more advanced tricks. 

What You’ll Need

  • Skateboard. If you’ve made it to this stage, you probably already have your board, but for the sake of emphasis, make sure it’s a high-quality one. It can be tempting to buy a cheap board from a big box or toy store, but it’s important to have something durable. You don’t have to go too big either. Building a custom skateboard can be overwhelming for a beginner. Pre-built completes make great first boards for beginner skaters. 
  • Helmet. Keep a lid on it! No excuses. Ideally, you’ve been wearing a helmet every time you hop onto your skateboard. But now that you’re starting to venture off and practice more skills, wearing protective gear will only continue to get more important. Make sure your helmet fits you properly too. 
  • Pads. Additional safety gear such as elbow pads and knee pads can provide extra protection as well as extra peace of mind. 
  • Skate shoes. Now that you’re really getting into the flow of things, having the right pair of shoes becomes more and more important. If you’ve read our other skateboarding guides, you’ll know how skate shoes are designed with unique skating conditions in mind, such as providing more grip and retaining the ability to feel the board. Consider investing in a quality pair of skate shoes. At the very least, your riding shoes should have a low profile and a flatter, thinner sole. Avoid shoes with thick soles such as runners or basketball shoes. 

Before You Start

Make sure you’re proficient in all prior skating fundamentals. Before practicing your turns, you should feel comfortable pushing off, riding, and coming to a stop. 

Check the tightness of your trucks by standing on your board and leaning left, then to the right. If you’re having trouble tilting, your trucks are likely too tight. If the board tilts too easily, the trucks are probably too loose and may feel unstable. 

Looser trucks make it easier to turn, but trucks that are too loose can lead to an unstable board that’s difficult to control. When it comes to one or the other, it’s better to have trucks that are a little too tight. 

To tighten your trucks, turn the kingpin nut to the right. To loosen them, turn the nut to the left. 

Leaning and Steering

The best way for a beginner to approach turns is to start with leaning and steering. Leaning and steering are complementary to working on your balance, as these moves are more so gentle nudges than they are turns. 

We recommend starting out on a level surface. To turn on a skateboard by leaning:

  1. Ride in your normal stance.
  2. Shift your weight in the direction you want to turn. If you want to turn frontside, shift you weight towards the balls of your feet. To turn backside, shift your weight onto your heels. 
  3. Lean softly into the turn to start drifting in that direction. It shouldn’t take too much pressure to see a change in direction. If the board isn’t turning as much as you’d like it to, lean a little more in that direction. 
  4. Mind your balance and keep your weight centered. You might find yourself teetering the first couple tries. If you feel a little shaky, bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity and prevent falling. 
  5. Once you’re done turning, correct your stance by shifting your weight back to the middle of your feet. 

It might take you several tries to get it right, but after some practice sessions, you’ll likely be steering left and right in no time. Once you feel comfortable leaning and steering, you’ll be able to start skating around other people. 


Steering is great for making slight turns, but what about making sharp turns? 

Making sharp turns is a bit more difficult than steering, because sharp turns require you to overcome the limitations of the board’s undercarriage. You can only lean so far until your skateboard tips over or experiences wheel bite. This is where kickturns come in. 

Kickturns involve raising the nose of the board, balancing on the back wheels, and directing the front of the board in the direction you want to go in. Mastering kickturns will allow you to quickly change directions at any speed. 

As with steering, we recommend selecting a location with flat ground to start. We also recommend practicing kickturns from a stationary position before trying them in motion, 

  1. Move your back foot to the kicktail. Place your front foot above the trucks. Apply just enough pressure on the kicktail to lift the front wheels slightly off the ground.
  2. Once the wheels lift off the ground, quickly yet firmly rotate your lead shoulder in the direction you want to turn in. You need to use enough momentum to bring both your body and board along for the turn. Try to swing the board about 90 degrees. 

Once you feel confident enough in your stationary kickstands, you can start to practice them in motion. 

  1. Ride in your normal stance. Push until you’ve attained moderate speed. 
  2. Move your back foot to the kicktail of your skateboard as described above and follow the same steps as the stationary kickstand. 
  3. To complete the turn and continue riding, shift your weight back to your front foot and bring the front wheels down. 

Perfecting your turns take practice, and you can expect some mishaps and falls along the way (so once again, wear protective gear!). Once you’ve nailed leaning and kickturns, you’ve built yourself a solid foundation of skills and can start trying your hand at more advanced skills and skating obstacles!

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