If you've dreamed of mastering a sport
that's tricky and involves water and freedom — but lacks the danger associated
with surfing — skimboarding could be the perfect choice. You only need a few
things to take up skimboarding as a hobby: namely a board and a beach.
Ultimately, you'll find your rhythm as a
skimmer as you continuously practice the sport, providing you know what to
expect each time you ride the board. The following skimboard tutorial tells you
everything you need to know in order to get started and advance your technique.
Beginners Guide to Skimboarding | Intermediate Skimboarding | [Advanced Skimboarding | Tricks | Safety
In a sense, learning how to balance on a
skimboard is like learning how to balance on a bike. As with the latter, you
master your balance on a skimboard when it's in motion, not when it's grounded.
That said, there is one basic reality for the beginning skimmer:
is part of mastering the skill
Skimboarding is one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline-fuelled sports, but
as with skiing, surfing, skating and any other sporting activity that requires
balance, you also end up falling from time to time.
When you're learning to skimboard for the
first time, you'll end up falling quite frequently. Fortunately, the soft,
dampened sand of a skimboard setting is much less bruising than the hard
concrete and floors of ice faced by skaters. So whether you fall on your knees
or bottom, it's usually easy to jump right back up and hit the board again.
However, you must have a willingness to fall if you wish to be a skimmer — it's
simply a fact of the sport.
The first steps of learning to skimboard involve being
prepared, getting balanced, increasing speed and recognizing skimming
logistics. Skimboarding for beginners doesn’t have to be difficult once you
master a few of the basics.
Find an optimal spot.
While it's possible to skimboard in non-beach environments,
the sand and water that you'll find at the coast will generally provide the
most optimal of settings for this sport. Different types of beaches are best
for particular styles of skimboarding. When it comes to sand skimming, for
instance, your most ideal setting would be a flat beach. On the other hand,
beaches with steep slopes and strong shores are better for wave skimming.
Purchase a suitable
Our beginners guide to skimboarding wouldn’t be complete with some advice on
how to pick a skimboard. The
type of board you ultimately
choose should depend on whether you intend to do sand skimming or wave
skimming. In order to do the former, any board with a small, flat, wooden
design would be appropriate, and such boards tend to be inexpensively priced.
With wave skimming, by contrast, you'd be better off with a specially shaped
foam board. Learn more about
how to choose the right skimboard for
Get fit for the sport. Before you learn
how to skimboard, you'll want to be in good physical shape when you take the
board out on the beach. It's good to have your running speed up and your leg
muscles toned and stretched before you start skimboarding. After all, the sport
involves brisk runs with a few falls along the way.
Practice positioning in advance of your first skim. When you first practice skimming, try to find a spot on the
beach away from other people. After all, most people don't understand skimming,
and you wouldn't want to bump into anyone as you practice. Then, practice your
poses before you take it out:
- Turn sideways
to the shoreline. If you're right-footed, turn to your right; if you're
left-footed, turn to your left. If one angle doesn't feel comfortable, try
- With your body
standing still, lean over and lower your board down to six inches from the
ground. Push the board across the watered sand, parallel to the shoreline.
This move is much like shooting pool in that the throwing hand sends the
object forward while the other hand keeps it balanced.
- Rise up, chase
the board and run onto it one foot at a time. As you slide, bend your
As you get better at this move, try doing
it all faster and more succinctly until you can pull it off in one step.
Get in the proper
position for your first skim
. Hold the board in front of you with one hand on the tail
and one hand on the side. In order to skim along the flat sand, wait until just
after a wave rolls out — when the sand is thinly coated with a film of water — to
begin your run. Once your running reaches full speed, drop the board flat on
the wet sand, directly in front of you, and get on the board.
Run onto the board. Don't jump onto
the board, just run onto it with your front leg landing in the middle, followed
by your back foot. The key here is to gradually add your bodyweight to the
board, one foot at a time, because that will allow the board to skim with
smoothness and ease. If you were to jump on the board, that would place too
much weight upon it and run it into the sand.
Skim along. The sport of sand
skimming is easy — you simply skim along until the board slows to a halt. You
can opt to do a straight skim or, depending on your skill level, go for
something trickier, such as a shoot or a big spin. Once you've mastered the
sand skim, you'll likely want to take on the next big feat: wave skimming.
Choose the right wave. Of
all the initial steps that a novice skimmer takes when out on the beach, the
most important step of all is to choose the most optimal wave. For practice,
it's best to take to a wave immediately after it breaks — timing is everything
In order to accomplish the wave skim, you'll need to
choose a reachable wave that you can turn off of without losing your balance. Depending
on which direction you plan to go, you'll want to begin your turn with the
application of weight to either your inside or outside rail when coming towards
Maintain the proper speed. A technique known as side-slipping — giving the board
sideways turns over flat water — can help you hold your speed for longer
durations. Another way to hold your speed is to use the middle-side rail of the
board instead of the back, though this is trickier to master since it leaves
you with less power over the wave. Once you skim up the front of the wave, turn
away from it and back to the shore.
Skimboarding for beginners can be a little bit frustrating
after the first few falls, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed at
how quickly you’ll move on to the intermediate level.
Once you've learned all the basic moves of the
beginners guide to skimboarding, it's time to master the intermediate
techniques of the sport. Some of the initial steps here are similar to ones
before, such as those that involve approaching the wave — this time around, it
just requires a more keen eye.
Measure your approach of the wave. Remember, if you want to catch a wave, you'd better choose
the right one. In order to qualify, the wave must be within reach. After all,
it's impossible to ride a wave that you can't even get to in the first place.
Therefore, you must choose a wave that breaks closely into the shore. Trouble
is, such waves can also be difficult to ride.
The important thing is to look at the
water in front of the wave — does it move into the beach after the break of
another wave? If the water moves inward at a speed of 5 miles per hour, and you
run at double that speed, you should be able to skim out to the wave on that
water at 15 mph. On the other hand, if the water moves outward (back into the
ocean) at 5 mph, your skimming speed will be reduced to 5 mph, and your board
will ground instantly, regardless of how fast you run. For all of these reasons
and more, your success as a skimmer will largely depend on whether or not you
choose appropriate waves.
Ride your board according to footedness. In order to have
the most plentiful range of options in terms of reachable waves, it's crucial
to get on your board as fast as possible. When you get on the board swiftly,
you can make a play for waves that are only available for seconds. The most
surefire way to pull this off is to simply step on the board the moment it hits
the sand — preferably by swinging your right foot on the middle of the board or
left foot if you're "goofy" footed — with your back foot handling the
running motions to keep you moving on your skim.
Distribute your weight properly on the board. It's important to
move into the water as smoothly as possible in order to keep up your speed
throughout each trick. The best way to accomplish this is by placing weight at
the tail of the board, with the strength of your back foot, in order to raise
the nose. As soon as you hit the water, however, it's also crucial to keep your
weight centered on top of the board. Failure to do so could cause the board to
grind to a halt from an overabundance of weight at the tail.
Get ready for your turn. As you come towards the wave, prepare to make your turn.
In order to get this started, bend your knees. This will help you place more of
your bodyweight onto the board along its back rail. Even though it could
slightly lower your speed, an early start to your turn will make is easier to
complete in full. In certain cases, you may opt to use your hand as a
pivot-point in the water while doing your turn.
Do the turn.
If all goes according to plan, you should have every bit of speed necessary for
completing the turn once you hit the wave. Otherwise, your best option would be
to cut the move and start it over again. Providing that you do have sufficient
speed, things are really going to get fun, because the turn that you'll have
already begun will climax at the peak of the wave. Preferably, you'll be able
to manage a steady turn up the front of the wave — but as you reach the peak,
kick out your back foot to snap from the wave's top and then head back onto the
Bring the board around. This can certainly be a tricky move, because every wave
offers a particular moment when it is most capable of supporting a turn.
Ideally, you'll have measured the move so your arrival will coincide with the
best possible moment for the wave. Typically, the most optimal time to snap at
the crest of a wave is immediately before it breaks.
The reason why it works this way is due to the speed of
waves, which typically move inward at their fastest at the very same moment you
would be making a turn. Of course, the move is most easily accomplished when
you place added weight onto your back foot in order to ready the board's tail
for the turn. As you get more advanced at this move, you can save speed by
using the side rails of the board while in the midst of the turn.
Come back down. Once you have made the full change of direction, you'll
ideally be moving down the front of the wave. In most cases, it's preferable to
turn continually for the chance to further ride the wave, instead of just
returning to the sand. While coming down the wave's front, try to prolong your
turn. This will allow you to ride along the shoreline with an increased amount
of speed. As you come towards the beach, be sure to keep the board's nose from
pointing down, because otherwise it could grind right into the sand.
Once you’ve had a solid introduction to skimboard and you’re
bringing your skills up to the advanced level, spectators at the beach will
really start to take notice of your skimming abilities. The following skimboard
tutorial will help you get to the most advanced skimboarding level.
Spot the most opportune wave. For starters, you'll want to find a wave that can be
approached quickly and from an angle. With enough speed, you'll be able to take
the board up high — the key is to hit the wave immediately before it breaks.
Run at the proper angle for the jump. As you come
toward the wave, turn your body in order to reach the wave at a side angle.
Choose the spot where you plan to launch in advance of getting there. When you
do come to the wave's bottom, bend your knees as if preparing for a jump.
Jump at the right second. The moment your
board reaches the wave's lip, do your jump. The jump should be small, light
(not too hard) and controlled with the board underneath. Refrain from jumping
with both feet — place more weight on your back foot to make the board lift at
Maintain control of the board while up in the air. While your body
is up in the air, it will most likely be easier to keep the board beneath your
body if you let your front foot slide up the board. Though it's difficult to
have control at this point, the wind underneath is what will keep the board
attached to your feet in the midst of a rotation.
In order to gain more control of the board, try to absorb
its rising motion with your knees. The trick is to balance the pressure between
the board and your feet so the latter doesn't lose contact with the former.
With bent knees, the board will rise up underneath your body during the entire
jump, which will ultimately make it easier to land.
Extend your legs on the comedown. When you begin to
decelerate from your jump, it will still be necessary to keep your feet planted
on the board. The difference here is that the board will be descending, so to
keep it under your feet, you'll need to extend your legs while you land.
This should be done gradually from the moment you descend
so that your legs are completely extended by the time you touch back down on
the beach. It goes without saying that you should also have your landing spot
determined at this point in the game — the place where you land should be free
of rocks and out of harm's way.
Land the board. There are various ways you can land: on the whitewash, on
the wave itself or on the sand — though the last of those could be bad on the
board. Whatever method you choose, however, it's crucial to have your weight
focused at the center of the board while you land. It's also important to hold
your balance as well as you can throughout this move. For the easiest possible
landing, absorb the impact with your knees. This will help your board land flat
and ensure a smooth and easy ride out.
As you get more into the sport of skimming, you'll be
tempted to perform trickier moves on the board. There are various
that can be mastered at each of the skimming skill levels,
from beginner and intermediate to advanced and expert.
Beginner tricks. Tricks at the
beginner level include flat front and backside 180s, in which you rotate the
board halfway around, in one direction or the other, with your foot. Other
tricks for the novice skimmer to try include the body varial — where you jump
and spin above the board — and the hippy jump — where you jump over a rail
while the board goes under.
Intermediate tricks. At the
intermediate level, things get trickier with front and backside 180s, in which
you pop the board and make a halfway rotation along with it — either to the
left or right, depending on your footedness. There's also the backside and
frontside shuvit, where you jump in the air while the board spins underneath
Advanced and expert tricks. Things get really
complicated at the advanced level, where shuvits now spin a full 360 degrees.
Perhaps even trickier are the front and backside bigspins, which combine 180-degree
body varials with 360-degree board rotations. The trickiest advanced move is
undoubtedly the biospin, in which the 180/360 rotations of the bigspin are each
done in opposite directions. For those who make it to the expert level,
full-body rotations are combined with 540-degree board spins.
Most sports have their share of risks, and learning to
skimboard is no exception. Fortunately, you can avoid these risks by taking the
right precautionary measures.
Prevent surfer's ear.
One condition that is known to affect unguarded, unsuspecting skimmers is
surfer's ear. Prolonged, repetitive exposure to wind and water causes damage to
the ear canal and
hinders a person's hearing. Once the condition has advanced,
the treatment for surfer's ear can be complex and risky. In order to prevent
the possibility of coming down with surfer's ear, wear ear plugs at all times
while taking your board to the waves.
Beware of sun glare on ocean water.
If you're on the west coast, you're liable to do some of your skimming between
the late afternoon and evening when the sun is coming down. Trouble is, the
sun's reflection upon the water during these hours can be damaging to the eyes.
resulting from prolonged exposure include impaired vision and growths upon the
eye's surface. When you hit a beach that faces the sunset during the later part
of a given day, wear sunglasses as often as possible when you're not actually
Exercise the knees to avoid stress.
As most veteran skimmers know,
skimboarding puts a lot of stress on the knees. The most effective way to
reduce this stress is to exercise the muscles surrounding the knees with ankle
weights and leg-lift movements. When the leg muscles are equipped to
handle more stress, the burden is reduced on the ligaments and tendons of your
A more subtle technique for avoiding knee
stress involves the way you walk up the beach. Instead of walking diagonally
over the receding whitewash, walk in a direction that doesn't put your ankles
perpendicular to the flow of the water. Your knees will thank you over time.
Strengthen your back.
With all the twists and bends that skimmers do on a regular basis, back
injuries can occur in those who lack sufficient upper-body strength, especially
those who are leaning how to skimboard for the first time and not used to the
new strain on their body. As with any physical undertaking, it's important to
do stretches of your back and hamstrings before you go about skimming. For
maximum protection against pulled muscles and discs, it's also best to do
strength training exercises a couple times each week for stronger back,
shoulder, arm, and leg muscles, as well as crunches for a tighter abdomen.
Where to Begin
Now that you're
all psyched about learning how to skimboard, it's time to get a skimboard so
you can begin hitting the waves at your nearest beach. Skimboards come in
a range of sizes and materials from various brands, including
Zap, Victoria and Apex. Be sure to choose the right skimboard in relation to
your body weight and skill level. Whatever board may be right for you, you'll
find it at Outdoor Board Sports.
Shop Our Wide Selection of Skimboards & Traction Pads