The building blocks
Once we’ve learnt to push along on our skateboard with confidence we need to learn to turn.
There are two ways to turn, the kick turn, which we’ll cover later, and carving. Carving is where we move our weight over our toes or heels which causes the trucks to flex and turn.
The steps to carving on your skateboard
Try it on the spot.
Lean onto your toe edge. Try and hold it there without falling off. Your wheels should not come off the floor. Your feet should not come off the board. Practice this for as long as you need before you start doing it whilst rolling along.
Now lean onto your heel edge. This is harder. This is because you can’t see through the back of your head, and you have to do this using kinesthetics – that is body feel.
Put down a marker, and carve toward it
OK, once you are comfortable with this, you can try it rolling along.
Turning right – if you ride regular on your skateboard you will lean on the toes to turn right, if you ride goofy, it’s your heels.
Turning left – if you ride regular you will lean on your heels to turn to the left, and goofy on your toes.
Try placing a marker down and make it your goal to carve towards the marker.
Link turns with a slalom course
Once you’ve learnt to carve on your skateboard on both the heel and toe edge you can start to learn to link turns. Setting yourself up a slalom course with some markers is the best way to practice this.
An important thing to learn with the slalom is where to place your board at the start. When you’re in the skatepark or on the street, you will usually have a route, (or line, as it’s known in skate lingo) in mind. Where you place your board will make it easier or harder to get to where you want to be. The most common beginner mistake is to point your board directly at the object you are trying to get around. Don’t do that. Point it so that you pass it closely alongside.
Stay close to the objects you are trying to get around. Don’t take a wide line around the marker or you’ll need to turn really hard to correct your line.
As you get better bring the markers closer together.
Common reasons for falling off your skateboard
The most common reason for falling off your skateboard, apart from a crap board, is poor foot positioning. A common mistake is the placement of the toe of the front foot. It should be close to the edge of the board, or for adults, hanging over the edge of the board.
To use the bicycle analogy again, the handlebars are first used to correct our centre of gravity, and stay upright, before we ever use them to steer intentionally. The trucks on a skateboard perform this same function.
Now imagine you are holding the handlebars very close to the handlebar stem, have you ever tried that? You need to use much more strength to turn the handlebars, and to make fine adjustments. Correcting your centre of gravity, and therefore staying upright is more difficult. When your toes are too near the centre of the board you will find you have the same problem.
Another reason is that your trucks are too tight or too loose. Too tight and you won’t be able to make tight enough turns to get around slalom markers. Too loose, and you will start to get the wobbles when you pick up some moderate speed. See more about adjusting your trucks.
That’s it. Next you’ll want to take your carves onto the skatepark. Put some markers around the skatepark that you have to carve around for a bit of fun. Learning to carve the bowl is a next step.
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