Even living far from the thrill of a freshly paved hill, you can still get a rush from taking out the board and learning some new tricks. Though often evolved from the pantheon of skateboard flips, grabs, and maneuvers, longboard tricks have developed a style and culture all their own as they continue to be tweaked in extreme and beautiful ways. Because of the added size and weight a longboarder must deal with, riders have designed innovative ways of using gravity, friction, and monstrous willpower to create a diverse collection of longboard tricks. The limits of possibility are constantly pushed by those who dedicate themselves to practice and the creative spirit.
One of the best ways to improve your downhill skills while learning some graceful longboard ballet is drawn from surfing maneuvers. Sometimes referred to as “longboard dancing,” these kinds of tricks develop balance and coordination.
Walkin’ the Plank
This basic trick includes literally walking up and down your board while it glides gracefully along the pavement. Bending the knees low, balance with your arms and adjust your position, giving all of your muscles and mentality perfect practice for more difficult tricks. Try going up on one foot for a variation known as “chop the wood” or switching the orientation of your feet in a surfing technique known as “cross-stepping.” Once you’ve mastered that, pay homage to the Beach Boys by placing both feet parallel on the nose and “hanging ten,” preferably while wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
Another foundational longboarding trick involves lifting your nose or tail off the ground and cruising on just two wheels; find a comfortable position and spread your arms out like an eagle to help find the sweet spot. Different board styles make these tricks vary in difficulty – try tightening your bushings if you find it impossible to keep good balance. Once you are able to pull a smooth manual for a good dozen or so feet, try what’s known as a “G-turn” by executing a sweeping turn while in the manual position. G-turns can be heavily modified to link tricks and create graceful lines to impress the neighbors with your longboarding skills. Try practicing without moving by walking your board in 180s until you can perform them on a slow roll, thus achieving the hearty “big spin.”
Off the Ground
While some smaller longboards may allow you to “Ollie,” most will require a little more ingenuity in order to catch some air. A simple precursor trick is the “shanker,” which is done by pushing like a “Nollie” on the nose and jumping – giving the impression of a slight pop. Deeply bending the knees and grabbing the board with one or two hands, longboarders can pull the board upwards as they jump to hit the famous “early grab.” Pros can often clear a foot or two just with practiced early grab technique and a bellowing grunt. Instead of pulling the board into your feet, jump first and then let the wood follow, and make sure to keep the board balanced, grabbing just forward of the center to avoid driving your nose into that hard, hard cement.
Another slightly more difficult way to catch some air is by hitting the “boneless.” This skateboard trick involves grabbing the edge of your board behind the front truck with one hand and using your front foot to actually kick off of the ground. While it’s tricky on a heavy board, planting your body for a quick moment on the pavement opens up a world of longboarder tricks like the “boneless kick-flip” or “boneless shove-it,” when you jump and toss the deck in a 180 and then land smoothly to cruise off into the sunset. Experiment with placing your hand at different angles or sides of the board to adjust the leverage and open up new possibilities.
Reaching Longboard Nirvana
One of the great things about longboarding is its relative freshness as a sport. New tricks and ideas get inscribed into the Holy Book of Longboarding each and every day, giving riders new foundations to build upon and be inspired by. Try making up your own tricks and sharing them with fellow riders and in turn learning from them to expand your vocabulary. Practicing is all about having fun and changing the way we ride, and nothing feels quite as good as finally landing that epic trick and realizing that you can achieve what you once thought impossible.