Learn Surfskate Bowl Riding with These 10 Tips

by | Jan 3, 2022 | Surfskate Bowl Riding, Surfskating Tutorials

Surfskate bowl riding is one of the most fun things you can do on a surfskate, and is a great way to practice surfing. Here are my top 10 tips for learning how to surfskate in bowls.

Watch Me Learn Surfskate Bowl Riding on YouTube

I didn’t start longboarding until March of 2020 at the age of 43, and I didn’t start surfskating until October of 2020.

In April of 2021, I decided I wanted to learn how to ride a surfskate in bowls. And at the age of 44, in just 30 days, over the course of about three months, I went from this:

…to this:

As you can see, if I can learn surfskate bowl riding in just 30 days, anyone can. So from my experience, here are my 10 tips for learning how to surfskate in bowl.

For more surfskating tutorials with live video instruction, get my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #1:
Do some research on surfskate bowl riding first.

When I started trying to bowl surfskate, I didn’t even watch any tutorials on bowl riding. I just showed up at the park and started throwing myself into transitions to see how it felt. As you saw from the video above, I looked ridiculous.

Over time, my process of throwing myself into it worked, but I could have shaved some time off had I done a bit of research into basic surfskate bowl riding techniques.

There are a lot of surfskate bowl riding tutorials on YouTube that show you the mechanics of bowl riding. So watch a few before you head to the skate park.

Here are a few surfskate bowl riding tutorials to get you started:

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #2:
Always wear protective gear.

Speaking from firsthand experience, when you’re first starting to learn how to surfskate in bowls, you’re guaranteed to take some spills. With the right protective gear, you can save yourself a lot of pain.

I strongly recommend that you get a standard set of protective gear for surfskate bowl riding: helmet, wrist guards, elbow bads, knee pads. But I also very strongly recommend that you add hip pads to that.

In all the time I’ve been surfskating in bowls, the only thing I’ve ever hurt is my front hip. So to me, it doesn’t make any sense to wear all the other protective gear, but not hip pads, when practicing surfskate bowl riding.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #3:
Use the right surfskate trucks for bowl riding.

When I started bowl surfskating, I experimented with a lot of different surfskate trucks, including the YOW Meraki, Smoothstar Thruster, Carver C7, Carver CX, and Slide.

What I found is that the more stable trucks—the Carver CX, Carver C7, and Slide V3—are far easier to ride in bowls than the looser trucks. My personal favorite surfskate truck for bowl riding is the Carver CX, because of its stability.

This is not to say that the looser surfskate trucks, suck as the Smoothstar Thruster or YOW Meraki, can’t be ridden in bowls. It’s just to say that they are more difficult, and you are far more likely to jackknife your truck on them.

So as a rule, when it comes to choosing your surfskate trucks for bowl riding, the less advanced of a rider you are, the more stable you want your trucks to be.

For more information on choosing the right surfskate truck for bowl riding, see my article, “What are the Best Surfskates for Bowl Riding?”

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #4:
Find the right deck for surfskate bowl riding.

When it comes to choosing a surfskate deck for surfskate bowl riding, you’re looking for the following properties:

  1. Good concave to lock your feet in, so your feet don’t slide around.
  2. A wheelbase of no wider than 18″, preferably closer to 17.5″. (A wider wheelbase makes you less nimble in transitions.)

My personal favorite deck for surfskate bowl riding is the Carver Black Tip (32.5″ long, 17.5″ wheelbase, deep concave):

For a full list of suitable surfskate decks for surfskate bowl riding from the top surfskate companies, see my article, “What are the Best Surfskates for Bowl Riding?”

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #5:
Start by mastering whichever turn is easiest for you, then move onto your weak turn.

In surfing terms, a “backside turn” means that your back is facing the wave as you make a turn, like so:

A “frontside turn” means your chest is facing the wave as you make a turn, like so:

For me, frontside turns were way harder to learn than backside turns. So what I did is focus on my backside turns until I got comfortable with flowing in and out of transitions.

Once you feel that flow of transitions on your strong side turn, then you will know how it’s supposed to feel. Now, you’re ready to focus on your weak side turns.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #6:
Master your weak side turn.

To master my weak side turn—frontside—what I did is start on a 45-degree-angle ramp. For a couple days, I did nothing but practice frontside turns over and over and the ramp:

Once I felt really comfortable on the ramp, then I moved to a quarter pipe and did the same thing:

Once I felt comfortable on the quarter pipe, then I moved into the bowl.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #7:
You must be loose and flexible for surfskate bowl riding.

As I practiced my frontside turns, I discovered that one of the big reasons I was struggling with them is because I had a lot of body misalignments and muscle tightness. I’ve had knee surgery, back surgery, and a significant shoulder injury, all of which have created a lot of scar tissue.

I found that my limited flexibility was really limiting my progress with surfskate bowl riding. So I signed up for yoga classes and started going to yoga every day. It made a phenomenal difference for me.

To successfully surfskate in the bowl, you really need to be flexible and loose. If you have limited flexibility like me, sign up for yoga classes.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #8:
Consistent repetitions are the key.

Consistent repetition is the only way to progress with surfskating in bowls.

There are two critical elements here: consistency and repetition. If you show up at the skate park consistenly but you don’t get your reps in, your progress will be slow. Likewise, if you don’t show up consistently but you get your reps in when you do, you also won’t progress very quickly.

You have to show up often to the skate park and work on your weak points every time to improve at surfskate bowl riding.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #9:
Experiment with your lines in the bowl.

Surfskate bowl riding is like surfing a wave—in both cases, you have to plan your “lines.”

Think of dropping a ball at a certain point in the bowl. Where will it naturally roll? If you drop into the bowl at the same spot, that’s where your sursfskate will roll.

If you plan your lines well, using a combination of backside and frontside turns, you can surfskate in a bowl without stopping for as long as you have energy.

Once you are confident with your weakside turn, you will be able to get more creative with finding new lines.

Surfskate Bowl Riding Tip #10:
Master one surfskate bowl, then move onto others.

Pick one bowl and get to know all of the lines. Be creative, work on strengthening your weak side and get even more confident in finding those new lines and fun ways to surfskate the bowl.

Once you’ve mastered one bowl, then move onto another to add variety to your surfskate bowl riding.

For more surfskating tutorials with live video instruction, get my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”