What is Surfskating?
Surfskating is a form of skateboarding that mimics the movements and feel of surfing.
Surfskates have a specially-designed front truck that enable very tight, smooth turns and typical surfing maneuvers. On a surfskate, you can carve in, through, around the tightest urban corners and obstacles. They are also amazing to ride in skate parks and bowls!
Similar to surfing, you can pump a surfskate to generate speed, without pushing your foot on the street. On good terrain, you can pump a surfskate as long as you can last without ever touching the ground. In fact, you can even pump uphill!
This is a unique feeling, which can’t be replicated on a traditional longboard or skateboard.
Surfskating is different than either longboarding or skateboarding. It’s in a category and has a feel all its own.
Surfskating is for Everyone!
Surfskates first appeared in the late 1990s, starting with Carver Skateboards. Originally, they were designed for surfers to do surf training on flat days.
However, over time surfskating has evolved into far more than just surf training. Today, there are more than fifty surfskate brands around the world, each with their own unique style, feel, and purpose.
Surfers love surfskating for surf training. But surfskating is not just for surfers! It’s for everyone who loves the freedom and flow of board sports and wants to experience a completely new, different, and liberating style of riding.
How Does a Surfskate Work?
What makes surfskates different than skateboards or longboards is their special moving front truck.
Skateboard and longboard truck trucks only turn along their kingpin axis. Surfskate trucks add an extra axis of rotation using a swiveling arm on the front truck. This allows it to move on an additional plane compared to typical skateboard and longboard trucks.
There are many types of surfskate trucks, but they all follow the same principle: They add a rotating arm that allows a normal truck to turn on an extra vertical axis, parallel to the deck.
Pivoting surfskate trucks make the nose of the board shift from left to right, with dramatic transitions from rail to rail, as the rider shifts weight. The rear truck acts as a pivot point that the board rotates around, and the amplified movement of the nose allows the board to turn much more tightly and dramatically.
How Do You Ride a Surfskate?
If you’re a beginner wanting to learn how to surfskate, my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers,” gives you step-by-step instructions in a live class setting with beginners just like you.
When surfskating, your stance is the same as that on a surfboard. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
Your front foot sits slightly behind the front truck and your back foot goes on the kicktail. Your feet typically lie perpendicular to the deck.
Here’s what you have to remember on a surfskate: you’re not skateboarding, you’re surfing!
Skateboarding and longboarding use a lot of foot and ankle movements. Surfskating requires the same body motions as surfing, including a lot of upper body and hips. Where your head and arms lead, your hips and board follow.
If you come from a skateboarding or longboarding background, when you first step on a surfskate your instinct is to ride it like a conventional skateboard. Your upper body is rigid and your feet start to wobble.
This doesn’t work on a surfskate. On a surfskate, you must be loose and comfortable on the board. From here, you move your body in the same as you would surfing.
Surfskates are designed to flow and turn just like a surfboard. Float down the concrete as you would a wave, leading with your shoulders and following with your hips.
For step-by-step instructions to learn how to surfskate, get our video course for beginners, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”
How is Surfskating Different than Longboarding or Skateboarding?
There are many technical differences between surfskates and longboards or skateboards: board size and shape, wheel size and hardness, trucks, etc.
But aside from those, the two main differences between surfskating and longboarding or skateboarding are 1) the way you move on the board, and 2) the way it feels to ride.
Skateboarding is for doing tricks. Longboarding is for cruising, speeding downhill, or freeriding.
Surfskating gives you the feel of surfing on land. You get the feel of cruising on a longboard, but with the ability to make much quicker, tighter turns.
Both skateboarding and longboarding use a lot of foot movements. With both, you have to continuously push off the ground to keep moving. You also use your feet to tilt the board when you turn.
Surfskating requires completely different body movements. Surfskating is all in the shoulders and hips. Your feet stay relatively stable, while you control the board with your upper body.
Also, on a surfskate, depending on the terrain, you never have to take your foot off the board to push on the ground. You can generate and maintain speed by pumping the nose side to side. With the right terrain, on a surfskate you can ride as long as you can last without ever pushing.
Is Surfskating Just for Surf Training?
Not at all. Surfskating was started by surfers wanting to have fun on flat days and to improving their surfing.
However, over time surfskates have progressed to become more of a mainstream style of riding–even for riders who never have any intention of surfing. Surfskating is for everyone who wants the feel, flow, and freedom of surfing on land.
The beauty is that surfing is hard to learn, but you can enjoy surfskating quickly because the movements are more intuitive and easier to learn.
Whether you’re looking to improve your surfing skills or simply enjoy the feel of surfing on land, surfskating is for you!
Who is Surfskating Good For?
Surfskating is for Surfers
Surfskating was born when surfers got tired of flat days and wanted a way to use and improve their surfking skills on land. Surf training was the original purpose of surfskates.
Today, many surf schools around the world use surfskates to help learners master surfing maneuvers. These are much easier to teach and learn on land than in the water.
Surfskates are excellent for learning surfing because the body motions required to propel a surfskate are much closer to surfing than riding regular skateboards or longboards.
Surfskating is for All Board Sport Lovers
Any board sport lover will love the experience of surfskating. Surfskating is not cruising, downhill racing, or freeriding—it’s surfing! Surfskating is in a category and has a unique feel all its own.
Surfskating involves a lot of carving, pumping, and gliding. Both carving and pumping require a very loose and flexible front truck. This is why surf skateboards are the ultimate choice for these styles of riding.
Note that if you’re into long-distance cruising, a surfskate may not be the best option for you because they are less efficient for riding long distances.
Surfskating is for Newbies
Even if you’ve never surfed, skated, or longboarded, you may still want to get into surfskating. As a newbie, consider the following:
While surfskates are a ton of fun, they’re not nearly as stable and easy to start on as a classic longboard. Some surfskates are more stable than others.
My FREE Surfskate Selector app will help you choose the perfect beginner surfskate for you.
If you want to ride in small spaces, such as a driveway, parking lots, or skate parks, then surfskates are perfect. They allow you to make very tight turns and have a lot of fun even in a very limited space, which you can’t do on a classic longboard.
If you’re wanting a board for commuting or long-distance cruising, a surfskate may not be your best choice. They take more effort and are less efficient than cruising longboards.
However, they can be great for both if you have the strength and enjoy the exercise.
Which Surfskate is Right for You?
When deciding which surfskate is right for you, there are many factors to consider, including:
- Experience & Skill Level
- Riding Style
- Riding Environment
The bigger you are, the longer your board should be.
Surfskates that are designed specifically for surf training, such as Swelltech, YOW, and Smoothstar, are loose and delicately balanced.
Other boards are built for street carving and cruising, and are therefore more stable and easier to learn.
For beginners, it’s generally better to start with a bigger board. Smaller surfskates allow for short, tight swings similar to surfing shortboards. Longer surfskates feel more like longboards while surfing.
My FREE Surfskate Selector app will help you choose the perfect board for your size, experience, and riding style.