Why Does Proper Surfskate Technique Matter?
You can pump and carve a lot of ways on surfskate trucks, even if it’s not pure surfskate technique based on surfing form. So why is it important to hone your surfskate technique?
When I got into surfskating, I had never surfed in my life. I had only been longboarding for a year, and that was my only frame of reference to surfskating.
So when I jumped onto a surfskate, I didn’t care about proper surfskate technique as based in surfing—all I knew is that I moved my body and the board moved, and I was happy. It really was that simple for me.
However, the more I skated and fine-tuned my surfskate technique, the more I gravitated toward surfing form. In fact, I even went through two paid courses to learn proper surfskate technique for surfers.
I discovered that the more I honed my surfskate technique, the more efficient my movements were and the more fun I had.
I once had a philosophical discussion on surfskating with a Facebook friend, Tony Waterman, a long-time and passionate surfer. He shared some thoughts with me on the subject of surfskate technique that are worth reading.
If you’re a surfskate beginner wanting to improve your surfskate technique, get my live video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.” In the course, you get live instruction on all aspects of surfskate technique, including foot placement, stance, and posture; how to pump a surfskate, how to turn on a surfskate, how to stop on a surfskate, and more.
A Discussion on Surfskate Technique
After reading these survey results and my open letter to surfskate companies, Tony reached out to me. The following are unedited selections from our discussion on why surfskate technique should be based in surfing technique (shared with Tony’s permission).
“Steve, I had a look at your survey and open letter. I think that whilst yes many more non surfers are buying and riding surfskates there are a couple of thing to consider.
“First, what is the purpose of a surfskate? It’s not a rip stick, yet most people I see trying to ride the do the dipstick wiggle. It’s not an LDP, yet LDP riders want them to be that. It’s not a dance board, yet we see posts of people dancing on them. It’s not a skate board in the pure sense of tricking and flipping, yet we see people posting tutorials on how to Ollie and such. It’s not a dedicated bowl rider, yet we see people using them for this.
“It’s a surfskate, the clue of what it is designed for, how it is designed, how it is meant to be used is clearly defined in the name, SURF. Yes it can be repurposed across a diverse range of wants, needs and desires. But it’s primary purpose is to surf, to emulate a style of surfing on land for surfers.
“Trying to define shortcomings in various designs based on decks, concaves, wheels, trucks,, flex etc. Is all very subjective because the range of users is infinitely diverse.
“At its core the ultimate objective of a surfskate is to promote fundamental surf techniques and style. The underlying techniques that are central to being able to engage a surfboard through turns and use it as a tool to ride a wave.
“Unfortunately most people are looking at this as though we are riding a board, but as a surfer I am riding a wave, working with its flow, speed and power using a board as the interface to do this.
“The same with surfskates, it is a tool that allows me to imagine and engage with a solid surface as though it was a fluid one. This is or should be the core design philosophy of any surfskate.
“Sadly it’s not, instead it has become a technical comparison of turning radius, swing angles, speed pumping, deck designs, art work etc. All elements that carry different appeal to different people. But for a surfer it’s about fluid and feel, and how it transforms concrete into water.
“But greeting back to your letter and survey. You missed a fundamental point, surf. If a user does not surf then they have little datum of understanding or expectation. This does not mean that they can’t learn or appreciate surfskating, it just means then have no foundation of understanding in what it truly is.
“Hence their desires for this concave, that deck, this wheel spacing, those wheels, these bushes, and that brand bearing really means nothing without a philosophical understand of what is surfing?”
“On the one hand, as I have gone through the surfskating programs for surfers and I believe my surfskate technique has gotten at least closer to surfing form, the more efficient I am, the sharper I can turn, the more balanced I am, the better maneuvers I can do, the more fun I have.
“So I have personal experience with your perspective. Obviously not to the level of a surfer. But learning from surfers and doing my best to mimic their form.
“However, with that said, on a deeper level I have a fundamentally opposite perspective. I can see how your perspective makes total sense from your lens as a surfer. From my lens, I don’t even relate to it. Because how could I?
“From my lens, when I went from a longboard to a surfskate, all I knew is that I could pump it, which was way more fun than pushing with my foot, and I could carve sharper on it, which meant a whole new world of concrete opened up to me, and it was also safer because I had more control.
“That was the extent of it. Pumping and carving. And even without knowing a damn thing about surf form, I had a blast, and still do! Just pumping and carving my fool head off, knowing damn well I look ridiculous to surfers, but with a big fat smile on my face.
“And so my perspective is, why limit this invention to pure surf training? Why not surfers do their things, and let non-surfers do whatever they want with a surfskate truck?
“To me, your perspective is the equivalent of the inventors of duct tape saying people are using duct tape wrong if they use it on anything other than ducts. But we all know duct tape is amazing for a wide range of applications.
“Why can’t someone use a Waterborne Surf Adapter as an LDP? Why can’t someone do what I did: just pump and carve in whatever way came naturally? Why do these trucks have to only have meaning or purpose within a surf context?
“I fell in love with them without having any surf context, and there are thousands of people just like me—and that number is growing every day.
“I feel like surfskating is going through a bit of an identity crisis, honestly. And out of respect to surfers, I would rather call what I do something else. Maybe ‘carveskating’ or ‘pumpskating.’ Because I know that my surfskate technique isn’t pure surfing form.
“I don’t care what it’s called. I’m not trying to surf. I just like to pump and carve, and the freedom that opens up for me. But it’s like, surfers created a thing, and they called it a thing. Non-surfers pick it up and do their own thing on it. And surfers tell us we’re doing it wrong. And I’m going, who says?
“I’m happy that you guys have this invention to improve your surf form. But I’m even more happy that I can ride these new inventions without having any background in surfing or any intention of every learning how to surf.
“I feel like surfskating HAD to start in the surf community. But to be honest, I think surfing is what has been holding it back from going mass market. Because of the perception, ‘Surfskating is for technical surf training for surfers.’ But thousands upon thousands of people just like me are discovering the joy of these amazing new trucks, without having or needing any surf context whatsoever.”
“What you are experiencing with skating on a surfskate is an insight into what trips out surfers. Being able to engage with elements and meld into them.
“You are more of an exception to this than the rule. You have dedicated significant time emulating surfing style into your surfskate techniqe. Why? Because you wanted to mimic something? Because you thought it looked cool?
“Or maybe because you get a glimpse and insight of how it feels to ride a wave. The flow, the speed, the energy, the rawness of engagement with primal forces. Like flying through a fluid like a dolphin.
“Carving, surfing, skating, flowing, ripping……whatever. Not fussed on what anyone calls it or how they actually do it, just do it to the best of their ability and have fun. Only fussed if people carry an expectation for a surfskate to behave other than a surfskate.
“For me fundamentally it almost becomes a philosophical choice driven by a primal desire to engage with elements and forces in a way that harnesses their energy and power. To ride the wave regardless of it being fluid or solid. To draw the most energy from the surface I am engaging with.
“If I have spent the time to develop the right techniques and form to do this then it becomes fluid, it allows you to meld into the experience rather than thrash against it. For me that is the essence of why I surf and skate.”
“I would dare say it would be similar for People that ski or snowboard fresh falls. Untouched, unharneased, not rehearsed. A fresh canvas to engage with just like a surfer on a wave, just like a skater on concrete.
“End of the day, it’s a surfskate. If people want to make it something else or rename it to suit what they like more power to you and them.
“Go for it, just like you have, try anything and everything. And make sure you all have a big fat smile on your dial whilst doing it, otherwise don’t bother, enjoy what you have and can do in that moment. Because that is the essence of surfing.”