Does Longboard Skateboarding Make You a Better Surfer?

by Sam Odario

If you’re serious about surfing, you might always be looking for ways to improve. From getting more physically fit, to practicing your stance, and practicing like crazy, becoming a good surfer takes time. What you might not realize, however, is that skateboarding can make you a better surfer. Many of the skill sets that you use while surfing are also required when skateboarding, especially longboard skateboarding. Practicing these skills on dry land can help you prepare for practicing tricks while in the waves. Most of the pro surfers do it, so why not try it yourself?

An Intro to Longboard Skateboarding

If you’re considering using skateboarding as a way to improve your surfing skills, you’ll want to consider longboarding in particular. If you already have experience with regular skateboarding or with surfing, picking up longboarding will be easy.

Longboards are longer than a traditional skateboard, making them more similar in size to a surfboard. I mean, there are some super huge longboards that really are almost the size of a surfboard, but regular longboards are still closer to skateboards than surfboards when it comes to size. Longboards also tend to have larger wheels that give these boards more traction. More traction helps with pumping for speed. Bigger wheels also roll over obstacles better. Riding a longboard is still most enjoyable on a smooth surface, but a few tiny pebbles here and there won’t result in a wipeout. This is why many find cruising on a longboard easier than cruising on a skateboard.

Longboards can be used for both riding and tricks. Beginners should start by learning how to cruise on the board. Once they have a feel for the board, they can start trying out downhill longboarding, practicing street tricks or going for surfing moves. You will see that these different styles of longboarding require different longboards and especially different trucks. The following benefits can however come from riding any longboard skateboard.

Connecting With the Board

One of the ways longboarding can help you improve your surfing is by giving you the ability to practice techniques on dry land. The connection your body has with a longboard is similar to the connection it has with a surfboard. This gives you time to practice your stance.  The distance of your feet impacts your balance and coordination, so longboarding gives you a chance to practice figuring out the best way to stand, as well as how to adjust your feet when you’re turning.

Longboard also let’s you repeat a move that you want to practice over and over and over in a controlled way. The surface is always the same, and you don’t have to catch a wave to do it. This is why you can progress faster.

Another benefit that comes with longboarding is that it can be done when it isn’t safe to go out on the waves. Sometimes before or after a storm, it might not be safe to go surfing, but you can always go longboarding instead and let yourself connect with the board that way instead. Or maybe you don’t live near the beach and you can’t surf every day – try longboard skateboarding.

Improving Your Balance

Surfing requires good coordination and balance. After all, you have to be able to adjust your weight easily so you don’t end up in the waves! Training your core strength is one way to improve your balance.

Longboarding can help you improve your core strength. As you maneuver on the board, you have to learn how to adjust your weight so you don’t fall off — similar to how you would on a surfboard.

Increasing Muscle Strength

In addition to core strength, longboarding can also help build muscle strength overall and help you stay in shape. The muscles that you use while longboarding are the same ones that you use when surfing (except for paddling of course).

While all the muscles in your body get a workout, longboarding particularly works the muscles in your legs. Between balancing on the board, pushing, and braking, your leg muscles will get a complete workout. If you move your arms, you’re also working your biceps and triceps.

Not to mention, longboarding gives you a great cardio workout. Longboarding helps strengthen your heart, increase your lung capacity, and builds your stamina. Building your stamina and muscle strength improves your overall physical health, which can be beneficial next time you hit the waves on your surfboard.

Longboard skateboard
Longboard skateboard and a waterproof backpack from DryTide

Practicing Maneuvers

You may already be familiar with the term muscle memory. Muscle memory is when a certain movement can be done with little to no conscious effort because your muscles have done that movement so often. Having a strong muscle memory of certain techniques can make it easier to surf. And because many of the maneuvers you do while surfing are similar to the ones you do while longboarding, you can start strengthening muscle memories when longboarding.

Practicing certain maneuvers on land, allows you to strengthen those maneuvers before you hit the water. This means when it does come time for surfing, you can spend more time riding waves and less time falling off your board.

As said, you can practice surf moves on any longboard, BUT if you are serious about using your longboard skateboard for surf training, then get a surf oriented longboard. What is the difference?

The main difference is in the trucks:

  • Downhill oriented trucks – these are built for high speeds and are very stiff
  • Regular trucks – good for general cruising and skateboarding style tricks
  • Surf trucks – these are very flexible and built in such a way that you simulate riding a surfboard when riding a longboard. They allow you to easily “pump” for speed instead pushing with your leg and practice surf moves.

Even within each category there is a whole range of trucks. With surf trucks some are more skateboarding oriented some are more surf oriented. The first company that started making surf trucks and surf longboard skateboards is Carver, but these days there are many different companies that produce this style of trucks and each one is a little bit different.

If you love hitting the waves, but don’t always have the time to do so or if you want to improve your technique, longboarding can give you another outlet while also allowing you to strengthen your techniques. So invest in a longboard with some surf style trucks and hit the streets!

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