Summer is here, right around the corner, and as the temperature rises, so does the interest in the water sports. Each year more and more people decide to try something new, and one of the favorite options worldwide is skimboarding.
In this article you will find out what is skimboarding, how to skimboard, how to choose the right board, how to prepare for skimboarding, and lots of other tips and advices when about this popular summer sport.
Where to Start
There are three things that are necessary in order to skimboard – you’ll need a board, a beach and strong will to learn something new.
And as it is clear why you’ll need the board and the beach, you probably wonder why do you need a strong will and dedication?
Let’s just say that not every beginning is easy, and it will take time for you to find your technique, so in the next few dozens of lines, you’ll find some guidelines and advice for your first skimboarding steps.
How to Skimboard
The beginning – be ready to fail and get wet (multiple times)
Even as someone who is just starting, you’ll have to overcome your fear of failure and be ready to start over and over again, because the only way you’ll properly learn how to balance skimboard is doing it while in a motion.
Remember learning how to ride a bike? Or anything else where you need to keep your balance? This is the same process. You’ll try, you’ll fail, you’ll get back to the shore and try again until you find the right way in keeping your balance. The good thing is the fact that it will be far less painful than learning how to ride a bike or how to skate, as the sand is not as hard as concrete or ice.
And here that “will” part becomes important – do not give up! If you fail, get up and back, and try again.
Although sounds hard, in reality as long as you learn how to balance the board, skimboarding becomes pure joy. In order to make those “first steps” as easy as they can be, there are some basic advice you can follow that will help you get prepared for your practice.
The first one is – find the right spot. The best option for the beginning and learning is “the flat beach”. It means that the beach should be sand-based. Later, as you progress, you’ll probably try and find other options for wave skimming, but in the beginning, the sand beach is the best choice.
The second important thing you should do is to find your skimboard
There are two options regarding the purchase of the right board, the one for sand skimboarding (mostly wooden) and the one for wave skimming (foam boards).
As a beginner, you’d probably want to start with something less expensive and easier for practice, so the best choice is the wooden one.
Also, there are a few different shapes, as stated by “Outdoor board sports” – shallow rocker, steep rocker, pintail and w-tail/square.
The shallow rocker is faster and is the best for calm water as it provides easier movement. The steep rocker is a bit slower between the sand and waves, so it is good for waves and troubled water. Pintail will provide balance, so it is probably the best choice for learning, and w-tail is flexible and you could use it for different stunts when you master basic skimboarding skills.
The next dilemma is should you get bigger or smaller board. The answer is – start with the larger one. It will give you more space and help you with your balance practice. With your progress and learning, it is possible you’d like to try something more flexible and easier to maneuver, and when you’re ready, you’ll switch to the smaller one.
Start Working Out
We’ve already said that it will need lots of repeating and starting over before you learn how to balance the skim board. That being said, you’ll have to get into the shape.
Work on your legs and your running speed, as skimboarding requires lots of running and chasing your board. Also, there will be more than one fall, so it is important to be exercised, in shape and fit.
You’re at the beach, ready for your first skim practice – now what?
Firstly, find the right place. Try to get away from people, because you don’t want to be distracted on one hand, and on the other, it is probably not the best idea to bump into someone during your practice.
After you’ve found the right place, try to relax and find the right pose. Turn sideways – right if you’re right-footed, left if you’re left-footed and find the best angle for you.
Once you’ve done that, stand still and lean over while lowering your board to approximately six inches from the sand. Push the board across the sand, stay parallel to the shoreline. Rise, chase your board and step on it foot by foot. As you get on board, bend your knees.
If you fail, start over. Every try will make you better than before until you find your own rhythm and manage to do it in one move. Then, continue practicing trying to do it as fast as possible.
Now it is time for your first real skim.
Hold the board with one hand on the tail and other on the side. Wait for the wave to pass and start running. Once you’ve reached full speed, drop the board on the sand in front of you.
Here it gets tricky, and a bit painful – don’t jump onto the board, run into it.
The goal is to land your front leg as close to the center of the board as possible, and your other foot behind it. If you jump on it, too much weight at the same time will bury your board deep in sand and you’ll fall from it. If you do it right, you’ll find yourself skimming until your board slows down.
As you master it, there are lots of fun tricks that can be done with the skim board – like “big spin” or “shoot”…
1. The Spin
This one is one of the most basic, easiest to learn, but really good looking ones.
As you skim, squat down and touch the surface – sand or water – with one hand, while using the other to do the spin.
The most important part of this trick is to bend your knees to balance your gravity over the center, and to find the right angle that will keep the front of your board a bit above the water. Otherwise, you’ll fail. Also, the big part of this trick is speed, so the faster you get the more impressive your spin will be.
2. Shoot the Duck
For this trick to work you’ll have to master the balance. Squat with your back leg pushed forward and your back hand touching the back of your board. Quickly stick the forward-raised foot into the sand, and grab your toes. Then get up.
3. Flat Backside 180
This trick is maybe the most important one as it will teach you how to properly land on your board, which is crucial part in most of the advanced tricks.
As you skim, turn your hips and swing back leg. Focus on your hips, not on your feet. In a case of trouble, you could turn your head to your back shoulder, or try to move your whole upper body during your practice. When you learn how to do it quickly, your body will follow, so you’ll be ready for the more skilled tricks.
4. Flat Frontside 180
Same as the trick before, this one is also about rotating, but in the other direction, and the goal is to use your front foot to rotate backward.
Don’t forget, the most important part of these two tricks are the hips – not the feet!
5. Body Varial
While on the board, bend your legs and wind your arms. Then jump and rotate. Jump back on your board and skim away to the sunset. This trick could be done front, back, with 180 or 360- degree rotations…
For this to work you’ll have to jump as high as possible, as it will give you more time to rotate. Also, use your upper body for the spin, not your legs, to stop your board from spinning.
6. Hippy Jump
This one is simple but effective – jumping over something while your board goes under.
Bend your knees during the approach. When you get near, jump with your knees pulled up and land on your board on the other side.
In Order to Have Fun – Stay Safe!
Skimboarding is fun as long as you don’t hurt yourself or someone else, so it is important to stay safe. Considering that there will be lots of falling down in the beginning, you should think about getting a helmet to protect your head. When falling, try to fall on your butt.
Don’t rush things and learn slowly. Never do flips in shallow water. Before you start with skimboarding, check the beach and water for rocks, seashells…
Know your limits and don’t run too fast if you’re not ready to fall. Don’t go into the waves before you’ve learned the basic maneuvers like run, jump-on and slide.
Be responsible, try not to bother other people on the beach and respect the lifeguards.
And don’t let your board get away, or run into someone.
Try to stay healthy and avoid injuries. One of the most common problems skimboarders meet is so-called “surfer’s ear”. Being exposed to wind and water for larger amount of time could damage ear canal, so it is recommended to use ear plugs when skimming.
Another problem could be caused by sun reflection on the sea surface, that could damage sight, so try to wear sunglasses as much as possible.
We’ve already mentioned that you should get into shape before trying skimming, but it is also important exercising your legs and knees. This sport is especially hard for the knees, and one way to reduce the stress is to exercise the muscles surrounding the knees using ankle weights and doing leg-lifting drills.
Doing this will help your knees handle more stress as the burden will be reduced on the ligaments and tendons.
Another way is simple walk on the beach.
Remember that there will be a lot of twists, so it is important to stretch your back to prevent back injuries. There are a lots of training exercises that will help you keep your back stretched and strong. The one that is simple but will do the work are crunches.
As you practice, your board will be affected by the sun, salt from the sea, constant usage and it will eventually wear off. So, it is good to know a few tricks about keeping your skim board in good condition.
Keep it away from the sun when possible. If your board gets too hot, it could affect the resin used to hold the board together, the wax or the traction pads. when you stop with your practice or you’re taking a break, throw a towel or bury your board in the sand to keep it cool.
If you see cracks on it, don’t ignore it. As described above, while you learn how to skim board, you’ll throw your board a lot, which could create some damage on it in the form of cracks or dents, and the water could get inside of your board and damage the foam or make it heavier, thus harder to maneuver.
Same goes for delamination, which appear as bubbles when fiberglass separates from the foam. This means your board has started to lose its flexibility and the possibility of breaking it has increased.
You can find all needed tools for repairs online and also some useful video tutorials on how to fix your board.
Taking Your Skimboard For a Trip
Let’s say you’ve decided to change the environment and find a better place for your practice, but it is far from you, so you and your board will have to take a long trip to get there.
The question is – how to pack your board to keep it safe from breaking or damaging?
The best idea is to use a blanket to wrap it up. Another good choice is foam, although it probably means you’ll have to visit the shop. Remember; protect the edges, as they are the most fragile part of your skimboard. And try to protect it from all the possible bumps or hits it could face during the trip.
When you’re done with the basics, it is time to try something different – wave skimming.
Observe and find the best wave, the one you could approach quickly and from an angle. If you gain enough speed, you’ll take the board up high.
Run to the wave. As you come near, reach the wave at a side angle and try to hit it just before it breaks. When you get to the bottom of the wave, prepare for your jumbo by bending your knees, and jump at the right moment – just as your board hits the wave’s lip. Don’t jump too hard and control your board underneath, and try not to jump with both feet at the same time. Also, make your board lift its nose by putting more weight on your back leg. Once in the air, don’t lose control of your board, but don’t overthink it. Let the wind do “the magic” and keep your board attached. Your job is to let your front foot slide up the board.
Another thing you could do to control the board is to absorb the force of the board with your knees, by bending them. If you do this properly, it should be easier to land. As you start to drop down, the board will fall first, so you’ll have to extend your legs to keep your feet on the board.
While you board, focus your weight at the center and hold the balance. Another option is to absorb the impact with your knees, and slowly ride out.
Bring Your Friends
As most of the other activities, skim boarding is by far more fun while you’re being surrounded by your friends. Once you learn the basics and start to feel comfortable on your board, hit the beach.
If someone doesn’t skimboard, offer to teach them and it is possible you’ll have a skimboarding partner for the future. On the other hand, if you have another skimboarder in your company, you could teach or learn some new tricks, or even have some kind of competition.
Will it be easy? No, it won’t. It will be painful, sometimes even frustrating, but remember – the point of all of this is to have fun. If you don’t enjoy it, if you have to force it, then don’t do it, as it is not “your cup of tea”. On the other hand, if you do, but you feel defeated as you can’t progress as fast as you’d like to, try to remember the reason that got you to the beach in a first place.
Skimboarding becomes more and more popular worldwide each day. As a developing sport that gains attention and grows constantly, it is a real challenge to master it and become an expert. Besides that, it will give you the opportunity to explore many different beaches, visit interesting places and enjoy the sun, the sand and the water. But before we head to the overview, remember the few most important things from the text above:
- Do not give up! It won’t be easy, but it is worth it. You will fail, you will fall, you will have to start over and over, but once you get it and you learn how to control the board, the whole new world opens and the possibilities are unlimited.
- Stay safe! If you want to enjoy skimboarding, you’ll have to take care not just of yourself, but also the other visitors – swimmers, kids… Respect the lifeguards and their commands and remember – you do not represent only yourself, but the whole skimboarding community all over the world. Wear earplugs and sunglasses.
- Be healthy! This sport requires a lot of physical activity, and if you want to avoid injuries, start working out, stretching… And give your body time and the chance to adapt to the new “stress”, so don’t force it just because you think you should. If you’re tired and feel you can’t do it anymore, stop and relax.
- Rest! Resting is one of the most important parts of learning. Give your body chance to recover from the effort and reduce the stress. If you force it beyond your limit, it is possible you’re just going to injure yourself, which will just separate you from the beach, and you don’t want that, do you?
- Be creative! Mastering the basic skills means you can let your creativity take over and try different tricks.
- Practice falling on your butt! That way you’ll keep your head safe.
- Stay positive and have fun! At the end of the day, remember – you came to the beach to have fun. If it is not fun anymore, or you feel pressured to do something, stop. Skimboarding should be about enjoyment, not about forcing anything.
- Watch and learn! On the internet you could find lots of video tutorials that will help you with your questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask. We’ve already said that skimboarding is growing, and it is natural that you don’t know everything. Don’t be ashamed and feel free to ask other skimboarders whatever you want to know – from advice on how to wax your board, how to do some kind of trick, to recommendations of a good beach for skimboarding. Remember – there are no stupid questions.
- Take care of your board! Wax it, polish it, if it breaks – fix it.
Globo Surf Overview
So, to summarize – if you want to try something new, something interesting, adventurous and challenging, skimboarding is one of the best choices during summertime. Tips we’ve gave you can help you overcoming possible problems, fears or lack of motivation.
But the most important thing is to be responsible. Don’t push it if you feel you can’t anymore, take the rest and continue tomorrow. Respect the sea, respect the sun and respect the sand. Follow the instructions the lifeguards gave you, and make sure you have enough space for you to practice, without the possibility of hurting someone.
Don’t be afraid or shy to ask and feel free to learn. If you do that, you’re on the right way to learn how to become the real skimboarder.
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