How to Slide on a Longboard for Beginners: All You Need To Know
If you’ve ever seen anyone sliding on a longboard and wondered if you could learn to do the same, the answer is yes. Anyone can learn how to slide on a longboard. All it takes is mastering a few simple maneuvers and body positions. Sure, extra equipment can help make more slides possible and make everything safer, but none of it is absolutely necessary. To get sliding, all you really need is a functional longboard.
Table of Contents
What You Need
Learning to slide on a longboard is considerably easier when
you have the right equipment. The deck you choose is much less important than
which wheels you ride. The best wheels for sliding all have stone-ground
surfaces. Wheels with smooth surfaces will eventually break in, and then you
can slide on them as well. But wheels with stone-ground surfaces are pre-broken
in. They are intended to break traction easily, and they work. Smooth-surfaced
wheels have too much grip for slides.
Also, you have to take into consideration the durometer of the wheels – harder wheels break traction easier, which is very important aspect for a beginner. So go for wheels that are at least 82A durometer or higher. You can find more information about different wheel specs and their impact in this post: Best Longboard Wheels
Other important equipment includes a helmet and sliding gloves. To be as safe as possible, opt for a certified skateboarding helmet or one intended for longboarding. The protecting foam on those helmets deforms on strong impact, so you should get a new helmet after a more serious incident, but that deformation is important for preventing concussions.
Sliding gloves usually have plastic pucks affixed in their palms and fingers, allowing you to place your hands down in a slide. Even if you don’t use this type, leather gloves help to prevent bloodshed.
We all had to learn to crawl before we could walk, and we
had to learn to walk before we could run. This progression of developing skills
is necessary to prevent injury. If you watch YouTube videos of downhill or
freeride longboarders, it can be tempting to want to immediately do what they
are doing. But remember, those riders didn’t start out on those steep hills
with those death-defying hairpin curves. They started where you should start –
on flat ground.
So seek out a smooth, flat area of concrete or asphalt.
Parking lots are perfect places to learn. Once you have simple slides down, you
can move on to mellow hills, but keep it to level surfaces during the learning
phase. Because you are liable to fall a few times – or many times – as you
learn, avoid parking lots with areas of broken concrete, pebbles or broken
glass. Debris like that can get imbedded in your palms when you brace yourself
for a fall, and the wheelbite they induce will halt your slides and send you
straight to the ground in a tumbling heap.
Before beginning to learn slides, you should have all the
basics of longboarding in your bag of tricks. There is no need to wait until
you have achieved expert-level carving, but you should at least be able to turn
without losing your balance. It’s probably best to put off sliding until you
can push up to the fastest speed your bearings can achieve and turn at will.
The faster you go, the more you will need to lean inside the arc of the turn.
Otherwise you may get thrown to the outside of the turn – the dreaded “high
Leaning inside the turn is as important for sliding as it is
for carving. We develop a feel for how far to lean depending on our speed. The
grip of our wheels limits how far we can lean without accidentally washing out,
so it’s best to develop these skills slowly. Finding the breaking point of your
wheels’ traction at high speed is a silly way to learn to ride. Once you have
reasonable control of your board and your body, you’re ready for slides.
Longboarders slide for one of three reasons, and we’ll
discuss those shortly. It is important to note however that sliding is a
necessary skill for most any longboarder. We don’t ride in a vacuum on a closed
course and in controlled conditions. Longboarding takes place in the real
world, and adding slides to your repertoire gives you a means of board control
that is unavailable any other way. Sliding can be fun, but it can also save
Let’s start with the most important reason to learn slides.
The friction that urethane wheels produce as they slide sideways across
pavement slows the longboard dramatically. Softer wheels produce more friction
because they grip the imperfections in the road better. But regardless of the
type of wheel, kicking out into a slide will shed much more speed than trying
to drag a foot, and it’s much safer than simply jumping off the board.
There are a couple of slides that experienced riders rely on
in emergency situations, and we will cover those in the next section. The
Coleman slide – where the rider grabs the lead rail, crouches and leans back to
place a gloved hand on the pavement – is the most common emergency slide, but
any slide will do in a pinch.
When downhill riders attack a hill, they typically are
trying to get from the top to the bottom in the shortest possible time. For
these riders, making it around curves quickly is essential. They carry as much
speed as they can as late into a curve as is feasible. However, downhill
longboarders often find themselves carrying too much speed into curves. At
these times, it becomes necessary to scrub speed.
Scrubbing involves kicking out into a toeside or heelside
standup slide (more on these terms later) and allowing friction to slow
everything down a tick. If you’ve ever driven on mountain roads, you’re likely
familiar with the fear-inducing sensation of carrying too much speed into a
curve. In a car or on a motorcycle, we can trail brake (braking through or into
a curve), but longboarders have no such luxury. On a board, we must scrub our
speed before the start of a curve.
The Fun in Freeride
Of course, sliding is not just something that longboarders
do out of necessity. It can be hella fun in its own right. Learning to slide
introduces an entirely new dimension to longboarding. Once you learn to do it
and you build up some confidence, you will likely find yourself seeking out the
perfect terrain and the best wheels for sliding. If you’re not careful, you
might even start considering yourself a freeride longboarder.
Freeride is the art of sliding. These riders aren’t racing
and they aren’t simply cruising on their boards. They view slides as tricks to
be mastered, the same way that skateboarders look at board slides, tail slides
and nose slides. The fun in freeride is all in the slides. They are an end unto
themselves… so to speak.
How to Slide
So now you have all the gear and you know why you need to learn
slides. There’s nothing left to do but to do it. Start out going slow to keep
everything safe, but don’t be too timid. Expect to fall a few times before you
get it right. Going too slow can make sliding almost impossible, though, so
pick up the speed a bit at a time and take a few calculated risks.
While slide gloves may not be necessary, some stout leather
gloves will keep the skin on your palms intact. Gloves and a helmet also give
you the confidence to push the board out into a slide, which requires a pretty
firm effort. Half-hearted kickouts rarely work. We’ll assume you are using
slide gloves, and so we’ll start with hands-down sliding. Also, since most
riders find a heelside turn more comfortable (because you are facing forward),
we’re starting there. So, here is how to do a heelside hands-down slide – or a
You don’t have to do anything crazy in the setup for most slides,
and our beginning slide is no different. There is no need to drastically adjust
foot placement. Just stand on the board in the same manner as you normally do
to carve. The rear foot should be on or just in front of the back truck bolts,
and the front foot’s position should mirror that setup. This is a solid, evenly
balanced position from which you can transition into almost any of the possible
Another key that many people use to help initiate slides is
to hang their feet off the opposite edge (rail) of the board. So, if you’re
going to do a heelside slide, you’ll hang your heels over the heelside rail.
The reverse is true for toeside slides. The reason why this works is that it
helps you get lateral pressure on the wheels. Otherwise, you must rely on the
grip from the soles of your shoes to kick out.
Getting in “the Box”
When we refer to the box for slides, we mean the tuck-knee
crouch. You’ll want to get this position wired before beginning to work on
slides. Practice getting into the box for a while before you really start to
try sliding. It should start to feel comfortable after a couple sessions. It
may take you a little longer to get used to it than you think it will, so take
your time. It is critical that you can get into and out of the box quickly
without steering offline.
To get into the box, bend both knees and bring your rear end
down toward the pavement. Roll the rear foot forward until the instep is
contacting the griptape. Your back knee should approach or cross your front leg
at the shin, while your front knee points upward. If you will feel a stretch in
your rear hip, you’re doing it correctly. Practice getting in the box and
carving in both directions. Crouch and carve in one continuous motion, and
learn to stand up out of the box as you exit a carve.
Check out this video, it should help you to understand the mechanics:
The shoulders are the rudder that controls the direction of
the slide. When we aren’t in a slide, we can lean into a turn and press down on
the edge of the board to pivot the trucks. In a slide though, turning this way
is impossible. Even though the shoulders always figure into carving and
turning, you’ll find yourself relying on them much more to guide your direction
in a slide than they normally do.
Turn your shoulders in the direction you want to rotate,
both into and out of a slide. The shoulders lead the way, and the lower body
inevitably follows. To slide heelside, for example, you must open up your
shoulders first. You’ll be carving in that direction already, so opening the
shoulders is just a matter of exaggerating the carving motion.
The Setup Carve
Before initiating a slide, most riders will carve first to
the opposite side of the intended slide direction. Doing so opens up the road
to allow more room for the carve that initiates the slide. It also lets you to
wind up your body, much like a baseball pitcher before the pitch. To start the
actual slide, reverse your direction with a carve leaning the other way.
So, if you want to slide heelside, first do a toeside carve
as a setup move. As you come out of the setup carve, begin crouching into the
bent-knee position. While you are still settling into the box, start a slight
carve in the opposite direction. You’ll need to be all the way in the box before
your carve reaches about 45 degrees.
Unweight the Wheels
When people struggle to kick out, the problem is usually that
they are keeping too much weight on their wheels. Longboard wheels – even those
meant for sliding – have considerable traction, and we must break that traction
if we want to get into a slide. When a rider keeps too much weight over the board,
it is that much harder to get going sideways. The trick is to shift your weight
to get it off the wheels.
Remember that your knees should be bent as you slide. As you
carve heelside, roll the rear heel forward. In doing this, you will
unconsciously place more of your weight on your front foot, which naturally
removes some of the weight (and therefore the friction) from the rear wheels. Then,
all you have to do to slide is push on the heelside rail with your back foot. When
you keep too much of your weight over the board, you are always fighting with
yourself and battling friction.
Kicking Out (The Weight Shift)
With the weight shifted off the rear wheels and the turn
initiated with a slight carve, it is much easier to kick out into a slide. You
should already be in the box and leaning inside the arc of the carve. Both of
those moves effectively unweight the wheels. To get sliding, simply push the
back foot laterally on the rail toward the direction of travel. You don’t need
to shove the board with a sharp kick. If your rear wheels are properly
unweighted, a gentle nudge should be sufficient to kick out.
For our heelside slide here, reach the lead hand behind you
and set it comfortably on the ground. Placing your hand on the pavement
stabilizes you and unweights all four wheels, but don’t lean back too far. Keep
some of your weight over the board, leaning just enough to take some of your
weight off the wheels. If you lean too far, you will find your knees
straightening, which will cause a loss of control. That is bound to happen at
first, and that’s okay. You’ll soon find the sweet spot where you are stable
with a hand down, but still somewhat over the board.
Slide for Miles or Stop
Once you can get the rear wheels sliding sideways, it isn’t
too difficult to push the front wheels laterally into a power slide. The only
other option is to allow the rear wheels to swing all the way around 180 degrees,
leaving you riding switch. Once the front wheels break traction, you can keep
the slide going for longer. Faster speeds will obviously net you longer slides.
If you’re having trouble staying in slides, make sure you
are keeping your weight shifted to the front truck. It’s never a good idea to
place all your weight to the front, but a 75-percent front bias will usually do
the trick. When the real wheels remain unweighted, most of the friction your
body weight is causing stays to the front. Remember, two wheels have less
friction than four wheels do. If you want to slide to a stop, shift your weight
so it is even across all four wheels and directly over the deck, which
drastically increases wheel friction.
Slides can end one of several ways. You can either end up
rolling in the opposite direction from when you started (switch) or traveling
in the direction you originally were. After the slide, you’ll notice you are
now rolling slower than you were before. Just how much slower will depend on several
factors: wheel durometer, original speed, surface material, etc. The other way
a slide can end is by coming to a stop. Slides are a reliable way to quickly
put on the brakes.
The term for getting a longboard rolling again after a slide
is hookingup. Remember how you sprung up from the crouched position and
unweighted the board to initiate the slide? Well, hooking up simply means
weighting the wheels again to force traction. While sliding, begin rotating in
the direction you want to face and simultaneously move back to a crouched
position. This weight shift will load the wheels, increasing friction and
stopping the slide. If you time it properly, you should be able to carry
momentum after the hook up.
Types of Slides
If you’ve gotten this far, you are well on your way to
freeriding. The only real differences between the slide variations are the
direction of travel, which foot was forward when the slide started, and whether
or not you place your hands on the pavement.
A Coleman slide involves crouching and placing the lead hand
on the ground during a heelside slide. They are named after their inventor,
legendary downhill rider Cliff Coleman. The thing about Coleman slides is that
the rider unweights the board by leaning out over the pavement. They therefore
require sliding gloves. Make sure you place your hand ahead of the front wheels
and as far out from you as is comfortable. It will be behind you as you slide
As you lean and your hand begins sliding, kick out into a heelside slide. Keep your weight toward the front truck by rolling your foot forward, and keep your knees bent as you lean backward over the road. To hook back up, simply rotate in either direction and push up off the pavement with your hand. Getting your weight above the wheels should increase their friction and initiate a solid hookup.
A hands-down slide is a toeside slide where the rider leans
forward, placing both hands flat on the ground. Like the Coleman slide, going
hands down requires the use of sliding gloves. These are also the only two
slides that really necessitate sliding gloves, so you can skip them if you
like. Some people never learn hands-down slides, and they still enjoy
longboarding just fine.
However, sliding gloves enable the shut-down slide, which is
just a Coleman slide that ends in a complete stop. Then there is the pendulum
slide, which is a 180 Coleman followed by a 180 in the reverse direction – or
switch Coleman slide. These are really just two methods of achieving the same
thing: a quick stop.
Any slide where the rider never places a hand down on the pavement is called a standup slide. These slides require a bit more balance than hands-down slides do, but they can be done without slide gloves. Because they produce less friction, you should be able to slide standing up even longer than you can with a hand down. Standup slides are also a great way to quickly scrub speed if you need to slow down for a curve.
Heelside slides are also known as frontside, because the front of the body faces the direction of travel. Where beginners go wrong in heelside slides is by straightening the legs and leaning too far rearward. To keep that from happening and to stay in the slide longer, keep the knees bent. A good visual is to feel as though there is a chair right behind you as you slide. Just sit down in the chair, and you should be able to hold a heelside slide for as long as your momentum allows.
A toeside slide is the opposite of a heelside slide. You can’t squat into a toeside the way you can a heelside. You have to really lean out behind the board, and you will be much taller in this slide than in a heelside. The key to maintaining balance is to rotate your shoulders around so that you are facing the direction in which you’re sliding. Keep the front foot loaded and the rear foot light. Most people are up on the balls of the rear foot in a toeside slide, while the lead foot remains flat on the board.
180s and 360s
A 180 slide is one in which riders turn around to the opposite direction from which they were originally facing. A 360 is a slide that spins all the way around to the original position. To do a 360, kick out into a 180 and over-rotate a bit. The extra rotation lets you get the original lead foot behind the board so you can kick it out to finish the spin. Think of it as two consecutive 180s. When you do a simple 180, you leave yourself riding switch stance.
Slides in switch stance only feel weird because they are backward from our usual experience. With enough practice, they can become as natural and as simple as sliding from your normal stance. Learning switch slides opens up the full range of possibilities in standup slides. You won’t fully unlock your potential until you’ve mastered them.
Putting it All Together
To get the most out of longboarding, it’s essential to learn
every slide variation. Investing in sliding gloves allows you to experience
everything freeriding has to offer. Before long, you’ll be able to fully
express yourself on your longboard, instantly translating thought into action.
At first, every movement will require conscious effort, and many slide
variations may seem overly complicated. They get simpler over time as you begin
to make inputs without thinking about it.
Sliding isn’t about being technically perfect. It is the
physical manifestation of all the things that got us into riding in the first
place. Sketchy yet cool, slides let us place ourselves for a brief moment on
the edge of being out of control. They are a little bit risky, but therein lies
Hi there! I'm a huge enthusiast of various board sports and been longboarding for 4
years now. I remember how hard it was to start and understand various aspects of this hobby so I'm hoping to give you a jump start by providing answers to the multiple questions you will have. Happy reading!