If you have already mastered regular skateboarding and are looking for the next challenge, downhill skating can be a great choice for you. From high speed to adrenaline rush, downhill skateboarding has everything to offer. That’s why it’s such a popular variant of skateboarding worldwide.
However, as fun as downhill skateboarding is, learning it properly can be a huge challenge as it takes it to another level in terms of speed and balancing. Without proper guidelines, getting into downhill skating can be dangerous as you can face serious injuries.
So, today, I’ll discuss all about downhill skateboarding here to save you from any potential accident. Especially, there will be a dedicated section on how to slow down on a skateboard downhill so that you don’t get thrown off your board. So, without wasting any time, let’s start.
What’s Downhill Skateboarding?
The name itself is pretty self-explanatory to understand what downhill skateboarding is. Downhill skateboarding is something similar to skate racing, where you skate on roads that’s goes from uphill and downhill. The descent from a higher place automatically generates a considerable amount of speed. That’s why it’s popular among skaters looking for that adrenaline rush.
Additionally, the sharp turn of these roads makes downhill skateboarding even more exciting. Because of the high speed and the risk of injuries from it, downhill skateboarding is often considered an extreme sport.
How to Skateboard Downhill
Learning skateboarding downhill isn’t an easy job. I remember the first time I was on the board to skate downhill and how nervous I was back then. Just looking at the downhill roads can make you nervous, as you can imagine how much speed the slopes will generate.
However, certain steps or techniques out there can make it easy for you to manage the speed and make it enjoyable for you. Below, I have discussed those steps shortly.
Step 1: Getting the right board setup
The first step of getting onto downhill skateboarding is to arrange the proper board setup. You have to understand that downhill skating is a totally different ball game, and that’s why the board setup will be completely different from any traditional type of skateboarding.
Especially, the deck and trucks need to be modified correctly for a better riding experience. Due to the high speed, the rider always has to ensure that he maintains the balance at all points of time. As longboards provide a large surface for foot placement and balance, these are usually the automatic choice for downhill skating. In addition, you get a wide wheel base from longboards, so that’s another benefit.
The next part is adjusting the trucks properly. Make sure you have an equal amount of tightness on both trucks for a consistent turning experience. Without properly calibrated trucks, you can often encounter wobbles that can throw you off the board.
Step 2: Stay Relaxed and Confident
If you are new to downhill skateboarding, you need to play it smart and safe before you master it. So, how can you play it that way? By staying relaxed and confident. Downhill skateboarding can make you nervous easily with speed, as I mentioned previously. However, some necessary preparations can help you relax and focus.
You can start by stretching a little bit to loosen up your muscles. If your muscles are stiff, it can badly affect your ankle mobility and board response in a bad way. Also, especially for beginners, some body positions can feel extremely uncomfortable to maintain at first. If you stretch properly and get warmed up, it’ll be much easier to deal with the back pain and tight muscles afterwards.
Lastly, before each downhill skating session, the best practice is to practice for some time. No matter how long your previous sessions are, practising will help you get accustomed to the skateboard.
Step 3: Gaining speed
Now that you have arranged a board and warmed up properly let’ see how you can generate some speed. Learning to gain momentum is another crucial aspect of downhill skateboarding. Yes, the decline of the road provides a huge chunk of speed, but still, there are some stages where you have to boost the speed yourself.
For example, your speed will be much lower when you are just starting, making a turn or passing by someone. In these scenarios, you can do two things to increase and then maintain your momentum.
Tucking is the most common technique of increasing speed through bending your body. Tucking means going to a certain stance where the rider’s body frame becomes smaller. As the rider has a smaller frame now, it also reduces the wind resistance caused by the body. Therefore, the main objective of tucking is to minimize the air pockets in the rider’s body to eliminate the wind drag.
As different riders have different body shapes, heights and weights, the tucking will be different for everyone. Here I am trying to give you a general idea.
To tuck, first, you have to bend your front leg at approximately 45 degrees and the back foot at roughly the same angle. While bending your leg, make sure the knee and thigh stay parallel with the deck at a 90-degree angle.
Now comes the most important part, placing your chest just above the chest by bowing down. It will close down the huge distance from the rider’s chest to knee, eliminating the air resistance from that area. Therefore, the rider can go much faster.
Drafting is a pretty similar method to tucking. The only difference is where this method is used. Tucking basically allows you to maintain the speed alongside other skaters. But what if you want to go past the rider ahead of you? This is where drafting actually comes in.
As I mentioned previously, wind resistance is the key obstacle to generating speed. So, in drafting, you need to get behind the rider in front of you. As soon as you do that, you’ll notice you are accelerating faster as the rider before you face all the wind resistance. So now, all you have to do is use this extra acceleration to move past the rider before.
Step 4: Making Turns
Learning how to make turns is the last step of learning downhill skating. At first, turns might not seem like a big deal, but every second matters when you are doing downhill skating competitively. In that case, making a perfect turn can be the game-changer.
The turn will reduce your speed, but the key here is to control that speed loss. So, entrance speed is a very crucial part of perfecting the turn. Typically, pre-drift or braking is used before making turns, but you have to ensure decent speed while doing so.
If you are too slow, regaining all the momentum will take a long time. On the other hand, if you are too fast, you can lose control and get thrown off the board.
How to Slow Down on a Skateboard Downhill
Learning how to sow down on a skateboard is one of the key steps of mastering downhill skating. However, as slowing down on a skateboard downhill bears great significance and can be done in different ways, I have decided to make a separate segment for it.
Whether it’s a longboard or any other type of skateboard, the process of slowing it down remains pretty much the same across the board. Below, I am discussing the two most common slow down methods you can use in downhill skating.
Footbrake is the most common, safest and less technical way of braking in any skateboarding. As the name implies, it’s done with the ride’s foot, and the speed comes down pretty quickly. So let me show you how to foot brake properly.
- Step 1: To perfect brake with your foot, you must use the back one. While you are skating downhill, take your back foot off the board and start sliding it on the ground alongside the board.
- Step 2: As the speed starts to come down because of the foot, keep increasing the pressure with your back foot on the ground.
- Step 3: Eventually, the board will stop if you keep dragging your back foot. However, if you just want to slow down, just keep dragging until you reach your desired speed. Then put your back foot back on the board again.
There is also a variation of foot brake available called swiss foot brake, used for more extreme braking conditions. The Swiss foot brake is pretty similar to a regular foot brake, except you also have to crouch and grab the front of the board to put all your weight on the front wheel. Alongside the foot drag, this weight change helps stop the board faster.
Sliding is another technique used for slowing down on a skateboard downhill. Unlike foot brakes, sliding is considered more advanced and challenging to learn. However, on the plus side, sliding brings more efficiency and control to the table. Let see how you slide properly to slow down your skateboard.
Step 1: Like every other technique in skateboarding, this controlled slide also starts with proper foot placement begin by planting your front foot just over the front truck of the board.
Step 2: After the foot placement, flick the board with your foot and turn it at a sharp 90-degree angle. Now, this turning part can be tricky for beginners, and you might end up falling on your butt quite a few times. However, keep practising, and you’ll get a hold of it in no time.
Step 3: Now that you have turned the board, the wheel’s sideways friction with the surface will produce the necessary friction to stop the board. If you need help balancing, use your hand with sliding gloves to maintain the balance and help with the drag.
Safety Measures to be Followed Before Downhill Longboarding
Now that you know how to stop on a skateboard downhill, it’s time to talk about safety measures you should take before hitting the road. As I mentioned many times previously, any miscalculation or wrong turn can result in life-threatening injure if you don’t take safety seriously. Here are some of the primary safety measures to take primarily.
- Wearing safety gear is the most basic safety measure anyone can take. Especially a helmet, a set of sliding gloves, knee pads and elbow pads are a must to avoid any serious injury.
- Falling is inevitable when you are learning downhill skating. However, the right technique is to try falling on fleshy parts of the body like thigh or butt instead of hand. Also, try to roll instead of falling flat to distribute the fall pressure.
- As downhill skating is done on regular roads with traffics, make sure you always stay on the lane. Leave enough space for pedestrians and vehicles. Even better, try to avoid a road with traffics.
- If you are riding at night, it can be hard for others to see you I the dark. That’s why try to light up if possible to maximize your visibility.
- Lastly, properly calibrate your board before you get to downhill skating. Though it’s not necessarily a safety measure, the wrong board setup can be a safety concern by causing wobbling.
Q: Is it safe to skateboard downhill?
A: Downhill skating is a pretty fun and safe experience with proper safety measures. I can understand the concern here as there is high speed involved here. Hundreds of accidents happen during downhill skating every year due to a lack of proper safety measures. However, if you managed to follow the basic safety guidelines I mentioned just above, it’s absolutely safe to skateboard downhill.
Q: Is downhill skateboarding easy?
A: To be honest with you, downhill skating isn’t that easy as some people describe it. As you have seen above, the posture for tucking, foot brake, sliding, everything can pose a challenge for a beginner. However, with time and regular practice, downhill skateboarding will eventually be easier.
Q: How fast do skateboards go downhill?
A: As the speed in downhill skating is mostly generated from the decline, it’s considerably higher than any other format of skateboarding. With the right skill set, board setup and downhill road, a downhill skateboard can easily go over an astonishing 80 mph.
Here we are at the end of my guide on how to slow down on a skateboard downhill. I hope my guidelines we helpful enough to get at least the basic hold of downhill skating. I focused more on the basics here so that my guidelines are easy to understand for everyone. Now, the rest is up to your practice and dedication towards it.
On another note, always remember that no matter what type of skateboarding you are trying, it’s all about fun at the end. So, don’t force yourself into anything. Otherwise, the learning experience won’t be fun, and you might end up losing your interest in downhill skateboarding.
Instead, take it easy, and eventually, you’ll learn how to stop on a skateboard downhill. Till then, just keep practising and enjoy the experience.