How a Surfskate can Improve your Surfing – fast!
Everyone’s doing it! From top professionals like Felipe Toledo to hip-wiggling fad-followers on Instagram, they all have a surfskate.
Why? Well, it’s just so much fun and so easy to get going on one… But for us surfers the bonus is that all this out of the water wobbling is gonna dramatically improve your surfing! But only if you do it right…
Surfskates are everywhere, the market exploded during lockdown when people couldn’t surf but wanted to train in a fun way and in a small space. Now they are in every surf shop and online store and have become indispensable training aids for all forward-thinking surf camps, schools and coaches.
So, let’s break this blog down:
1. What exactly is a surfskate?
2. How can it improve your surfing?
3. How do you get started in surfskating?
1. The Surfskate
At first glance the surfskate (also sometimes called a surf-trainer) looks pretty much like a typical Penny style cruiser skateboard: Four big wheels, two trucks and a wooden deck. But there are some crucial differences.
Most important is the front truck. Surfskate trucks are specially designed to move and turn a lot more, and in a different way to normal trucks, allowing sharp carves and slides on flat ground and low speed. They also allow you to generate speed by pumping instead of pushing. Surfskates are generally wider, higher and have a longer wheelbase (distance between the trucks) than normal skateboards to let you mimic a surf stance and give that rail-to-rail ride feeling. They also have big soft wheels to give you extra grip on tight carves and the ability to ride over any surface.
When I first stood on a Smoothstar (LINK) surfskate almost 8 years ago it felt kind of weird and loose but I soon got into the groove and was instantly hooked. Not just because of the feeling of gliding over the road like it was water but because I could practice surfing maneuvers anytime and anywhere, without any previous skateboarding experience.
2. Improve your surfing fast!
At Surf Companions we always incorporate surfskate training into our coaching sessions as it’s such a great tool to visualize and repeat maneuvers, building confidence and muscle memory before you take your skills out into the ocean.
Let’s face it, even when you have a good session in the water you get maybe 10-20 rideable waves. This gives you the chance to practice your bottom turn or cutback just 10-20 times and that’s it till the next time.
However, out on the ‘concrete wave’ you can practice this move not just 20 times but AS MANY AS YOU WANT! Repeat and repeat until your legs wobble and you can do no more!
From a coaching point of view this is golden – you can specifically practice and train individual maneuvers or parts of maneuvers ad infinitum. Every repetition you make is honing your body and mind to perform this technique and get used to the correct balance, body mechanics and ‘feeling’ of the move- something which you can’t get any other way except by actually surfing.
This will leapfrog your progression as your body and brain ‘remember’ the movements you train on the skate and can reproduce them spontaneously when you are in the ocean.
Personally, one of my best surf sessions was when I trained for 1 hour on the skate and then hit the surf straight after. I was nicely warmed up and had drilled the maneuvers so many times that I found they came easily and naturally as soon as I was up and riding on a wave.
As a professional surf coach, the surfskate has become an absolutely essential tool in my training programmes and I wouldn’t ever be without one (for me or my students)!
3. How to start Surfskating
OK so we’ve convinced you that surfskating is pretty much the next best thing to surfing, a great training aid and a helluva lot of fun, so how do you get started??
It’s important to kick off in the right way to avoid frustration and injury which means staying safe and learning correct technique from day one.
Make sure you have a safe and relaxed environment to practice in, away from other people. An advantage of surfskating is that you don’t need to do it on big hills or bowls or ramps. To start with you simply need a flat surface like a car park or flat area of the skatepark.
Wear a helmet and pads to protect your body in the event of a fall. Start off slow. Surfskate trucks are great as they allow you to do big controlled carves and turns even at low speed.
As you get better you can go faster and try riding banks and ramps that replicate the wave surface. Nevertheless take it easy at first, concrete is a lot harder than water! Having never grown up on a classic skateboard, I’d say that at the beginning a surfskate feels unusual. BUT: it is easy to learn and progress quickly on flat ground.
Whether you are a beginner or already have some experience it’s really important to learn the right approach from the start. If you just make it up yourself or learn a wrong technique you’ll develop bad habits. That will be really hard to get rid of later.
Remember, you are using the surfskate as a training tool. So you need to learn the low n’ loose surfing technique. Stay away from the upright hip-wigglers that are all over social media and get some proper tuition from these sources:
– Surfskate coaches (getting more common, especially in big cities and coastal areas)
– YouTube channels (e.g. @surfcompanions)
– Surf Companions Surfskate Course
At Surf Companions we have developed a Surfskate Beginner Course for you which shows you the right techniques, step-by-step. Why? So you know how exactly how a surfskate can improve YOUR surfing. Check it out here and find our YouTube content here.
If you are looking for your first surfskate, we recommend SmoothStar boards as the best all-round surf trainer. We think it is the system that best replicates the feeling of riding a wave and doing surf-style maneuvers on it.
I hope this insight into the world of surfskating and its possibilities as a super-fun training tool have inspired you to get out there and hit the street… GO SURF, GO SKATE, GO SURFSKATE!