Bad habits unconsciously hold us back, and you can find this to be true everywhere in life. Whether we are out skating, trying to communicate an idea or are simply figuring out a new skill. They affect us everywhere.
And to be honest, you can’t really blame yourself for it. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing something wrong.
So with that in mind, today's article will be a simple guide pointing out some of the bad habits that might hold you back from becoming a better rider and how you can work your way around it.
Or if you need to take a break and shop half way through, just click here...
Bad habits we’re all probably guilty of...
1. Leaning on your back foot when you end up going too fast (chicken foot syndrome)
When you start picking up speed and end up going faster than you anticipated, the first thing you will usually do is get out of your tuck and stand up. As you do this, you might find yourself leaning back and naturally putting more weight on your back foot.
If you do this in a relaxed manner, you can comfortably air break and slow yourself down a bit.
But if you let the situation overcome you, you stand up too quickly and put too much weight on your back foot. It basically becomes a quick way to make yourself feel unstable and even worse, give yourself wobbles.
The key is to stay relaxed in this situation and always remember to have more weight on your leading leg.
The same goes if you are going to slide at a speed (don't forget your Pucks) you are uncomfortable with. Leaning back too much will give you wobbles going into the slide and this will sketch you out a lot more.
This might be what is holding you back from getting comfortable at those higher speeds. It’s not that you don’t have the skill, you simply sketch yourself out each and every time.
2. Looking down instead of straight ahead
If you are going down a hill and you are anticipating every little bump in the road, you will end up sketching yourself out and make yourself feel unstable.
This is because you tense up due to the anticipation. If you stay relaxed you can easily smooth out the twitch (wobbles) you’ll get from skating over a wave, crease or bump in the road.
You can do this by keeping your vision straight ahead and focusing on the road ahead as opposed to right in front of you. This allows you to stay a lot more relaxed and pass over those road imperfections with ease.
This is more psychological than anything else but it can really help improve your stability and help you feel comfortable skating over a variety of terrain.
It might also not make the most sense when you read it, but try it for yourself! It works.
3. Not warming down after a session
It’s easy to get home after a session, switch on the TV and just sit back with a beer. But as nice as that sounds you need to put aside time to do some stretches.
This is because longboarding is a physical sport - we get into awkward positions and genuinely do get our muscles fired up. If we don’t stretch them after a session, it lets them get all tight and stiff.
Over time, this means we can lose flexibility and will just feel as stiff as cardboard all the time. Not really something you want.
So it’s important to do some stretches. It will keep us loose and flexible, and getting into those ‘awkward’ positions will feel a lot easier.
*Stretching also encourages recovery after exercise and prevents injuries from occurring. We aren’t Olympic level athletes, but it’s good to take a leaf from their book.
4. Not training/skating consistently
Not gonna lie, our sport is fairly difficult. It requires a bit of commitment and constant failure to get the basic slide techniques down.
I’ve seen students skate over and over for months with minimal improvement. This is because they don’t skate consistently enough to build up the muscle memory and subconscious knowledge to get sliding and other techniques down.
Yes, they all love skating, but if they want to get good and raise their skill level, they need to commit time at regular intervals to improve their technique and get the basics down. At the end of the day, this is a sport that needs time and commitment for you to get better at.
No one is saying skate every day, but once or twice a week will be good enough.
But keep in mind that we do this for fun. If it stops getting fun and feels tasking, take a break and skate in a way you find fun.
5. Tightening down your setup way too much
Beginners are the most notorious for committing this sin. Tightening down your setup is a big no-no.
Yes, it can make your trucks feel a lot more stable, but it prevents them from working the way they were designed to. You are also sacrificing some additional lean and turn from your truck and aren’t maximizing it’s potential. This might make it harder for you to slide, turn and keep in control of your truck.
Instead, the right thing to do is buy and install slightly harder bushings (check our Bushings guide here) than what you are used to. This will allow you to keep the washer and the nut relatively flush.
You should also learn about washers and how you can use them with different combinations in your trucks.
Trying out the above will give you the full range of motion of the truck and this should let you make the most out of it.
6. Sticking to one setup
Most people become die-hard loyalists once they find a type of gear they like. They become stubborn and unwilling to try other gear.
For example, for years I loved skating my Caliber cast trucks. They were rakeless, slid good and felt stable in a straight line. So for the longest time, I didn’t want to skate anything with rake (the cast Paris felt too twitchy for me). I thought trucks with rake would all be twitchy and completely wrote them off.
However, I, fortunately, got the opportunity to try out some Paris Savants and that changed the game for me. No joke, I was able to do slides at much faster speeds than before and feel very comfortable! The trucks were so stable and that twitch I thought they would have was non-existent.
I’ve been riding a set for the last few months and haven’t looked back since.
So yeah, step outside your comfort zone when it comes to gear. Try out different longboard companies and different wheel, truck and board combinations. You never know how your skills may grow, it could be that your current gear is what is holding you back.
Which sins are you guilty of?
I am personally guilty for most of the sins I’ve mentioned above. It took me months to figure out what I was doing wrong and even longer to figure out and accept a solution. Sometimes the habits were so ingrained that I really didn’t want to change.
But over time, getting rid of these habits has led to me becoming a much better rider. I can also squeeze the most out of my gear, push my skills further and have more fun skating too.
Guest Post by Heelside Ritch