Surfing and skating is like...
Gin & Tonic, Strawwberries and Cream , Brad & Angelina (ok maybe not Brangelina but you get the point).
What I'm trying to say is they go hand in hand. They're complimentary.
Practicing one, helps you improve on the other.
In fact, regularly skating can have a pretty big impact on the way you surf - more on that in a minute.
Anyway, in this post you'll learn everything you need to know on the beneficial effects of skating on your surfing.
DOES SKATING HELP SURFING?
First things first.
Jump on a skateboard, blast around the block, grab your surfboard and you’ll smash every lip you encounter.
You see, skating is one of the most beneficial activities (out of the water) you can add to your surfing repertoire. That’s of course , you are serious about improving your surfing.
In short: Skating is the closest thing to surfing itself. More on that in a minute.
The best part.
It shares so many of the fundamental elements of surfing that you can practice over and over, regardless of what the surf conditions are doing.
That’s why so many surf camps & private surf coaches (like me) are using skating as a way to teach students better technique, improve their balance, fitness and coordination during surf lessons.
The end result?
Skating is a great option for surfers who wish to improve their surfing ability.
And, you don’t even have to rely on the conditions. Even better.
IS SURFING AND SKATING SIMILAR?
Learning to surf is hard. We all know that.
Thankfully surfing and skating mimic similar bio mechanics to one another.
Which means when you're skating, your body's muscle memory is being directly stimulated as if you were surfing.
The good news...
The more work you put into skating, the better the results you'll see in your surfing.
Even better, you’re able to break down each movement step by step to really grasp the auto mechanics of movements needed to perform and execute each surfing manoeuvre.
From top turns, to carves to cutbacks. Skateboarding is the perfect partner to your surfing.
Although this isn't new information, it's also hasn't been widely publicised.
Surfing and skating have always had a close symbiotic relationship. The feeling of riding a skateboard is similar to riding a wave.
Wait! there’s so much more.
Let’s have a look at some other characteristics they share:
I know it’s pretty obvious... both skateboarding and surfing are deemed as board sports.
So, it goes without saying; both share a need for balance. Good balance is essential for maximising your fun!
You. Your surfboard. And, the ocean.
Or maybe it’s you, your skateboard and the concrete.
Either way both sports are a great promoter of individuality and self expression.
Could there be anything more freeing?
Don’t take my word for it. Ask every surfer and skater what they love about these two boards sports and I’ll betcha they’ll say… All I need is me and my board.
You heard it here first.
Both skating and surfing have had a long history of underground subculture.
They’ve both individually and collectively attracted an audience of anti establishment, freedom seekers and ‘fuck the norm’ kind of gal and guy.
This has been well documented in surf and skate films such as Lord of Dog Town. Where surfing and skating symbolizes the same cultural values.
This iconic subculture and unconventional lifestyle quickly became pop culture. And both surfing and skating went from underground grass roots to multi million dollar industries.
Chuck those city slickers away now!
Or faced being banished from your very own community.
To earn your spot out in the line up or around the skate bowl there is a certain hierarchy to adhere too.
Both sports honour and respect the pecking order. If your local, you’ve got first dibs followed by talent.
Sorry but, kooks are way down...
If you’re a newbie I strongly suggest scrubbing up on the unwritten rules of both sports and if it’s a busy line or a busy bowl, tread carefully.
In fairness, without some form of order there would be carnage. This hierarchy is paramount to keeping all surfers and skaters safe.
Be ignorant and it’ll cost you.
IS SURFING EASY IF YOU SKATEBOARD?
Just because you skate, doesn't mean you can surf.
Surfing is still so goddamn hard. Damnit!
It’s not like skateboarding where the conditions are always the same, where you can practice the same tricks over and over again until you get it.
In surfing the conditions are never the same, they're constantly changing, and this is what makes it so difficult.
Granted, some days everything just clicks, and you ride some of the best waves of your life.
Other days, you want to give up altogether.
We’ve all been there.
But, what skateboarding can do is, teach you how to become a better surfer.
And this is what will make your surfing easier.
WHAT MAKES A SKATEBOARD GOOD FOR SURFING?
There are certain skateboards which exacerbate the surfing movements more than others.
These skateboards are particularly good for your surfing.
They have a unique set of trucks which allows you to turn more tightly, enabling you to mimic the same types of auto mechanics movements performed on your surfboard.
What’s most important is the front truck swivels and enables the board to pivot in either direction.
This is particularly vital if you wish to practise your surfing more often and arn't able to get to the surf frequently.
These trucks allow for a larger range of motion than a longboard skateboard or a regular high performance skateboard.
They encourage you to make short, sharp and snappy truns by distributing your weight onto either rail and by rotating and compressing your body. Rather than lifting the board off the ground.
The same concept is needed for completing truns and carves in your surfing.
Hence the reason why these types of skateboards are perfect for flat day fun as well as surf specific training.
WHAT SKATEBOARD IS MOST LIKE SURFING?
Any skateboard is better for your surfing than no skateboard, but, in recent years there’s been a lot of advancements in skateboards built specifically for surfers.
As mentioned earlier, the main difference between your standard skateboard and one that’s specifically designed for surfers comes down to the front trucks.
It’s the manoeuvrability of these trucks that really allows you to emulate the movements of riding a wave.
Check out the video below to see one in action.
But, there’s a lot of choice out there now (and some are better than others).
Recent years there’s been more and more demand from surfers specifically wanting something which can help with their surfing.
Here’s a list of the most popular skateboards for surfers for you to go check out:
MY THOUGHTS FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH...
Which one do I recommend?
For me it’d have to be the Smoothstar.
I get it, these boards aren’t cheap (the cheapest model in their line starts at $450). But as with everything you get what you pay for.
I particularly like the Smoothstar because they feel the most like surfing to me.
The wheels are super smooth, and the trucks are really responsive which helps to enable surf-like rail-to-rail transitions, tight turns, and tail slides (my favorite).
And it also helps that they come highly recommended by the likes of Felipe Toledo and many others, not to mention top class coaches too.
10 BENEFITS OF SKATING HAS IN YOUR SURFING
With a surf skateboard you can practice your surfing from anywhere. The world can be your training ground.
But if you want to get the most out of your dry land training a well constructed surf skateboard setup is essential.
In this simple and clear guide to the many benefits skating has on your surfing, I'm going to walk you through the many positives.
And we'll start with the one most people talk about...
There aren't too many sports where you can practice flow. Luckily though, skateboarding happens to be one of them.
Flow is initiated in the body, performed by gentle movements between your upper and low body, generating speed and forward momentum.
Practicing flow on a skateboard is an easy way to learn the biomechanics of surfing as you have complete control of your surroundings.
With repetition, you'll understand the effects of moving your body in relation to the way your board responds.
Practicing this will teach you the principles for generating your own speed when you get back in the water.
Skateboarding is an awesome practice ground for your surfing. It allows you to experiment with new carves, visualize new lines and mimic surf movements in real life.
But here's the thing...
Unlike surfing - which is so damn condition dependent - skating can be done virtually anytime, anywhere. So you can essentially practice whenever you want!
Style in surfing is makes a huge difference!
Let me explain.
You see, good surfing is more than just going crazy trying to hit every section that comes your way.
Instead, good surfing is an elegant blend of power, grace & flow.
But, with such little time to practice in the ocean, practicing on a skateboard instead is the next best thing.
A little soul arch here, a bend of the knees there...
...and a hair flick to finish!
Doesn't everything look just so much better with a little style thrown in?
Have you ever spent a few weeks out of the water only to find that the next time you surf, your puffed before you even make it out the back?
I know I have!
And granted, there's a tonne of muscles that skateboarding isn't going to help with, but when it comes to the lower body muscle groups, skating regularly is damn effective.
Skating often will build up endurance in these muscles groups, improving your overall surf fitness massively.
And lets face it, going for a thrash around on your skateboard with your girlfriends beats a treadmill in the gym every day of the week!
Download The Complete Surfing Map Of Progression!
Find out where you're at right now, and what you should be working on next to improve.
Timing is everything in surfing. There are so many variables you have to contend with when your surfing that your timing and decision making has to be super on point.
All of the time.
And what's cool is that skateboarding really helps with this too.
As the more time you spend on a skateboard, the sharper your timing will become.
Both surfing and skating require focus.
And without focus, you're going to "eat it!"...
True, there won't be too many comparisons to surfing when it comes to your reaction time, but skating comes pretty close.
In fact, with the stakes oftentimes much higher whilst skating - concrete is a LOT harder than water - focus is something that you'll quickly develop as you skate more often.
Skating is all about commitment.
If you think you're going to fall you'll fall. If you half commit, you'll fall. If you 95% commit, you'll fall.
It's 100% or nothing!
If you go into any trick half-heartedly you'll be in a whole world of pain. And the same goes for surfing.
You have to be fully committed, if not, you'll get smashed - ALL the time.
So next time your approaching a late drop, hitting a steep section, or doing a big floater, remember one thing...
Every single time.
The key to success is repetition, repetition, repetition.
And apparently, it's possible to become a master at anything, it just takes 10,000 hours of practice!
Which, as a surfer, is damn near impossible (unless you have access to Kelly's wave pool that is).
However, with skating as your best friend, you can replicate and repeat the same movements time and time again, until eventually, they become second nature.
Surfing is a very unique type of balance that's hard to replicate out of the water, but skating happens to be pretty damn close.
That's why by skating regularly you'll notice a significant improvements to your balance when you're back in the water.
Lets face it, if it's not fun, what's the point.
Skating is so damn fun and opens you up to a whole other crew of likeminded frothers.
So, stop procrastinating, get yourself a skateboard and go tear it up.
You'll be thanking me next time you hit the water. Yew!
Note: Before you head to the skatepark, download the skateboarding challenge worksheet here.
Whether you're a complete novice, experienced beginner or seasoned pro, having a dedicated surf skateboard is a must have piece of kit.
That's why it makes sense to invest in a skateboard which allows you to practise on land so you can accomplish your surfing goals much quicker.
So which type of surf skateboard are you going to choose to see massive improvements in your surfing?
Let me know in the comments below.
Lauren is the founder and head technical coach of House of Surf.