When the waves are flat, surfers have always turned to skateboarding as a means of practicing their skills on land.
There has always been crossover between the two sports and there is a long history of very talented skateboarders also being really good surfers.
I often get asked, “Will skateboarding improve my surfing?“
I posed the question to some of my friends that are good at both sports and summarized the discussion below.
Skateboarding and surfing are two sports that are very closely linked. Getting better at skateboarding will definitely help improve your surfing skills. Skateboarding will help improve balance, coordination and board awareness, which will all help your surfing.
Skateboarding isn’t easy but spending some time getting better will pay dividends when you are in the ocean riding waves.
Keep reading for the 10 Reasons Why Skateboarding will Help Improve Your Surfing.
1. Skateboarding will Improve Your Balance
Balance is the number one skill required for skateboarding.
If you can stand and balance on a skateboard, there is a good chance that you can actually ride it. Once you are riding down the street, balance will help you stay cruising along, make any adjustments and try different tricks.
There are specific drills you can practice to improve your balance on a skateboard. It’s probably not much of a surprise but these are the exact same drills you can practice to improve your balance on a surfboard.
Check out the balance board videos below for skateboarding and surfing, do they look similar?
2. Skateboarding Skills are Learned Through Repetition
Try, try and then try again. Repeatedly attempting to master a trick is very time consuming. Some experts estimate that it takes 1-3 months of dedicated practice to master a moving Ollie, which is one of the most important initial tricks in skateboarding.
Every skill and trick in skateboarding is learned through repetition. It’s just you, your skateboard and a bunch of attempts that will drill the successful movements into your muscle memory.
The best thing about skateboarding, when compared to surfing, is that if you fall or fail, you can try again in a matter of seconds. This allows for numerous attempts over a relatively short period of time.
If you fall in surfing, you have to get back up, paddle back to the line up and wait for the next wave to try again.
3. Skateboarding is an Individual Sport
In skateboarding, it’s all about you. As an individual sport, skateboarding comes down to your willingness to put in the effort. You have to rely on yourself to get motivated, practice the skills and face the challenges.
Skateboarding is popular because it is simple and accessible. If you have a skateboard and live near pavement or asphalt, there is nothing stopping you. The rewards are worth the effort.
In surfing, the same rules apply.
4. Skateboarding helps develop Coordination
Coordination is another important skill in skateboarding. The ability to move your body smoothly and efficiently allows for a greater range of possibilities on a skateboard.
Balance and coordination will help you start to put moves and tricks together efficiently. Developing coordination on a skateboard can be improved with more skating.
All parts of your body will start to work together right from your head to your feet. Becoming more efficient and fluid in your skateboarding movements will have a direct correlation to your surfing.
5. Skateboarding will Help Push your Limits
Every time I go skateboarding, I get a little bit nervous because I know that I will be pushing my limits at some point. And let me be clear, I am not a very good skateboarder, so it doesn’t take much.
When I really focused on trying to improve my skills at skateboarding, I built a 6 foot high half pipe in my backyard and it was scary. I realize that a 6 foot ramp may not seem very high to some people, but it was down right freaky to me.
I had the ramp for a couple of years and no matter how hard I practiced, I never felt like I was getting really good. But sometimes that isn’t the point. Pushing your limits and fighting for every small improvement is sometimes the only thing we can achieve.
Even though I didn’t become a master on the half pipe, I definitely noticed improvement in my surfing.
6. Skateboarding & Surfing Helps Build Board Awareness
Knowing where your board is at all times is super important in board sports.
Great skateboarders (and surfers) have an uncanny ability to “find” their boards without even looking. It’s almost as if they can feel their board without seeing it and use that skill to land impossible tricks.
Developing board awareness helps improve the connection between your skateboard and your feet. It takes time to develop but it allows skateboarders to locate the correct foot positioning quickly.
This skill translates to surfing, where board awareness and board management is integral to the safety of yourself and other surfers.
7. Skateboarding & Surfing Builds Comfort at New Locations
With skateboarding the terrain is always changing. Whether you are skateboarding near the beach, on the street or in a skate park, the surrounding environment will be different at every location.
Skateboarders are constantly adjusting and adapting to the obstacles around them. It is a very creative sport that relies on quick thinking and athletic movements to avoid people and cars, maintain speed and perform tricks.
No matter how many times you skateboard (or surf) at an new spot, there will be new crowds, smells, noises, obstacles and challenges.
One of the best transferable skills developed through skateboarding, that will benefit your surfing, is the ability to adapt to new spots and have fun doing it!
8. Skateboarding is all About Commitment
In skateboarding, one of the most important characteristics to ensure the chance of success is commitment. Whether you are trying to improve or attempting a new trick, full commitment is the only way. Pulling back or bailing out half way never works out well.
Hoping for a positive result is not a good strategy.
It takes practice and experience to learn the level of commitment that is required for optimal performance. When you watch the best skateboarders, you quickly realize that they are the most committed.
9. Skateboarding takes Determination
Getting better at skateboarding isn’t easy. It is a lot of fun but it isn’t easy. The dictionary definition of the word determination is “the ability to continue trying to do something, although it is very difficult”
My daughter and I like to play around on skateboards on the street in front of our house. She says she wants to be a skateboarder. I know it will take a lot of determination to get past the beginning stages.
The fear of falling and dealing with the consequences of landing on a hard surface repeatedly is something every skateboarder has to accept and it is no different when you are 3 or 43.
10. Skateboarding & Surfing will Help You Make Friends
A community of practice is a bunch of like minded people, who come together to focus on a common goal. If you have ever hung out with a bunch of skateboarders that are trying to get better, a community of practice sums it up pretty well.
Skateboarding is an individual sport; however, once one person has success with a particular movement or trick, it is quickly, practiced, repeated and improved by others.
Developing an ability to perform among a group of your skateboarding peers will translate well when you are in the ocean catching waves.
There is a great brotherhood/sisterhood in skateboarding (and surfing) where the desire to one up each other is balanced by the desire to see each other do well.
It makes me think of a popular quote from the Book of Proverbs, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”