Surf skateboards have taken off in recent years and as a coach these are a game changer for skill acquisition for beginner and intermediate surfers.
I love them, they are fun to use and are great asset for any surfer to have to work on surf skills, learning weight transfers, body positioning and mastering turns. They are great for teaching how to pump and drive for generating speed along a wave, setting up and performing carves, turns, snaps and certainly do have a cross over to surfing performance. However, like anything there also a downside from using them too…
Bad Boards: What I mean here is the cheaper boards that claim to be “surf skate boards” but are complete rubbish and are actually way harder to use over your main brands (Carver, SmoothStar, Slide). My recommendation is, don’t get anything cheap – it’s cheap for a reason and what you pay for is what you get, cheap design, materials and in the end a crap board that actually hinders your ability to progress.
Set up: Incorrect setup is another issue with them. Too tight tuck setup, or way to lose = bad habits and bad crossovers to surfing. Cheap or worn wheels/bearing will make the board slow and not smooth and wont’ hold lines as well. All boards have their strengths and weaknesses and I highly suggest if you’re new to surf skating and unsure on your equipment get someone to check it out for you or set it up for you.
Habits: The board set up will generally dictate what your movement patterns will be like when using it, and often I see that these can lead to bad habits when doing turns. Too lose setup = very rapid swinging of the weight and when surfing you cannot rapidly move from side to side and create these crazy turns..i mean, I’ll like to see it, but you’re most likely to dig a rail each time…then wonder why your surfing is sucking then might seek some coaching advice … to then be told to hold your position longer/hold the line a little longer and bring the arms around with you (subjectivity speaking here) which a loose board won’t allow for due to the rapid pivoting.
Same goes for tight trucks and the ol classic sideways arms swing around the midline and a lateral swinging of the hips. It’s a nice little dance move I guess, but that kinda carry on is as kooky as you can get and is a very, very bad transfer over to surfing…you will dig your rail in every time with that lateral weight shifting going on!
Body positioning is key. A simple tip I coach is…wherever your leading arm is going and head is looking towards…that is where you are going. Arms in opposite directions and looking at ground = poor execution of maneuvers.
Mobility and strength: These are big ones for all board riders and it sticks out like a sore thumb/animal’s balls. How/why so? Well lacking hip mobility = no compression in turns and ridged movement patterns. Weakness = inward collapsing knees and more prone to holding weight in the back leg, which is very dangerous during turns as the board is highly likely to skip out and you will fall backwards – likely resulting in injury!
Lacking the ability to drive your legs forwards and shift more weight into other front leg will result in bad execution of turns. You need to have strong legs and muscle up these board for them to create the turns you want and go with momentum. Don’t fight gravity … it will win every time!
Tricks: I see these loads, the old whip along as speed and tail slides out making this screeching noise of the rubber wheels grinding down on the concrete. Sounds wicked, looks wicked…but in reality, it’s just a massive weight shift to the front leg creating he tail to whip around and slide. Now, don’t get me wrong, is useful maneuver in the surf, but for anyone to execute it properly in the surf… you need loads n loads of speed, right fin set up and loads of strength to pull it off. This is where groms are picking up these habits but are not able to hold power turns/drawn out carves (Your old school rail to rail power game). Instead, you see these little tail whips creating a little splash of water, but wiping off so much speed from it and that was all they are able to do on the wave…and the wave that could have had several more turns on it doesn’t, and is basically a missed opportunity for hooking into it some more and honing in on those turns.
Lastly, for best upskilling, get yourself filmed and get coaching feedback. These will help immensely and save the time of undoing bad habits.