How to Skimboard in 5 Simple Steps
Created in the 1920s in Laguna Beach, skimboarding has come a long way since its inception. Dive in and learn a few quick tips to skim on both sand and waves.
In the 1960s, skimboarding was profoundly influenced by surfing and skateboarding, but its performances also shaped surfing's retro and new-school movements and tricks.
Skimboarding is the only boardsport that doesn't depend on wind and wave conditions.
Instead, it involves performing skateboarding tricks like ollies and shove-its.
You can think of a skimboard kind of like a smaller surfboard, but without fins.
Sounds cool? Great.
Then, you'll select your spot and learn the basic skimboarding techniques.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the basics of skimboarding, plus help you learn how to skimboard in just 5 simple steps.
So let's jump right in!
What Is Skimboarding?
Skimboarding was actually initially named "skidboarding."
This came from the word "skid," which means to slide without rotating.
Originally, skimboarding started with George Griffeth and his friend Jimmy, a lifeguard that created a rounded redwood disk to glide across the water, in the early 1920s.
The early 1960s gave birth to a new design that appeared, imitating a smaller and wider surfboard.
Initially, skimboarding was an excellent substitute for flat surfing days, shore breaks, and high water, but as time moved on, it gained the rank as an official watersport. Today, it's about as popular as bodyboarding (or boogie boarding, as many refer to it).
In the 1980s, Tex Haines, founder of Victoria Skimboards, helped the watersport's popularity grow into the massively popular activity it is today.
How To Use And Ride A Skimboard
Now that we’ve discussed the brief history of skimming, let’s hop right to the basics of learning how to skimboard.
Choosing Your Skimboard
Like surfboards, skimboards vary greatly in quality and price.
If you’re not sure if skimming is right for you, try picking out a cheaper skimboard first before going for more expensive models. Don't go for a carbon fiber skimboard just yet - unless you know you'll stick with it.
Additionally, check with us! We're happy to give have some recommendations of our favorite skimboards, whether you're a beginner or have been skimming for years.
Pro Tip: Get a Good Grip on Your Board
Much like a surfboard, we highly recommend buying surf wax for your skimboard to help you get a better grip.
Boards usually have a smooth epoxy glazing that allows you to slide easily, but when it gets wet and you're jumping on with your bare feet, it's easy to slip and fall.
So pick out a good type of wax that'll give you a solid grip. It's worth the extra few bucks.
Additionally, preferably find a skimboard with a traction pad.
Even some entry level boards such as the Boogie Board EVA Skimboard feature one, and they'll give you the necessary grip to keep on.
Wood boards can be relatively affordable, but many won't have traction pads. If your board doesn't have traction pads, you can purchase them if need be for some added grip.
How To Ride A Skimboard in 5 Steps - The Sand Skimming Method
If you're a novice, sand skimming is the easiest method to start with. Here's 5 steps to get you started.
- Pick the right sand. The area you choose for sand skimming must have a good sand consistency with some water on top. Shoot for ideally about 1/4" of water. Avoid mushy, sticky and rocky sand as it can affect your practice and make it difficult. It's also good to find a beach that has a slope to it -- this will help immensely.
- Run! The faster you run, the quicker you will go on your board and further your slide. Run right behind the board before heading on to the next step. Try to really gain some momentum. Wait until after the shore break.
- Drop. Holding on to the board with one hand at each end, drop your board flat onto the sand when the wave starts to reach the wet sand (some experts describe this as the "white bubbles" of the wave).
- Slide. Step on the board, as you do when you are sliding on the hardwood floor with your socks! Step lightly with the non-dominant foot in front of the middle of the board, with your feet turned a bit sideways. Do your best to maintain your balance, while maintaining the positions of both your front foot and back foot.
- Ride the waves. Keep reading to learn how to skimboard on waves.
Having trouble envisioning these steps in action?
Check out these skimboarders and get some quick pointers.
Wave Skimming: Learn How To Skimboard On Waves
Here are some tips on how to get started when wave skimboarding.
Keep in mind that wave skimming is significantly tougher than sand skimming as described above, so be sure to master that first.
Drop Your Skimboard
Controlling transitions comes from how much you pressure the board "nose" as you go from sand to water.
Depending on the bumps, release pressure from your front foot, allowing the board to stay on top of the water.
Read The Waves
Observe the backwashes and the next's.
Check when it starts to reach its peak and allows the white water to settle, then skimboard on that clean spot.
Remember, every spot is different. Always observe your environment and the timing of your wave.
Ride The Wave By Doing A "Backside Wrap"
Wait for a wave that will break close to the shore and head straight out to that wave.
Drop your backhand down, bend your knees and do a 180 turn with pressure on the board "nose," and ride the wave back to the sand.
Your backhand and knees will help you give direction to your skimboard.
Things to Remember When Learning How to Skimboard
Like surfing, skimboarding requires practice. And a lot of it.
Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re learning how to skimboard.
Start Out Slow
It’s important to be familiar with a skimboard before trying to get on a wave.
Learning how to skimboard might take many months before mastering it, so the first thing to do is get the basics down.
Start to ride your skimboard on wet sand covered with 1/4" thin film of the previous wave's water and sliding along. This is the skimboarding equivalent to catching your first wave on a surf.
Be patient and persistent!
Spend a Lot of Time Practicing
Skimboarding relies on muscle memory and reflexes.
We highly recommend you practice with your skimboard at least two times per week, warming up for about an hour before each practice.
Anticipate Your Transitions
Get a good notion of your timing and control with the backwash.
Learning to read waves will happen by getting good slides and transitioning to the water.
It'll also help you know how far you can go with skimboarding.
Transitioning can be difficult because you go from a very firm and stable surface (wet sand) onto an unstable and moving surface (waves).
For this, you need to know how and when to change the balance in control.
Analyze your wave's timing, shape, and how it's sending up the backwash.
Transitioning makes you gain speed and never forget it!
All these anticipations are your guideline to show you the ideal point to transition into the water, but you still have to be aware of any other smaller waves that pop up.
These can really mess up your transition, so it's important to keep aware at all times.
Always be ready for any unexpected bumps!
Hopefully by now you've gotten the basic steps down, so it's time to get out there and enjoy!
And remember, learning how to skimboard takes time.
Just like surfing, you've got to practice, practice, practice.
But there's nothing more rewarding than catching the perfect wave.
Best of luck out there, and let us know how it goes!