Skimboarding is an exciting beach sport that combines surfing and skateboarding. It allows you to glide across the shallow water near shore on a small, thin board. With some practice, you can learn to ride waves back to land and even do aerial tricks.
Skimboarding is a great way to enjoy the ocean and challenge your balance and coordination. This guide will cover everything you need to know as a beginner, from choosing the right board and location to learning basic techniques. With a little time and persistence, you’ll be shredding waves and impressing your friends in no time. So grab a board, and let’s get started!
How to Find the Right Board and Location
When you’re just starting out with skimboarding, any small, flat wooden board can work, but it’s best to invest in an actual skimboard. Good beginner wooden boards are available for less than $100 at your local surf shops or sporting goods stores.
Wooden boards are usually cheaper than foam boards and can be very durable. However, don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect board right away. The most important things are that it’s the right size and weight for you and fits your budget.
Even if you opt for a foam board, that’s fine too. The key is finding a board you like within your price range.
To start, focus on sand skimming over shallow water close to shore. Look for beaches with large, smooth, flat sandy areas, which are ideal for beginners.
Some top spots in the US include:
- Laguna Beach, California
- Santa Cruz, California
- Paradise Beach, California
- Dewey Beach, Delaware
- Emerald Isle, North Carolina
- Anna Maria Island, Florida
There are great skimboarding beaches all over the world, too, like in Canada, Spain, the UK, and more.
Make Sure You’re Physically Prepared
Skimboarding can be physically demanding, so make sure you’re fit enough before trying it out. You need to be able to run short sprints, balance on a slippery board, and take a few spills as you learn.
Don’t attempt skimboarding if you can’t run, jump quickly, or react fast. Wait until you know you can handle the running, jumping, balancing, and occasional falling that goes along with learning this sport.
Always warm up and stretch before skimboarding to avoid injury. Treat it like a tough workout because it is one!
Wear Protective Gear and Find Your Dominant Foot
Before you start tossing that skimboard onto the sand, you need two things.
First, get a helmet to protect your head and face from falls. Second, figure out your dominant foot.
If you’ve done board sports before, you probably know already. It’s the same foot you’d use to kick a soccer ball.
If you don’t know, just put the board on the sand and step on it. Whichever foot feels most natural in the back is your dominant foot.
Assume the Starting Position
To start sand skimming, lean forward and hold your skimboard about 6 inches above the sand. Put one hand on the back tail and the other halfway up the rail.
Keep the board flat and parallel to the sand. If you’re right-handed, hold it so the water is on your left. If left-handed, reverse this.
Throw the Board
Wait for a wave to wash up, and leave about half an inch of water on the sand. Then throw the board flat onto the wet sand just as the wave starts going back out.
Try to throw it parallel to the shore for a longer ride. You can take a running start first if you want more speed, but it’s not required if you can throw it hard enough.
Practice just tossing the board a few times to get a feel for it before trying to get on.
Run Onto the Board
When your board is out in front, run onto it instead of jumping or hopping on. Jumping will make you fall right away.
Keep an even pace and take about three running steps before stepping on. Lead with your front foot just past the middle of the board, then follow with your back foot.
This ensures you don’t lose momentum compared to hopping on.
Control the Board
As you’re skimming, keep your knees bent and weight centered. Don’t move around too much. Look straight ahead in the direction you’re going.
For sand skimming, put a bit more pressure on your front foot.
Focus on keeping your balance until the board stops on its own. You just completed your first skimboarding ride! But there’s a lot more beyond just going in a straight line.
Try Wave Skimming
Wave skimming amps up the fun and challenge. Wait for a wave to start breaking, then throw your board down and approach the wave from the side.
When you reach the crest, use your back foot to turn the board toward shore. Then ride the wave in!
Learn New Tricks
Once you’ve mastered the basics, start learning tricks on your skimboard. Some good ones to try:
- Aerial – Launch off a wave and land back on it or in the whitewater. A great first trick.
- Hippy Jump – Ride up to an object on shore and jump it while the board goes underneath.
- 180 Spin – Rotate your hips and swing your back leg around to spin 180 degrees.
- Kickflip – Use your foot to kick the side of the board and make it do a 360-degree flip.
- No Comply – Step off with your front foot to spin the board, then get back on.
Is Skimboarding Easy to Learn?
Skimboarding takes patience and persistence to learn. It’s not as easy as something like surfing or skateboarding, where staying on the board is simpler.
If you’re new to board sports, stick to shallow water and practice throwing the board until it feels natural. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
Can You Practice on Grass?
You can practice skimboarding on grass, but only if it’s very wet. The grass blades need to be submerged so you can hydroplane across the surface like you would with sand.
How Big Are Skimboards?
Most skimboards range from 45 to 57 inches long and 17.75 to 23 inches wide. Bigger boards are easier for beginners.
Thickness matters too. Thicker boards glide better but don’t turn as sharply. Thinner boards allow more tricks but less speed.
What Are The Best Skimboards for Beginners?
For beginners, focus on finding an affordable board that is the right size for you rather than fixating on specific features. However, some good options to consider include:
- Waveline Neon Wooden Skimboard – Simple, effective wooden board perfect for new skimmers.
- BPS Shaka Skimboard – Sturdy wooden board with traction pad options. Great for kids and adults.
- Wave Zone Diamond – High-quality U.S.-made fiberglass model. Ensure it meets your weight limits.
- Zap Lazer Skimboard – Premium board for young riders under 95 pounds.
- Victoria Woody Skimboard – Good wooden board for beginners up to 200 pounds.
How long does it take to learn skimboarding?
It usually takes at least a few sessions to get comfortable with the basics. Expect to spend several hours across multiple days practicing throwing the board and balancing before you’ll be able to ride any significant distance. Be patient and keep at it! With regular practice, most people are able to start wave skimming within 2-4 weeks.
What’s the ideal weather for skimboarding?
The best conditions are small, gentle waves (1-3 feet) and light onshore winds. Offshore winds and choppy surf make skimboarding very difficult. Avoid high winds and large waves when you’re starting out. Look for low tide on calm, sunny days.
Can you skimboard in pools or lakes?
It’s possible but not ideal. You need a thin layer of water to hydroplane, at least 1/4 inch. Most pools and lakes don’t have large enough smooth areas for a good skimboarding surface. Stick to the ocean for the full experience.
How high can you jump on a skimboard?
Experienced skimboarders can get airborne several feet off the water when hitting a wave right. World records are around 9-10 feet max. But when you’re learning, focus on staying low and maintaining control vs. big airs. Nail the basics before moving on to jumps and tricks.
Skimboarding is an accessible watersport that anyone can enjoy with some practice. Start on smooth, wet sand in shallow water and work on throwing the board and maintaining your balance. As you improve, move on to bigger waves and start learning tricks. Always remember to wear a helmet and protective gear and respect the ocean. With the right preparation and attitude, skimboarding delivers an amazing adrenaline rush you can’t get anywhere else. Now get out there, get wet, and get shredding on those waves!