Mastering the Art of Longboarding Slides: A Comprehensive Guide

Mastering the Art of Longboarding Slides: A Comprehensive Guide

Sliding a longboard just before taking a corner or coming to a stop is a pure adrenaline rush. From the perspective of an audience, it looks sleek. But only the performer knows how much hard work and dedication goes into mastering longboarding slides.

To be a good longboarding slider, you must have excellent command over various types of slides. Besides, you need to have a deep knowledge of the techniques to perfect them over time.

In this detailed guide, I will talk about longboarding slides, their working principles, and various types of slides. I will also discuss advanced sliding techniques, safety gear, and precautions to help you become a pro slider.

Understanding Longboarding Slides

Longboarding slides seem impressive when done correctly. Before getting to that level, you need to understand what a slide is and the physics behind it. Let’s get the fundamentals right in the beginning.

Defining Longboarding Slides

When longboards roll on the surface, wheels maintain traction with the surface. If you break the traction intentionally, the wheels will slide instead of rolling. This is known as a slide in longboarding. While sliding, you can slow the board down or change your riding direction smoothly.

See a longboarding slide in the following video.

Slides are used for two main purposes in longboarding. Here is a quick overview of them.

  • Controlled Drifts: When you are riding around corners or curves, you can perform controlled drifts with sliding. This helps you maintain your speed and navigate through tight curves without losing your balance.
  • Performing Tricks: Besides controlling your speed and direction, longboarding slides are a great way to perform various tricks. With finessing slides, you can impress your fellow riders and audience easily.

Different Styles and Variations of Longboarding Slides

Slides come in a wide variety of styles. Each style has its variations depending on how an individual rider wants to perform it. If I talk about the main styles, here are three of them.

  1. Stand-Up Slides: As the name suggests, riders remain upright in this type of slide. They drift sideways while standing on the board. Maintaining balance and controlling the board is the main focus of this type of slide.

It has variations like squat slides, where riders still stand on their feet but bend their knees in a squat position.

  • Hands-Down Slides: In these slides, riders put their hands down and touch the pavement. They need to maintain balance and shift weights correctly to prevent oversteering or understeering. This type of slide requires advanced skills.
  • Pendulum Slides: Pendulum slides are where riders swing their boards back and forth. Riders need to swing their shoulders as well to control the direction of the board. As they swing like pendulums, these types of slides are known as pendulum slides.

The Physics of Sliding

Friction is a very basic topic in physics. Simply put, it is the resistance between surfaces when they want to move against each other. It helps wheels roll instead of sliding.

But when you break this friction, you experience slides. It is just like walking on a slippery surface, where the friction between your feet and the surface is too low. Let me explain how friction and other factors impact longboarding slides.

  • Friction: Micropores on the wheel surface and the pavement cause traction between these surfaces. It helps the wheels roll. But when you suddenly change direction at high speed, wheels overcome the friction and start gliding. This is when you slide along the path without rolling.
  • Velocity: Think of moving furniture across the room and braking a car at high speed. As the speed of moving furniture is too low, it is almost impossible to slide that.

But when you brake a car at high speed, it will slide easily. The sudden change in speed helps break the traction, so managing the velocity in longboarding is crucial.

  • Board Control: When performing slides, simply changing the speed or direction and breaking the friction isn’t everything. You don’t want yourself to be thrown off the board. Instead, you need to maintain control over the board so that you can roll again after a successful slide.

Understanding the basics and practicing them in real life will create a solid foundation for your longboarding slides.

How Slides Work on Different Surfaces?

The quality of the surface greatly impacts longboarding slides. Check how slides work on the following surfaces.

  • Smooth Asphalt: These surfaces are ideal for longboarding slides. Due to the smoothness, it is pretty easy to break the traction and initiate your slides. Maintaining control over slides is also easier on such surfaces.
  • Rough Pavement: As these surfaces provide more grip, initiating a slide is comparatively harder on rough surfaces. Besides, balancing your board and maintaining control also becomes difficult on rough pavements.

Safety and Protective Gear for Performing Longboarding Slides

Even if you aren’t performing slides, wearing proper safety gear is still important. And it becomes more vital when you perform risky maneuvers like slides. Besides ensuring your safety, protective gear boosts your confidence so that you can push your skills.

Importance of Safety Gear

Longboarding slides can be risky to perform, especially when you are a beginner. You will go through a lot of trial and error that will cause abrasion, cuts, and bruises. By wearing proper safety gear, you can avoid such mishaps. Here is a quick overview of the gear you need to use in longboarding slides.

  • Helmets: Protecting your head is the most important thing here. A good-quality helmet with proper certification can protect your head from impact.
  • Gloves and Pads: Besides helmets, you need to wear sliding gloves, elbow and knee pads, etc. These items ensure safety for areas that are prone to abrasion or injury during an accident. For example, the chance of getting your elbow or knee bruised in a longboarding accident is too high. The protective gear will keep you from such risks.
  • The Role of Slide Gloves: These gloves are specially designed to help you control your slides. Especially when you perform hands-down slides, these slide gloves help you manage speed and direction for proper slides. I will talk more about these gloves in a minute.

Choosing the Right Sliding Gloves:

You need to consider several crucial factors before choosing the right sliding gloves. Check the factors below.

  • Materials and Durability: Sliding gloves need to be highly durable and abrasion-resistant. At the same time, they should be flexible and breathable so that you can manipulate your slides easily.

Leather is great for durability and abrasion resistance, but synthetic gloves are more flexible and breathable.

  • Puck Styles and Placement: Gloves with finger pucks are more suitable if you are a beginner. They have variations like lobster pucks and four-finger pucks.

If you have some sliding skill already, thumb pucks may provide more maneuverability. So, check the puck style and placement before buying sliding gloves.

Using Knee and Elbow Pads

Newcomers often consider these items as additional accessories. But let me assure you that knee and elbow pads are super important for your safety. If you accidentally fall off the longboard while performing a slide, these pads can save you a lot of pain.

So, the knee and elbow pads you use should be made of high-quality and durable material. The material should be abrasion-resistant so that it can withstand the impact of falling off. Ballistic nylon is the best material for these pads. Good knee pads or elbow pads come with a protective layer of synthetic material that covers your sensitive areas.

Other important factors include comfort and mobility. Besides providing protection, the pads shouldn’t hinder your hand or foot movement. So, they should have flexible bends.

The inner side of the pads should have thick and breathable cushioning so that it can absorb the impact and keep you comfortable.

Longboarding Slide Helmets

Good slide helmets should have a lightweight but hard outer shell to protect you against impact. And the inner lining should be soft and breathable. The lining is responsible for absorbing the impact and keeping your head comfortable.

With good helmets, the risk of head injury during slides is reduced noticeably.

You should always check the safety certifications of a slide helmet before buying it. The helmets should have the ASTM F1492 certification to be suitable for longboarding slides. You may also look for the CPSC or EN 1078 certifications.

These standards ensure the helmet is designed and tested properly to meet specific safety criteria. Slide helmets without these certifications may not be effective in protecting your head during an impact. So, always focus on your safety before anything else.

Types of Longboarding Slides

Now comes the meat and potatoes of this discussion. I will introduce you to a few different types of common longboarding slides. Learn how to execute these slides and perfect your techniques.

Coleman Slide

It is also known as a heelside pendulum slide. You need to follow the steps below to execute the Coleman slide

  1. Start crouching on the longboard as you approach the initiation of the slide.
  2. Your feet should be apart so that the width is roughly about your shoulder. Keep the weight on the front foot.
  3. Lower your rear hands so that they touch the road. The palm should face down while touching the road.
  4. Start pushing your hips out and make sure the knees are still bent.
  5. Lean backward slightly to swing your shoulders and apply pressure on your hand. This will initiate the slide as you see the longboard starting to drift.
  6. Keep the weight balanced until the slide is complete. Then, swing your shoulders back to turn the board. It will terminate the slide, and the board will start rolling again.
  7. Mastering the Coleman for Control
  8. If you are leaning too aggressively, it can initiate the slide faster. But you run the risk of falling off the board.
  9. Start the slide at a high speed because that will ensure you can break the traction.
  10. Use the free hand to stay stable on the longboard.

Check this video:

Heelside Stand-Up Slide

Stand-up slides are tricky maneuvers that take a lot of time and effort to master. Here are the basic steps to perform a heelside stand-up slide.

  1. Achieve the right speed before you approach the corner or curve for a slide.
  2. Put your weight on your heels. This is where the heelside name comes from. Remember, the front heel should be close to the centerline of the board. You can put a bit of rear heel to push the board easily.
  3. Lean backward and push the tail with your hanging heel to rotate the board and break the traction.
  4. Maintain your stance while drifting. The knees should not be bent too much during the slide.
  5. Adjust the pressure on the board with your heels to control your direction and speed.
  6. Sliding While Remaining Upright
  7. To perform a spectacular heelside stand-up slide, you should always maintain your weight distribution. About 60-70% of your weight should be on the front foot.
  8. Practice applying different pressure with your heels so that the length and direction of the slide are as desired.
  9. Try doing this slide on sloped surfaces to gain more control over the slide.

Here is a video of the heelside stand-up slide:

Toeside Stand-Up Slide

The basic techniques for this slide are similar to the previous one. But you need to use your toes to apply pressure. Here is how you do it.

  1. Gain the necessary speed before starting your slide.
  2. As you approach the turn, start shifting your weight to the toes. More weight should be on the front toes.
  3. Lean backward slightly and swing your shoulders in the direction you want to go. Push the longboard nose with your toes.
  4. Bend your knees slightly if you need to. Balance the pressure and leaning to get a perfect slide.
  5. Move your toes accordingly to adjust the pressure.
  6. Achieving Smooth Turns and Stops
  7. Toeside slides may be a bit tricky for beginners. Practice the weight distribution to put enough pressure on the board while not falling off.
  8. Experiment with different board angles and shoulder swings to make the transition into the slide smoother.
  9. Control the drift length and stop smoothly after performing the slide.

Check out this video:

Pre-Drifts and Check Slides

These are advanced techniques that slow your boards down with precision and style. For pre-drifts, you need to initiate a slide before taking a turn. It results in a smoother drift.

  1. Check slides are slightly different, where the main focus is on controlling the board speed and making smaller adjustments during the slide. You can use the following pre-drift techniques for precision.
  2. The front foot placing should work as a pivot for the board. You should stretch the front foot completely to put the necessary pressure on the board.
  3. Then, use the rear leg to adjust the steering direction. The board should rotate no more than 90 degrees to perform pre-drifts.
  4. Kicking the board out at the right time is crucial. Make sure you kick the board just after setting up your heels or toes.

Here is a video of it:

Learning Longboarding Slides

By presuming you are a beginner longboard rider, I will teach you the basic sliding techniques with the essential steps. You will also learn how to balance everything to perform a perfect longboarding slide properly.

Basic Sliding Techniques:

Whatever the slide type, you need to master some basic techniques. These include positioning your body correctly, balancing your weight before and during the slide, and keeping the timing correct. Learn the four essential steps for a longboarding slide below.

  • The Four Essential Steps

Here is a quick overview of the steps you need to work on.

  1. Preparation: In this step, you need to figure out what slide you are going to perform. You should adjust your speed according to the slide type and approach the turn properly.
  2. Initiation: This is the moment you begin to perform the slide. In this step, you have to watch your body positioning, weight distribution, and board direction to initiate the slide correctly.
  3. Control: While you are doing the slide, maintaining your balance on the board, adjusting pressure, and changing directions are necessary.
  4. Exit: At the end of the slide, you need to smoothly transition into rolling by regaining traction.
  5. Building Confidence for Slides

Besides skills, an important requirement for slides is confidence. Unless you are confident on the longboard, your slides won’t start or end smoothly. And you will be at risk of doing abrupt slides that might throw you off the board.

So, start on a flat, safe surface where you can clear the basics of longboarding slides. Once your body positioning, weight distribution, and timing are polished, you can move to sloped surfaces and corners. Using the right protective gear can increase your confidence.

Body Position and Balance:

I can’t emphasize the correct body position enough. It is one of the key factors in longboarding slides. Here are the detailed insights into the correct body positioning and balance for perfect slides.

  • Proper Stance and Weight Distribution

Even though different types of slides require slightly different stances, the basics are the same for all types. Before initiating the slide, your feet should be apart from each other. The width of your shoulder is the correct distance between the feet.

Keeping the larger share of your weight on the front foot is important. During the slide, you can adjust the weight distribution to maintain control over the board.

Your knees should be slightly bent if you are doing stand-up slides. But for hands-down slides, the knees should be bent in a squat position.

Keeping your center of gravity low and aligned with the board is important. If the center of gravity is too high or goes to the side excessively, you can fall over.

  • Balance Exercises and Drills

I know how difficult it is to balance your body on a moving longboard. It becomes even harder when you need to squat or lean. The best exercise for this is to perform drills like squat exercises without the board.

For example, you can try doing squats on a flat surface and keeping your body balanced.

Various yoga poses can also help you achieve flexibility and balance with your body. Once you cover the static exercises, try moving drills where you do the same exercises as before but on a moving longboard.

Start slow and work your way up to balance your body during slides effortlessly.

Initiating Slides

Speed and timing are of great importance when you are entering the slide. Make sure you know the following factors.

  • Speed and Timing Considerations

When you are riding at low speed and trying to do a slide, it can result in abrupt slides. You may also fall over due to loss of control. But extreme speeds can also be risky because you might not be able to calculate the timing correctly.

Having a speed of about 30 mph is ideal for doing a slide. When you are at this speed, you can break the traction without abrupting the slide. Choosing the right moment for initiation is also important here.

If you initiate the slide way before approaching a corner, you might not be able to navigate the corner perfectly. You do it a bit late, and you can end up understeering the longboard.

So, initiate the slide just when your shoulders are swung in the direction you want to go. This is a matter of feeling the timing in you, which will come after a lot of practice.

  • Techniques for Smooth Transitions

Initiation techniques can be different for various slides. For example, you need to bend your knees almost completely for a hands-down slide. But stand-up slides require the perfect weight balance.

So, you should practice these initiation techniques for smooth transitions. Drastic movement while initiating a slide can be risky. You should be precise with your moves and adjust the weight or angle gently.

Practice the use of pucks on slide gloves. They aid you in keeping balance while doing hands-down slides. Pucks are also important for changing your direction and slowing your speed down.

Controlling and Exiting Slides

This step is even more important than a good initiation. After starting the slide, controlling it determines whether you will exit the slide safely or face an accident. Watch out for the factors below.

  • Puck Placement and Pressure:

After placing the puck on the ground, you should continuously adjust the pressure to control your speed and direction. For example, if you think that you are going too fast, you can apply more pressure on the puck to slow the board down.

The angle of the pucks can also help you steer correctly. If you are understating, you can use the rear hand to correct the steering. For oversteering, you can use the front hand to keep the longboard on the lane.

  • Ending Slides Safely

Unless the exit is smooth, your slides will lose beauty. Right before ending the slide, you need to shift the weight to your rear foot. It will help you regain traction and make the board rolling instead of drifting. The exit should not be abrupt.

Here’s a video of the longboard sliding tutorial by professionals. You can check this out for more real-life experience.

Advanced Sliding Techniques

Once you get the essential steps of longboarding slides right, you need to work with advanced sliding techniques. It includes combining multiple sliding techniques in one go, mastering shut-down slides, and incorporating blunt slides into your riding.

Combining Slides

From starting a slide to exiting it, skilled riders create a nice combination of different sliding techniques.

  • Linking Different Slide Styles: Skilled longboarders are known for their spectacular slides that link multiple slides together. For example, you can transition into a toeside stand-up slide from a heelside stand-up slide by controlling your foot position, body position, and other factors.
  • Creating Fluid Riding Patterns: Bringing fluidity into your slides is crucial to being a pro longboarder. The initiation of a slide, transitioning into another slide, and ending the slide should be in a smooth flow to make your slides look more impressive.

Shut-Down Slides

When you are navigating a difficult route, it may become necessary to perform shut-down slides. You need to keep the following things in mind.

  • Abrupt Stops at High Speeds: If something unplanned happens in front of your sliding route, you need to practice shut-down slides. After initiating the slides, you need to adjust your body positioning and pressure to come to a sudden stop. Practice stopping techniques so that you don’t fall off the board.
  • Navigating Tight Turns: Sharp corners can be the riskiest place for longboarders. You can use shut-down slides in your favor to navigate those turns safely. Practicing the timing of initiation and exit is crucial for navigating such turns.

Blunt Slides and Colemans

In blunt slides, you incorporate ledges, rails, or other surfaces to lock the rear wheels. There can be different variations of blunt slides and Colemans to take your slides to the next level.

  • Advanced Variations for Style: The ability to adjust the pressure with your feet is crucial for blunt slides. Especially when you are sliding against ledges or rails, you need to be changing styles almost instantly. Keeping your body balanced on the board is also important for such variations.
  • Achieving Precision in Blunt Slides: Your longboard behaves differently on various surfaces. So, you should be prepared for how the board responds on smooth surfaces, rough pavements, rails, ledges, etc.

The best way to achieve precision in such slides is to practice on as many terrains as you can and remember how the board feels in different situations.

Perfecting Your Longboarding Slides

Your longboarding slides aren’t perfect until they look like second nature. To advance to that level, you need to work on various factors. Some of them are given below.

Practice Routines

You need to be very sincere about practicing different techniques by following a strict routine. Remember, there is no shortcut to achieving a perfect slide. I can mention two crucial elements of the routine.

  • Drills for Slide Skill Improvement: Every time you practice longboarding slides, you need to work on a specific drill one at a time.

For example, you can schedule a session for just initiating slides or balancing your body. Practice as many variations of the technique as possible during the drill.

  • Perfecting Slide Control: The same slide should be practiced on various terrains and conditions. If I mention a heelside pendulum slide, for example, you need to practice it on flat surfaces, sloped roads, wet roads, etc.

It will help you fine-tune the sliding parameters and achieve a perfect slide regardless of road or weather conditions.

Common Mistakes in Doing Longboarding Slides and How to Avoid Them

Beginner longboarders make some common mistakes that may set them back or cause serious consequences. Here are my tips to avoid those mistakes.

  • Troubleshooting Slide Problems: The necessary pressure to initiate a slide may not be the same on all terrains. Also, you may overlook minor issues, such as rotating your heels or toes too much, not placing your hands on the road properly, etc.

You should continuously look for these mistakes and correct them as you practice.

  • Tips for Overcoming Challenges: Persistence is the most important thing here. Each of your adjustments should be incremental to face new challenges and overcome them.

You can ask your instructors or fellows to film your slides. Then, analyze each of your actions during the slide and fix them accordingly. Learning from the longboarding community will also help a lot.

Safety Measures Amid Doing Longboarding Slides

Even if you have the best skills, bad days can come. You should have the right contingency plans to deal with safety issues.

  • Practicing Safe Sliding: As I have already mentioned, you should always focus on your safety while sliding. Besides wearing protective gear, you need to be aware of the surroundings.

For example, consider the traffic and road conditions before you start. Know the areas with possible risks and learn to manage those risks.

  • Dealing with Falls and Recovery Techniques: You are not going to rise unless you fall. So, practice falling and recovery techniques. For example, if you are thrown off the board, tuck yourself and roll down.

It can disperse the impact. You should also learn to keep your body loose so that you don’t have any fractures.

Slides in Different Longboarding Disciplines

From freeriding to performing in a sliding competition, longboarding slides are useful for several disciplines. I will give you a quick idea about that here.

Freeride Longboarding

Freeriding is where longboarders perform different sliding techniques as they go through descents. It focuses on tricks and styles more than control and precision.

  • Slides as a Key Element: Individual styles are under the spotlight in this kind of longboarding. Riders need to showcase their excellence in different techniques while navigating descents and curves.
  • Combining Slides with Other Techniques: Besides sliding, riders need to combine other techniques, such as spins or carves, to bring more fluidity to their riding.

Downhill Longboarding

In this discipline, riders need to handle steep descents and breakneck speeds. Rather than sliding techniques, speed control, precision, and consistency are more important here.

  • Speed Control and Precision: Downhill longboarders need to control slides at higher speeds than freeride longboarders. So, they need to be more careful about the timing of initiation and exit. Maintaining the right speed for navigating sharp turns is also essential.
  • Slides in Competitive Downhill: Competitive downhill longboarding is also known as racing. Besides precisely controlling your slides and navigating turns precisely, you also need to maintain your speed to overtake other riders.

Following the optimal race lines and lowering air resistance with the right body positioning is extremely important here.

Slide Jam Competitions

Slide jam competitions are all about exhibiting your sliding prowess. You need to be aware of the following factors for such competitions.

  • Showcasing Sliding Skills: Besides being technically correct with your sliding styles, you need to incorporate your creativity to perform stunning slides. The originality of a sliding technique and your improvisations should show up together in such competitions.
  • Scoring and Judging Criteria: Judges mainly give riders a score based on criteria like execution, personal style, variety of techniques, and consistency of slides. The technical difficulty level of slides, the combination of various techniques, board control, body positioning, etc., are also judged during competitions.


There is a fine line of friction between your longboard and the surface that you can manipulate to create longboarding slides. The way you perceive this friction defines how perfect, stylish, and creative your slides are. A perfect slide is the epitome of your weight distribution, body positioning, and balancing skills.

My suggestion to those aspiring to perfect their longboarding skills is to be persistent with their practice and focus on safety. Dedicated practice routines can open doors of endless opportunities.

You should also be up-to-date about the ongoing evolution of longboarding slide styles and ticks. Try to create your own styles or combinations and push your skills further to go through this thrilling adventure.

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