Surfskate for beginners:
The ultimate buyer's guide
Are you interested in learning how to surfskate? If so, you’re in the right place!
We’ve tested a bunch of different surfskates in our time and spoken with local surfskating communities around the world. We now feel confident enough to provide you with all the information you need to get started.
So whether you’re a total surfskate beginner or an experienced surfer looking to try out surfskating for the first time, this is the article for you.
Read on for our expert tips and discover what surfskating is, the different types of surfskates available on the market and how to choose the right one for you!
What is surfskating?
Surfskating is a type of skating done on a board called a surfskate, which is a skateboard with a special surfboard-esque shape and unique features that essentially allow you to surf on the street.
The main feature of a surf skate is the front truck, which is designed to swivel more than a regular skateboard truck. This gives the board a turning radius similar to that of a surfboard, allowing you to make tight turns and carve like you would on a wave.
It also allows you to generate momentum by turning the board from side to side (like pumping on a surfboard), which is unlike a traditional skateboard that requires you to push off the ground using one of your feet to produce speed.
For many people, the fact that a surfskate allows you to emulate the movements of a surfboard on land is what makes this activity so appealing.
Plus, surfskating can be done on any hard surface – no waves necessary!
Who can use a surfskate?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never skateboarded or surfed before – literally anyone can buy a surfskate and learn how to ride one.
The way you generate speed and turn on a surfskate is very intuitive. This means that even total beginners can learn the basics of surfskating relatively quickly and easily.
Of course, if you already know how to skateboard or surf you’ll be able to pick up surfskating even faster. You’ll also be able to hone your skills on flat days or keep your surf skills sharp when you’re away from the ocean, making it a perfect activity for your surf training routine.
Surfskating combines balance with technique and creates a flow similar to the sensation we get when surfing in the ocean. So surfskating provides a unique and different training format that can’t be achieved, from your regular surf workout session, weekly cardio regimen, or surf yoga sequence.
To sum up, surfskate for beginners is definitely possible!
Surfskate deck, grip and boards
There are a lot of things to consider when buying your very first surfskate. Before we launch nose-first into those, we want to highlight a common mistake first-time buyers make – choosing a surfskate purely on looks.
Now, we totally understand the logic behind this.
A cool design or fancy new brand can be hard to resist. But trust us when we say that the most important factor in choosing a surfskate is finding one that’s the right size and shape for you. And the only way to do that is to learn about the different parts of a surfskate.
A surfskate deck is the part of the board you stand on. It’s usually made from wood, and it’s what gives the surfskate its shape and rigidity.
To make sure that you buy the right size surfskate, you need to check the length of the deck. The main rule here is that shorter and lighter riders can get away with a shorter deck, while tall or heavy riders require a longer deck.
Note that the length of a surfskate is measured in inches. For example: a small rider might use a 31 inch and under surfskate, while a larger rider might use a board 33 inches and over. As for deck width on most boards, it averages about 8 inches.
In saying this, a beginner surfskater might require a bigger board for better balance. In that case, a surfskate deck around the 33 inch long, 8 inch wide mark will be fine.
The layer of material between your foot and the deck is called the grip.
This surfskate grip is designed to keep your foot in place while riding and to prevent you from slipping. It is also meant to provide some comfort.
Most grips these days are made from a grainy, self-adhesive sheet that’s placed on the upper side of your deck. However, some companies use grippy rubber or even cork for their grip.
The most popular grip is the sandpaper-like grip that comes stock with many boards. Depending on the style, you might have a deck that’s totally covered in grip or it might have a combination of grip and a rubber tail pad; similar to the one you know from your surfboard.
Surfskate board shape
The shape of your surfskate also has an effect on how it rides.
There’s a bit to unpack here because the board shape doesn’t just mean the silhouette. It also takes into account wheelbase, concave and tail.
The wheelbase is the measurement from the inside of one truck hole (the mounting holes for trucks that show up on the deck of a board) to the other, while the concave is the amount of curvature on the surfskate deck from rail to rail. As for the tail, it may have a slight kick for tricks or it could be totally flat.
Finally, there’s a big difference between nimble surfskate boards and longboards or cruisers, with surfskates having a shorter deck and tighter turning arc that allows them to perform more radical turns.
Surfskate trucks and wheels
Underneath the deck is where the trucks and wheels are located. Both of which play a massive role in how your surfskate will ride.
Trucks are the metal axles that connect the deck to the wheels and allow your board to steer.
Surfskate trucks are the main element that separates surfskates from normal skateboards. This is due to something called a surf adapter, which can either be built into the surfskate trucks or come as a separate accessory.
The surf adapter is what allows a surfskate to move more like a surfboard than a traditional skateboard, thereby helping you to generate speed without having to push off the ground with your foot like a normal skateboard.
Another thing to note about surfskate trucks is that they can be loose or tight, which will affect how your board responds to your input.
If you’re just starting out, we suggest going for a middle-of-the-road option – not too loose and not too tight. This will give you the best chance to learn how to surfskate without making it too difficult.
Connected to the trucks are the wheels. These come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and durometers (hardness).
If you’re just starting out, the best size surfskate wheel is around 50-60 millimetres. This is a happy medium that will allow you to cruise around without being too slow or too fast.
As for the hardness of the surfskate wheels, we recommend a durometer of 78-80. This is soft enough to provide a good grip on the pavement, but not so soft that your wheels will wear down quickly.
Finally, you need to consider the shape of your wheels when buying a surfskate. Rounded-edge surfskate wheels are easier to slide if you want some release in your turns while sharp-edged wheels offer more grip and are better for aggressive carves.
The best surfskate brands: Beginner to Advanced
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what surfskating is and what it can do for your surfing, it’s time to look at some of the best surfskate brands out there. Here are our top picks of surfskate brands for all levels:
Regarded as the world’s best on-land surf trainer by surf coaches across the planet, and pro-surfers such as Filipe Toledo. Smoothstar offers a feeling that’s the next best thing to riding a wave. As such, Smoothstar surfskates are a dependable and popular choice amongst all skill levels.
If you want to take your surfing or surfskating to the next level, Yow surfskate has you covered with boards for all skill levels. Like Carver, they’re big on building surfskates that emulate the feeling of surfing a wave. And while we’re hesitant to pick a board simply on looks, they also have some killer deck designs.
Yow surfskate has made a name for itself within the surf community by partnering up with pro-surfers like; Mick Fanning and Gabrial Medina, and pronounced surfboard shapers like; Pyzel and Pukas.
Founded in 1993, Sector Nine stock a massive selection of surfskates, surfskate tools and surfskate parts. In terms of their products, you can find surfskates in a wide variety of shapes and deck sizes, with their surfer-style and longboard skateboards being two of the more prolific sellers.
Carver is all about replicating that surfing feeling on land. They also partner with a number of well-known shapers (for example: Lost and Channel Islands) to produce a great number of different board types, which means you can find one to suit your style and ride with peace of mind knowing their surfskates are championed by the best in the business.
While they don’t have a reputation for being the best surf trainers, Slide boards definitely hold their own when you’re cruising down the street or around a skatepark. Bonus points go to Slide, however, for their ability to constantly innovate and the fact they’ve been producing boards for 80 plus years.
SwellTech surfskates is another great option for beginners. They recently developed a range of fantastic boards in collaboration with Italo Ferriera, but sponsored team riders aside, their boards are clearly made from top of the line materials that can stand up to daily usage. This makes them perfect for anyone who wants to push hard without having to worry they’re going to overdo it.
surfskate training programs
Kick-start your surfskate journey with a specific surfskate training program.
This is our favorite surfskate programs for surfers:
SURF SKATEBy - Surf Strength Coach
- 7 Primary Lessons
- Video Instructions
- Develop and Improve the Fundamental Surf Movements
- Easily build muscle memory of perfect and fluid technique
- This is THE WAY to practice, drill, and repeat your surfing, so it carries over to the water
Congratulations… you’ve just graduated our surfskate for beginners course!
You know what they are, how their different components work and what to look for when buying one. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to good use and get your own surfskate.
Discover our pick of the bunch when it comes to the best surfskates in 2022 here.