Today’s article is on how to fall properly for downhill skateboarding. It seems counterintuitive to learn, but it’s key if you want to use your protective gear correctly and come out of falls unscathed. You’re gonna be falling a lot, so this is something you’re highly recommended to learn.
This guide is part of the downhill skill progression guide. Check out the guide if you want to learn about which skills you need to learn for downhill skateboarding.
How to fall properly for downhill skateboarding/longboarding
Gear you’ll need
Helmet, slide gloves at minimum. A longboard of course. Knee pads will be clutch too. Hip and elbow pads will be valuable additions as well.
The first type of fall – push up catch
This is when you fall forward and catch yourself on your slide gloves and toes. Video example below.
After catching yourself, you ride out the fall on your shoes and slide gloves.
Unfortunately, the push-up catch doesn’t slow you down soo much since you only have four points of contact with the ground. It also wears out your shoes a lot, but if you have skateboard-specific shoes they can usually take the beating – they’re usually made with more durable uppers and soles.
You might have difficulty with this if:
- You don’t have slide gloves …
- If you don’t have the upper body strength necessary to catch yourself (being able to do a push-up is extremely helpful).
The second type of fall – Knee slide catch/ride out
You do a knee slide on your knee pads and shoes. You can also slide on your slide gloves, knee pads, and shoes. Video example below (from 0:30, watch Madison Crum fall and slide on his knee pads and shoes).
For another example, watch Peder fall on his knee pads and shoes here.
This is the most sustainable way to fall. Yes, you’ll wear out your pads, but the rest of your body will be relatively unharmed. And you’re able to comfortably fall again and again.
However, your knee pads glide across the ground and don’t slow you down that much. So if you’re going really fast and fall, you might slide into a stationary object if you’re not careful.
Out of all the slides, I think this one feels the most unnatural. You might have a bit of trial and error before getting it to feel right when you actually fall. Also, remember to have your pads on tightly as they can slip off – I’ve had a knee pad slide down my knee once or twice during a fall.
The third type of fall – riding it out on your butt and gloves
This is when you fall on your bum and ride out the speed on it. Video example below.
You basically slide along on your butt and with your slide gloves at your side. Yes, it does hurt to fall on your bum (why hip pads are so useful), and if you wear through your pants, you are going to get road rash on your cheeks. But if you have tough jeans (or sew leather onto the butt), you can do this confidently.
It’s not a recommended way to fall, but it is a way to fall and come to a stop in a relatively controlled way.
Falling can be unpredictable sometimes
The reason I recommended hip pads and elbow pads in addition to knee pads, is because falling can be unpredictable sometimes. You’re not always going to land the way you’d like. You might end up on your hip instead of your knees, or hit the ground with your elbow, etc. Other times you also fall unexpectedly and don’t have time to react to do the correct thing. Other times you’ll fall on your board and keep riding.
Just see the variety of falls Josh Neuman experiences.
Now, you might not always fall like him – he has an aggressive skate style and goes really hard. But you will have some falls that turn out similar.
But yeah. As much as there is a variety, these few ways I’ve suggested will help you like 50-75% of the time.
How to practice these falls (without actually falling)
The easiest way is to simply get into these positions when stationary. And just remember how they feel, maybe what different parts of your body are doing, etc.
When you do actually fall, it will be a rather different experience. I think what people will find weird is where their weight is supposed to go. Now I think it will be different between people and where they prefer to focus their weight (whether it’s on their hands, knee pads, shoes etc.). So that boils down to personal preference. But you’re gonna need real-world experience to decide/figure out what you want to do/like.
When to move on from practicing …
After getting an idea of what you should do when you bail, i.e the techniques to use for a situation. You can then move on. You’ll have plenty of time to practice (aka, real-world experience) when you’re learning how to slide hehe.
Pads are important because …
The obvious reason is that they stop you from getting hurt. Easy.
The less obvious reason is that they stop you from getting hurt, and you can get up from a fall and do it again. If you have to take breaks because you’re sore/injured, your progression as a rider is going to be incredibly slow.
Pads also allow you to ride confidently and take risks … sometimes you need to take risks in order to learn a technique or get better as a rider. And pads allow you to do that because you’re confident they will keep you safe should you fail.
So yeah, pad up.
Was this guide useful?
This “how to fall properly for downhill skateboarding” guide is part of the bigger – downhill skill tree guide. I highly recommend you check that guide out and see what you should learn next.
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