If you like going fast on your longboard, you need to learn how to speed check. A speed check is a small slide, typically only a few degrees, for the purpose of helping you shed some speed.
Learning to speed check on your longboard is technical and can be a bit scary at first. Most sliding techniques take practice, but speed checks and other stand-up slides are more challenging for the beginner than glove-down slides.
Like any type of sliding, speed checking involves pushing your board out across the road to make your wheels break traction and skid, albeit for a short instant before pulling back into normal riding stance. Your goal is to control your speed e.g. when going downhill on your longboard.
In this post, I look at what speed checks are and how they differ from other types of longboard slides. I share tips and tricks on how to perform them and how to go about practicing them. I’ll also mention a few important pieces of equipment you’ll need to learn and eventually master doing speed checks.
Speed checks vs other types of slides
As I mentioned above, speed checks are small slides you do to control your speed. Speed checks are performed while standing, unlike hand-down slides e.g. Coleman slides which involve putting your hand down on the ground and leaning into your arm to unload your longboard and make it slide.
A speed check can be done at any speed, though it’s typically easier to initiate while going 20mph or faster. With the right technique and practice, however, you can speed check at lower speeds as well – the slower the more technical it gets. Keep reading to understand why.
Glove-down slides such as Colemans are generally easier to learn than speed checks and other stand-up slides because they are performed in a nearly crouched position on the longboard, which means your center of gravity is very low. This, combined to the fact you lean on your arm, gives you much the stability and confidence to push your longboard sideways.
Unlike speed checks, which are meant for keeping a check on your speed, Coleman slides are generally used for stopping. They’re the most effective for braking before reaching a busy intersection or an obstacle.
Speed check slides are also different from pre-drifts, which are also slides performed with one hand down and low to the ground. Pre-drifts are typically used to slow down before a high-speed corner. It’s basically a held out Coleman slide that allows you to drift before a turn and slow down before railing it. Unlike a Coleman, a pre-drift is not done for stopping.
There are also other types of hands down slides which involve grabbing rail in front of your front foot.
Again, speed checks are typically more challenging because they are performed in a stand-up position, i.e. with your center of gravity high off the ground. The commitment required for this type of longboard slide is more significant than for a hand-down slide.
You can do a toeside speed check, i.e. you’re facing uphill, or a heelside speed check, i.e. you’re looking downhill – and leaning against the hill. In the rest of this post, we focus on the step to perform a heelside speed check.
Technique for speed checking on a longboard
The steps involved in speed checking on your longboard are the following:
1. Set up for the speed check
Note: in this section, I’ll explain things from the standpoint of a regular-foot rider. If you’re goofy, just replace left with right or vice-versa.
When you need to shed some speed, you’re ready to speed check. To set up for the slide, you’ll typically start with a tight carve. As you’re riding downhill, you start by making a hard turn to the left (heelside – again, assuming you ride regular) to set up for a heelside speed check. This hillside turn is referred to as “carving into the slide”.
As you’re getting into the carve, you put most of your weight on your front foot which sits next to the front truck bolts. You also position both your feet so that your heels are hanging off the back of your longboard – even more for your back foot.
2. Kick your board out to break traction
As you’re going into that hard heelside carve, your longboard is getting almost perpendicular to the hill, with your hips facing downhill. As you’re turning hard with your front foot, you extend your body upward to unweight, you sling your arms and shoulders out in the air, and push out the back of your board hard with your rear foot. Your back heel is hanging off the rail, giving you the leverage you need to press hard into it.
Your weight mostly lies on your front foot. As you feel the back wheels breaking traction, you redistribute your weight slightly across your legs to help maintain good control during the sliding. Your longboard is now sliding across with the wheels skidding.
3. Bring your board back into the initial stance
So now you’ve speed checked, i.e. you’ve shed speed by having your board and wheels slide sideways across the slope. You’re ready to “hook back in” and resume normal downhill riding. As you’re completing the sliding part, you pull your back foot in while pushing your front foot out to bring the board back in parallel to the hill, into normal riding direction and stance.
This hookup phase requires the same moves as for breaking traction, only in the reverse direction. You need to again shift your weight onto your front and deweight the back of your board to make it easier for the back wheels to slide back into original position. At the end of the hookup, you’re now back to your initial riding stance, ready to pick up speed again.
Essential tips and tricks for doing a speed check on your longboard
Here are some crucial tips for successfully performing a speed check slide:
- Keep your knees bent at all times, never stand with your legs fully extended
- Bend your knees lower before the slide as you’re carving into it, getting lower and “compressing” – that is pushing down hard into your longboard. Then right before you push the board out, you pop back up to decompress/unweight the back of the board, making it easier to kick out with your back foot.
- At the same time that you extend back up for unweighing, turn your shoulders and hips as much as you can while leaning back.
- As you rotate, however, avoid getting into a fully perpendicular stance to the road to avoid flat spots. Try to maintain the board at a slight angle with the wheels still spinning. To help achieve this, position your front foot at a 45º angle with your deck instead of 90º.
- Right before you pull the longboard back in with your rear foot as you complete the speed check, deweight your back trucks again to make it easier for them to slide back in.
- Keep your front arm extended toward the downhill direction to avoid going into a 180º slide (ending in uphill stance) and lean back to hold the speed check slide longer. When you’re ready to hook up, bring your arm, shoulders, and hip back into initial position.
How to practice learning speed checking
Here are some tips to get you started with learning how to speed check on your longboard:
- First practice riding at low speed and throwing your weight way on one side, throwing your shoulders and kicking your board out a little while doing tight side-to-side carves. After a while you’ll feel the back of your longboard “give” and your wheels will make a skittery sound. Although you’ll likely be merely “scrubbing” at first, you’ll learn to break traction and slide a fraction, then hold it out for longer.
- Once you feel comfortable with sliding when going slow, try to go a bit faster as it will make it easier to break traction. After you push your board out and start drifting, try to maintain the angle to get the slide going.
- A strong commitment for going into that body twist and backward lean at speed is what makes stand-up slides like speed checks challenging at first. Getting a helmet and elbow and knee pads will help you get past the fear of falling and give you the confidence you need to lean your weight back and really commit.
- After some initial dabbling, you can find a hill that ends in grass for practice. Then, once you’re properly equipped with a helmet and pads, look for a short and relatively steep hill (e.g. half a block) to hone your skills on.
Wheels and gear recommendations for speed checking on a longboard
- Wheels: two greatly popular wheels for practicing sliding and speed checks are the Sector 9 Butterballs and the Remember Lil Hoots (Amazon)
- Helmet: if you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with either the S1 Lifer or the Triple Eight Gotham
- Knee and elbow pads: the Pro-tec street knee & elbow pad set has pretty value for the money.
- Slide gloves: wearing puck gloves is a good idea for practicing even stand-up slides and speed checks. The affordable Sector 9 Rush and the pricier Loaded Freeride 7 are among the popular slide gloves on the market.
Learning to speed check on your longboard is an important skill to have if you want to ride fast. Speed checking lets you control your speed while going downhill, for example. It’s also a very stylish move to learn.
Performing stand-up speed check slides, however, is not an easy thing and can even get scary at first. It takes patience, practice, and adequate safety gear to build up the confidence you need to push out and commit to some steezy speed checks at
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