how to stop on a longboard

How to Stop on a Longboard : Survival Guide

If you’re new to longboarding, choosing the right longboard to start with was probably your first concern.  Next priority ? How to stop on your longboard and avoid crashing and hurting yourself when riding at any speed.

There are various techniques you can use for slowing down or stopping on your longboard.  These range from basic to advanced, easy to hard, doable at lower to higher speeds.  To make your longboard stop, your options are, from easiest to highly technical :

  • Jumping off your board and running it out
  • Rolling onto a rough surface such as grass
  • Braking with the sole of your foot
  • Carving turns down the hill
  • Sliding your longboard

1. Stop by hopping off your longboard

If you’re cruising on flat surface at relatively low speed, e.g. 10-15 mph, the easiest and most obvious way to stop on your longboard is to just stop pushing and ride it out, letting friction from the ground slow you down.   All you need is to have enough space ahead.

Or if you’re riding at about walking speed, you can just step off and catch your board.  Vanity note : kick down on the tail to tip your board up, grab it with your hand, and walk away looking cool.

If you’re cruising faster,  say at running speed, you can try to bail off and run it out.  Make sure you can run as fast as your board though, else you may fall down as you step off .  You definitely don’t want to try this if going above 20 mph.

This approach is also risky as your board can roll away from you after you get off, and possibly hit someone or drift onto the road and spook car drivers.  To avoid it, try to kick your board back as you hop off to slow it down.

Watch this 2 second excerpt (0:58 – 1:00)  :

Again, if you’re going to jump and run off your board to stop, don’t push your longboard faster than you can run.

2. Stop your longboard by rolling onto rough surface

This is another no-brainer but it’s still worth mentioning.  Rolling on the rough (such as grass or gravel) while riding your longboard will slow you down or outright stop you.  Of course this means you have to pick a road that has patches of grass or some gravel on the side.

This works but how fast you can go depends on the rough surface at hand.  If it’s short grass you’re rolling onto, you can go pretty fast provided there’s enough grass surface.  But going to fast onto thick grass will probably make you fall off as your board may come to a dead stop.  Just use common sense and start slow.

Grass can also save your butt if you’re experiencing speed wobbles at high speed, like in this hilarious but scary video :

3. Foot braking for stopping on your longboard

Let’s look at a slightly more technical approach that most longboarders know about : foot braking.  This is probably something you’ll end up doing naturally, but there are a couple of tips and tricks that can help you catch on faster and avoid some common (painful) mistakes.

The most important thing when foot braking is to learn to balance on one leg (normally your front leg) by shifting your weight onto it and bending your front knee to lower your back foot to the ground.

You then drag your back foot flat on the ground to slow yourself down through friction with your shoe.  Again, most of your weight lies on your front leg, with your front foot on the deck facing forward.  You just shift a bit of weight onto your other leg so as to apply slight pressure with your foot on the ground and create that friction.

It’s important to control the amount of pressure you apply with your back foot : too much pressure may stop your longboard dead and throw you forward.  What you want is brush the ground with the sole of your shoe.  You should touch the ground slightly behind your center of gravity to help maintain your balance.

Watch the following 38 seconds (1:04 – 1:42) :

Foot braking practice tips

A great way to practice foot braking is to do a quick push to get your longboard rolling, then instead of bringing your push foot back onto the deck right away, leave it hanging and in slight contact with the floor.  The stance is the same for pushing and braking, your balance will already be stable from pushing,  all you need is touch the ground a bit more.

Watch the following 3 second clip :

Practicing riding on one leg will help you build your confidence for foot braking at higher speeds.

Here’s an effective foot braking technique variation for moderate speeds : stiffen up your body and support yourself with both your hands on your front thigh for stability.  This position allows you to put your foot down on the ground further towards the back, while still maintaining a strong balance.  Watch these 14 seconds (1:39 – 1:53) :

Foot braking at higher speeds

Foot braking isn’t that easy if you’re going even a little fast, e.g. on small slopes.  With some practice you should learn to do it comfortably around 20mph.  Some longboarders can reliably pull it off even at around 30mph, but this requires a good ability to maintain your center of gravity.

If you need to stop but feel you’re going to fast to foot brake, try to first shed some speed by air braking (raising your arms for air resistance), rolling it out if on flat ground, or carving if on a hill (see section about carving below).

If you’re not comfortable dragging / brushing your foot on the ground, you can try to do short kicks to the ground instead of a steady foot drag.  This can help you maintain your center of gravity, as you flex and unflex your front knee to perform the successive small kicks.

At higher speed you may be scared to attempt foot braking.  If so try to crouch down on your longboard to lower your center of gravity, and then you can push brake more heavily with you back foot onto the ground than you would standing up.  Some skaters even grab their deck with their hands for more stability.

Shoes and foot braking

Foot braking is a very effective technique for stopping on your longboard, but it really destroys shoes !

how to stop on a longboard foot braking shoe

If you commute everyday or otherwise ride on a daily basis, expect to go through shoes quite fast.  You may choose to use cheap shoes that you can trash once the sole wears out.  Or, you may opt for sturdier shoes.  Some examples (with links to Amazon product pages) :

  • Vans skate trainers : pretty durable, can last a few months depending on your usage.  The “waffle” soles tend to last longer than average.
  • Teva MTB shoes : inexpensive and quite strong and long lasting for foot braking usage
  • DC Shoes : reputable rugged skate shoes, my personal favorite with regards to style.
  • Nike Janoskis : also long lasting, up to a few months with regular foot brake use.

An alternative option is to get some Roger Bros footbrake soles to your existing shoes : durable add-ons, specially designed for foot braking, with 2 thickness options.

Depending on how much longboarding you do, a good pair or skate shoes may last you 2 to 4 months.

4. Carving to slow down on a longboard

When riding down a hill, you may reach a speed at which foot breaking becomes difficult or even risky.  You need to resort to more effective methods for slowing down your longboard at this kind of velocity.

Carving is one of these methods.  It involves turning back and forth while leaning “against the hill”, as if you want to go uphill.  It’s similar to snowboarding where you carve sharp turns in the snow across the slope to control your descent.

Your objective when carving is to turn sharply enough that your wheels almost lose traction and start skidding.  I say “almost” because that would actually be sliding.  In a carve your wheels may lose grip and skid for a split second, while for sliding you just push your board sideways across the road so your wheels stop spinning and lose traction.

So carving hard involves making very tight turns, almost as if your were going to slide, though without actually pushing your longboard sideways.  The slight loss of traction during your successive turns (heelside and toeside) shaves off some speed in a quite effective way.  Your trucks need to be loose enough to pull long and deep carves.

Carving requires practice and skill as you shift your body weight and lean hard onto one edge of your longboard, starting with your upper body and pressing down with your heels or toes (backside or frontside turn). Learn more about carving as a riding style.

Carving typically won’t get you to a full stop if you’re riding fast downhill – unless the road is broad enough for you to actually complete a full U-turn and end up going uphill.  It’s an effective way to reduce speed to the point you’re able to foot brake.

It does require, however, that you have enough clearance to perform these long turns, which is not always the case.

Watch the following 9 seconds (1:27 – 1:36) for a good carving example – albeit on flat ground :

5. Slide stopping on a longboard

Sliding is the ultimate braking technique, but it’s also the hardest and riskiest until you fully master it.  Sliding is exciting, awesome looking, highly technical, and very effective for slowing down and stopping “on a dime” (that one will depend on the situation).

On the flip side, sliding can destroy your wheels and bearings (but not so much your shoes), can send you flying off your longboard if you miss, and can cause damage if there are crowds and/or cars around you.

So is sliding an absolute necessity for effectively stopping on a longboard at higher / downhill speeds?  How does foot braking compare to it ?

Most longboarders never take their board to speeds higher than about 20mph, and never go on really steep hills.  If that’s you, you don’t really have to learn to slide unless you want to.  Many “cruiser” riders stick to foot braking and never need to slide stop.

If, however, you find yourself taking your longboard to higher and higher speeds, you may eventually find yourself in a situation where you’re already going too fast (say 25 -30+) to run off, foot brake or carve, and you’re still picking up speed because you’re going downhill ! In such situation, sliding is the only thing that can save your butt.

There are also situations in which you’re going too fast even for sliding.  Experienced longboarders keep constant control over their speed by doing “speed checks” before they reach excessive speed levels.

What’s in a shutdown slide ?

“Shutdown slide” means sliding to stop.  Longboard riders can also slide just to slow dow, e.g. to control downhill descent speed (“speed check”) or  adjust their speed before getting into a corner turn (“pre-drift”).

As you’re riding, you push your back wheels out with your back heel to bring your longboard sideways perpendicular to the road.  Your wheels lose traction and start skidding across the ground, and the friction slows you down dramatically.

There are many kinds of slides, including :

  • Stand up slides : you remain standing as you slide your board
  • Hands down slides : you put one or two gloved hands on the ground as you slide
  • Heelside slides : you slide facing down the slope
  • Toeside slides : you slide facing up the slope

Check out this article for more information on stand up powersliding in particular.

One of the most effective and commonly used slide for stopping on your longboard is the Coleman slide, a glove down shutdown slide.   Again, learning to pull the Coleman slide comfortably is not easy and takes time and practice.  Let’s take a brief look at the steps you need to take to learn it.

How to practice the Coleman slide

Check out this short video  :

Here are some tips for learning to do the Coleman slide.

#1 : If you aren’t yet, get comfortable carving. As I mentioned earlier, carving is the stage that precedes sliding, in the sense that you make turns so deep and tight, leaning hard into the turns, that your wheels almost lose grip (or actually do so for a brief moment).  Being comfortable with carving hard is a prerequisite to sliding.

#2 : Learn to ride crouching on your longboard.  Get on a small slope and practice riding low, and then carving turns in that position.  You may find your back knee naturally tucking in towards your front knee.  Get used to alternating between upright and squatted positions while you ride.

Coleman slide box position

Once you’re comfortable getting in and out of crouching, take that stance one step further by getting into the “box” position, with your back hip stretched, you back foot rolled in with its inner side flat on the deck, and your back knee in front of your front shin.

#3 : You’re now ready to set up your Coleman slide by doing a pre-slide deep carve : a tight toeside turn that will set you up for your next heelside turn during which you’ll throw the slide.  So as you’re riding downhill, initiate a deep frontside turn as if looking to go back uphill.

#4 : Next is the actual slide.  Right before getting into the sharp heelside turn in which you’re going to slide, you squat down into the box position as you’ve been practicing.  At the same time, you put your front hand down on the ground, out in front of your deck.

As you offload some of your weight off the board and into your hand, you push your board out with your back foot, slowly and steadily pressing with your heel onto the rail to make the wheels break traction.

Simultaneously, you swing your free arm across your body, opening your chest wide.  Twisting your shoulders, followed by your hips, is a key part of sliding your board around.

All this time, make sure to lean forward on your front trucks.  Leaning back (a natural tendency) will keep your wheels from sliding and can send you flying off the board, as shown in this 3 second clip :

#5 : Hold the slide as long as you can until the board comes to a stop.  Or, you can drift drift uphill slightly for your longboard to lose all its speed.

Required gear for stop sliding

If you plan on learning to stop on your longboard by sliding, it’s absolutely essential you wear a helmet (Amazon).  You’ll also need slide gloves – can’t do a Coleman slide without wearing a pucked glove on your pivoting hand.  Knee pads (Amazon) and elbow pads are also recommended, they will give you extra confidence for attempting things at speed.

As for your longboard, you’ll be able to learn to stop slide much faster if you have the right kind of trucks and wheels.  Sliding will come easier with loose trucks and soft bushings, and harder, smaller, round lipped wheels that offer less resistance when you push your board sideways.  Grippy, square lipped cruising wheels are harder to kick out.

Finally, you’ll find learning to slide easier on a low riding board, such as a drop-through or dropped platform longboard.  Topmounts, and particularly pintails, are higher off the ground and thus harder to break into a slide, as you need to hang your heels of the rail and push onto it a lot more compared to a lower board.

Summary

Learning how to stop on your longboard ranges from basic to advanced techniques, depending on your riding speed, the kind of environment and incline you’re skating in, as well as your riding style and longboard type.

If you only cruise and push around town, you can get by most of the time simply hopping off your board and running it out, or mastering foot braking techniques.

If you enjoy skating downhill, however,  at moderate speeds  carving deep turns on a slope will help you control your speed and allow you to foot brake. At higher speeds though, you’ll need to know how to slide so you can control your speed and stop effectively in all downhill circumstances.

Learning to slide is not easy and involves some effort and practice, but not only can it be a good investment in your safety when skating faster, it’s also an exciting aspect of longboarding that most riders enjoy mastering.

***

Photo credits :
Video by Sévan Stroh / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
2009-06-26 Veko09 Longboard Skjervet 054” (CC BY 2.0) by eskedal

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About me

Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding, regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. I hope this site can help you learn a lot about the riding styles and techniques that best suit your personal goals. Ride on !

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