When you think about skateboarders, you generally picture a bunch of young guys in the skatepark or cruising the streets and sidewalks. However, a growing number of girls are picking up skateboarding and longboarding. Girls are getting back to skating like in the 70s.
Is it harder for girls than for guys to skateboard?
While women have just as much physical abilities as men for riding skateboards and longboards, the barriers to entry for them into these sports are mostly cultural. Girls also tend to be less reckless than guys for street riding, although there are quite a few noteworthy exceptions.
Male domination of skateboarding
The hardest part of skateboarding for girls is often not the technical side of skating, but rather the cultural male domination of the sport.
Oftentimes, a female skateboarder will be the only girl at the skatepark, as there may not be any other girl to join her. She finds herself skating alone while learning, and attracting attention from the male skaters who see her as a curiosity.
Some male skaters will cheer female skaters, while others may smile or chuckle when they trip down. For a skateboarder woman, especially a newbie, going to the park and ignoring all the stares is a challenge. It’s a real barrier to entry for the sport.
While male skaters will generally have friends to go skate with and make progress, girl skaters will often give up the sport because they’re on their own with no other girls to practice with.
Some women, however, are not intimidated by the male domination of the sport, and work on developing their own personal style. After all, skateboarding is an individual sport.
Another related factor that makes it harder for girls to start or continue to skateboard is society´s image of skateboarding being a guy thing. Most female skaters will be asked at some point why they skateboard as this isn’t really for girls.
This is also related to the fact that the skateboarding culture is often associated with things like drinking alcohol, getting kicked out of public or private facilities, getting arrested, listening to metal, things that few females adhere to.
That said, since female skateboarders are relatively rare, they are sometimes admired and welcomed. In Asian countries like Singapore or Japan, skateboarding attracts more and more girls every year.
Fear of speed and injury
While there are clearly exceptions, girls are often less prone to throwing themselves into crazy jumps or big airs than men, as they visualize hurting themselves. Boys will typically more easily commit to tricks and block out the fear of falling and getting hurt.
Girls may also be more afraid of getting occasional scrapes and bruises from falling all the time.
Advanced male skateboarders may do ridiculously big tricks such as clearing 20 stairs, which advanced skater girls may not do.
That said, there are other things girls will be good at such as very clean landings (better than guys) or highly skilled switch skating.
Girls in general have as much physical abilities as boys for skateboarding. If anything, girls tend to be lighter which can make it easier to pop or flip a board. They are also less likely to break a board when landing a trick.
Many girls have the leg strength needed for skateboarding – and the ability to build it up through exercising. The higher muscle mass per weight men have (on average) doesn’t affect girls’ ability to skate, as there are many different ways to be a good skater.
Many women also have great balance and agility – often better than men – as can be seen in gymnastics, danse, and other female-dominated activities.
Overall, a girl who skates a lot can get really good and beat the guys at her local skatepark.
Girl skaters in competitive skateboarding
It’s often argued that male skateboarders tend to do more technical runs than females in major skateboarding contests. Men will often perform tricks with board flips mixed with challenging initial stances like switch and nollie.
Women, on the other hand, tend to focus on grinds and ollies, with occasional big spin board slides and 50-50 kick flips, which are relatively simpler tricks.
Famous girl skaters
Many female skateboarders have marked (and are still marking) the history of the sport. Peggy Oki from the Dogtown era in the 70s, for example, is still an inspiration for many girls to take up skateboarding.
Lizzie Armanto and Leticia Bufoni are two modern skateboarder legends, sponsored by two of the greatest skateboard shoe companies.
Other big names of female skateboarding include Lacey Baker, Sarah Meurle, Elissa Steamer, Marisa Del Santo, Amy Caron, and Vanessa Torres – see this article (external website)
LongboardGirlsCrew is an international community and platform dedicated to promoting and supporting women in longboarding. They organize events, meetups, and workshops to encourage women of all skill levels to get involved in the sport. They collaborate with brands and organizations and provide opportunities for sponsorship and recognition.
Tips for starting skateboarding as a girl
The following are a few tips from experienced riders for girls looking to get started with skateboarding.
When starting, gear up with full protective gear, including wrist, knee, and elbow pads, and optionally a helmet even though it may look a little nerdy (not as bad on a girl though). These will effectively protect you from injuries, scars and bruises. Protective gear will also give you confidence for trying new things.
Try to hang out at a park where you can have female (or male) friends. Fellow skaters will help you progress a lot faster and make the learning more enjoyable.
Go ride as much as you can so you start getting really comfortable on your skateboard. Once you do, you can start practicing cool tricks. Ollying is the one you should learn so you can jump on top of and over obstacles. Also get comfortable riding ramps for the feeling and to build up confidence.
Ignore negative comments or mockery from guys, focus on positive vibes. Observe the good riders, male or female, and ask them for tips – they’ll be proud to answer. Never give up!
Is longboarding harder for girls?
Longboarding is more beginner-friendly than street skateboarding as longboards (other than mini-cruisers) are generally bigger and more stable that street boards, with wider trucks and bigger, softer wheels.
Longboarding isn’t any harder for girls than for boys, and many girls will start riding nicely soon after stepping onto a longboard for the first time.
The cultural barrier for girls isn’t as strong for longboarding as for skateboarding, as the longboarding population is a lot more diverse in terms of age, gender, social background, fitness level, etc, and hence more open-minded toward females (less of a struggle).
One particular style where girls perform at least as well as guys, if not better, is longboard dancing, which involves stylish and graceful dance and stepping moves. It requires exceptional balance and coordination skills which girls tend to have more.
Longboarding is also generally smoother and less aggressive than street riding, which makes it a lot easier for girls to get into and make quick progress.
Best longboard for girls
There’s no intrinsic difference between longboards for boys and for girls. Since girls tend to be smaller and lighter than boys however, they may choose shorter longboards as they typically will have a narrower stance. A shorter deck and wheelbase can result in tighter turns and more responsiveness.
Women also tend to have smaller feet than men, so they can opt for narrower decks, which also tend to be more responsive for turning and carving. For a newbie female rider, however, a larger deck with a longer wheelbase will make it easier to get started as it will offer more comfort and stability.
Here are a few examples of good longboards for girls:
|Brand & model||Riding style||Remarks|
|Loaded Mata Hari 44.5″||Dancing & freestyle||Great for dancing and cross-stepping|
|Landyachz Dinghy 28.5″||City slashing & tricks||For smaller and/or advanced riders|
|Arbor Zeppelin 32″||Urban commuting||Compact drop-through great for girls|
|Sector 9 Mini Lookout 37.5″||Carving & commuting||Smooth & responsive directional drop-through, large wheels|
Girls are taking over skateboarding and longboarding, there’s no doubt about it. No amount of existing male domination will stop them. From mellow longboard to graceful dancing to hardcore park tricks, female riders are gaining respect and visibility with their own approach and style.