Learn To Skateboard At 40 Or 50: You Can Do It Too

learn to skateboard at 40

So you’re in your 40s or 50s and have this crazy dream of learning to skateboard. You may be wondering is skateboarding is for you and if learning it at your age is a good or bad decision.

The short answer is, yes you can learn to skateboard at age 40 or 50! I should know because I’ve done it. Skateboarding is one of the greatest sports on earth, it can gives you unequalled pleasure and a fantastic workout.

However, not everyone can learn to skateboard at 40 or 50 with the same ease, it depends on your physical and mental abilities. Skateboarding can be a physically demanding sport, even in its soft form e.g. simply cruising on a longboard.

In this post, I ‘ll guide you through the 8 simple steps I went through to learn skateboarding at age forty-something – I have friends in their 50s who learned the same way.

1. Can anyone over 40 learn to skateboard?

A prerequisite for learning to skateboard in your forties or early fifties is to know your own abilities and limits. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you a sporty person? Being active and physically fit will greatly help you a lot in learning to skateboard in your forties or fifties
  • Do you have previous boarding experience? If you’ve practiced say snowboarding, surfing, or stand up paddling in the past, learning to skateboard at age 40 will probably be much easier for you
  • Do you have any serious physical issues? Many people in their forties (like myself) tend to have joint mobility problems, back problems, or other issues that can get in the way of learning to skateboard.
  • How are you balancing abilities? Some people have very bad balancing skills – and they often get worse with age. Learning to skateboard at age 40 or more requires “normal” balancing abilities.

Just because you’re not really fit or you have back or joint problems doesn’t mean you can’t learn to skateboard at age 40 however. I took up skateboarding a couple of years after suffering a bad disc injury that kept me from walking for several months. I was still able to learn to skateboard in spite of the reduced mobility in my lower back.

Learning to skateboard can be a good way to get back into shape in your forties. You just need to be aware of your physical limitations and take them into account as you build up your skateboarding skills.

2. Pick the right skateboard

learn to skateboard at 40 - pick the right skateboard

After you’ve cleared your physical self-checkup, your next step is to pick the right board. This is crucial for learning to skateboard at age 40 or 50: choosing the wrong board can lead to failure and discouragement for you!

The topic of how to choose the right longboard for learning is a very broad one but I’ll share my takeaways from learning to skateboard in my forties.

  • Board size: I recommend you choose a longboard instead of a regular skateboard for getting started. A larger deck will give you more comfort and room for error when learning.
  • Ride height: a board that rides closer to the ground will make you feel safer and make pushing easier for you, particularly if your knees and hips are not as fluid as were in your thirties.
  • Big soft wheels: having large and soft wheels will give you a smoother ride and good cushioning when rolling over cracks and bumps. This will help you get comfortable on your skateboard faster.

The Arbor Dropcruiser (see my full review) and the Landyachtz Switchblade (full review) are two great longboard skateboards for a person aged 40 or 50 to get started on. Both offer ample deck room and ride low to the ground due to their drop-through and dropped platform construction.

Of course, other factors may affect your choice of skateboard including your future riding goals – do you plan on using it for cruising, commuting, distance traveling, carving, downhill? If you have specific questions about choosing a skateboard at age 40 or 50, drop me a comment below.

3. Get appropriate protective gear

learn to skateboard at 40 - protec certified skateboard helmet

If you pursue your plan of learning to skateboard at age 40 (or 50), you should know you will eventually fall! I managed to avoid it for a few months by being extra cautious and avoiding getting ahead of myself, but it happened eventually. I busted my chin open and messed up my jaw.

How risk-averse are you? Do you have good health insurance? Are there emergency facilities nearby? Not to scare you off, but if you start skateboarding at age 40 or 50, make sure you’re clear about these things.

Remember that, if you’re 40 or older, you’ll likely take longer to recover from injuries. Broken wrists, concussion, bruised knees or elbows, or cutting yourself open with stitches needed (spelling ugly scars).

When I first fell, I wasn’t wearing any protection as I felt I wasn’t doing anything risky. I now realize you have more chances of falling when going slow.

How much protective gear should a new skateboarder/longboarder in his/her forties or fifties wear? You may be wary of looking goofy, but my advice is, while you’re still in the learning phase, get at least a certified helmet, kneepads, and wrist guards. If you’re not sure what to get, check out the Pro-Tec helmet, elbow and knee pads, and 187 wrist guards (Amazon).

4. Find your stance and balance

learn to skateboard at 40 - stance and balance

So now you’re all set up with the right board and protective gear. Your first step in learning to skateboard as a 40-year old is to find your natural stance, i.e. regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward). To find out, simply stand on the floor with your feet together and ask someone to give you a shove from behind – you’ll catch yourself with your natural front foot.

Next you need to practice balancing on your skateboard. For many people, learning to balance on a skateboard as a 40-year-old may be a bit harder than at age 20 or 30, but with practice, you can still learn quickly.

There are a couple of ways you can practice balancing on your skateboard. One way is to place your board on grass or on a thick carpet so it won’t roll, then step onto it and move your arms and hips around until you feel comfortable. With your skateboard still, press onto the rails with your toes and heels to make the wheels turn left and right.

Another way you can practice balancing is using a balance board. This is a fun way to build up your balancing skills without taking your skateboard into the streets just yet.

5. Find a good place to ride

Once you feel comfortable standing and moving on a static skateboard, your next step is to learn to stand on your rolling board. For best learning results, you need to find a place with flat and smooth pavement.

If you’re learning to skateboard at age 40, you may live in a quiet suburban area (or know people who do) where you can go to a quiet parking lot or spacious flat driveway to practice rolling for the first time. Another option is to head to the park and practice rolling on uncrowded alleyways.

If you have access to a smooth surface with a slight slope, make sure there is soft dirt or grass that you can roll onto for stopping. The incline should be small enough so you can easily bail and run off your skateboard.

People who learn to skateboard in their 40s or 50s often practice at night when all is quiet and the streets are traffic-free. If you do, be sure to choose a well-lit area so you can spot cracks and bumps ahead of time. See my post on skateboarding at night.

6. Always warm-up and stretch

As a 40+-year old – or even more so as a 50-year old – your joints and muscles may feel a little rusty when you get on your skateboard without any preparation. I always try to warm up my knees, hips, and lumbar area before I go riding. This applies to you if learning to skateboard at an older age.

Like for any activity, doing a quick cardio warm-up to get your blood pumping and your heart rate up is a good idea, e.g. through a quick jog or even some jumping jacks.

Another thing I try to do before getting on my skateboard is stretching my lower back, hips, and hamstrings, i.e. the core muscles that get engaged when riding a skateboard. I use the Foundation Training approach for doing that.

If you practice riding your skateboard for hours on end, take the time to also do some thorough stretching after your session in order to reduce muscle soreness and joint fatigue.

7. Learn to push and turn on a skateboard

learn to skateboard at 40 - learn to push and turn

At this point, you’ve done the hardest part of learning to skateboard as a 40-something. You’re now ready for the real fun. You’ll want to practice pushing and turning on your moving board.

Pushing involves balancing on your front leg while you kick the ground with your back foot. The key is to bend your front knee enough to lower yourself and reach the ground with your opposite foot. You then push off the ground to give your skateboard speed.

Turning involves shifting your weight onto one side of the skateboard, pressing onto the edge with your toes or heels to steer the boards left or right. This requires having your balance down and standing firmly on your moving board.

8. Find your skateboard riding style

Many “mature” skateboarders in their 40s or 50s become passionate about long-distance pushing, which involves learning skogging i.e. pushing with alternate feet over longer distances.

Other 40-year-old longboarders are passionate about carving and pumping, which involves propelling yourself on your skateboard through hard successive turns to build up energy into your trucks and wheels.

Distance pushing and pumping are two examples of skateboarding disciplines that you can learn and become good at well into your 40s or 50s. These riding styles give you amazing workouts and fantastic riding experiences, not mentioning a passionate community.

Freeride and downhill are other styles some mature skateboarders opt for. These are more technical styles that involve higher speeds and therefore higher risks. Fewer skateboarders in their 40s and 50s who get into them.

Final words

More and more people learn to skateboard at age 40 or 50 – again, I am one of them. There are challenges, both physical and mental, but if you are in decent shape, choose the right skateboard and protective gear, and follow the right learning steps, you’re on for an amazing experience and a great sport you can practice for many years to come.

***
Photo credits:
– Photo section 2: courtesy of Arbor Collective
– Photo section 7: “Embracing the toeside carve” by Adam Colton; Rider: Sam Peters; Permission: @LoadedBoards

16 comments

Hey fellow boardrider, want to post a comment or question? Due to the ever-growing number of comments on this site, I've moved them here:
As always, I try to answer as many of your questions as possible. Since the forum is better organized, other riders may also help answer your questions. You can still post comments here if you want to but from now on, I'll mainly be monitoring the forum. Ride on!

  • Hey! Im mid 40s, surfing since 12. And a couple of years ago I bough a carver, which was great. It was stolen from my car (live in south america) and now trying to buy a new skate, that can be good for cruising, but also to do some carving. any reccomendation?

    • It’s a very broad question, really depends on your priorities. There are tons of options out there. If you want an all-around board for surfskating while also riding distance, get a longer deck and put a carver CX or C7 truck on it. Or you can get a good cruising board and fit a Waterborne adapter onto it. I’d need more information to be able to help you here. Ride on!

  • Thanks for your tips and inspiration.

    I’m 52 and, to cut a long story short, I got myself a long board but within a week I got more faster than fast and ended up in hospital with a torn AC ligament in my shoulder.

    Over 8 months later and surgery, I’ve copped way more negatives than positives re my age.

    I was an avid skater in my youth and I’ve kept myself pretty fit all my life so balance wasn’t the issue (I retorted often lol) as speed was the issue.

    Just got to NOT get ahead of myself!!

    Anyway, once again, thanks for the inspiration.

    John

    • Hey John really sorry to hear that, must have hurt… Hope your shoulder is recovering OK now.
      I personally like to mostly stay clear of true speed and downhill, and also hardcore tricks. Mostly commuting/LDP, pumping/carving/surfskate, dancing, some bowl riding. I think these styles are less accident-prone even though sh*** can still happen.
      Get well and keep (mellow) riding!

    • Torn ACL ligament sounds interesting maybe that’s what I’ve got

      trying to avoid doctors during this pandemic

        hoping my shoulder will heal naturally  after a fall off a balance board

      been surfing since I was 14 board sailing canoe sailing water skiing hang gliding now retired with a lower back issue which is under control at 72 years young

      just want to skate in a very quiet Street to keep  keep myself cruising

       a bit scared of the comments above about slow being more dangerous

      I know balance is good for old people and falling isn’t

       and I’m learning on a Penny board my first goal being  to learn to push with one foot which is feeling scary unstable

      Maybe when I can balance on the Coke bottle it will feel better

      Determined oldtimer

      • Penny board… how small? Have you considered getting a bigger board for cruising? Some can be so comfortable they’re a delight to cruise on, with nice concave, big wheels, super-smooth trucks… Check out my new longboard selector tool (still adding boards to it): https://www.ridingboards.com/what-longboard-quiz
        Definitely don’t risk it too much during this pandemic! I’m surf-staved myself…

  • I’m from Brazil, I’m 41 years old and I’m learning to walk together with my 7 year old son and due to his video he gave me confidence. congratulations on the video. hugs from Brazil

    • Oi Joao, I’m really stoked to her this, thanks for sharing this! and congrats for doing this with your 7-year old, that’s really cool. Ride on!

  • Hi! Thanks for the tips. I’m still 38 but I feel there is not much difference…I started maybe 2 weeks ago on a Penny (the bigger one 27″). I’m having so much fun even if I’m just going up and down a walk-path along the river, very similar to snowboarding except the pushing.
    If I don’t break my neck before, I think I’ll try a skate park in a couple of months 🙂

    • Oooh nice! get yourself a bigger board smoother board though, you’ll really have a BLAST and you’ll be safer! E.g. the Loaded Coyote, one of my favorite city cruiser, still small but incredibly comfy.
      Keep riding!

    • Pretty awesome! Smooth board. Is that a CX? If I may, try to make slower wider turns putting your whole body in each turn, leading with your shoulders with the hips following them. In time that will help you turn on a dime surf-style, and pump efficiently including uphill.
      Ride on!

      • it’s the C7… thanks for the feedback. I just started looking at the tutorials online to understand the fundamentals. I let me kid try and now he is hooked. We picked him one up the other day too.

        • Cool, with the C7 you can achieve more flowy, fluid carves, drawing nice curves and engaging your whole body. With practice you’ll move beyond the “European wiggle” as they call it in Australia (heel-to-toe wiggling). Lots of fun for you and your kid!

  • I just started learning this year at 49 yrs ild, during the pandemic. Never stood on any type of board before. Just wanting to stay away from hospitals during this time is the main goal so I’m sticking to cruising. I bought a Kahuna Big Stick and that was a game changer for me! Much easier to control my speed and gives the legs a break and a good upper body workout.

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. Ride on!

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