A fundamental aspect of learning how to longboard is your stance. That is, how you stand on your board.
Stance refers not only to the way you place your feet on your longboard, but also the way you position the rest of your body when riding. In other words, your posture on your board.
There are many stances you can take, depending on what you’re doing. Your stance will differ if you’re riding casually, if you’re foot pushing or breaking, if you’re turning or carving, speeding down a hill, sliding, or performing tricks.
In addition to how you place your feet, your longboard stance is determined by the direction of your shoulders and hips, the amount of bending in your knees, and the leaning of your torso.
In this post, we examine and analyze some common longboard stances. This should help you decompose and learn the postures that experienced riders use to achieve their desired techniques and riding style.
Footedness and longboard stance
When you ride, your body is positioned perpendicular to the direction of the longboard’s motion, with one foot leading the other. Footedness is the natural dominance of your left of right foot – the foot equivalent of being right or left handed.
On your longboard, your back foot does most of the steering, it’s your pivot foot which gives control and precision to your board. You want your dominant foot to be in the back, while your other foot provides front balancing and direction.
If you haven’t yet, the first thing you need to do is find out which is your dominant foot, i.e. what your natural stance is.
The majority of people feel more comfortable with their left foot forward and right foot back – right foot is often dominant, being controlled by the left brain. For this reason, this is called “regular” stance.
Other people naturally put their right foot forward and left foot back. We call them “goofy” footers.
Your personal stance depends on your own internal balance, and the power of your left vs right leg. To find out if you’re regular or goofy footed, there are a few tests you can do.
One way is to have someone give you a shove in the back while you’re standing, so as to make you lose balance. To catch yourself you will instinctively put one foot forward, getting into your natural stance.
Another way is see which foot you naturally use to kick something. Often it will be your dominant foot – the one that goes in the back on your longboard.
A third way is to pull really hard on something (e.g. a rope) and see which foot you put forward to help you get more pull.
Cruising longboard stance
OK so by now you should know if you’re a regular of goofy rider. Typically, your natural stance will be the same for all board sports – snowboard, surfing, etc – although some people do use different stances for different sports.
Let’s look at the stance you use when cruising on your longboard, riding around in a relaxed way at slow to moderate speed.
For normal, easy riding, you position your feet slighty wider than shoulder width, at about equal distance from your front and back trucks. If you have a short wheelbase, your feet are closer to the truck mounts, or in between for a longer (or drop-through) board.
Width wise, your feet sit in the middle of the deck. Your back foot is almost perpendicular to your deck, while your front foot at about a 45º angle.
When cruising around, you want as relaxed a stance as possible, since you might be riding for hours on end. You only bend your knees slightly to control your balance and absorb small shocks.
Since you’re not flexing your knees much, your center of gravity remains relatively high, which is fine because you usually won’t need to perform any hard balancing moves.
Shoulders and hips
In your cruising longboard stance, your hips are neutral facing perpendicular to your board, or slightly rotated to face forward (e.g. 15-20º). Your shoulders typically follow your hips, facing in the same direction.
Your torso posture in cruising stance is usually about neutral, not leaning forward nor backwards, except when occasionally going over a bump or crack, you will lean forward and bend your knees more to secure your balance.
When leaning forward, it’s important to hinge at the hips (sticking your butt out) vs bending your spine to avoid nasty back problems.
Pushing longboard stance
When pushing to gain some speed on your longboard, you need to get into another stance.
Most riders push with their back (dominant) foot while balancing on, and steering with, their front foot. Your front foot is placed ahead of the front truck bolts, parallel to the deck and facing toward the nose (or slightly angled).
Some riders push “mongo”, i.e. using a reversed stance : you balance on your back (dominant) foot placed near the rear truck, while your front foot hits the ground pushing. This is the stance I personally use on my longboard, though it’s harder to steer. Most people are more comfortable pushing with their back foot.
In the pushing stance you’re basically squatting down on your front leg (or back leg if mongo), bending your front knee to get your back foot, which hangs off the board, lower toward the ground for pushing.
You pushing knee is also bend quite a bit for more power and control.
Shoulders and hips
In pushing stance your hips and shoulders are facing straight forward in the direction of your board’s motion, since both of your feet are parallel to the deck. Pushing and foot breaking are among the few stances in which your body is fulling facing forward, while you’re transferring motion from your back foot to your front one.
As your back foot pushes off the ground and moved back parallel to the board, you lean your torso forward in the direction of the motion, bending at the hips, to compensate for the pushing for stability and power.
When pushing hard, you may naturally bring your torso up in between impulses, leaning forward again to help you give a more solid kick.
Foot breaking stance
The stance you use for foot breaking is similar to that for pushing, balancing on your front leg with your foot pointing toward the nose. Your upper body is fully facing forward. You squat down lightly to lower your back foot to the ground, parallel to or slightly ahead of your standing foot.
Instead of kicking the ground for pushing, you brush against the ground with your back heel and middle foot, lifting your toes up slightly not to catch a crack or bump.
Carving longboard stance
Carving revolves around snaking turns to either gain speed or shed speed. It’s a technical riding style that hugely depends on finding the right stance.
Since carving is about making continuous turns, you constantly shift your weight between your toes and heels.
In the carving stance, both your front and back foot should be placed across the board pretty much in a perpendicular position – as opposed to the cruising stance in which you typically place your front foot at a 45º angle.
In carving stance you alternate between flexing and straightening your knees before and after each carve (turn). Your goal is to lower your center of gravity and compress going into the carve, then pop up and decompress on exit, transfering maximum energy into your longboard. Click here to learn more about carving.
Shoulders and hips
Your upper body is constantly rotating in the direction of your successive turns. Each carve is initiated by rotating your head, shoulders, hips and ankles in a fluid, wave like motion.
When you carve you generally lean forward to secure your balance throughout the successive turns – bending at the waist while your body keeps swaying back and forth.
Sliding longboard stance (toeside stand up)
There are many types of slides, each involving different kinds of stances. Several stances are involved even in a simple slide such as a heelside stand up slide : push stance, toeside and heelside carve stance, actual sliding stance, and back to normal riding stance. Learn more here about powersliding on your longboard.
Let’s focus on the stance you use the moment you’re actually sliding, omitting setup and hookup.
As you’re sliding, your feet are positioned symmetrically on your deck, roughly perpendicular to it, a bit more than shoulder width apart. In this stance, your heels hang slightly off the heelside rail of your longboard, both heels pushing into the rail and away.
In sliding stance, you extend your legs to push your board out away from you, but keep your knees somewhat bent (the rider in the above picture flexes them quite a lot) to maintain strength and control and absorb shocks.
Shoulders and hips
In sliding stance, your shoulders and hips are wide open facing dowhill, perpendicular to your deck, as your longboard is drifting sideways across the road.
While sliding, your body weight is backwards (uphill from your board) so as to offload your board and push put with your extended legs. Therefore, you constantly need adjust your torso forward or backward as you’re sliding to maintain balance.
Speed stance (tuck)
For speed riding, you need to learn a special stance, commonly called a “tuck”. Tucking means getting into a body position that minimizes wind resistance and maximizes stability at speed.
In tuck stance, your front foot is placed at a slight angle with the deck (15-30º), close to your front truck mount.
Your back foot is about parallel to your front foot (again at a slight angle to the deck), resting of its toes, positioned at about a foot’s length distance behind your front foot. Your toes sit close to the board edge for easy frontide turning.
Your knees are bent about 90º, with most of your weight on your front leg. Your back knee leans against your front calf – which comes naturally since your back foot stands on its toes.
Shoulders and hips
In the speed stance, your shoulders are fully turned forward toward the nose (facing downhill). Your hips are mostly facing forward, with your front hip stretched to allow for your back knee tucking under your front knee.
Your torso in bent forward almost horizontally with your chest leaning against your front thigh for minimum wind surface. Your arms are tucked behind your back.
Freestyle longboard stance
Freestyle longboarding tricks are very diverse, and hence involve a wide variety of stances. Simple tricks such as the ones discussed in my post on freestyle longboarding require that you start with your front foot onto your board nose and your back foot around the center of the deck.
Conversely, other tricks start with your back foot on your rear kick tail. For tricks that involve pivoting the longboard, you can place your swinging foot closer to the edge (rail).
To spin your board around (e.g. for a shove-it) you need to swing your arms, shoulders and hips into a rotation so your dragging foot follows through and makes the board pivot on one truck.
For most tricks you’re constantly balancing your stance by adjusting the amount of backward of forward lean of your torso.
Longboard stances are extremely varied – that’s the beauty of the sport. The more you practice, the more naturally you will get into the correct posture for the objective at hand – be it relaxed riding, pushing / foot breaking, fluid carving, speed boarding, powersliding, freestyling.
Practice the above stances by consciously thinking about what you’re doing. After a while, you will develop an instinct for it as you build up your balance skills and strengthen your ligaments. Over time, you will find which variations of these stances work best for you on your longboard.
Featured image “Cierzoland” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Ignacio Bernal Redondo
“Landyachtz Spud 36.5” @ Epic Longboard S” (CC BY 2.0) by Epic Longboard Shop
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“Skateboard Racing – Pajarito Mt” (CC BY 2.0) by Larry Lamsa
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