I push “Mongo” on my longboard and always have. This means I kick with my front foot while my back foot is my support foot while pushing. The “regular” way is to push with your rear foot and steer with your front foot that sits next to your front truck.
The skateboarding community frowns upon mongo pushers for many stated reasons, one of which being that it looks funny or ugly. However, for many people like me, mongo is the natural way of pushing, trying to push “normally” feels extremely awkward and even unsafe. Pushing Mongo is a lot faster and more stable for me.
Is Mongo pushing actually a bad thing in terms of technique? Or is it another one of these things some human beings find to discriminate against others? 20 years ago, those who rode goofywere considered weird and called out. Nowadays it’s a normal thing, similar to being a lefty.
In this post, I go over some common assertions about Mongo pushing and my take on them as a lifetime Mongo pusher. A lot has already been said about Mongo pushing on a skateboard, but my focus here is specifically on longboarding.
Why do I push Mongo?
“Mongo” pushing is natural for me, I never even thought about it. My back leg is the stronger, dominant leg that I have the most balance on, and my right foot is the most comfortable foot to put my weight on when pushing.
Some mongo pushers say it feels like stepping into the board after pushing, akin to walking. That’s what pushing Mongo feels like to me.
You know that feeling of trying to do something with your left hand when you’re right-handed? Well, that’s what pushing “regular” feels like to me. If you’re not a mongo pushing, go try pushing a mongo for a sense of that awkwardness!
What’s wrong with pushing Mongo?
I’ll briefly mention 3 common reasons people say Mongo pushing is bad. The first one is that if you push with your front foot, it takes more time to bring your pushing foot from behind the board back to the front of your deck after the push.
In contrast, when you push with your back foot, the distance from the ground to the back of your board is shorter, so you’re ready to coast or start the next move much quicker.
Another point is that you have lower control when pushing Mongo because your supporting foot sits at the back of the board. Having your weight on your front foot is supposedly more comfortable and stable.
And third, when pushing “regular” you have less positioning to do. Mongo pushers need to 1) bring their front foot back to the front, 2) move their back foot to the tail, and 3) adjust their front foot again.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into common arguments against Mongo pushing.
Mongo pushing is less stable
When pushing Mongo, your back foot (the supporting foot) is close to the back truck, and hence your weight on the back truck while your front foot is off the board for pushing. This can potentially cause your board to nose lift.
In contrast, with “regular” pushing, your front foot is your supporting foot and sits close to the front truck, so your weight is on the front truck while you push with your rear foot.
As a Mongo pusher, however, I automatically and naturally shift my back foot slightly forward toward the middle of the deck before I lower my front foot for pushing. This gives me added stability for putting my weight on my rear foot.
You might argue it requires extra work to move my foot up before pushing, however it’s an instant and intuitive move. Regular pushers also need to turn their front foot forward before a push (although they may not need to shift it).
Regarding stability, I find one-foot steering a lot more stable with my foot positioned on the rear 1/3 of my deck vs on top of the front truck, especially on a topmount board. Adding pressure to one side of your foot for steering is a lot less sketchy (rear trucks are typically more stable than front).
Mongo is less efficient pushing
To me, this one is a myth. I’m able to push really hard Mongo, often harder than other longboarders I ride with. Having my weight secured on my strongest (rear) leg gives me the freedom to lift my (front) pushing foot further up and kick further back and harder on the ground.
As a result, I’m often able to get more speed than regular pushers.
I’m training myself to learn regular pushing as well so that I can do alternate pushing for long distance (skogging), which will be a great advantage and a fantastic workout.
Mongo pushing makes it easier to go over obstacles
This is very true: when pushing mongo on a longboard, you don’t need to worry nearly as much about small rocks, cracks, and small curbs compared to regular pushing.
Since my weight sits in the rear half of my deck and closer to the back truck when pushing, my front trucks and wheels are offloaded and will easily roll over small obstacles or climb small curbs, especially since I generally run big soft wheels.
Some say when pushing Mongo, it takes you more time to set up on the kicktail for pops and ollies. That definitely applies to street riding, but the truth is I rarely use the kicktail to jump over obstacles unless I’m on a short cruiser like my Ballona or Coyote.
When riding my larger boards, most of the time I’ll just let the big wheels roll over the obstacle while keeping my weight on the back trucks – which is naturally the case when I’m pushing mongo.
All in all, I find Mongo pushing particularly nice for rough roads and is my insurance against hitting a rock and flying forward.
Foot breaking is harder with mongo pushing
Some mongo pushers say they’ve never been able to foot brake. I can understand that, although I’m definitely able to foot brake myself.
Footbraking in the mongo stance is indeed sketchy, mostly because your weight is towards the rear of your longboard, close to the rear trucks.
Here’s my “secret sauce”:
- Before putting your front foot down to rub against the ground, SLIDE UP your supporting (back) foot closer to the middle of the deck!
- Lean your upper body forward to shift more weight to the front. Put your hands out in front of you while foot braking to ensure a solid position, with your shoulders facing forward.
- Keep your KNEES very close to each other, almost touching each other! This strengthens your stance
Do the above and you’ll be able to foot brake in Mongo stance very fast. This has worked for me for years.
Mongo pushing looks bad
As a mongo pusher, I do get sarcastic comments once in a while, though as a longboarder (and an older one) it’s not very frequent. Street skaters and younger riders do get a lot of abuse for riding Mongo though.
For me, the main reason for this is that riders feel riding Mongo looks a bit wonky, and is bad for the cool image of skateboarders. In hardcode skateboarding communities, mongo is not “socially acceptable”.
Regardless, that’s really not an issue for me. It’s all subjective. Personally, I don’t find Mongo pushing any uglier than “regular” pushing, just like a goofy stance isn’t any better than a regular stance.
Going from Mongo to “regular”
Some riders, like me, have been pushing Mongo for years and are fine with it. As I mentioned though, I’ve been practicing here and there to start pushing regular as well. To be honest, at first it felt like learning to skate again.
Depending on how often I practice, it may take a few weeks before I’m relatively comfortable pushing regular – I’m not quite there yet.
One nice thing about being able to push both ways is that you can then more easily ride goofy instead of Mongo if you want to (assuming you’re a regular rider).
In case you’re confused, regular stance is different from regular pushing. Regular stance simply means you ride with your left foot forward and right foot back. You may then push regular (using your back foot for kicking, i.e. your right foot) or mongo (using your front foot).
On the other hand, if you’re goofy stance it means you naturally put your right foot forward. Mongo pushing again means you push with your front foot, which in this case is your right foot. Confused enough?
If you’re able to push both mango and regular, you may also have an easy time riding switch stance (goofy if you’re regular stance, or vice versa). This can open a whole new world for you, as you can easily switch feet for both riding and pushing.
So instead of pushing Mongo, you can switch stance (e.g. to goofy stance) and push regular with your alternate foot. Many skaters who naturally push Mongo have really good switch pushes since they use the same pushing and supporting foot.
A good recommendation is to take your time to switch over to avoid getting discouraged. Also, practicing on a really small deck may help, as you have better control over the whole board with a single foot regardless of your positioning compared to a bigger board.
Regardless of what street skaters and tribal-spirited haters say, mongo pushing can be a real plus. If you ride short boards and do lots of tricks, learning to push regular can improve your effectiveness. On longer boards though, mongo pushing is useful for speed, and for riding rough terrain with obstacles.
learning to push regular takes practice and patience, but it’s worth the effort as it will also allow you to ride switch more easily, opening up new possibilities such as longboard dancing moves.