So you’re in your 40s or 50s and have this crazy dream of learning to skateboard. You may be wondering if 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 will give you unequaled 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
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
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
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
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.
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