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Sports & Games

Guide to Skateboarding Styles: 7 Popular Skateboarding Styles

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jun 24, 2020 • 3 min read

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Tony Hawk Teaches Skateboarding

Skateboarding can be a fun activity regardless of skill level. There are many styles of skateboarding suited for every preference. Once you have chosen the right board for the type of skating you want to do, all that’s left is to gear up and hit your favorite spot.

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Tony Hawk Teaches SkateboardingTony Hawk Teaches Skateboarding

Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk teaches you how to take your skateboarding to the next level, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

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7 Skateboarding Styles

Whether you want the thrill of vert skating or a casual cruise down a steep decline, there are different skateboarding styles out there for every kind of skater:

  1. Freestyle: Freestyle skateboarding developed from its original use as a mode of transportation. In the 1950s, when wave conditions weren’t ideal for surfers, they’d hit their skateboard decks, using the same techniques they were using in the water, just on a smooth, solid surface. These flat ground maneuvers like ollies, shove-its, and manual riding gradually turned into the more impressive tricks that can be seen in modern skateboarding.
  2. Vert: Vert skateboarding is an aerial style that involves skating a transition from a horizontal surface to a vertical one, such as you find in a ramp, half-pipe, bowl, or swimming pool. Surfers who were pool skating in the mid-1970s to simulate wave-riding on dry land created vert skating when they rode up and over the edges, catching air. From backyard pools, vert skating moved to skateparks, which often include pools and bowls, and vert ramps such as half-pipes and quarter pipes. Although going vertical can be intimidating, flying up in the air off of a vertical wall is one of the purest thrills there is in skating, and you can use that air to perform eye-popping tricks.
  3. Park: Park skateboarding is a style that uses purpose-built skateparks, which typically feature a mix of vert and street skating elements, such as half-pipes, quarter pipes, handrails, stairs, pools, bowls, pyramids, and ramps. In addition to their versatility, skateparks also offer a safe space for skaters, where they won’t get into trouble with the law for trespassing or damaging public or private property.
  4. Street: Street skateboarding takes place in an urban environment, with street skateboarders utilizing obstacles like stairs, handrails, benches, and curbs to perform tricks. Street skaters use these obstacles, or “street furniture,” as their own playground, performing grinds and aerials off any viably sturdy object or structure. Kickflips and hardflips are two common skateboarding tricks that are often performed in street skating.
  5. Downhill: Downhill skateboarding is a non-competitive style of skating, often using longboards to achieve the right control and speed. For safe downhill skating, research and practice moves like tucking (where your front foot is fully on the deck and your back foot is only on its toes) and drafting (following closely behind a downhill rider to take advantage of the decreased wind resistance so you can gather enough speed to eventually surpass them). A good understanding of aerodynamics will also help improve your downhill skating abilities.
  6. Cruising: Cruising is a skate style where riders ride for long periods of time without stopping or doing tricks. Longboards and cruisers have a wider deck and wheelbase, allowing skaters to travel faster, longer, and with more control than regular skateboards.
  7. Off-road: Also known as mountainboarding, dirtboarding, or all-terrain boarding, off-road skateboarding is a skating style done on uneven terrain such as gravel tracks, BMX courses, woodlands, or mountain bike trails. Off-road skating does not involve paved roads or flat ground, and instead relies on nature itself to provide the ideal spot to skate.

Want to Learn More About Skateboarding?

Whether you’re just learning how to ollie or ready to tackle a Madonna (the vert trick, not the singer), the MasterClass All-Access Pass can help you find confidence on your board with exclusive instructional videos from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, street skater Riley Hawk, and Olympic hopeful Lizzie Armanto.

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