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Sports & Gaming

Basic Skating Skills: How to Turn on a Skateboard

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

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Tony Hawk Teaches Skateboarding

Once you've learned how to balance on a skateboard and ride in a straight line, your next step is to learn how to turn. You can do this either by leaning with your body or by doing a kickturn. Leaning produces smooth, gradual turns, while a kickturn causes a quick, sharp change in direction.

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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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How to Turn on a Skateboard by Leaning

Before you hit the skatepark to learn how to ollie or kickflip, you should already be proficient in all the skating fundamentals. Make sure you know how to turn your skateboard by leaning.

  1. Check the tightness of your trucks. Before trying to turn for the first time, stand on your skateboard deck and lean left and right. If your deck barely tilts, it means you have tight trucks, which will make it difficult to turn. If your board tilts easily, it means your trucks are loose; while looser trucks make turning easier, they also make your deck unstable and difficult to control. To adjust your trucks, tighten or loosen your board's kingpin nut in order to compress or decompress your truck's polyurethane bushings. Keep adjusting your skateboard trucks even after you start practicing to ensure a proper setting. For beginners, it's typically better to have tighter trucks than loose trucks.
  2. Find a location where the ground is smooth and flat. A parking lot or parking garage is usually a great option.
  3. Start riding in your normal stance. Keep pushing until you've picked up a moderate amount of speed.
  4. Lean in the direction you want to turn. For skaters who ride in the regular stance (using your left foot as your front foot), execute a frontside right turn by placing pressure on your toes. To execute a backside left turn, place pressure on your heels. The more you lean, the sharper your turn will be. For skaters who ride in the goofy stance (using your right foot as your front foot), simply reverse the directions.
  5. Maintain your balance. Make sure to keep your weight centered so that when the board turns you don’t find yourself off balance. To prevent falling in the direction you're turning, bend your knees to lower your center of gravity.
  6. Shift back into your normal stance. When you're ready to stop turning, shift your weight back to the middle of your feet.

How to Do a Kickturn on a Skateboard

A kickturn is when you briefly lift the nose of your board, balancing on your back wheels, and swing the front of your board in a new direction. This more advanced turning method allows skateboarders to suddenly change directions even at slow speeds. In order to execute a kickturn, follow these steps.

  1. Find a location where the ground is smooth and flat. A parking lot or parking garage is usually a great option.
  2. Start riding in your normal stance. Keep pushing until you've picked up a moderate amount of speed.
  3. Move your back foot to the tail of the board. Place your front foot directly above the board's front truck. Until you're ready to actually turn, make sure you keep your weight over the center of the board.
  4. Slowly distribute more weight to your back foot. This will cause the nose of the board to rise into the air so that you're balancing on your back wheels. To avoid falling backward or scraping the tail of the board on the ground, lean forward slightly so your center of gravity is still over the middle of the board.
  5. Swing the nose of the board in your intended direction. Using your bodyweight, quickly swing the front of your board in whatever direction you want to turn. Use your front foot to steer the board as you simultaneously twist your hips and shoulders in the proper direction.
  6. Shift your weight back to your front foot. This will cause your front wheels to land back on the ground, completing your turn.
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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 Annual Membership 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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