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Learn to roll
When it comes to human-powered transportation, you can't beat a skateboard for cool points. The first time you try careening around on a board, keep these tips in mind to help you ride solid and avoid unnecessary wipeouts.
Suit up proper
When you're first learning how to move and brake, you're going to fall off your board. Possibly even a lot. Come prepared with kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards to protect your joints when you try to catch yourself on the way down, and a helmet to protect the precious skull that holds the precious brain that holds all your precious newfound skateboarding knowledge.
Start still on something soft
Before you take it to the streets, take a couple of minutes to practice and get a strong sense of balance by standing on your board on a soft patch of grass, or even your living room carpet. The first time you jump onto a board you can feel pretty shaky, so if you tumble right away, it's nice to land on a gentle surface that won't scrape you up something nasty. Practice basic standing to see whether you feel more comfortable with your left foot forward (also called riding "regular style") or your right foot forward (sometimes called "goofy style"), then try bending and straightening to get the feel of it all. Once you feel really grounded in your stance, head out to some flat pavement to get moving.
Push like you're walking
To keep the board from sliding out from under your feet, keep your movements simple. You can push to build speed just by taking your front foot and making a basic step forward, as though you were walking. Instead of pushing the skateboard away from yourself and losing control, think of your motion as sort of like being a gondolier pushing a boat along, and work with the direction you're already going. Maintain control by making fewer big, powerful pushes instead of a flurry of lots of little paddles.
Use your back foot for a basic brake
The easiest way to brake when you're boarding is called foot braking. All you do is take your back foot off the board and drag it on the ground to slow your momentum until you stop moving. Practice this at slow speeds until it's a totally built-in reflex, and then amp up your MPH knowing you can cruise confidently and stop or slow yourself immediately as needed, without worrying about how to do so.
Get fancy later
Your new cool transport will give you lots of room for creativity once you've mastered the basics. In addition to using your board for the simple back-and-forth, skateboarding can be a serious art form. Take a weekend afternoon or two to just plain mess around and enjoy the zen of skating. But, before you take a flying leap at your first ollie, make sure you can simply locomote responsibly and safely.