If you are planning on learning to slide, the first thing you should do is throw on a helmet and some protective gear. There is a high probability you will be spending some time on the asphalt during this process. So slide at your own risk. Even if you don’t know how to slide yet, don’t be afraid to invest in some gloves. I have found that most common long boarding injuries can be avoided, if you know there are large plastic pucks on your palms, making them impervious to pavement.
Once you’ve got your pads and board all prepped and ready to go. Head out to a parking lot or somewhere relatively flat to practice speed checking. A speed check is a very small slide, where (for starters) your back two wheels let go of the pavement and do a very small slide. It’s called a speed check because this move is sometimes used to burn speed (but mostly it just looks sick). Learning to speed check can be somewhat awkward. So here’s a list of the basic motions you will be performing.
1. Start on a flat area and give the board 2 or 3 good pushes
2. Lean forward, putting most of your weight over your front foot
3. Open your shoulders, between a 45 and 90 degree angle from the board. The wider you open your shoulders the larger your speed check, or drift will be. Also keep in mind that the longer you leave your shoulders open, the longer the slide will continue.
4. Use your back foot and leg to swiftly force the back end of the board outward. Heel side is generally the most comfortable way to learn to slide. But it’s all about whatever feels best.
5. Close your shoulders and even your weight back out
Keep in mind that part 3, and 4 should be happening simultaneously. (Or very close to at the same time) Your first few speed checks should be pretty minimal, really focus on taking a lot of weight off your back foot, until the slide has begun. The less weight on the back of your board, the easier it will be to force the back two wheels out.
If you have never slid on the wheels you are currently riding, your slides will be fairly choppy for a while. Speed checking is also a great way to break in wheels. Once you have rounded edges on your wheels, you know your wheels are broken in. And it may be time to do a quick rotation.
Once you’ve got the speed check on lock. Start incorporating it into carves for style points if you’d like. Now, you’re ready for the full slide
At this point in your longboarding career, gloves are a must if you plan on learning to use drifts and slides down hill. Slides are a great way to control your speed, and widen the range of hills you’re able to ride as you progress.
To start sliding using your hands, you will need a small hill, and it helps if your wheels somewhat broken in. Treat your slide a lot like your speed check. Put almost all of your weight over your front foot, some riders even lay their back foot down sideways. Doing this not only looks stylish, but really forces you to keep weight off the foot and only use it to help push and guide the board around. Most people generally start with their back hand grabbing the middle of the deck and their front hand down on the pavement. This is a great first slide to learn. All it takes is commitment. Once you can turn your shoulders the full 180 degrees, your board will follow.
Don’t be afraid to put some weight on your sliding hand. The more weight on your board the more the slide will slow you down. Causing more friction between the wheels the concrete, making the slide more difficult. Two handed slides are generally easier once you get a feel for them. Because more weight is on your hands. And because with both hands on the ground, your shoulders are committed no matter what. But whatever slide you choose to learn first, practice is the key.
Some wheels slide a lot smoother and easier than others. Some decks are a lot more prone to sliding and free riding. But keep in mind that all boards can slide. It is true that some setups are more difficult to learn on than others. But with some motivation and dedication, any board can slide. Good luck!