Skimboarding: A Complete Guide

If you’re looking for one of the most exciting water sports in the world right now, skimboarding is worth considering.

While many of us may view skimboarding as a fun beach activity, there is a lot more that goes into this method of riding the surf. A whole range of techniques, styles, and boards are used in skimboarding where you can ride on flatlands or challenge yourself by trimming the line in the waves. 

Skimboarding is the perfect activity to take up if you’re looking for a new exhilarating experience.

It’s especially perfect for experienced surfers who are looking for something fun to do when there is no surf or very small waves present.

Best of all, this is an activity that the whole family can get involved in. Not only is skimboarding for adults. Kids can enjoy the thrills of this sport too! Beach days will never be the same again after you try skimboarding.

Does skimboarding sound like something you would be interested in? Even if you’re unsure, you should read on as we take you on a skimboarding journey.

Our complete guide will cover everything you need to know about this board sport. Whether you’re a newbie or looking to learn some new tricks, we have you covered. 

What Is Skimboarding? 

For those of you who are not all that familiar with skimboarding, let’s start by explaining what this is. 

Also known as skimming, skimboarding is a unique style of board sport performed over shallow water. The basic principle of skimboarding is to ride a skimboard from the beach in the direction of breaking waves.

Then, you catch the waves that are about to break and ride them back to shore. In other words, you glide across the water’s surface until you meet an incoming wave and then travel back with it.

You need to perform some sort of run-up when skimming while you carry your board. This is to gain momentum and speed before you start skimming the water’s surface.

Once you reach the water, you then throw your board onto the shallow water that breaks on the shore. At this point, you jump on the board with an aim to keep your momentum continuing from your run-up. Therefore, you carry on accelerating into the oncoming surf. 

When you see a skimboard, you may be surprised by its look. The wooden boards are thin and lightweight so that they can easily glide or skim over the water’s surface.

Unlike a surfboard, skimboards are not adequate floatation devices. This is because they are not designed for long wave riding like surfboards. 

Once you’re on a skimboard and gliding the waves, it’s possible to perform all manner of tricks as well as air maneuvers. Of course, this takes time and practice but even on those first attempts, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular and fun! 

How To Skimboard 

If you’re a complete newbie to skimboarding, you’re in the right place. It can be quite daunting to try out any new sport, let alone a water sport. But, the good news is that all you need to skimboard is:

  • A board
  • A beach
  • A burning ambition and strong will to try something new and exciting 


Firstly, you need to prepare yourself. You will get wet! But, that’s all part of the fun. You must learn to balance on the board before anything else. To do this, you need to find the right spot on the board.

The best option for beginners is “the flat beach.” In other words, you need to find a beach that is sand-based that is soft and comfortable to run on. 

Secondly, you need to find yourself a skimboard. Your skimboard needs to be wooden for sand skimboarding or foam for wave skimming.

As a beginner, we recommend starting with something less expensive and easier to practice on. Therefore, a wooden board is the better option. We will discuss what to look for in a skimboard further down.

There are also a few different shapes to look out for such as:

  • The shallow rocker
  • The steep rocker
  • The pintail/w-tail/square 

Shallow rockers are faster and best for calmer waters. This is because these boards provide an easier movement for the rider. 

The steep rocker is slightly slower between the sand and waves making it best for waves or troubled water. 

The pintail board provides balance. Therefore, it is considered to be the best option for learning. You can also use it to perform different kinds of stunts after you master the basics of skimboarding. 

We recommend starting with a larger-sized board too. These provide you with more space and will help you gain better balance. After some practice and progress, you will feel more confident and want to experience something more flexible. At this point, you can swap to a smaller version. 

Once you have your board and are ready for your first practice run, it’s time to hit the beach. To begin with, find the right place. Make sure you’re away from people as you don’t want to be distracted and, of course, you don’t want to hit anyone while on your board. 

Once you have found the ideal spot, compose yourself and relax. Turn sideways (right if you’re right-footed, left if you’re left-footed). Then, simply find the best angle that feels comfortable for you. 

Next, you should stand still and lean over while you lower your board to around six inches from the sand. Push the board across the soft sand and stay parallel to the shoreline.

Rise and chase your board. Then, step on it, one foot after the other. As you get on the board, bend your knees. 

Your first attempt, or your first twenty or so attempts, will probably see you fall over. Don’t worry! This is normal. Keep trying until you find your preferred rhythm and balance.

You will eventually manage it all in one swell movement. All you need to do then is continue practicing, going faster and faster until you feel happy with where you’re at. 

Once you’re on the water, it’s time for your first skimming experience. 

Hold your board with one hand on its tail and your other hand on its side. Wait for a wave to pass and then begin running. Once you have reached full speed, drop your board on the sand in front of you.

Now, do not jump onto the board. Instead, run into it. This will be tricky at first. And possibly painful. But stick at it! 

Your goal is to land your front leg as close to the board’s center as possible. Your other foot should be behind this.

When you jump on the board, there will be too much weight. This will cause your board to bury itself in the sand in which you will come to a complete stop and experience a nasty fall.

However, by running into it and doing this right, you will find that you will be skimming the waves until the board starts to slow down. 

The more you practice, the more you will master the art of skimboarding. After some time, you can start trying out new tricks such as the big spin and the shoot. You’ll be surprised how far you can come in a short amount of time!

What To Look For In A Skimboard 

When you start to look for a skimboard, you may be surprised by how many there are.

They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and designs. Therefore, it’s critical that you know what to look out for exactly so you get the best for your needs.

Shape And Size 

Firstly, you need to gauge the shape and the size of the board. The various sizes determine how much weight the board can support and it has a great influence on overall stability. Unsurprisingly, larger boards can carry heavier riders and are the most stable option. 

The shape is essential in determining how the board performs on the water.

Beginner skimboards tend to be more stable with less curve in their design. For more experienced skimboarders, a high-performance skimboard is the best option as these are usually sharper with curved noses and tails.

The rocker also has some sort of influence on how the board reacts when being ridden so ensure you take all of this into consideration before purchasing.

The Grip

Some types of skimboards can be pretty slippery when they become wet due to a smoother deck design.

These boards usually require waxing before jumping on. Other types have textured decks or grip pads. These make them easier to use and offer a much sturdier grip. For beginners, these types of skimboards are advised. 

The Materials 

Your board’s construction influences a few important aspects such as its durability and performance. Skimboards can be made from laminated wood as well as foam or high-quality carbon-fiber epoxy. The best type of board should be very strong yet lightweight for ease of use. 

Foam skimboards are easy to use and great for learning thanks to their forgiveness on the sand and water. Fiberglass boards tend to move a bit faster making them a little more difficult to handle. Therefore, fiberglass-built skimboards are a better option for more experienced riders. 

The Board’s Buoyancy 

Because of a skimboard’s unique, smaller design, they are not the most buoyant of water boards. Traditional skimboards tend to be very thin and are made from wood or laminate. Not the best recipe for buoyancy. 

This is because these boards are designed to skim along with the shallow shore break and not float on top of deeper water. However, some people like to take their boards out to bigger surfs for a heightened thrill-seeking experience. If this is the case, the board needs to be more buoyant.

Check the weight, thickness, and materials used in a skimboard’s construction to ensure it’s the right build for you. 

Skimboarding Tricks For Beginners 

Okay, you have mastered your takeoff and can now easily skim across flat water. Chances are, you want more excitement with your skimboard than just this! It’s time to practice some tricks.

Below are some beginner-friendly skimboarding tricks for you to have a go. Once you master some or all of these, you will never want to leave the beach again!

The Spin

This is probably one of the most basic tricks for skimboarders. While it’s easy to learn, it certainly looks great and will impress all on the beach.

As you skim, squat down and then touch the surface of the sand or water with one hand. Use your other hand to perform a spin. Make sure your knees are bent as this balances your gravity over the center of the board.

It will also help you find the right angle that will keep the front of your board a little above the water. No bent knees = fail. 

Also, make sure you’re going quite fast. The faster you go, the more impressive and better your spin will be. 

Shoot The Duck 

For this second trick, your balance must be perfect. Squat down with your back leg pushed forward.

Your backhand should now be touching the back of your board. Very quickly, stick your forward leg that is raised into the sand. Grab your toes and then get up. Congrats, you have shot the duck! 

Flat backside 180 

This trick is not only fun but it teaches you how to properly land on your board. Once you master this trick and the landing, more advanced tricks will be beckoning you on the horizon.

As you’re skimming, turn your hips and swing your back leg. Focus intently on your hips and not your feet. If you encounter any trouble, you can turn your head to your back shoulder.

Or, you can try and move your whole upper body as you practice. Once you learn how to do this quickly, your whole body will follow suit. The result? You’ll be ready for more skilled and harder tricks! 

Body Varial 

Here’s a fun one! When you’re on the board, bend your legs and wind your arms.

Then, you need to jump and rotate. Jump back onto your board and continue skimming to your heart’s content. You can choose between doing a front or back rotation, moving either 180 or 360 degrees. 

You must jump as high as you possibly can for this trick to give you the time for a full rotation. You should use your upper body for the spin rather than your legs. Use your legs and your board may start to spin too.

This will take some time to master and maybe a little scary at first. But, keep trying and you will love this trick once you have mastered it. 


Okay, this is a pretty difficult trick so it may be best for more experienced riders. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a go if you’re relatively new to skimboarding. Learn how to ollie and it will open up whole new avenues to other tricks.

To ollie on a skimboard is similar to when on a skateboard. Bend down low while you ride at a relatively fast speed.

As you come back up, apply some pressure on your back foot. Jump up while you do this and the board should follow you. Then, you will land back on the water and continue skimming the waves. 

Flat Frontside 180 

This is the same as the flat backside 180. You perform the same movement but in the other direction. The main goal of this trick is to use your front foot and rotate backward. 

Again, move with your hips and not your feet so the board doesn’t move as well. 

Hippy Jump 

Here is a simple yet highly effective trick. You simply jump over something while your board goes underneath you. 

Bend your knees as you approach the jump. As you get near, jump and make sure your knees are pulled up. Land back on your board on the other side.