How Hard is Skimboarding: Risks vs Rewards [2019]

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How hard is skimboarding? There are several variables that will have an impact on how each skimboarder answers this question.  How quickly you become proficient at skimboarding will be impacted by individual athleticism, the person’s passion for the sport, the type of board used, local surfing conditions, your knowledge level, etc.

The simplest and most straightforward answer: Will it be easy? NOPE! Will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!  Mike Coots, a surfer, photographer, shark conservationist, and shark attack survivor probably summed up the answer to this question the best, “There are a million ways to surf, and as long as you’re smiling you’re doing it right.”

How Do You Ride a Skimboard?

The first step to grasping the level of difficulty of this sport is to understand how you skimboard.  Although similar to surfing, skimboarding is done closer to shore and with a smaller board.  This makes it relatively easier for beginners to attain the skills necessary to enjoy the sport.  The following are the progressions in accomplishing a successful skimboard ride:

child with a skimboard
  1. Find an optimal spot: a flat beach area where a thin layer develops in the backwash of a wave is ideal.
  2. Hold your board with your dominant hand on the tail/rear of your board and the other hand on the side approximately in the middle.
  3. Once the wave rolls out and a thin film of water has developed in the sand, begin your run.
  4. Once you are running at full speed, you will drop the board flat on the wet sand, directly in front of you.
  5. Keeping your stride, place your back foot on the rear portion of the board.  
  6. Your next stride should cause you to lead directly into placing your front foot in the middle of the board.
  7. Maintaining your balance, you will skim along the shore on the moist sand until you begin to slow.
  8. Once your board slows, simply step off with one foot then the other, bend over and grab your board.

Risk vs. Reward

If you love the freedom, exhilaration, and the sheer enjoyment of the ride of your life the rewards of this sport should be obvious.  With the rewards however, comes some level of risk and the following are some of the things you will want to consider:

man skimboarding on the beach
  • You should have a general understanding of your physical limitations and abilities. 
  • When you start skimboarding you will fall a few times.
  • Fractures or dislocations requiring serious medical attention are possible.
  • Scrapes, cuts, bruises and the occasional ankle sprain or toe injury as the result of impacting the board, rocks, sand or other debris along the shore are not uncommon.
  • Hamstring injuries may occur due to the extreme movement of a skimboarder’s legs when running and transitioning to the board.
  • Falls could result in a skimboarder having a cervical fracture
  • Skimboarding is done close to shore making issues such as drowning much less likely than when surfing.  
  • Some injuries may develop over time such as: shin splints, groin pulls, leg strains, etc.  These injuries can typically be prevented by stretching before and after boarding. 
  • Another consideration when skimboarding are riptides. Checking with local officials or weather services should help in identifying when and where riptides may be occuring.

Practice Skimboarding

If you are a beginner or novice to the sport wanting to learn how to skimboard the following are some tips and ideas for practicing before heading out to the beach:

  • Avoid injuries, make sure to stretch properly.
  • Practice on shore by placing your board on the sand in a flat area.  At about half speed practice your run and transitioning to the board.
  • Practice using an Indo Balance Board. This can be a fun and functional training device.  Using an Indo Board is a low impact way to improve your core strength, lower body joint stability, strengthen your legs and improve your overall balance.  
  • Practice using a skateboard.
  • Add traction pads or use surf wax.  Skimboards have a smooth epoxy glazing that allows them to glide easier on the water.  This glazing when it get wets becomes slick and is slippery when you are on your board. Applying pads or wax will provide traction on your board.
  • Practice at  home utilizing a flat area in your backyard, laying down plastic with a little water on top to create a skimboard slip and slide.

​Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article has given you some sense, when asked the question, how hard is skimboarding?, that it really depends on the individual and their personal perspectives.  If you are doing something you enjoy, something you are passionate about, or something that just truly gives you pleasure, it’s likely you won’t describe the task as hard or difficult.  

If however, you are a person who likes things to come easily, aren’t drawn to the water or are someone who doesn’t want to fall, learning to skimboard may be viewed as hard to learn and may not be right for you.  

Laird Hamilton, a big-wave surfer who played a surf vagabond in the 2015 film Point Break stated when describing what it takes to learn a water board sport, “Wiping out is an underappreciated skill.”  It’s probably safe to say he has passion for his sport and finds working at his craft to be something he enjoys every time he hits the beach.

There is likely only one true way for you to answer the question for yourself and that’s to get out and try it.  

So, give skimboarding a try and let us know in the comments section below how hard or easy it was for you.

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How hard is skimboarding? The simplest and most straightforward answer: Will it be easy? NOPE! Will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

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