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Skateboard Basics for Beginners

Dianna is a writer with a background in education and business. She writes to inspire and encourage others.


Getting on Board

Kainalu Canubida, known as Kai by family and friends, embodies the meaning of his given name: waves of the ocean. His skating style is fluid and smooth yet full of energy just as the whitecaps that break against the sands. His love of the water and air as a surfer parallels his enjoyment of skateboarding on land. As Kai puts it, "I love going in the air. It feels like flying and reminds of surfing on water."

Inspired by his dad, Craig, to take on the sport, he took to the longboard at only four years of age. It wasn't long before he realized he truly loved the on-going challenges of skating. Today, Kai, at thirteen years, is an aficionado of surfing but also fosters his passion for skateboarding. While developing his own skills, he helps others with skateboarding basics as he rides the rails at the local YMCA skate park. Kai is a true sportsman at heart.

Kai with one of his favorite skateboards, a defining part of every rider.

Kai with one of his favorite skateboards, a defining part of every rider.

I love going in the air. It feels like flying and reminds me of surfing on the water. It really is me!

— Kai Canubida

Flying through the air - totally rad!

Flying through the air - totally rad!

Advice for Beginners

An online search will result in numerous videos and articles on how to begin skateboarding. They all make it look easy, and for some it may be so, but most beginners have to practice over and over until they reach perfection on the board. Just standing on the board alone is a skill!

Kai's advice to newcomers to the sport is to learn how to push off. It helps you center your body on the board which is important to overcoming the fear of falling. Taking a fall is something he says is inevitable, although skaters eventually learn to bail -- avoiding a crash. He also shares as there is always the potential for falling, a risk he is willing to take, his skill level is higher now and he wears pads and a helmet for protection.

He warns not to mongo the board. Pushing off with your back foot gives you more control, especially when other skaters are around you. While I watched and to help me understand, he demonstrated how just getting on the board takes lots of practice. The wheels don't stand still for you! Catch Kai's demonstration on the video that follows below for the perfect launch.

He himself spends hours perfecting certain skills, airing ollie, as he puts it. Mastering the trick "disaster" is one of his favorite challenges on the ramp. Trying to land the coping a certain way, while attempting to break a board, gets him stoked. Kai says "It's hearing the shrill sound of grinding metal, telling you your're doing it right." Watching Kai, one can feel the excitement and flow of a lift-off, his body managing the pop and slide of the skateboard action. Beginners should know patience is key to becoming a pro on the board. Like the old saying goes -- practice makes perfect.

Basic Push Off & Ollie on the Skateboard


Skateboarding requires ease of movement to do those exciting and complex tricks. Today's riders want to look the part. Beginners want to fall in with the others in style and that includes clothing. Skaters wear shorts, jeans or baggy pants. Hats are in and hair styles vary from short to long. Overall, riders should wear what makes them feel good and not focus too much on looking like the crowd.

Since Kai's skateboard status is well known among competitors, occasionally he receives product to try out from his sponsors, Vans, Stance Socks, and Syck Trix to name a few. He showed me his socks, mismatched at the time but totally cool, telling me skaters wear brands and styles but each has his or her own personal style. Skateboarder clothing is a form of artwork and creative expression regardless of current trends. About his socks ... "I like to wear them this way".

Socks make a statement with riders.

Socks make a statement with riders.

Skaters dare to be different, even in what they wear.

Skaters dare to be different, even in what they wear.

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Coping with Life

Kai not only skateboards but also plays the guitar and ukulele. When at home he can be found shooting hoops with friends or bike riding around the neighborhood. His favorite music is R&B, rock and pop. He is definitely well rounded and is not afraid to take on new challenges (I think his surfing would prove this!).

What really made Kai notable as a young person to me was his positive and mature attitude. He believes skateboarding helps him in other areas of life by keeping him focused. "Most days I'm out here practicing tricks. Other kids my age are out trying to find themselves, probably doing drugs. Not me, I'm here." What a profound statement for a young teen!

Kai is ranked nationally as 96th in park and 406th among 900 plus skaters in, a skateboard company known for top coverage of skating events. In 2017, Kai placed first in the Grind for Life Bowl Intermediate series in Knoxville, TN, and first in Brandenton, Lakeland, and Sarasota, Fl. competitions. Last we talked, he was getting ready to do another circuit of the skateboard competitions in Florida. Very impressive for this young athlete. I'm sure he will make a great impact on the board and continue to be a role model for future skateboarders.

Kai's positive outlook helps him "grind" through life well.

Kai's positive outlook helps him "grind" through life well.

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© 2018 Dianna Mendez


Linda Chechar from Arizona on February 11, 2019:

Kai is an amazing skater and a multi-talented person. He will definitely go far in life.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 24, 2018:

Loved the video. Skateboarding needs skill, and practice is a must, for that, at any sport. I have always been in awe of skateboarders. It is a difficult skill to master no doubt.

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on April 14, 2018:

What a talent. So athletic and musical, a wicked combo. I skate boarded in my youth, but nothing like this - such a talent.

Dianna Mendez (author) on April 14, 2018:

Louise, I'll have to agree with you on getting on one of those boards. Kai continues to compete this year on the board and I believe we will see him advance to pro over time.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 02, 2018:

Kai is certainly a pro on the skateboard. You'd never get me on one though!

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 27, 2018:

Jo, good to hear about your granddaughter's interest in skating. She must be very outgoing. Only wish I could have taken it on when I was a kid.

Jackie, I roller skated in my early teens but no way I would do it now!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on March 25, 2018:

What a neat kid---and great article. I don't think I'll be trying this any time soon, but I have a granddaughter or two that might be interested.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 25, 2018:

As close as I got was roller skating, and I did love that. Was no place around or I would have loved ice skating I know!

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 19, 2018:

Chitrangada, I do enjoy seeing the enthusiasm these skaters have and only wish it could be bottled for others to enjoy.

Dora, he is an inspiration and will continue to be a highlight for years to come.

Larry, I appreciate your coming by here and glad you found it interesting. Take care, friend.

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 19, 2018:

Peggy, I think you have said it when you said it is an allure for young kids. They can do it. I would have to think about even standing on the board.

Linda, I tried roller skating when I was very young. it was fun but I am sure I would not be able to stand on them now. Good seeing you today.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on March 19, 2018:

Interesting read!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 19, 2018:

Great! Too late for me, though. Kai is really flying and certainly an inspiration to those interested in skateboarding. His discipline is a model for all ages.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 19, 2018:

Interesting article about skateboarding!

It’s so good to read about Kai’s talents. Skateboarding is a skill, not many have. One must be physically fit, with lot of enthusiasm too. The younger people will learn a lot from your helpful tips.

Thanks for sharing!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 18, 2018:

I admire the skill it takes to become proficient when using skateboards. There is no way I would try it at my age but I can certainly understand the allure for younger folks. It was fun reading about Kai.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2018:

I would never want to skateboard myself, but I enjoyed reading about Kai and his skateboarding. It sounds like he has a very positive attitude. Good luck to him.

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 18, 2018:

Eric, good for your son to desire to excel at such an active and thrilling sport! Kai does reflect what good values can do for your character. Bill, I am with you on sitting back as a spectator these days. Much safer for me!

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 18, 2018:

Jackie and Nell, yes -- to be a kid again. I definitely would have enjoyed this sport. And, many girls are now also taking to the board so back then we would have been rebels (as we are now!).

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 18, 2018:

Mary, I love your reference to being grounded, except for when he is flying! So what this sport is about, to be free and enjoy life. I think the kids here are influenced by the sunny weather and family activities taht are abundant.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on March 18, 2018:

Love this but what is 'mongo the board'?

What a cool kid. When I briefly lived in Florida, I noticed how it was so different to California, the kids were doing 'kid stuff'. Skateboarding, fishing, and just allowed to be kids.

Kai really seems well grounded (when he's not flying) LOL. I love his attitude to life. Even at his age, he is a good role model.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 18, 2018:

Oh if they had this when I was a kid I would have been right at it. Now I can only shake my head at the thoughts of me on one of these! I'd be a goner in a minute!

It is great there are still kids into such great outdoor fun.

Fun read Dianna!

Nell Rose from England on March 18, 2018:

Oh wow! I love the quote about flying, and yes it does look like it. to be young, fit and be able to do this! Kai is great! I often watch it on tv and think, I wish!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 18, 2018:

Perfect timing. We are getting closer to my youngest starting. I will go over this with him. Perhaps Kai will be an inspiration.

I love the uniform non-uniform of this group.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2018:

I never saw this article coming from you, Dee! What a fun read! I think it's safe to say I'm not going to be doing this any time soon. :)

Dianna Mendez (author) on March 18, 2018:

Thank you, Mary and Flourish for stopping by here. Kai is quite a remarkable skater and person. Very positive and outgoing. I only wish I could have the skater's energy!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 18, 2018:

Love that word, Kai. Reminds me of home beside the sea. Anyway, I see a lot of young people do this in the park and I'm amazed at the skill that goes with it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 17, 2018:

It is impressive the way Kai is so adept on that board. I love the photos and his focus on his sport.

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