Types of Skateboards: Form Follows Function

Longboards and skateboards come in many different shapes and sizes. This can make choosing the right one quite difficult for a beginner or even someone who just wants to try a new style of skateboarding.

The most common questions in this regard are ‘what types of skateboards are there?’ and ‘what are the different types of skateboards and their uses?’

It’s not too hard figure out when you keep in mind that form follows function. Here’s how.

What are the Different Types of Skateboards?

There are many different types of skateboards currently in existence and new types of skateboards are being developed every day.

different types of skateboards

‘Standard’ or short skateboards have three different styles that evolved through the ages. There are also eight main longboard styles with dozens of variations available today.

List of different types of skateboards:

  • Modern Shaped/Hybrid
  • Old School bowl/pool
  • Classic Popsicle

List of different types of longboards:

  • Pintail
  • Popsicle
  • Top Mount
  • Drop Deck
  • Double Drop
  • Drop Through
  • Unidirectional
  • Bidirectional/symmetrical

Which Types of Skateboards work for Which Types of Skating?

Skateboards and longboards vary so widely in shape because of the purpose they serve.

To fully understand what types of skateboards work best for which types of skating, we first need to look at the main disciplines practiced by riders today.

Standard Skateboard disciplines:

  • Street/Park
  • Bowl/Pool

Street/Park

What it is: This discipline involves grinds, flips, kicks, manuals and an array of vertical tricks on half pipes and over staircases.

Most of these tricks can also be done using a Freestyle longboard, but standard skateboards are more commonly used in skateparks and serve as a lighter alternative.

What you need: A Classic Popsicle or Hybrid deck with twin kicktails.

Bowl/Pool

What it is: Transition skateboarding as it is also called is a discipline that evolved from riders skating abandoned and empty pools in California.

The skater aims to catch as much air as possible to accomplish an array of vertical tricks or to grind the coping surrounding the pool or half pipe.

Pumping is a crucial skill to hone in order to ride a pool.

What you need: An Old School deck with a single kicktail or a Hybrid deck with twin kicks.

Longboard disciplines:

  • Cruising
  • Carving
  • Freeride
  • Downhill/Speedboard
  • Boardwalking/Dancing
  • Freestyle
  • Long distance
  • Slalom
  • Tech sliding

Cruising

What it is: Arguably the most enjoyable form of skating is simply cruising around.

Nothing beats just being on your board and pushing down the block while exploring the streets of your city or town on a lazy afternoon.

No fuss, no obligations, no demands. It’s so simple anyone can and should do it.

Cruising is great for improving general skating skills like balance, pushing and steering.

What you need: A Pintail with a single kick.

Carving

What it is: Carving is something we often see surfers do on the surface of the waves.

When carving the board sharply left and right in a long snaking motion it reduces speed and makes it easier (and more fun) to come down a mellow incline without losing control.

It’s a very surfy type of skateboarding.

What you need: A flexible Pintail.

Freeride

What it is: Freeride is a type of Downhill skating that consists mainly of aggressive maneuvers like drifting, power sliding and carving hard all the way down the hill.

These techniques take a long time to perfect and are recommended for more advanced skaters.

What you need: A symmetrical Double Drop or Top Mount Drop Deck so your feet can be locked in and the board can be ridden in any direction.

Safety gear like elbow pads, knee pads, sliding gloves and a good helmet are a must.

Downhill/Speedboarding

What it is: Speedboarding or Downhill (DH) is all about going down a hill or incline as quickly as possible without seriously injuring or killing yourself.

This is by far one of the most popular types of skateboarding, but arguably also the most dangerous. A lot of practice and dedication goes into perfecting this discipline. Technique is just as important as adequate safety gear when it comes to DH.

What you need: A stiff Top Mount deck with wheel wells and no kicktails -in order to minimise wind resistance.

*There is also a list of safety gear that goes along with responsible Downhill skating, such as a high impact helmet, special sliding gloves with removable palm pucks, elbow pads, knee pads and sometimes even a full body leather suit and an aerodynamic helmet, depending on how fast you’ll want to go.

Boardwalking/Dancing

What it is: The main objective is to walk or dance up and down the length of the deck as it rolls, all the while performing some fancy footwork like cross-stepping and Peter Pans along the way.

Balance is the most important skill to have when it comes to Boardwalking or longboard dancing, but some find it to be a very fulfilling and even relaxing discipline.

What you need: A longer, flexible, symmetrical Top Mount or Drop Through deck with wheel cutouts to eliminate the chances of wheel bite.

Longer decks provide more space to walk on.

Freestyle

What it is: The close cousin of Boardwalking is Freestyle. This form of longboarding is also similar to regular skateboard Freestyle where the board is flipped, shoved and kicked to accomplish various tricks and any part of the skateboard is fair game to ride, stand on and incorporate in a routine.

What you need: A flexible, symmetrical Top Mount or Drop Through deck with wheel cutouts to eliminate the chances of wheel bite.

Long Distance

What it is: Long Distance consists of either ‘pushing’ the board over long distances (Long Distance Skating) or pumping (generating momentum without your feet touching the ground) for long distances (Long Distance Pumping).

Both disciplines though similar in name, require different types of skateboards to get the job done more effectively.

What you need:

LDS – A Top Mount Drop Deck or a Double Drop to lower the board to the ground and aid in sustained pushing over great distances.

LDP – A unidirectional or non-symmetrical deck with a non-functioning kicktail to rest your back foot on.

However, symmetrical Drop Decks have lately come into favor for Long Distance Pumping.

Slalom

What it is: Slalom is by far one of the oddest disciplines in skateboarding. This doesn’t mean it’s not hard-as-nails to execute the right technique though.

Slalom skateboarding consists of weaving in between cones set out on a course, while utilizing your entire body to generate the momentum needed to complete the course in the shortest possible time.

It’s serious stuff for those who practice it, but can look quite comical from a spectator’s point of view.

What you need: A unidirectional or non-symmetrical deck with a non-functioning kicktail.

Tech Sliding

What it is: Tech Sliding, also known as power sliding, is a discipline that includes high speed rotations, stalling or drifting the board and using special sliding gloves to execute maneuvers that involve touching the road surface whenever necessary.

What you need: A symmetrical deck with twin kicktails.

Although, different types of skateboards are gaining popularity in Tech Sliding, much like the Drop Down types of skateboards used in Freeriding.

What are Different Types of Skateboards Made of?

Another component to consider is the construction material used in building a given skateboard deck.

These can range from layers of glued maple sheets, bamboo, fiberglass, plastic, nylon and foam, to aluminium and all sorts of composites that are used in the manufacturing of the newest types of skateboards on the market.

skateboard deck materials

These materials influence various properties in a skateboard deck, like level of flex, overall durability and weight – all important things to consider when deciding on the right type of board to get.

Profile

The last consideration to be made in understanding the different types of skateboards is the profile of the deck.

The profile affects everything from the stability and responsiveness of the board, to the way it pushes and how easy or hard it is to foot-break.

The two most popular profiles are:

  • Camber
  • Rocker

Camber

Camber creates an upward or convex arch through the length of the skateboard. This lends itself to flexibility and is commonly used in the Carving and Boardwalking disciplines.

It makes the deck more lively and responsive, but also raises the center of gravity, which makes the board unstable at higher speeds.

Rocker

This creates a downward or concave arch throughout the length of the skateboard and lends itself to stiffer constructions used in Freeride and Downhill skating.

The concave lowers the center of gravity and makes the board less responsive, though much more stable at medium to high speeds.

A flexible deck is very dangerous when it comes to Downhill skating as vibrations can be intensified throughout the board, causing the rider to wobble, lose balance and fall.


Considering all this information, keep in mind that basically all types of skateboards can be used to do almost anything if you set your mind to it and change your hardware (trucks, wheels and risers) configuration accordingly – Downhill and Freeride being the exceptions to this rule as these are undoubtedly specialist disciplines that need to be practiced with specialist gear.

Hell-bent on Helmets

Always remember to wear a helmet whenever you get on a skateboard/longboard, despite how cool you might think you look without one. You know what doesn’t look cool? A traumatic head injury that’s easily avoidable.