On the surface, one could easily argue that these are both one and the same, not two distinctly different sports. After all, the boards look the same to the untrained eye, some are longer, some have funny shapes, but they are all still just skateboards, right? Wrong. While skateboarding and longboarding share the same origins and Longboards branched off of skateboarding, they are done in very different locales and with a different purpose.
This is not to say they share no similarities, after all, they are often made of similar materials. They share the same jargon or specialized language around their sport. They even share safety equipment, but that doesn’t make them the same sport. It’s like saying soccer and American football are the same because they both use cleats and balls. It doesn’t work that way.
In the skateboarding vs. longboarding debate, there needs to be some clarification, some determining what makes one distinctly different from the other. We will start with the one that came first, skateboarding.
Skateboarding started as a way for surfers to enjoy the sensation of surfing while not in the ocean. This was either for bad weather days or when they had to go someplace where there was no surfing. They took short boards and designed wheels for them so that they could cruise streets the same way they did the big waves.
Eventually, this took off all over the world, and it developed as a sport. The primary concern of the sport of skateboarding is tricks, which are moves and maneuvers that require skills and technique that vary in difficulties. The locale where most skateboarders skate is designated skate parks. Skateboards, while versatile, have some limitations when it comes to rougher terrain and therefore the smooth concrete of a skate park suits their board best.
Also, skateboards are not that comfortable for long distance riding, so riding in skate parks allows them to get enough speed to roll up ramps and do as many 360s as they please. As a skateboard rider grows in skill, they eventually learn more and more difficult tricks ranging from ollies to flip tricks and aerials.
Another favored use of the skateboard is grinding. This can be done in urban environments away from skate parks, on benches, curbs, and staircases, although, this is generally illegal. Most cities and states have laws and ordinances against riding skateboards in this style or riding them at all, because of the damage to public property by those who choose to grind there.
For those that have decided that skateboarding is for them, it’s more or less for the tricks, the ability to show off what you can do, and impress others involved in the sport. After all, what is the point of learning tricks if you can’t show them off to your friends?
Now, for a better look at the younger sport, longboarding in this debate of skateboarding vs. longboarding.
Longboarding was born from skateboarding. As skateboard riders developed more diverse skills, and as more advanced manufactured products came to the market, the sport changed for some skateboarders. They were ready to leave the enclosed confined skate parks and take on bigger and longer rides. Longboarding is not often, if at all, done at a skate park, it’s out on the streets.
Those who use longboards use it for a few different reasons, but two of the main are commuting and cruising. Commuting by longboard is a healthy, eco-friendly way for those who are conscious of their health, to get around and not to mention, it adds a little fun to your commute. The financial advantage of commuting, especially for students, is why it is an overwhelming favorite.
Longboards are often lighter than standard skateboards and that makes it easier when moving around campus or taking it into a building. Longboards were created for longer distances, with softer wheels to handle bumps and flexible boards to maneuver around obstacles.
One of the other sports of the longboard is downhill longboarding. Longboards handle speed and slopes far better than their shorter skateboard parents. Because of this, they have developed into racing boards in some aspects. Downhill longboards are heavier than the commuter board, and that is to give the rider stability when careening down a hill at speeds that a car can go. Downhill longboarders have been clocked at 80 mph before, meaning that with the right board and balance, you can break speed limits. Downhill longboarding can be practiced anywhere there is a slope and concrete, meaning that longboarders more often than not, end up sharing the road with cars, making this sport a little more dangerous than the rest.
Now, all this does not mean that longboarders don’t have tricks as well. Sliding, dancing, and spinning are the primary tricks up a longboarders sleeve, and they are no less impressive.
It still is no secret that those that choose the longboard over the skateboard in this debate are still in it for the long ride, not the big air.
Skateboarding vs longboarding is a long-standing debate and not one that can be solved in one blog post, or one hundred. In the end, it all just comes down to preference and what you are looking to get out of your experience. Your experience with a board is way more important than anything anyone else has to say about the two.
So if you choose a longboard because speed is really what gets your heart pumping, or you just want to get to class on time without having to catch two buses, then that is the better for of boarding for you. And if you choose to skateboard because getting air, doing flips and board grabs are more your speed, and you like having smooth concrete in skate parks to ride on, more power to you.
So in the end, neither is better than the other, regardless of popularity or origins. Each individual has what they want and don’t out of boarding and which every style you choose, that’s the better one.