wikiHow to Skimboard

Skimboarding on sand, and more importantly on waves, is one of the most fun, fastest growing, yet still small sports. It can be a ton of fun!


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    Find a good location. You don't have to live on a beach, but it would be easier so you could get more practice. Find a good beach, preferably one with either very little slope (for sand skimming) or very powerful shore break and steep slope (for wave skimming).
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    Buy a board and surf wax. You should buy different types of boards for sand skimming and wave skimming. Smaller, flatter, wooden boards (which are cheaper) are designed more so for sand skimming (sideways along the shore, where it's flat), whereas the newer high-tech foam/carbon fiber boards are shaped for reaching waves. Some wooden boards arch in the middle, so that it only has about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of board touching the ground on each side of your skimboard. These are very good for sand skimming, at good places, you can go at least 60 feet (18.3 m). There are many types of wax (tropical for warm waters, cold for cold locations, etc.). If in a cold location, use tropical or warm water wax for base coat. Then cold water wax for top coat.
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    Find a good skim spot. This can be tough, but once you have a few places figured out, you'll always have somewhere to skim. San Diego, England, and Florida are some popular places.
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    Get in shape! You don't want to injure yourself doing this. Make sure you can run, ride on a board, take a few falls, and get a little sand on your face when you learn to skim. Keep your leg and back muscles stretched, warm, and strong.
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    Hold your board (preferably with one hand on the back tail and one hand on the side rail halfway up the board) out in front of you. If you're just going flat along the sand, wait until the last wave to come in is sucking back out. When there's a thin coating of water, between a couple millimeters and no more than a half inch, start running.
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    When you have some speed, drop your board flat out in front of you on this thin coating of water (almost like dropping it on the sand itself). The easiest way to do this is to get low to the ground and slide it out in front of you (to lead you just a little bit before you get on).
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    Get onto the board. Do not jump or hop onto the board. YOU WILL FALL and it will be boring. The only correct way to get on the board is to 'run' onto it, by placing your front foot a few inches past the middle first, then placing your back foot behind it. You may say, well I'll fall if I go one foot at a time. This is not the case. Properly done, you lose no speed as you get onto the board (Whereas if you jump onto it, the board is forced to break the surface tension of the water because of the sudden weight increase, taking away from the 'skim'). By gradually putting your weight onto the board, you will lose little or no speed. It's very smooth, and actually easier than jumping on once you're used to it.
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    Skim away. For sand skimming, it's just go, go, go...until you stop. You can stay straight, or you can try to do a shoot, or a big spin if you're lucky. Sand skimming is fun, but you can kick it up a notch by skimming waves.
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    Pick out a good wave. You'll need a wave that you can A) Reach, and B) Turn off of, or do an air off of. To help with speed as you go over deeper water, try side-slipping. This involves turning the board sideways as you go over flat sections of water (physics says it makes it lose speed at a slower rate). As you approach the wave, you'll need to start your turn by applying weight to your back inside/outside rail depending which way you're going. To lose less speed, try using the side rail more towards the middle of the board (instead of the back). This is much harder though, requires more practice and skill, and gives you less direct control of the wave. As you go up the face of the wave, you can turn off of it and come back down the other way towards shore. Eventually you may try aerials, grabs, and other tricks, too. Make sure to kick your tail out hard at the top of the wave as it starts to crest over to change directions and get a good spray going. This is all a very concise explanation of something very complicated and variable. Every beach, wave, sand texture, board, person, and condition is different. Experience is key in getting better.


  • Remember to skim with the wind, not into it.
  • Do not push off hard with your first foot when getting on the board. This will make the board go skew and fly away from you. When putting your second foot on do it as soon as your first foot is on.
  • Also remember board size is VERY important and they vary per board company. Follow the weight/size recommendations squarely targeted at your weight. Wave conditions and your overall athletic ability also play a part. As you get better though, you may want to go to a smaller board, but this is purely by personal preference and is not required. Thickness of the board is also important. Generally speaking, 58 inch (1.6 cm) thick is used for fairly good to powerful conditions and are very maneuverable while 34 inch (1.9 cm) thickness is for soft conditions and offer more speed and float. Note that these are all by personal preference.
  • You need a lot of determination. Please do not give up after an hour of trying. Your knees will probably bleed from falling. But hey no pain, no gain and if you're not falling you aren't trying.
  • One exception to #7 is if you're water dropping when going for a wave. In this case, you're dropping the board on deeper water, which also requires an almost immediate step onto the board. If you do not get on the board asap, as in the very next step you take, a few bad things will happen. Firstly, the board could get away from you. This could be due to wind or the way you dropped it. Second, the board will start losing speed. Thirdly, you will end up running after your board in continually deeper water, thereby thwarting your running efforts, and making it harder to jump onto a board on a higher plane than you're running on. Having said all this, there certainly are advantages to water drops. First, you're getting closer to the wave--you're dropping and getting on the board closer to the wave, conserving speed and energy. If the wave is 30 yards (27.4 m) away from where you start running, and you do a sand drop 20 yards (18.3 m) away, you must skim 15 yards (13.7 m) or so to get to the wave. If you do a water drop 15 yards (13.7 m) away, you will need to skim that much less, resulting in reaching the wave with more speed and quicker. Water drops are more difficult, of course, but have extreme value when executed properly. (This only really applies to wave skimming).
  • You can apply a liberal coating of wax or a traction pad to lower your chances of slipping off the board.
  • If you're not comfortable with riding it get marsh land or like a "slip and slide" and practice!
  • If you're first learning how to skim-board it's a lot easier if you have someone else throw the board and run with you, while you grab their arm (for security) and start skimming.*
  • If you're skimming waves, buy a nice board from Exile, Victoria, Slotstik, WaveZone, Zap, or Sol. These are the 6 main brands of top of the line boards made of the best fiberglass/carbon fiber. Stay away from cheap alternatives such as Meyer and other brands. These might be good for beginners though. Those companies either use cheap materials, don't perform as well, or don't make wave riding boards, and are a waste of money. Buy some traction pads to attach to the top of your board as well to keep your feet in place as you start skimming more powerful waves.
  • In general, a glossy finish on a board will be a little heavier than a textured finish. With a glossy finish though, you have that "show room" look and traction pads stick very easily. But it can be prone to scratches and can be a little stiffer than textured. Textured boards will be a little lighter and tougher, but they need sanding if you want to apply pads.
  • If you don't live near a beach you can also skim-board in shallow streams or rivers.
  • Balance yourself and relax.
  • If you have a textured board (usually Exile) then you will have to sand the approximate areas where you want your traction pads (they won't stick without sanding). Sand the selected areas with 90 grit or so for about 60 seconds and use rubbing alcohol to remove the dust. Then, carefully place your pads where to sanded and press firmly. Let the adhesive cure for a day or so and then you're good to go.
  • WAX: Take warm wax and melt it with cool wax in a microwave. Put it into a container in your desired shape or you can cut it later. This is VERY effective wax. Very sticky.
  • To perform a 360 or higher on a skimboard you must get a lot of speed. When you get onto the board, bend over and stick your hand into the sand just long enough for the board to start spinning. Don't keep your hand in, otherwise you'll just slow you down. Shift your weight from your toes to your heels to avoid falling as you're going backwards and forwards and such. If you do it right, you can do a 360! Or even more of a spin if your going even faster. If you seem to lose spin, but not any speed, stick your hand in again, or just bail.


  • Carpet can be used for practice.
  • Practice sand drops and basic sand-skimming over and over before you go near deeper water.
  • Don't skim over your head so to speak. Stay in your comfort zone. If the waves look too big or powerful for you, then don't go for them.
  • Without surf wax, you will fall off of your board repeatedly. Most skimboards are extremely slippery when wet, this is how they glide across water so well. Surf wax makes the board sticky so that you don't fall off. Cover the top surface with a fair amount of wax, and you can run comb through the wax to make it have more grip. You can also use traction pads instead of wax, though these are not recommended for beginners. A traction pad is a permanent rubber pad that you stick to the deck, which allows you to keep your footing without falling.

Things You'll Need

  • Skimboard
  • Determination
  • Wax
  • Wetsuit-in winter and/or colder climates getting wet will put you off when you get cold
  • Place to skim

Article Info

Categories: Surfing