Pumping on a longboard is a subculture in and of itself. Pumpers are a dedicated group who are continually sharing their experiences and information. So, how to pump on a longboard?
Most newcomers to longboarding begin by pushing to get their board moving, and they typically stick to this method of propulsion throughout their longboarding careers, such as when cruising. Most longboarders rely on downhill gravity for speed in addition to pushing.
A never-ending endeavor to better your pumping setup
In this article, we'll go over longboard pumping in detail, including what it is and what makes it unique, the techniques required and how to learn them, and how to choose or build the ideal setup for pumping.
Why would you want to pump on a longboard?
"Propelling oneself with turns is a really subtle technique, dependent on very accurate, balanced, and rhythmical weight movements," says Daniel Gesmer, a well-known longboard pumper.
Pushing, on the other hand, is a skill that develops over time with practice. Pushing can be an efficient strategy to generate speed on your longboard once you learn to balance on your steering leg and keep your center of gravity stable while kicking with the other leg.
So, what's the big deal about learning to pump?
- Continually efficient riding
- Workout for the whole body
- Pumping across a long distance
Pumping method on a longboard
Now that we've established what longboard pumping is and why it's a valuable ability to master, let's look at the method itself.
Pumping is difficult to explain. Many experts have attempted to put it into words, but unless you try it out on your longboard, descriptions remain vague. That is to say, any written explanations will be relevant only after you have tried the procedure yourself.
Of course, watching videos can be really beneficial. However, in many cases, videos alone will not be sufficient to completely comprehend the action. To catch that highly special energy-generating motion, you'll also need certain crucial recommendations.
Paved Wave is a fantastic resource for long-distance longboarding and pumping. The site offers a collection of pumping explanations and suggestions from some of the top longboard pumpers. In this section, I'll summarize what I consider to be the most important recommendations, as well as share my own personal experience.
What is the best way to learn how to pump a longboard?
It's no secret that learning to pump on a longboard necessitates a lot of practice. After 15 or 20 kilometers of riding, many longboarders begin to physically develop a feel for the proper mechanics.
It could take weeks of practice and establishing the correct muscles, depending on your talents and riding frequency, before you truly get your longboard to pump, especially if you're using a normal beginner board, which is a drop deck board on the longer side with both trucks equally turny. See the section on pumping setups lower down for further information.
Although pumping can be challenging during the learning period as you try to perfect the action, after you've mastered it, you should be able to pump for miles with ease if you're moderately fit — for example, you can walk 5 miles without difficulty.
Another well-known pumper, John Gilmour, has outlined a sequence of steps that may assist you accelerate your learning curve:
If you have a standard skateboard, learn to tic-tac on it by lifting your front wheels slightly with the kicktail and rotating your board's nose left and right with your front foot to build velocity. Tic-tacking will familiarize you with the back arm motion and body twisting required to accelerate.
Once you've mastered tic-tacking, you'll want to get your hands on a short longboard with very loose and turny trucks (such as Seismic trucks) and soft bushings — ordinary trucks with hard bushings will prevent you from mastering the skill.
Begin by pumping on a surface that has a lot of grip (no slippery spots). Turn the board by pressing hard on your rail with your front foot to make your trucks turn while pushing back laterally with your back foot to create some initial momentum. Continue practicing left and right turns, similar to tic-tac-toeing but without elevating your front wheels.
You probably don't have the appropriate timing down yet if your longboard doesn't gain any speed while you carve these corners. If that's the case, try rolling your board on a slight incline that's not too steep for it to roll on its own. Try pumping carves on it again: if you can get your board moving, you're learning to pump.
When you can maintain going on a very gentle incline only by pumping, it's time to return to level ground and work on your carves until you can get that longboard moving without stopping. After a while, you can attempt pumping slightly uphill – though this may be a stretch on a typical longboard - read the setup section for more information.
If you can't keep going on your longboard by completing these carves, practice carving on one side by pumping around in a huge circle in the same direction. Because you'll be turning a lot, make sure you do it on a surface with plenty of traction. When pumping in circles, it's naturally easier to circle the front side, which you may do by completing toeside carves. If you're a regular footer, you'll ride in a clockwise circle, whereas if you're goofy, you'll ride in a counterclockwise circle. The forceful pushing onto your front rail, along with the centripetal turning force, accelerates your board with each carve.
Finding a longboard with a big, flexy deck is one last thing you can do to assist you learn pumping. Although the bouncing will aid your pumping, you will lose more energy and speed as a result of the vertical bouncing motion.
If you've never tried longboard pumping before, you're in for a treat. Pumping has been a revelation for me, and ever since I discovered it, it has been my major emphasis in longboarding.
Getting into longboard pumping, of course, does not exclude you from riding in other styles. Many long-distance skaters, for example, mix pushing and pumping to get the longest and most efficient rides; specialty brands like Gbomb provide longboards that are designed for both methods.
On a pintail cruiser or a kicktailed street hybrid, you may combine pumping and carving with cruising or freestyling with the appropriate setup. Alternatively, you could ride a surfskate down the boardwalk and adjust the bushings to make it more of a long-distance rider.
Overall, the turny trucks, deck flex, and soft wheels are the key to pumping. Of course, the proper body movements and rhythm are essential.