Pushing, Carving, Surf Skating, Pumping, and Hybrid Lingo
Don Sandusky – Hamboards®
November 27, 2023
There are many categories of skating, and in my role as a customer service rep, I’m asked some of the same questions over and over. This document is intended as a resource for Hamboards customers and reflects my understanding and my opinions regarding the category jargon I tend to use while answering questions. This is a blog post, written by me and hosted on our own website. I will correct any mistakes or errors to which I’m made aware, then revise accordingly.
Bottom Line UP FRONT
- Hamboards has been inventing/developing bitchin’ deep lean longboard skateboards since 1997 but I've only personally been involved since 2011. Since then we have been awarded two US Patents with a third pending.
- Hamboards never did and still doesn’t make swivel truck style SURF SKATES as defined below. We stopped using the term surfskate to describe our boards several years ago. In the early days, we called 'em LAND SURFERS but that didn't really stick. Now we just call them Hamboards.
- Most Hamboards® are CARVING longboards with the HST 2.0 40° front and rear trucks.
- Our newest Hamboards® the Burst, Pasko, HST® longboards and SUPSKATE® boards are HYBRID (carve and pump), with HST 2.0 40° front trucks and either 20° or 0° rear trucks. I just chose HYBRID because it seems like a good enough place holder ‘till someone smarter than me has a better marketing idea.
Pushing has long been the preferred skateboard propulsion mode, especially because it involves the largest human muscles (legs) with the best leverage. Pushing describes a skateboard rider who stands on the board with one foot and pushes off against the ground with the other. It sounds simple but it’s an awkward thing to do for the first time. The rider must simultaneously coordinate balance in four dimensions (x, y, z & time), usually with one dominant pushing leg and one dominant riding leg. Skating terms like “goofy”, “regular” and “mongo” form the basic lexicon to describe pushing. Lesser known and more recent, “skogging” (alternating left and right foot pushing) puts goofy, regular and mongo together and has become a necessary skill mastered by advanced distance skaters. Foot pushing continues to evolve. As riders age or get injured, sometimes pushing becomes prohibitive, so I try to convince them to try skate poling.
Carving often describes a rider propelling themselves by making deep lean, heel-to-toe turns, without continuous foot pushing. During these powerful turns, riders load and unload energy, sustaining their forward vector in a way that feeds subsequent turns freely. When carving, the riders center of gravity is almost always perpendicular to the skateboard deck while forward speed is maintained through powerful and harmonious turns. Board flex, board lean, pivot axes and front/rear steering are critical design factors for carving skateboards. This is usually best practiced on longer skateboard decks, over ~ 28 inches.
Exceptional carvers are easy to recognize by the way they crouch down and shift weight to their front foot for heel side turns, then stand up and shift weight to the back foot for toe side turns. By shifting their weight, they’re creating "carving flow" while loading and unloading energy in their legs during each s-turn. They accelerate on toe-side turns by leaning-in and pushing the rear toes down forcefully and accelerate on heel-side turns by leaning-in and pushing the front heel down forcefully. Further, the advanced carving riders head stays relatively steady while their bodies compress and release as the board carves from side to side. What you won’t see is excessive ankle flexing, nor two arms windmilling around. Often, the front arm hangs straight down with the hand invisibly bungeed toward the front foot. Seen from the front, the carving skaters’ body has a graceful rhythm, like an undulating clock pendulum. You can hear the wheels gripping through the turns and you’ll recognize “flow” the instant you feel it. There is no geometrical pumping advantage to a longboard with identical trucks on the front and back, but it's not necessary if you generate the carving flow. It does help to loosen the kingpins as much as you can handle.
Surf Skating often describes a rider propelling themselves by making aggressive twisting turns, without the need to foot push. During these aggressive turns, riders alternatively push the nose to the side, quickly returning to the other direction. At each switch of these serpentine turns, the rider feels acceleration attributed to their balance/technique and the geometry of the trucks. Many Surfskates feature swiveling front trucks and minimal turning rear trucks. Most all the steering comes from the front as the rear barely steers (if at all). Because the rider can cause the front of a surfskate board to travel a longer distance than the rear, they earn an accelerating force vector at each turn. Board concave, grip, and front-only steering are critical design factors for surf skating. This is mostly practiced on mid-sized decks, under ~ 30 inches. Board lean is less important for surf skating compared to carving and some surf skates have limited lean. You’ll recognize good surf skating by acceleration through each turn combined with aggressive tight turns, as exemplified skilled riders who can ride infinity loops all day without ever foot pushing. You will see ankles flexing to keep the rider on the deck, and arms windmilling to add centripetal forces. (ref. figure skaters). When you see a true surfskate master ripping a skate park wall or pump track, they’ll be snapping crazy turns off the lip and you’ll understand the appeal of this style of skating. It’s incredible.
Pumping often describes a way to propel a distance longboard rider without the need to foot push. Unlike surf skates, pumping boards do not use swivel front trucks. Pumping is enabled by the skateboard’s geometry; for example, a front 60° to 45° pivot angle (lots of steering from the front) and a rear 20° to 0° pivot angle (little to no steering from the rear). Sometimes the distance pumpers refer to a “dead rear truck” with no steering and the two rear wheels situated on a very narrow hanger. The decks for this mode of riding usually feature concave, narrow drop decks, with grip tape, sit low to the ground and many are fiber reinforced for the ideal flex. Most of these boards are mid-length, just enough to fit two adult feet, one in front of the other. To pump, the rider moves forward, turns their feet/hips/shoulders perpendicular to the direction of the board and adds energy by efficiently “hoola-hooping” the hips (longboard pumping) in a way that causes a high-frequency and low-amplitude serpentine motion. Like surf skating, these boards have a geometrical advantage that causes the front of the board to travel slightly farther than the rear, resulting in a forward force vector. Extra board lean is not highly desirable for long distance pumping. You’ll recognize a good pumper riding with their feet close together, perpendicular to their rolling direction, and their hips move back and forth to quick powerful rhythm. When you’re pumping, you’ll feel acceleration, through the entirety of the motion. Some athletes can pump for greater distances and faster than most people can foot push. All the current world endurance distance skateboarding records have been set by riders who have this talent and use specialized boards with a geometrical pump advantage.
Hybrid (Carving & Pumping) just kind-of happened to us while responding to customer needs. We simply wanted to add pumping to our superior carving boards and the obvious way to do that was to create board that turned more from the front than the rear, while keeping all the board lean necessary for carving.
We did not want to use swivel front trucks because we feel that they’re far too dangerous at higher speeds or down hills. This created the need for the new HST 55°, 20° 0° baseplates and the new 180mm and 160mm hangers. The Hybrid set-up keeps all the carving that Hamboards® rider expects from the brand and adds pumping. Hamboards has been innovating for ten straight years, pursuing gear that we love to ride. It’s virtually impossible to stop, so long as our customers keep asking us curious questions and we can find solutions.