A goofs guide to not looking like a goof
I rollerblade. I even told my parents about it. All jokes aside rollerblading gave me the good inner-ear balance I enjoy today, but rollerblading is also an inherently goofy thing to do. If you can't blade well, you just look like a goof no matter what you are trying to do, even standing still. And even though being a goof is cool now, back in the 90s when I grew up, being a goof was really not cool at all. So great time was spent into stance, stride, and stability in order to make it look stylish. It could mean adopting a swagger to make you look more like a hockey player, to simply practicing standing at the traffic lights without moving... I always got compliments from younger aggressive skaters on how well I skated, even though I couldn't do half the tricks they could.
Long story short, I couldn't help but bring this concept to the onewheel.
There's nothing worse than getting everyones attention with a hoverboard, then tumbling off the front in an awkward way it at the traffic lights... Or, going for a take off and the sensor won't kick on, and tumbling over the front... So after a month with the OW now here's my tips to look better while riding, perhaps even ride better in general. Some of these tips might be familiar already and if you already do a lot of board sport is probably completely natural. You might even have a better way to explain what I'm saying here (please do!) but I want you all to look good riding, so here we go anyway...
Stopping and starting is the number one thing to practice as, oddly perhaps, standing still or changing directions requires the most balance and skill, and that opens you up to the most embarrassment. Practice mounting, accelerating, stopping and dismounting (repetition, repetition, repetition). Find the most comfortable and natural way to disengage the foot pad. Some people like lifting the heel, for me, I prefer swivelling my toe up and to the front. This lets me keep most of my weight on my heel and I think this looks the most natural.
To avoid tumbling over the front when mounting the board, it's all about the sensor activating. I have found that different shoes engage differently with the sensor. My runners almost instantly activate the board, while my boots take a few seconds. Sometimes I've also noticed that carrying the board or leaning it up against a traffic light for a period of time will confuse the board and it will take longer to activate the sensor. A few seconds of the board not being on is no big deal, but if you're expecting the board to be on, it's enough to roll backwards down a hill, topple over or have the board "catch" you as it turns on. Any of these things will not look cool at all. At night, you can see when the lights brighten, it's generally on, but during the day, you have to trust the "feel" from previous experience with different shoes. If I have eyes on me, I generally give the sensor an extra second to recognise me and slowly bring my balance up and over. If it still doesn't activate, I will simply roll smoothly onto the front pad and can pick up the board and dash across the street before the lights change, or turn the board off and on again (although this I don't do really anymore). You might wear vans 100% of the time and have no idea what I'm talking about :)
Set up you phone and film yourself doing it. This might seem silly, but you don't know what you look like from the outside. Performers will always do this, dancers train in front of a mirror. I wouldn't suggest practicing in front of a mirror with the onewheel simply because you've got enough to worry about and you need to be looking elsewhere, at least early on.
Speed is definitely cool. Honestly, the biggest "a-ha" moment with my onewheel came for me when I realised that I didn't have to shift my whole body weight to accelerate, you only have to tilt the board with your feet (the "pitch"). Practice tilting the board with only the lower half of your body, you will be able to accelerate and stop much faster this way and your body will naturally lean into the motion to follow. This itself gives you style points, because you will tend to slightly crouch down when taking off, rather than leaning like a segway (the segqay perhaps representing the epitome of goof).
Once you're up to speed, you have to keep your board level, straight and true. Because you only have one wheel, your lateral movement (the "yaw") can only come from your core. So when you think "straight" you should be focused on controlling your lower body with your stomach muscles. This concept was probably the next big "a-ha" moment for me, and with this in mind I can ride perfectly straight at speed.
Instability with the tilt of the board (the "roll") which is normally used for steering, is probably the first thing you see when someone jumps on for the first time. There's no easy way around this apart from practice on the board, as this comes from ankle strength. It took me about a week of riding every day to get the ankle strength in the right spots to ride smoothly. Don't worry about this one too much, it will come.
To get good at swerving, turning and carving, practice all of these riding both directions and at various speeds. You probably have a safe place you can practice where you feel comfortable, but learning to ride both "forwards" and "backwards" will help you ride "forwards" twice as good. Sometimes if the streets are particularly empty, I know it's time to force myself to practice riding backwards. Set challenges, if you are riding round-trip, take the forward or return journey in riding fakie. If you've ever ridden a snowboard, you know already how important this is, and if you haven't, you will be surprised how quickly this will become second nature.
As mentioned before, don't be afraid to film yourself. You might delete the video afterwards, you might make a Rocky montage of your progress, but what I guarantee you will do is learn about how you stand and move, and how you can make it look better.
Picking up the board can also be completely goofy (that thing is heavy!). You always want to pick it up from the nose, by the handle. If the nose is down, correct it with a stomp. Preferably like a boss.
I'm not talking about the dismount, I'm talking about the pothole, curb or dip you didn't see.
There's no easy way to learn how to bail right because the board will throw you off in a slightly different way each time. What you can do, however, is to learn to run things out. Practice on grass or on the beach, build up speed till you feel the first push back (don't look down!) when you feel it, don't hesitate, jump off and run it out and, most importantly, learn not to panic when it happens.
Regarding unexpected curbs, if you've followed the steps up until now you should be quite confident and proficient. So if you haven't already tried riding off a curb I'd be surprised. If not, there is really nothing to fear! Ride with a decent speed so that you can at least clear the curb, bend your knees slightly to absorb the impact and then simply focus on keeping the board flat and level. You will, as expected, drop off the curb and 9 times out of 10 you will land without a problem. Practice this 10 times and you will not fear curbs anymore.
The last thing I will say about falling is, DON'T PANIC. If you panic in any board or skating sport, your body will tense up and you will definitely fall. I came upon a curb unexpectedly in the dark, but by remaining calm (remembering "I can do this"), I prepared and dropped the curb without a problem.
That's all for now. If this helped let me know, if it didnt help, let me know too! If you have anything you want to add, DEFINATELY let me know and if you remember the 90s and want to hate on me for rollerblading... well, I guess I can't stop you doing that either :dancer:
Joke of the day--
What's the hardest part about rollerblading? Telling your parents youre gay!!...
Sorry I had to say that after your first line lmaooo.. Just a joke, no harm meant..
@njcustom wow it went right over your head just like that
Havent gotten my board yet. But if its anything like snowboarding, remember to bend your knees. If you go with stretched legs, you got nothing as a buffer.
@lardnicus - This is good stuff. Thanks for posting. Waiting for my OW, and will review once I get it.
@utsu did someone take offense to the gay joke ?
@lardnicus Nice post, I was thinking to myself "every time I fall, no matter how bad it is, it's always my ego that hurts the most lol" In fact I just took a pretty big one last night and am limping at the moment. It was similar situation to number 5. I fought the pushback and went too far, the nose dipped. I managed to run a few steps, but ended up on the ground in the end...
I think there an inherent design flaw with the OW, it tricks riders into feeling invincible. Every time I fall it's usually due to that split second of feeling top of the world and invincible. Next thing I know I'm on the ground, feeling the pain and ego shattered lol. Fortunately, I managed to ride home despite one limping leg, carrying the OW would have been impossible. I have to say there's no way to look cool in that state!
But I agree with your post, style is important too. It certainly makes riding more fun! When my knee heals, I'll take your advice and practice riding fakie as I certainly could do with lots more practice!
Thank you so much for all your information. I didn't see the one wheel probably six months ago the first time Just ordered mine 3 days ago.
I loved to read your info about how to approach the ow I did rollerblade when I was 30 but now I'm 59 and can't wait till my board arrives.
Your article was so well written ,and gave me a lot of info now to start as bloody beginner.
Anything you want to add?
Me too is a former rollerblade skater and thats all about feelings, I had my onewheel for a mounth and I tend to move my feet pretty much when riding as when surface, state of mind and body condition varies for most relaxing controlled ways to ride, maby everybody does that