There are quite a few styles of riding in skateboarding and sometimes it can be hard to tell which is which. Or maybe you want to try and decide which style is for you.
Either way, I’ll go over skating street style, transition, and freestyle with examples. They’re pretty distinct so check each one out. You might discover that you want to be a freestyle skater.
Let’s get started.
What Are the Skateboarding Riding Styles?
There are a few prominent skating styles that most skaters fall into. The most common skating styles are park and street, but the total list of skating styles are as follows:
- Hill Bombing (Downhill Skateboarding)
The vast majority of skaters will experiment within a few styles on this list, but focus on one style. The two most common are street and park skating. Street skating is what people usually think of when they think of skateboarding. At an advanced level, this means doing flip tricks down stairs and grinding handrails.
Freestyle, vert, and hill bombing are not very common among skaters. Freestyle skating was very popular at the advent of skateboarding in the 60s and 70s, but is much less popular now. Hill bombing isn’t so popular simply because it is so dangerous. People often die from hill bombing.
Cruising on a skateboard is one of life’s simple pleasures.
Cruising refers to simply riding around on your skateboard through city streets or parks. Skaters typically don’t do any tricks while cruising other than maybe doing an ollie up a curb or sharply turning their board. Most adults who pick up a skateboard simply want to cruise and not do tricks. Cruising is a great way to relax with your skateboard.
Typically, you want to have softer and larger wheels if you want to cruise so you don’t get caught on small debris. You can see a visual guide on putting longboard wheels on your skateboard here.
When most people think of skateboarding, they think of street skating. This is the modern form of skating that evolved in the late 80s and 90s into what skating is today.
Street skateboarding refers to skateboarding obstacles commonly found in urban settings such as curbs, stairs, handrails, and ledges. Street skateboarding tricks include flat ground tricks such as flip tricks, hand plants, grinds, and slides. Street skateboarding as we know it was popularized in the 90s.
Most skaters learn some tricks that are normally associated with street skating. Even if they only skate at designed skateparks, they use elements that are designed to resemble elements that can be found in the streets.
If you are torn between deciding to get a skateboard or a longboard, check out my specific guide that compares the different riding styles of each board.
Famous Street Skaters
There are too many talented and famous street skaters to count and let alone list here. If you want to see a curated list of who I believe the best street skaters are of all time. Otherwise enjoy just a couple of examples below:
Nyjah’s talent is so undeniable that it has become controversial. Many skaters give him flak for everything from the clothes he wears to the fact that he evens skates competitions. It can’t be understated how skilled he is though. Watching him skate is unbelievable and he is up there with the all-time greats such as P-Rod, PJ Ladd, and dare I say, Rodney Mullen.
That Til’ Death video part by Nyjah above is legendary by the way. Literally is comprised of what would be the best tricks in other skaters’ video parts.
Jamie Foy is a beast of a street skater and in particular, is a wizard on handrails. He embodies what raw street skating is. He’s gritty, skates big gaps and stairs, and isn’t afraid to take a slam.
He was Skater of the Year in 2017 and still tours and skates with Redbull. He is a joy to watch even though you have to wonder how much of a toll that style of skating is taking on his body.
Vert skateboarding is exactly what you imagine when you think of Tony Hawk. Large pieces of plywood on a big old halfpipe.
Vert skating refers to skateboarding on halfpipes and mega ramps typically. This style of skating focuses on lip tricks, airs, and spin tricks. The most famous vert skateboarder is Tony Hawk. This style of skateboarding is fading from popularity and really only has a big presence at the X-games.
Vert is short for “vertical” here and it means that the skater is mostly skating up and down the halfpipe. There is no other aspect. The most famous vert skating moments have included Tony Hawk’s 900 spin at the 1999 X-games. Since then, the 900 has been repeated by quite a few skaters at the X-games.
Famous Vert Skaters
There are fewer pure vert skaters than street skaters, but still too many to list here. Enjoy a couple of prominent examples.
Tony Hawk is synonymous with skateboarding. He was there during the initial revival of skateboarding in the 70s and skated with the famous Bones Brigade. He stayed in skateboarding through the 80s when it looked like skateboarding would die off. He has also had a large role in making the sport as popular and mainstream as it is today.
He did this through supporting and funding skate competitions, releasing video games, and generally just advocating for the sport. Oh and he skates pretty well too. Check out some videos or interviews of his.
Maybe even grab some gear from his company Birdhouse.
Bucky Lasek is older and skate with Powell-Peralta now, but is still considered the most decorated X-games skater out there. Whereas Tony Hawk dominates with his airs and spin tricks, Bucky incorporates all sorts of amazing flips and grind variations that are a joy to watch.
He is still putting out some gnarly video parts if you want to find him on Youtube.
Freestyle skating is cool as hell and I wish it was more popular.
Freestyle skateboarding usually refers to pure flat ground tricks where the skater shows off his or her balance and creativity by flipping and riding the board in unconventional ways. Space walks, hand stands, and balancing on the board’s tail are common forms of freestyle tricks. Rodney Mullen is the most famous freestyle skateboarder and he innovated the style of skating with his creativity and skill.
Unfortunately, most skaters never learn freestyle skating and you hardly ever see it at skateparks. There are still freestyle competitions happening around the world and some active pros compete in them. The most famous active freestyle skater right now might be Andy Anderson who is a joy to watch.
Famous Freestyle Skaters
Rodney Mullen is the GOAT of skateboarding and is largely considered the most influential skateboarder ever.
He revolutionized freestyle skating, had unparalleled board control and talent, and is the grandfather of modern street skating. He has invented countless iconic tricks including the kickflip and dark slide. He also rode with Tony Hawk with the infamous Bones Brigade. The dude is an absolute legend.
He partially owns Almost Skateboards if you want to support him, but trust me, he’s already doing alright.
I could write about Andy Anderson all day.
He has been skating since he was four years old, he’s vegan, from Canada, and always wears a helmet. He also is an absolutely amazingly talented skateboarder. He skated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and actively participates in freestyle competitions. His video parts are amazing to watch as well.
If you’re a solo skater and are struggling to learn, check out my guide to learning to skate on your own with actionable steps.
Park skateboarding is the most popular style of skateboarding behind street skating. Most street skaters will learn simple park skating tricks like dropping in or a slash grind.
Park skateboarding, or transition, refers to skateboarding in an area designed with concrete bowls, quarter pipes, and occasionally some street elements like rails. This style of skateboarding is similar to vert skateboarding and focuses on airs, grabs, and lip grinds. Park skateboarding was featured in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Some people refer to this type of skating as transition because you switch between skating vertically and normal horizontal skating elements. Most skate parks are considered park-style skating, but also can have some street elements mixed in.
Famous Park Skaters
Sky Brown is now a large name park skater who is most famous for winning gold in the women’s park category of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She was just 13 years old at the time of the competition.
She is half-Japanese but represented the UK in the Olympics. Her board control and ability to do complex spin and aerial moves are amazing for a skater as young as she is. Definitely expect her to be a big name in the skating scene for many years to come.
Lizzie Armano is another great park skater that is currently sponsored by Birdhouse which is Tony Hawk’s company. She has great style and control that has led to numerous X-games medals in her career. She is also the first female skater to skate the Loop which is essentially just a loopty-loop like in a rollercoaster.
She also is just a joy to watch as her personality is very positive and infectious.
If you want to learn more about the best female skaters out there, check out my curated list of the best of the best.
Skateboarders have a reputation for risking their bodies and health while skating, but hill bombing takes it to a new level.
HIll bombing refers to riding a skateboard down a hill and usually means the skateboarder is simply riding in the middle of a street. Typically, the hill bomber reaches very high speeds and this can put them at extreme risk of injury. This risk comes from the difficulty of skating at high speed, collisions with cars, and intense road rash.
San Francisco is a famous city for hill bombing and even hosts an annual hill bombing event that has become controversial due to injuries and even a death that occurred at the event. Personally, I will not be hill bombing anytime soon, but if you’re an adrenaline junky then it might be for you.
So that’s it.
There are the major skateboarding styles with some examples for you to check out. What’s your favorite style?
Personally, I hope more skaters start learning freestyle, old-school Rodney Mullen tricks, but whatever interests you is the best way to skate.
Anyway, I hope that helped. Thanks for reading and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.