If you can ride in multiple stances, whether regular, goofy, or the often shunned mongo stance, then you probably know the comfort of being able to switch sides when one of your legs starts to get tired.
If you can’t, however, you might just have to stick it out until you reach your destination.
But, did you know there’s actually a technique you can use that will help you conserve your leg’s energy, while also providing a bit of flair and excitement to your skating activities?
This technique is known as pumping.
What is longboard pumping?
One of the main elements of slalom longboarding, pumping is an alternative form of gathering momentum while riding a longboard. Instead of kick pushing with just your legs and feet, you employ your entire body, shifting your weight left and right to generate speed.
It’s similar to carving, which is when you shift your weight toeside or heelside making an “S” pattern. However, carving is less aggressive and tends to slow the rider down.
With pumping, it’s all about building up speed.
How to pump on a longboard
First thing: Rhythm is a super important aspect of successful pumping. Figuring out the proper body motions should be the primary objective of your learning experience.
You should know, pumping is not only a great alternative to kick pushing, but it’s a lot of fun. To do it, focus on your shoulders as you prepare to shift your weight downwards throughout your entire body. Like a top-to-bottom motion.
You’re aiming to generate a strong downward yet forward force on your toeside, followed by another strong force on your heelside. Back and forth, keeping the rhythm of your shoulders → to hips → to feet, motions in mind.
Think of it as a swinging motion that uses your entire body to propel yourself forward. With the lead foot guiding the trucks and direction of the carve, throw yourself into each turn as you sort of scoop both yourself and your board forward.
Saying “Aye, Ohh” or “One, Two” while initiating your carves may be a helpful way to practice the motion.
It covers information vital to mastering pumping. The main points are:
If that’s not enough, check out this video here.
- Lead with your front foot. It steers the board and guides the pumping motion
- Really dig into the front of your board. That’s how you generate the speed
- Apply pressure to your toes and heels
- The rhythm of your movements dictate how fast and smooth you ride
- Practice. It may not happen overnight, but once mastered, it’s a great way to ride a longboard
How to set up a longboard for pumping
When it comes to pumping on a longboard, the main things you’ll want to consider are this: the flex of the deck and its concave, the wheelbase, and the mount type.
The wheels themselves and the trucks you use do play a role in your pumping ability, however, they aren’t as significant as the other elements.
Still, we’ll break down each part so you can get a better understanding of the best setup for a pumping longboard.
What does the gym and longboarding have in common? That’s right: Flexing and pumping.
When it comes to maximizing your board’s ability to dish out great pumps, you want to make sure that it’s deck has a decent amount of flex to it.
Flexible decks, like ones made out of bamboo, let you dig into your carves more and provide more rebound. This rebound is perfect for pumping because it bounces you back up, preparing you for your next drive of downward force, i.e., your next pump.
Also read: Longboard Deck Types
Boards with a slight concave are best for pumping. The slight foot pockets hug your feet, providing more stability as you dig into your carves and pump yourself forward.
For pumping, a board with a narrower wheelbase is more ideal than a wider one.
Think about it. Wider wheelbases help with stability. The wheels are wider apart, meaning they distribute the weight better. However, they cause wider turns.
With pumping, we’re often looking for sharp, aggressive turns so that we can easily propel ourselves forward and pick up speed.
That’s why narrower wheelbases work better: They help with sharper turns.
Boards that are top-mounted are better suited for pumping, compared to drop-through or drop deck boards.
Top-mounted boards are higher up, providing more turn capability and making shaper, more aggressive turns easier.
However, drop-through and drop deck boards can still be great for pumping. Because they are lower to the ground, riders would have to rely on the other attributes of their design to improve their pumping experience.
Attributes like the ones we’ve mentioned so far: flex, concave, wheelbase, etc.,
For wheels, think softer, grippier, and larger.
You want wheels that are soft because these offer more grip, making carving and turning a simpler, more stable task. Additionally, wheels that have square lips offer increased grip. This is because the square shape of the lips helps dig into carves without breaking traction.
In terms of size, you’re looking for larger wheels. Reason being is that larger wheels cover more ground per revolution; meaning, they maintain higher speeds per pump. So larger wheels will help you keep your momentum once you’ve built it up.
One thing you’ll want to pay attention to, however, is to make sure that your wheels aren’t so big that they cause wheel bite.
Wheel bite refers to when your board comes into contact with your wheels during a turn. What happens, as you could imagine, is typically an abrasive halt or full-on stop of forward momentum that usually sends the rider flying off of their board.
So, taller wheels of around 75-78mm are an optimal size for pumping; Just be sure that your board has cutouts, riser pads, or is simply properly built, so you avoid wheel bite as you learn pumping.
As pumping is often related to traveling long distances on your board, wheels that are best suited for long-distance travel will serve you well.
Three wheels great for long distances are Orangatang Wheels, Sidewinders, and Kegels.
Most of the time, trucks won’t make or break your pumping longboard setup. However, they can still influence it so it’s helpful to know how.
You DO certainly want your front truck loose. You’ll need it that way so you can pump with ease. Your back truck can be more stable to help with managing your balance.
Traditional kingpin trucks are better for pumping because they sit higher up. This increase in height allows the rider to drive the board deeper into turns and carves.
Reverse kingpin trucks, however, sit lower and are more stable compared to the traditional ones. Reverse kingpin trucks are a good pick if you plan to use your board for skating styles other than pumping.
Bushings, or the small and often colorful, rubber-like cylinders that sit in the center of your trucks, also play a role in pumping.
The shape and durometer of the bushings are what dictate their effect.
Soft bushings are better for acceleration but provide lower top speeds.
Hard bushings, on the other hand, require more initial force to gain momentum; however, they let you reach higher speeds once that momentum has been reached.
Cone-shaped bushings are often used for carving and cruising purposes because they’re smaller and provide less resistance while turning. This less resistance allows riders to dig into turns all the easier.
Then there’s barrel-shaped bushings, which are larger and more suitable for higher speeds.
And, there are cone-and-barrel-shaped bushings you can attach to your trucks which offer a blend of speed and resistance.
Just keep in mind the benefits and drawbacks of both types as you’re configuring the other components of your board. In the end, there will always be some pluses and some minuses.
You’re primarily looking for a loose feel though. So aiming for a loose, flexible board, that can generate speed and maintain its traction, is the general ballpark of where you want to be in terms of a quality pumping longboard.
Also read: Best Downhill Trucks
Good Example Boards
If you’re looking for boards that are already pre-built and ready for great pumping, check out these two boards.
Loaded Boards Icarus Bamboo Longboard is an amazing longboard for pumping for several reasons.
First, it’s composed of both bamboo and fiberglass, a combination that ensures both flexibility and stability simultaneously.
Furthermore, the board is highly responsive and shock absorbent; features that are ideal for a pumping longboard’s overall performance.
It is a drop-through board which means it’s lower to the ground. Still, the other attributes of it make it especially good at pumping.
It has both cutouts and wheel flares which allow larger wheels to be used on it. However, you may want to keep the Orangatang 80mm Kegels for higher speed outputs or the Orangatang 75mm Durians for more grip and slide control.
And finally, it features Paris 180mm, 50° matte black longboard trucks that are great for turning and carving.
Overall, the Loaded Boards Icarus Bamboo Longboard is a pumping and carving machine and an excellent pre-built longboard for those looking to get into longboard pumping.
It’s a large board, coming in at 44”. Its large size makes it a bit difficult to practice pumping for beginners, as generating speed on a larger board is more difficult.
However, once you learn how to pump, and once you pick up speed on this board, it soars like no other.
Its top-mount design is great for pumping because it lets you dig into carves more.
It features ABEC-7 speed bearings and 7-inch aluminum trucks. This board is sturdy.
You may want to loosen the front truck on this design just a bit to ensure it’s properly tuned for deep carves and fast pumping.
After that, it’s sure to provide you with an exceptional long-distance riding experience.
Our 44" Longboard is the perfect size constructed in a Multi-ply Hardwood Maple and beautiful artisan bamboo deck shaped to perform and the extra detail rarely found at this price.
- Genuine ABEC 7 speed bearings
- 7 Ply Super Flex Bamboo and Hardwood Maple Deck
- 7-inch aluminum trucks
Finally, we have the Magneto Bamboo Longboard. Coming in at 38 inches long with considerable concave to its deck, this maple-made board is another solid pumping longboard.
Although it’s made of maple, a less flexible wood, it features a pintail and responsive wheels.
These features help with keeping you steady and maintaining your speed. Also, given its medium size and extra stability from its reverse kingpin trucks, this board will be the perfect board to practice your pumping on.
So, if you’re looking for a pumping longboard that’s more beginner-friendly, check out the Magneto Bamboo Longboard.
Additionally, surkskates are excellent boards for pumping. To check out a list of some of the best available, check out our article here.
Surfskates are skateboards designed with special trucks, a rotating arm, that simulates the feel and maneuverability of surfing on land.
This rotating arm has an additional axis of rotation, allowing the board to sit on an additional plane compared to traditional trucks.
There is a considerable difference in the feel when shifting your weight on a surfskate compared to a traditional skateboard or longboard. The nose of the board has significant lean and maneuverability, while the rear truck is more secure and acts as the pivot point for the board’s rotations.
We covered some amazing surfskate brands in this article.
How to Practice
Practicing pumping on a longboard is important in improving your skills and performance. It may take some time, but with discipline and a strong desire to have a lot of fun, you too can learn this amazing skill.
Here are some things you should keep in mind as you learn:
- First, employ the tic-tac technique on a skateboard with a kicktail. Learning to tic-tac will help you get acquainted with the weight shifting necessary to balance and generate speed while pumping. It will also get your shoulders and arms used to the motions.
- To perform a tic-tac, apply weight to the back of your board with your back foot.
- Lift the front of your board and place it left and right.
- Use a beginner-friendly pumping longboard if you have one. This is useful for after you’re already used to tic-tacs or weight shifts. A short board made of flexible bamboo with large, grippy wheels will be a great fit. Shorter boards are easier to learn pumping on. They require less force to generate speed but at the cost of lower top speeds.
- Practice on a grippy, flat surface. Drive your shoulders and hips hard into your board and try to propel yourself forward like you did when you were tic-tacking. Just this time, don’t lift the front of your board off the ground. Instead, think of it as more of lifting yourself just a bit. Swaying and dipping, so that the rhythm of your body gyrates in a fashion that moves you forward
- Consider changing up the rhythm of your movements if you aren’t making progress. You may be countering the momentum of your rightward motion with incorrect timing of your leftward motion. You’ll have to play with it a bit to get it down.
In conclusion, pumping is a great way to generate a lot of speed while riding a longboard. It’s a fantastic technique for long-distance riders and it adds an element of fun and suave to your skating experience.
The best longboard builds for it use flexible decks, tall and grippy wheels, loose trucks, and narrow wheelbases.
If you’re looking to spice up your longboarding activities or if you want to show off a new skill to your friends, you should give pumping a try.
With the right board and a bit of practice, you can learn the skill and be ready for a new world of adventure.
I’ve been riding longboards for a little over 13 years now, mainly bombing hills and cruising through beach towns. I’m also a journalist and content writer with a special interest in learning and relaying what ignites people’s inner fires.