Snowboarding Vs Skateboarding – Which Is Harder & Hurts More?

Today’s reader question:

Hey Jed! I remember you said you skateboarded in the past, how does snowboarding match up to skateboarding? I’ve been thinking of trying skateboarding for a summer sport. Is it easier or harder and do falls hurt more?

Yeah that’s correct, I used to skateboard a ton before I picked up snowboarding (and it probably helped me with a lot of body position in snowboard tricks).

I’m assuming you’re talking about street/ramp skateboarding with things like kickflips and ollies.

Overall both sports are very different, yet very similar in some aspects.

Here’s a quickie breakdown of some differences:

1) Skateboarding is harder to pick up

I’d say skateboarding is harder to pick up the basics because the balance and basic tricks take some extra time to get down.

With snowboarding you can spend a full day in a private lesson and figure out basic turning pretty quickly.

With skateboarding you need to really get used to the balance of a skateboard to get things going, not to mention you have to learn to ride basic transition like ramps and mini pipes pretty early on to be able to ride properly in a lot of skateparks.

That’s not to say both don’t take a ton of time, skill and effort to master, but I find skateboarding takes a little more time for most people to get the basics down, whereas with snowboarding you can be zooming down ski runs in a day.

It’s still a ton of fun to learn though, just be prepared for the skateboard balancing to be awkward at first.

2) Skateboarding is easier to practice

The thing about skateboarding vs. snowboarding is you can practice and do it waaay easier. A full setup can be easily picked up for bout $100-200 (at least that’s what I used to pay) whereas a full snowboard setup will cost you way more than $150, not to mention lift tickets and everything else.

With a skateboard it’s a lot easier to go riding. If you want to practice flatland tricks, you find a flat area and start riding. It doesn’t cost you any money to ride your skateboard and you can try that ollie or kickflip over and over and over in quick repetition.

Don’t forget that many cities have public skateparks and mini ramps as well, which are free to use (and there are cheap paid parks too in some places).

On a snowboard you don’t usually have that luxury of easy repetition and it take more time and effort just to get some runs in, especially if you don’t live in a ski resort.

3) Skateboarding hurts more (usually)

I find skateboarding hurts way more on those little falls. Falling on a blanket of concrete typically hurts a lot more than ice. It’s not like snow where it usually has some give (even ice has a tiny bit of give) and you can slide when you fall.

Sliding on concrete = road rash, which is not fun.

That said, the big falls suck no matter which sport you’re doing. I broke my wrist on a nasty skateboard halfpipe fall and that hurt just as much, if not more, than tearing my ACL (minus the pain of the operation).

Oh and you’re going to take A TON of those little falls while skateboarding. Your knees, shins and ankles are constantly bruised and you can expect sprained ankles to be a regular occurrence.

It’s just part of the territory to have bruised legs when you skateboard a lot and you get used to occasionally flying towards the concrete when you screw up.

Also, be prepared to have your skateboard go flying into your shins on more than one occasion, especially when learning your first flip tricks like kickflips.

4) They both have tricks/movements that overlap

A lot of movements overlap between the two sports, although that’s not surprising since snowboarding was heavily influenced by skateboarding.

For example, I find a lot of skateboarders pick up rail tricks and figure out body positioning a lot quicker when learning snowboarding because their awareness from skateboard tricks and movements carry over in some areas of snowboarding.

Similarly, I found 360s on a skateboard a lot easier to do after I had mastered 360s on a snowboard. Not to mention your basic balance will improve if you skateboard, and that obviously helps your snowboarding as well.

Just be aware that just because you snowboard, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be able to balance easily on a skateboard from day 1. As I mentioned earlier, it does take time to get the basic skateboard balance down, even if you snowboard and have good balance.

The bottom line

Both are great board sports and it’s honestly a ton of fun to skateboard, especially once you understand how to ‘pump’ with your legs and ride transition in the skateparks.

Skateboarding is a great second hobby/sport to have if you’re a snowboarder because it’s easy access and it gives you a summer sport where you can learn tricks and body movements that carry over to your snowboarding.

I’d say the sports/hobbies complement each other very well. I know plenty of guys who go snowboarding, then come home and go skateboarding.

Not to mention I find skateboarding to be a great workout. It’s not like snowboarding where you can get away with riding downhill all day and let gravity do everything.

Skateboarding is excellent cardio (and a lot more fun than running on a treadmill).

So I guess I’d say go for it. Skateboarding is a ton of fun, just stick it out through that tricky beginner stage where balancing will feel very awkward and you’ll have a blast.

– Jed

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  1. Great advice. Skateboarding is by far the single most difficult sport I’ve ever tried. It’s definitely valuable and will help you retain muscle memory, core strength, balance, etc., during the off-season, but it isn’t going to be easy 🙂

  2. Mike Bennewitz says:

    This is an amazing comparison I rarely hear any equalizing with when I ask a skater about snowboarding or if I ask a snowboarder about skateboarding. Most of the people I have asked often do both sports, but are significantly better at one sport or the other, and often say something like “It’s just easier to do the first of the two sports you started”. I called B.S on this for years as I started skateboarding around age 6 or 7 and snowboarding shortly after my 9th birthday, yet found snowboarding easier and that it improved my skateboarding.
    There are a few more aspects that I would like to chime in on with this article. The first is that since breaking a few boards is inevitable while skateboarding, there are some options for those who want to learn without constantly destroying a good number of boards that are typically $60+. The way around this I went with is to search for either the cheapest boards from any brand that makes high quality boards (Speed Demon Bandana series decks are around $35 in the U.S), or to use the decks off of the $10 complete setups from big box stores like Walmart or Target. Everyone breaks boards and eventually a learner will get to the point where they got the pop but not the landing coordination to avoid snapping a deck by landing in between the trucks. I personally destroyed about 12 Speed Demon’s in a single 7 month summer while learning flip tricks and boardslides.
    The other thing I want to address is that the availability of dedicated instruction is WAY more popular and extensive for snowboarding than for skateboarding. Sure a few summer sessions are held in each state to teach beginning skateboarding during the summer, but that is immensely dwarfed by the instruction available to snowboarding rookies. I have been to most of MN’s ski/board hills and 3 areas in Montana. I have yet to see any of these or any other resort that do not offer lessons for beginner, intermediate, advanced and even freestyle/park riders to improve to the next level. (The only exception to that are the “blacklist” resorts that don’t allow boarding like *cough-Alta!-cough*)
    I know that high end gear can build confidence in a learning situation, and that it often WILL perform better than the cheapest complete setups that cost less than 5 gallons/liters of gasoline. But as with snowboarding, skateboarding progression is largely based upon knowing/combining the intricate steps and mental determination that private lessons and now has invaluably provided to myself and others for our snowboarding progression. Maybe someone should start a 😉

    – Mike

    • Hah, if you start skatie let me know how it goes :p

      One thing I do like about skateboarding is the trick tip videos are very plentiful (at least they were when I used to look them up). It used to be a site called bobstricktips if I remember right, although I’m sure there are plenty more that have video break downs of all the flip and street tricks nowadays.

  3. I’m a Skater, My cousin is a Snowboarder but, The two sports are like brothers…They’re pretty equal. And we get along just fine!

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