Skogging is a skateboard-pushing technique that blends fitness, freestyle, transport, and power training. Although it is easier than it looks, it can also be a skill-builder and intensive workout.
In 1975, I wrote an article for SkateBoarder Magazine titled "Cut the Jive and Jog."
What spawned this article was actually a bet made between my old skate buddies Neil Graham and Dan Trailer.
The small wager was based on who could switch-pump and push with opposite legs first. They gave up quickly and preferred to surf while I mastered the pushing motion.
The switch pump is still in development. The "why bother" attitude prevails even with most contemporary skateboarders.
Is it more blessed to "air" than "skog"? I say, do both.
The long-distance cross-country skateboarders have to alternate legs, but most do it out of necessity, whereas skogging deems a personal love.
There's no distinction between left or right legs to stay balanced with running or jogging. Rollerskating and blading fall into the same classification.
You point straight ahead and swing from the hips. Likewise, with the skogging technique, you develop a similar movement.
Except you have a flat surface that you use to "rest" one leg while the other does the work.
With most long-distance skaters, it makes sense to alternate legs out of necessity.
It is also one way to get into funky sideway-pushing habits that look unhealthy and, quite frankly, fugly.
But for the short runs to enhance a sidewalk surfing experience, skogging it up can make a cardio experience very desirable, if not addicting.
What separates skogging from alternating leggers is the one-foot transition flair as the switch from one foot to the other takes place.
The Los Angeles freestylers incorporated short spurts of alternating legs during the Del Mar contests, adding to the degree of difficulty of their maneuvers.
It seems like an obvious movement for those who desire to add an extra degree of difficulty to their skateboard session to round out a balanced body movement exercise.
Most kids wouldn't think twice that skateboarding is an aerobic exercise.
But as the years go on, the gym may get old, the repetitive bike movement stale, in-lines/quad skates a yawn, and you could be left staring at your skateboard, wishing it could be an exercise you can roll with.
And this is where it originated with me.
In 1975, I needed exercise like a hole in the head to lose weight. I was one strong young man with very little body fat.
With all the other sports I did, being one big lean Samoan muscle machine left much to my imagination for alternative exercise.
Using both legs to push just seemed like a natural selection that would develop into something hopefully greater than I had ever imagined.
Thirty years later, I was still skating and using this pushing technique that seems to have originated from days of future passed.
Here's a step-by-step guide to learning and improving skogging on your skateboard:
If you've never attempted to switch pushing legs, I strongly recommend flatland/no board preparation.
Being able to stand on one leg and gently bending at the knee and waist while imagining rolling is an excellent place to start.
Then, switch legs and do the same.
The better you imagine yourself rolling on one leg, the easier the next step is.
2. Carpet and Board
Set your board on the carpet and make sure if you fall, the board doesn't shoot in a harmful direction.
Do the same movements as in step one. No rolling in this step.
Practice for hours and perhaps a whole week before going on to the next step.
The idea is to feel your balance evenly and conclude that if you can't get by this step, you might want to take up another exercise.
3. Restrictive Surface
Get a carpet, a golf green, or something that will prevent a full rolling experience that one has on cement or asphalt.
Attempt to push with both legs for 10-20 feet. Alternate and feel the required balance as if you were on a smooth surface.
Do this for an entire week, at least a few hours a day.
4. Take It to the Streets or Boardwalk
After the successful completion of the previous steps, you're on your way to being a skogger.
It is more than just alternating your legs. It is the ability to glide on either leg while alternating pushing legs.
Here are a few additional suggestions and recommendations for beginner skoggers.
Every beginner should at least be able to stand stationary on one leg while making twisting motions and gently bending at the knee.
Get a skateboard length at least three times the length of one foot. Size varies per age.
Most longboards will work, but the longer the length, the easier for some to catch on.
Most adults around 180-200 pounds can get away with a 40" x 9" ish. At times, the longer boards make it more difficult to maneuver.
Safety always comes first. The strongly recommended equipment you'll need is elbow, knee, wrist protection pads, and helmet.
Be ready to fall - tumbling classes are recommended.
Most skogging experts prefer boardwalks with the least amount of cracks.
Cracks in both sidewalk and pavement can make miserable moments come alive. Attempt to shift weight up to hop over them at an angle.
On boardwalks, for some reason, many bikers think they own the road.
Avoid them by giving them plenty of room - some bikers think it takes a lot of talent to ride a bike.
Keep a wary eye for youngsters that like to make unannounced turns.
Watch out for bottle caps, rocks, and pieces of wood. These may teach you about unwanted skate breaking. Skaters have many scars from such outings.
Many public sidewalks have an eight miles per hour speed limit. You might want to keep your speeds down for several reasons, including water and sand.
Words by Chris Yandall (1954-2014) | Skateboarder and Author at Silverfish Longboarding