Derived largely from surfing, skimboarding brings the sport up to the beach. Since the 1920s, skimboarding has been taken more and more seriously in recent years, with competitions and tricks. The design is similar to a surf board, except thinner and stouter, with an emphasis on short cruises and tricks. The basic idea is to toss down a skimboard in the shallow water along the beach, then skim on the board into the breaking waves.
There are two basic ways to skimboard. The first is into breaking waves and is designed for a short ride ending the water. The other is known as flatland riding and emphasizes skimming parallel to the water's edge, trying to stay in the narrow band of shallow water from receding waves. While a basic skimboard will work for both varieties of skimming, there are specific designs that emphasize each type for the dedicated practitioner.
The most basic element of skimboarding can also be the most difficult for the beginner: standing on the board. Mounting a moving skimboard can be a treacherous maneuver. The best way to accomplish it is to begin running, board in hand. Once the water looks right, thin enough to support but not too thin to limit your ride, drop the board at your side. Many riders make the mistake of throwing the board forward, then running faster to catch up. Dropping it to one side, then side-stepping on to the board is a great way to keep you and the board moving at the same speed.
Where you stand on the board is integral to a good ride. Keep your knees bent. One common mistake is to lift the back foot, often in a last ditch effort not to get tossed off. Shifting your weight too far forward often results in loss of momentum by pushing the nose down into the sand.
Falling is a frequent occurrence in skimboarding, just as in surfing. However, with a skimboard you are typically landing on the hard beach or in very shallow water. Thus it is very important to know how to fall the proper way. Protecting your head is of prime importance. However, the most common injury is to the wrist, which skimboarders often fall back on to and fracture. Rather than breaking a wrist, try and follow on to your elbows or roll to the side as you go down. Finally, always keep a wary eye for rocks, which can be very harmful to a good skimboard ride.