In the world of board sports, snowboarding and skateboarding stand as two distinct disciplines. While they share certain similarities, such as a love for carving through the streets or mountains, there are fundamental differences that set them apart.
In this article, we will explore the main differences between snowboarding and skateboarding to help riders and skaters gain a deeper understanding of what sets them apart.
Cost: Snowboarding Is More Expensive
If you’re considering picking up either snowboarding or skateboarding, the first detail to know is that your wallet might have a say in your decision. Skateboarding is cheaper than snowboarding.
Skateboarding requires that you get a skateboard, which you can often get second-hand from a friend or by collecting spare parts from local skate shops or skateparks. Once you have your board, you’re good to go, and you can skate anywhere with rollable pavement.
For anyone who wants to get started skateboarding, here is what you’ll need:
- A skateboard deck
- A set of trucks,
- grip tape.
Altogether, the above can cost around $150 for the board, and shoes can cost around another $50 – $90.
In contrast, snowboarding can be a more expensive activity all around.
For anyone who wants to get started snowboarding, here is what you’ll need:
- A snowboard deck
- A set of bindings (these come with hardware to mount)
- Snowboard boots
- Outwear consisting of a jacket, pants, gloves, and hat
- A lift ticket or access to a hill with snow
A decent snowboard alone can cost around $500. Additionally, you’ll need boots, bindings, and access to snow or a lift ticket, which can often set you back $80 or more. The financial barrier to entry to learn to snowboard is considerably higher compared to skateboarding, making it more accessible to those on a budget.
Riding: The Balance Points Are Different While Riding vs. Skating
One of the most noticeable differences between snowboarding and skateboarding is the way riders distribute their weight for balance as they ride or skate.
When you’re snowboarding down a slope, you will naturally be distributing your weight more towards your back foot. In contrast, skateboarding requires your weight to be more evenly distributed. Both feet play a crucial role in maintaining your balance as you skate.
Balance learned between both sports is one of the few skills that does transfer from sport to sport, though. As you become more stable and confident skating, you will have more balance as you snowboard, too.
Progression: The Skill Improvement Curve Is Different
Both snowboarding and skateboarding have their unique learning curves. Snowboarding can be a bit challenging at the beginning, as you need to learn how to use your edges for carving and stopping effectively. While in contrast, skateboarding allows you to take your feet off the board to stop or maneuver. However, once you’ve mastered the basics, skateboarding becomes increasingly precise as you aim to progress to an intermediate level.
Skateboarding’s nuances, such as foot placement and the absence of bindings, make it demanding to learn new tricks and techniques. In contrast, after overcoming the initial learning curve, snowboarding offers a more linear path to becoming an intermediate snowboarder. Both sports are exceptionally challenging to pursue professionally, but they offer different progression trajectories for enthusiasts.
Bailing: Skateboards Aren’t Attached
To bail means to give up on a trick purposefully in skateboarding or snowboarding.
You would bail on a trick when something wasn’t going quite as planned.
On a skateboard, you have the benefit of simply kicking your board away to bail. While on a snowboard, you’re strapped in, so you can’t. Bailing on a snowboard would entail trying to stop before hitting the jump or rail. As a result, there is a slightly greater level of commitment required between trying a trick for the first time on a skateboard vs a snowboard. Both require you to be confident and committed. However, you will have an easier time aborting mid-trick on a skateboard.
Riding: Pushing Is Different
While both snowboarding and skateboarding require pushing yourself forward at times to gain momentum, the techniques to do this are different.
In snowboarding, you are strapped in as you descend downhill. The momentum of riding downhill is often enough for speed. However, you will hit the occasional flat spot that requires you to take your back foot out of your binding and push.
To push yourself forward on a snowboard, you’ll need to unstrap your back foot from the binding and do the following:
- Place your back foot behind the board at your heelside, with your toes pointing slightly forward.
- Shift your weight to your back foot and bend your knees slightly.
- Push off the ground with your back foot, using your calf muscles to generate power.
- Repeat steps 3-5 to continue moving forward.
- When you have enough speed, swing your back foot forward and place it on your board in front of your back binding.
On a skateboard, pushing yourself forward is a core part of the entire experience. Since there are no bindings to keep your feet in place, you have the freedom to move both feet independently.
To push on a skateboard, you will need to:
- Place your dominant foot on the front of the board, just behind the front trucks. Ideally, your foot should be at a 45-degree angle and over the bolts.
- Bend your front leg knee and lean forward slightly.
- Bend your back knee slightly.
- Push off the ground with your back foot, using the ball of your foot and your calf muscles to generate power.
- As you push, swing your front foot forward and place it on the board perpendicular to the deck.
- Repeat steps 3-5 to continue moving forward.
It’s worth noting that skateboarding gives you the freedom to tilt your front foot, allowing for a more comfortable stride while pushing. Since you’re not strapped in on a skateboard, you can turn your shoulders like you would when walking or running. However, on a snowboard, your front foot is strapped into your bindings, so you can’t tilt it. As a result, you push on a snowboard with your shoulders in the same stance you would normally ride your snowboard. It makes the act of pushing feel less natural on a snowboard. With some practice, you will get used to it, though.
The main difference between pushing on a snowboard and pushing on a skateboard is the side of the board you push from.
- Snowboard: You push off from the heelside of the board.
- Skateboard: You push off from the toe side of the board.
Tricks: Grinds and Slides vs. Jibs
Grinding on a skateboard and jibbing on a snowboard are both similar-looking maneuvers. However, they require distinct techniques to master regardless of whether you ride or skate.
Skateboarding first requires you to learn to ollie and get your board off the ground before attempting to slide or grind on a rail or ledge. Once you’re on the object, the skateboard’s components can lock into the rail or ledge, making the grind easier.
On the other hand, snowboarding allows for a simpler approach to jibbing (the snowboard version of a grind trick). You can hop onto an object with relative ease thanks to your feet being strapped into bindings. However, the challenge lies in holding your balance on the object because there’s nothing on the bottom of the snowboard to assist with locking onto the object.
Slide tricks are one of the few skills that do transfer between the two board sports, though.
The balance skills acquired from sliding on your skateboard can translate to better balance on rails while you’re snowboarding. By skating rails in the summer, you can progress your jibbing for the winter.
Tricks: Flipping the Board Vs. Flipping Yourself
One of the key differences between skateboarding and snowboarding is the ability to flip the board. On a skateboard, you are not strapped in so that you can flip the board with your feet. This allows you to perform tricks like kickflips, heelflips, and 360 flips.
However, on a snowboard, you are strapped in, so you cannot flip the board. Instead, you get the benefit of being able to flip your entire body. Your snowboard is attached, so you get the benefit of it following you as you flip or rotate in the air, allowing you to perform tricks like backflips, front flips, and corkscrews.
The main takeaway is that snowboarding tricks differ greatly due to having your feet strapped in.
Skateboarding and snowboarding are two very different board sports with few transferable skills. However, there is one primary skill that does transfer between the two sports. It is your balance.
The more time you spend on your snowboard or skateboard, the better your balance will become and the easier it will be to balance on the other sport’s board.
Whether you prefer riding the powder-covered slopes or skating the streets, both sports offer their own unique set of benefits, challenges, and thrilling experiences. To progress in either sport, you need to practice consistently and put in the time.
So, choose your board and get out there.
1) Can I use the same deck for both snowboarding and skateboarding?
- No, snowboards and skateboards are designed for their respective terrains and cannot be used interchangeably. The moisture from snow will cause your skateboard deck to lose its pop. Alternatively, the flex pattern of your snowboard will be far too flexible to skate if you were to mount skateboard trucks to it.
2) Is it easier to learn snowboarding if I’m already skilled at skateboarding?
- Not necessarily. Both sports are very different. While some balance skills may transfer between both sports, the techniques and equipment used in snowboarding are unique, so there’s still a learning curve. That said, if you have the balance to skateboard, you will learn to snowboard dramatically faster than someone who has never stood on any type of board.
3) Which sport is more suitable for beginners, snowboarding or skateboarding?
- Skateboarding is generally considered more beginner-friendly due to its lower cost and accessibility. You can skate anywhere at any time of year, so you’ll be able to practice more for a significantly cheaper price. However, snowboarding is generally easier to learn due to the fact that your feet are already strapped in. Once you learn the basics of how to carve and stop on your snowboard, you can have fun riding with any friends who might be more advanced than you are.
Think of the comparison like this. A skateboard is more challenging to ride. However, you get the initial benefit of simply being able to step off of your skateboard. It’s also cheaper to go skateboarding than snowboarding, so you will be able to practice more.
4) Do professional snowboarders also skateboard or vice versa?
- Some do for fun, but not at the pro level. It’s extremely rare to be a professional at both sports simultaneously. Many professional freestyle snowboarders skateboard in the summer. They do this for fun while their focus remains on snowboarding. Three great examples of this are Pat Fava, Benny Milam, and Forest Bailey. They are outstanding pro snowboarders who also rip their local skateparks.
5) Are there any other board sports that have a more direct crossover with snowboarding or skateboarding?
- Wakeboarding has a more direct crossover to snowboarding, while wakeskating and snowskating have more direct similarities to skateboarding.
Check Out These Related Articles:
- The Strongest Skateboards Compared
- The Best New Snowboards for 2024
- The Best Skateboards for Beginners
- The Best Snowboards for Beginners
Steve Weber is an avid snowboarder and skateboarder. He has been snowboarding for 26 years, skateboarding for 20, and is always looking for a new board sport to try out. When he is not riding or skating, he runs a marketing agency. Board of the World is Steve’s blog for skateboard and snowboard gear reviews. The blog’s goal is to help people find the right board for them and encourage people to have fun outside.