The Coleman Slide: Stopping and Sliding Instructions

Would you travel in a car or an airplane if you knew that these vehicles did not have adequate brakes? So why would you ride a skateboard if you didn't know how to stop safely? This is a problem that has plagued skaters since the skateboard was invented in the late 1950s

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Coleman Slide History

The Coleman Slide
The Coleman Slide.

Legendary skateboarder Cliff Coleman solved the problem in the late 1970s. Coleman, determined to ride and bomb the hills in and around Berkeley, California, developed the slide to help him stop safely when he reached the bottom of those hills. Read on to learn how to do the Coleman slide, including the techniques you'll need to use, hand positions, safety equipment, and even the kind of deck you should have for your board.

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Safety Equipment

Skateboarding Gloves

Good safety equipment and gear are important if you want to learn to do the Coleman slide. You will need a good pair of skateboard sliding gloves. A decent pair will set you back $20 to $40, but good gloves are vital for doing the slide, as you'll see later in the article. Quality knee and elbow pads are a must as well. And, you will need a good safety helmet. Don't skimp on your helmet purchase. You can buy a good skateboard helmet for $20 to $80. To perform the slide, you should not be at the skateboard beginner level. You should be a fairly proficient skater who is familiar with some of the basic moves and tricks in skateboarding.

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Sliding Deck


You will need an appropriate sliding deck setup. Although you can perform a Coleman slide on nearly any skateboard deck, truck, and wheel combination, while you are in the learning stages, use a dual kicktail board with the appropriate wheels and trucks. This will allow you to concentrate more on your technique and not have to struggle against the limitations of your setup. A 36- to 40-inch deck is appropriate. Most skaters can learn on a 38-inch deck. You should be able to stand with your feet spread at shoulder-width apart on your board and have your feet positioned over the trucks. If your feet are on the kicktail or nose, then your board is too short to do the Coleman slide.

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Standing and Starting


The key to the Coleman slide is to center your weight on the board and let the momentum of your body in the crouched, drop-knee position carry your board into the slide.

  1. Stand on the board with your feet at shoulder-width apart and with the toes of your back foot pointed at 1 o'clock position and the toes of your front foot pointed at the 11 o'clock position if you are in the regular foot stance. However, if you are in the goofy stance, reverse this: Position your back-foot toes at the 11 o'clock position and your front-foot toes pointed at the 1 o'clock position.
  2. Let the heels of both of your feet hang a little bit over the heelside edge of the board to help you do your heelside carve as you crouch.
  3. Start off with your back foot at the junction of the kicktail and flat part of the board or over the rearmost mounting screws of the back truck.
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Riding and Crouching


Riding and crouching are important when you are doing the Coleman slide. Follow these steps:

  1. Practice kicking off at a reasonable speed on flat asphalt and getting your feet in the position described above; crouch/squat down on the board going straight and then performing alternating easy/gentle toeside and heelside turns while squatting. You will probably instinctively drop your knees toward the board while doing the heelside turns. It may take a few attempts to feel comfortable with riding the board heelside and toeside in this simple crouched position.
  2. Next, get into the drop-knee position: While crouched on the board, lower your back knee toward the board and rest it on or near the side of your front foot. The side of your back foot should be flat on the board and positioned over the rearmost mounting screws of the back truck. Until you learn how to slide, make sure that your back foot is lying completely flat on its side. Your front knee should be pointing straight up or slightly angled forward.
  3. Meanwhile, the bottom of your front foot should be slightly rolled up. A caution here: Do not place the outer (small toe side) of your front foot flat on the board as you do for your back foot. This is a very stable position in which to ride the skateboard and is referred to getting into “the box.” In this position, your weight is centered over the board.
  4. Practice riding in the drop-knee position first while you are going straight, and then as you perform easy alternating toeside and heelside turns.
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Slope and Hand Position

The Coleman Slide

Find a gentle slope on a relatively wide street or a nicely paved wide section of asphalt and achieve some reasonable speed as you get into the crouched drop-knee position and perform a wide sweeping heelside turn. You don't have to go that fast early on. Just go at a speed you are comfortable with and then work on increasing your speed later. You can still slide the board at slower speeds; it just won't be as dramatic. If you are too slow, you will just carve a circle without a slide at the end, however.

As you head into the turn, put your gloved hand on the pavement, with your hand closer to the front of the board, and swing the other arm with the elbow slightly flexed and palm facing away from you, from the approximately the 3 o'clock to the 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock position if you are in regular foot stance.

If you are in the goofy stance, move your swing arm from the 9 o'clock to the 12 o'clock or 1 o'clock position.

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Hand Sliding and Stopping

The Coleman Slide
Do not grab the Rail Stinkbug like this poor Kook! Bad form and not safe! Keep that arm swinging!.

Try to move and time the speed of your swing arm at the roughly same speed as your heelside carve. The faster your carve, the faster the motion of your swing arm will be. Initially, try wide long, drawn-out carves so that your swing arm will move slowly.

Try to put the pavement slide glove somewhat close to the forward portion of the board where it is comfortable enough to put your weight on your hand. This position varies by rider, and you'll need to experiment for yourself. This is usually intuitive. If you put your hand too far away from the edge of the board, your balance will be off and the slide will be harder or you may fall.

Also during your heelside carve and slide, don't look at the ground. Keep your head up, your back foot flat on the board, and your front knee pointing up. Come slowly to a stop. You've just performed the Coleman slide.