Easy ways to cross train for board sports

Do you want to improve your surfing or (insert favorite board sport here) but don't have the time? I can imagine and it might seem there are never enough hours in a day. However, cross training is an effective way to maintain or even improve your abilities. While you might think that this means hours in the gym, many exercises only take 10 minutes a day. For example, riding skateboards or caster boards can improve your abilities in just minutes a day. Besides skating, some ways to improve your skills include slack lining, indo boards, and yoga.

Slack lining

Slack lining is a relatively new sport that originated from rock climbing, and consists on tying a trampoline like rope between trees. Besides walking the rope, participants can do tricks such as drop knees, yoga poses and even back flips. It may seem daunting at first but I believe anybody can slack line. A traditional slack line consists of a metal ratchet, which is used to tighten the rope and the rope itself. Slack lining is a great way to cross train for board sports because it requires focus and balance. The best way to start slack lining is to walk the line looking at a fixed target (think a leaf or special point on a tree). Sometimes, beginners can have a friend sit on the line close to them, to prevent excessive side to side oscillation. Also, some learners use a cane or golf club in one hand while learning to walk to tightrope.

cross training for board sports

Slack lining was created by climbers Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington in Yosemite during the 1980's. This sport has expanded from climbing gyms to outdoor parks and even jungles. Some daredevils take slack lining to extreme degrees by high lining. High lining is the same as slack lining, but done at extreme heights. For example, French slack lining team Sangle Dessus-Dessous walked a 453-foot (1,662-meter) line across the Cirque de Navacalles, a French valley, 1,115 feet (340 meters) from the valley floor.

Caster boards

Traditional skateboarding is a great way to cross train for board sports. Skateboarding is easy to do, requires little set up and can be done by basically anyone. However, skateboards don't perfectly mimic the weight shifting motions required by many board sports. For example, pumping is essential for surfing and can help the surfer gain speed, do better snap turns and even airs.

Seeing this need, companies created caster boards, which are similar to skateboards but emphasize weight shifting and can be ridden up slight inclines without having to push off the ground. Some boards, like the surf skate brand, were specifically designed as surf trainers. These boards look similar to surfboards, but come with short trucks in front and longer ones in back. This along with other designs make the board loose and easy to simulate wave riding. Surf skates can also be a good cross training exercise for other board sports like snowboarding and wake boarding.

cross training for board sports

Another type of caster board is called a RipStik. RipStiks are similar to surf skates, but only come with two wheels, not four. RipStiks simulate wave riding by forcing the rider to shift one's weight to move. The rider would place one foot on the front pad and the other on the back pad. These pads have one wheel underneath the platform and are bound together by a plastic bar. The rider would then switch his or her weight from right to left on each pad to move and wouldn't need to push off the ground like a traditional skateboard.

 cross training for board sports

Indo Boards

Some of the best cross training exercises for board sports include small boards from skateboards, caster boards and indo boards. Indo boards are a round plank of wood with a plastic tube underneath. Unlike skateboards or caster boards, the rider wouldn't go anywhere, but instead stay in one spot. The rider would stand on the wood plank above the plastic tube and would shift his or her weight to move up and down. This exercise is great for improving balance, but requires extra caution as falls are very common. Some preventive measures to take when learning indo boarding are to wear safety gear, practice close to a wall, avoiding drinking alcohol while riding, and by riding in an open space.

cross training for board sports

Indo boarding might seem tough, but there are some techniques to lessen the learning curve. Some of these techniques include:

  • - Standing shoulder width apart
  • - looking forward at a focal point (just like slack lining)
  • - knees bent with your bottom lowered to the ground (similar to a squat)
  • - straight posture while engaging the abs to keep alignment
  • - Avoid flailing or spastically moving your arms
  • - Don't bend at the waist also known as "stink bug" stance!


Besides balance, flexibility is imperative for mastering board sports, making Yoga a great cross training exercise. Yoga is a great way to become more flexible and master breath control. Many helpful yoga exercises can be done in only 5-10 minutes a day, making it easy to fit into any schedule.

Some popular Yoga poses include Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Karani (VIP-uh-REE-tuh kah-RAH-nee) and Crescent Lunge traditionally known as Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh). Legs Up the Wall have you lying on your back with your legs against the wall. This pose is best performed with a pillow or bolster under your lower back. This move stretches the back of the legs, alleviates leg and foot cramping along with improving breath control. Most board sports can be tough on the calves and lower back, which enforces the practicality of this pose.

cross training for board sports

The Crescent Lunch not only stretches the calves, but also strengthens your abs, shoulders and chest. This all body workout is great to help yourself recover after an afternoon on the slope, lake or beach. Like all yoga workouts or asanas, it's best performed with proper breath control. After getting into a pose, it's imperative that you hold this pose for 30 seconds while breathing deeply.

It can seem like there is never enough time, making it tough to become a better rider. However, cross training can help you achieve your goals with only minutes per day. Many cross training techniques for board sports such as slack lining, riding caster boards, indo boards and yoga can be done by anybody in short time periods. Are there other cross training techniques that have personally worked for you? Please share below!

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