Want to start longboarding but you're not quite sure how it's done. You're at the right place. Now if you're a skateboarder, you already have a head start however that these two are only similar, not the same.
Yes, they both require a board and activate more or less the same parts of the body. But, longboarding is smooth and rhythmical with more flow to it, while skateboarding tends to be more explosive. Besides, skateboarding is mostly used to perform jumps and tricks, while longboarding is all about surfing, optimised for cruising and carving.
DROP DECK VS DROP THROUGH
One thing new longboarders often struggle with is choosing the right one out of the seas of possible shapes. The reasons behind some shapes are obvious. Drop-through and drop deck look so much alike, it can be difficult to figure out which one you need. The purpose behind the dropped platform on a longboard is so that the rider can get closer to the pavement. With a lower centre of gravity, the longboard becomes much more stable. This helps smooth out the ride at faster speeds and virtually eliminates the dreaded speed wobbles that can happen on top-mount boards.
Both of these types of boards have lowered platforms, which puts each of them closer to the wheels. If the wheels were to rub on the board during a turn, the results would be dangerous. It's like slamming on the brakes. Longboarders call this the wheel bite. These boards combat this by usually providing large cutaways above the trucks which enable the rider to turn as sharp as possible without the fear of wheel bite.
The Drop Deck is a technical rider's shape, and it is meant for more technical skating. The platform is curved downward behind the trucks, making the deck extremely stiff. The trucks mount conventionally, with the deck resting on top of the baseplates. This configuration spreads the rider's weight over the trucks evenly, so the ride is supremely stable as long as the board is going straight.
The Drop-through deck achieves their lower platform by placing the baseplate above the deck. There is a cutout through which the baseplate passes and the deck essentially hang beneath it. The rider's weight is dispersed over just the nuts on the bolts. Another reason for the straight drop-through deck's flex is that it lacks the curve of the dropdown. Because of that added flex, drop throughs sacrifice some stability at speed to the drop-down boards, but they make up for it with extra manoeuvrability. Also, because the riding platform itself doesn't drop, the drop through gives the rider a larger surface area to stand on.
WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Beginning longboarders often gravitate to drop-through decks precisely because of their lack of specialisation. They can go fast, but they're not the go-to to reach the fastest land speed. Their lowered profile also makes them easy enough to kick sideways, and they are great for learning the basics of freeriding.
Drop throughs are also by far the more forgiving of the two shapes. Beginners often carry too much speed into curves, especially when learning to ride downhill, and they also tend to kick out too hard on slides. Their superior carving ability and naturally better traction make drop-throughs the safest bet for new longboarders as they learn to temper their effort and check their speed before turns.
Aside from the board, you'll need a protective helmet, elbow and knee pads. It's not a must but it is recommended for those starting off.