It seems that new board sports are being created every single day. In the space of a few decades, we’ve gone from a few major board sports and several obscure ones to over 20 popular sports.
But what are those board sports, what makes them unique, are they competitive, and are they worth trying out?
Let’s take a look.
Skateboarding is arguably the most popular and best-known board sport in the world. It was invented back in the 1950s (although many believe that homemade skateboards were created several decades earlier) and helped to popularize many other world-famous board sports, including surfing and snowboarding.
Skateboarding is an Olympic sport and there are many major skateboarding events held every year. It entails riding a board that is attached to four wheels and using it to jump and perform tricks.
Some of the most famous skateboarders in the sport’s history include Tony Hawk (a legend who has featured in several films, TV shows, and video games) Rodney Mullen, Tony Alva, and Bam Margera.
Casterboarding is often compared to skateboarding, as the boards and wheels are very similar. However, the wheels are on casters, which means that they can turn in any direction, allowing the rider to slide and carve like they do on a surfboard or a snowboard.
A freeboard is basically a skateboard that has been designed to emulate a snowboard. It may help snowboarders to transition to skateboarding and contains 6 wheels instead of 4, with the additional two wheels placed centrally on either side.
Freebord is one of the biggest manufacturers in freeboarding.
Longboards are often confused with skateboards. As with freeboards and casterboards, they look very similar, but there are a couple of key differences.
The main objective of a longboard is to cover large distances quickly and easily. It has two wheels on either side of the board, just like a skateboard, but it’s longer, narrower, and built for traveling long distances and not for performing tricks.
Initially known as “skateboarding”, streetboarding uses a board that has two moving parts, allowing the rider to shift them using feet and upper-body movements.
Scootering was introduced just before the Millennium and has gained in popularity ever since. Initially conceived as a recreational activity and one that was popular with kids, it has since morphed into something much bigger and more exciting.
Scooters feature a flat board that has a wheel on either end. The front features a long steering handle. On a very basic level, a scooter can help the user to comfortably travel long distances at speed. But once they have a little more experience and skill, they can use it to perform tricks, jumping and spinning in a style that combines elements of BMX and skateboarding.
Skysurfing seems to be the answer to the question, “How can we make snowboarding more extreme and get way more air?”
It’s basically skydiving with a surfboard, although skysurfing boards are smaller with a much lower profile.
Street luge is an extreme and dangerous board sport whereby the rider lies flat on a board and races downhill. It used to be featured at the X Games and while that is no longer the case, street luge is still practiced throughout the US.
Luge is an even more popular sport and one that features at the Winter Olympic Games. The difference between luge and street luge is that the former is performed on the ice while the latter uses a four-wheel deck with additional attachments built for speed, comfort, and safety.
Snowboarding is one of the most popular board sports in the world. It uses a large board to which the rider’s feet are attached via snowboard bindings.
The rider can speed down slopes, gain air over jumps, and perform an array of tricks. It’s a board sport that is performed competitively at the Winter Olympics.
Shaun White is one of the best-known snowboarders in the world. Not only did he win everything that could be won, but he became a board sports legend and an extreme sports icon.
Snowboard can be more expensive than other board sports, as the primary equipment (snowboard, boots, jacket, bindings) is more expensive. You will also need to factor ski resort tickets into the equation and the fact that you need snow-covered hills as opposed to empty streets and half pipes means it’s not a year-round sport, either.
Okay, so you don’t quite need snow-covered hills to snowboard. There are dry slopes (the same used for freestyle skiing) and you can also try mountainboarding.
Also known as dirtboarding, mountainboards are basically all-terrain skateboards that are designed to race downhill and traverse everything from dirt to rocks.
It’s a fun recreational activity and its popularity seems to be growing, but it’s not a board sport that will be making it to the Olympics anytime soon.
Snowboarding on sand? That’s basically what sandboarding is. It’s a natural progression of snowboarding and answers the question, “What do you do if you want to snowboard but live in a desert climate?”
Surfing is arguably one of the three biggest board sports and is up there with snowboarding and skateboarding.
It entails riding a large board (often at least 5 feet) on the water and using the energy of the waves to gain speed and jump.
Kelly Slater is one of the biggest names in this board sport and it’s a sport that never fails to draw a crowd. It’s immensely popular and there are numerous competitive events out there. It is even an Olympic sport, although it wasn’t added until 2021.
Bodyboarding is basically surfing while lying in a prone position. It’s fun, it’s relatively easy, and it’s one of the most accessible board sports out there for people who don’t have the balance or experience needed to surf.
Board sports can be a challenge, as the rider needs a lot of core strength and balance. Bodyboarding is one of the exceptions, but it’s still not easy and there are some techniques you will need to learn.
Dog surfing is not a fun way to describe a type of surfing that requires you to get on all fours. It is literally dogs surfing.
The dogs are trained and some claim that they really love this water sport, although as no one has actually asked them, it’s hard to know for certain.
Riverboarding is a water sport practiced on fast-flowing water, including rivers. The rider lies in a prone position and wears fins on their feet. They hang their feet over the edge of the board and use them to steer.
Skimboarding is very similar to surfing and other board sports. The rider simply glides across the water, meets an incoming wave, and then rides it back to the shore. There are a few key differences to other board sports, though, including the board itself, which doesn’t have any fins attached and is smaller than a surfboard.
Windsurfing relies on the force of the wind to move a sail and accelerate a board. In simple terms, it’s like surfing but with a large sail attached, putting Mother Nature in control of the speed, and allowing the rider to harness it as they see it.
A wakeboarder stands on a board and is pulled along the water by a motorboat. They are literally boarding in the “wake” of the boat, and the speed of said boat, along with the lightweight board beneath their feet, allows them to generate a lot of speed and perform jumps and tricks.
The use of tow ropes and boat wakes has given rise to several other board sports, as noted below:
Another self-explanatory board sport, kneeboarding is performed on a short and fat board with indentations in the middle for the rider’s knees.
They hold onto a tow rope that is attached to a fast-moving vehicle, such as a motorboat. The boat pulls them along and allows them to easily generate speed. It’s a sport similar to wakeboarding, but it’s much easier.
Wakesurfing is like wakeboarding in that the rider surfs behind a motorboat and rides the wake. The difference is that they will drop the rope and ride the wake just like a surfer riding the waves.
Prone Paddle Boarding and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand Up Paddle Boarding is like surfing, only on a much larger board and with a paddle. Okay, so it’s not really like surfing at all…but it is often seen as a more accessible and beginner-friendly option.
Prone paddle boarding is performed on similar boards but without a paddle. The rider lies flat on their stomach and uses their hands to paddle.
Board Sport List: Obscure Sport, Olympic Sport, or Racing Sport?
Board sports are either unique, exciting, and able to develop on their own and grow in unique ways, or they were created as a board sport spin-off to add unique elements.
In fact, it could be argued that every board sport is just a “spin-off” of skateboarding and that skateboarding itself is an evolution of roller skating.
A better way to categorize board sports is as a racing sport or a freestyle/trick sport, as the primary equipment designed for tricks is often very different from the equipment manufactured for speed (as seen with skateboarding vs longboarding).
In any case, if you’re looking for a unique way to put your balance, core strength, and boarding experience to the test, try some of the above sports!