In my younger years, I didn’t think much about the size of the board I was riding. As long as it didn’t look enormous, had a cool graphic, and was shredded on by one of my favorite professionals, I’d be more than willing to try it.
Now, after two decades of experience, hundreds of skateboards, and injuries galore, it is a personal must that I ride an 8.125″ sized deck. There are various reasons for this preference and the preferences of thousands of skaters worldwide.
Consider this a helpful guide for picking out the appropriate-sized deck and the factors that come into play for making that decision. If you are thinking about what type of skateboard size to get consider a skateboard between 8.0″ and 8.25″.
These are the most popular sizes and work for most beginner skateboarders. Remember that there is no real answer to this question because it’s about personal preference.
Skateboards Come In All Shapes & Sizes
Anatomically, skaters come in many different builds. Some come in pint-sized packages like 13-year-old Japanese prodigy Ginwoo Onodera. Others, like Cordano Russell, roll up looking like they left football practice with a stocky, athletic frame and legs the size of tree trunks.
We can already assume these two ride very different-sized skateboards based on size alone. Let’s drop in with the basics. A bigger, taller build naturally means a bigger, wider board. Smaller, lighter-weight bodies are typically more suited to a thinner board.
This is true in most situations, and skateboarding is no different. Although, there are certainly exceptions where normalities don’t apply. The correct size is ALWAYS what feels most comfortable to you.
If The Shoe Fits
Another basic approach to choosing what size board to ride can be determined by shoe size. If you wear a shoe ranging from sizes 6 – 9, a safe recommendation would be to select a 7.5″ – 8″ board.
The industry standard of skateboard decks on the more narrow side is 7.75″, but there are thinner boards that some smaller-statured riders, particularly kids, may be more inclined to try. I’m referring to boards sized 7″ – 7.5″.
Riders with a shoe size 9.5+ can most likely look towards a board in the 8″ – 8.5″ range. For the skaters rocking a size around 12 or larger, you may be suited for more foot room in the 8.5″ – 9″ range.
This approach to deck selection is suited to beginners fresh to the skate scene with little to no experience. It can be very effective but does not have to play a definitive role in making a decision.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to experiment on a couple of your buddies’ setups and gain some perspective pushing around on different sizes. Chances are you’ll find success through the process of elimination.
Skateboard Deck Size Classifications: Style, Type & Terrain
Deck Size 7.7″ – 7.9″
Youth riders and smaller-statured skaters developing skills may find it easier to control, flip and manipulate a lighter, thinner deck within this range. It may also be preferred for skaters with smaller feet, as well as technical wizards. This specific size is geared to a street style of skateboarding.
Little rippers tearing up 15-sets and tech specialists double flipping into nose-mannys are primary representatives of this class. A perfect example is Daewon Song, one of the best technical skaters of all time, who prefers the smallest size discussed in this category.
Clocking in at a 7.7″ sized board. Go watch his part in the classic “Almost Round 3″ if you want your mind blown. Kelly Hart is another ripper worth mentioning who has a crispy, clean command of flip tricks, manual variations and just a beautiful overall 360 flip. He rides a 7.875.”
Deck Size 8.0″ – 8.25″
This is the modern-age industry standard for street-style skateboarding. It’s a safe bet to assume an average-sized teenager or adult attempting to learn how to skate would be guided toward an 8″ deck.
Although wider than a 7.75″, this range of skateboard is still relatively easy to maneuver, flip, and control. Due to more space and foot placement, skaters are less likely to have toe/heel drag for longer-level noseslides and tailslides.
Consider Torey Pudwill, who arguably has one of the longest, gnarliest backside tailslides ever recorded. He rides an 8″ board and is a highly technical skater that will still throw down a big-time hammer.
Japanese Beast Yuto Horigome took home an Olympic gold medal riding an 8″ board. Street Skateboarding God, Nyjah Huston, won 13 X-Games gold medals and currently rides an 8.125″ board. Master of precision Paul Rodriguez and big-time hucker Ryan Decenzo rip with an 8.25″ board.
As demonstrated by the styles of these skate legends, this class of skateboard widths has an extensive variety of terrain. Technical ledges, manual pads, handrails, big stairs, giant gaps, and mini-ramps can all be conquered on a board within this range.
Deck Size 8.3″ – 8.6″
This range claims a solid mixture of different styles. You still have your big-time street skaters and some bowl-rippers and transition guys. This range offers a lot more stability than the two previous classes.
It may be less practical for flip tricks and overall board manipulation, but it makes up for that in exchange for balance and foot space. These sizes are ideal for cruising, so this range is an excellent option when looking for a board strictly for transportation.
If you’d like to be involved in a different form of cruising, like ripping through a massive bowl, watch transition killer Curan Capples tear it up with an 8.4″. Though it is an excellent option for skateparks, bowls, and halfpipes, this range can still be considered highly efficient for street skating, particularly for skaters with longer frames, more body weight, and bigger feet.
Andrew Reynolds, a.k.a “The Boss,” stands at a whopping 6′ 2″ and rides an 8.5″. He’s easily one of the greatest street skating pioneers, absolutely demolishing some of the craziest stairs and gaps in his prime.
It’s also common for skaters, as they get up in age, to gravitate towards a wider board no matter what style they specialize in. This could be seen as a safety precaution geared toward injury prevention. Obviously, injuries are much harder to recover from as you get older. Jamie Thomas is still killing it at age 48, and he recently increased his deck size to 8.6″ from 8.4″.
Deck Size 8.625” And Up
Now, for the big boys. This range is typically designated towards transition, bowls, pools, and vert skaters. These skateboards are at the larger end of the spectrum regarding deck width.
These sizes offer an advantage to big-air skaters that need to adjust their footing constantly on the specific types of terrain mentioned above. The additional width provides a bigger platform to improve board control.
Bob Burnquist and Danny Way, Vert legends, ride an 8.65″, while Bucky Lasek prefers a slightly thinner 8.625″. Another big-air X-games gold medalist, Elliot Sloan, shreds on a hefty 8.75″. After watching these guys huck themselves over jaw-dropping mega ramps, it makes perfect sense why they would prefer a little more board to work with.
This range is also a comfortable preference for cruising around town and blasting downhill at daring high speeds.
Choose What Works For YOU
Ultimately, skateboarding is highly subjective. As I mentioned earlier, this article was designed as a coordinated guide to help curious individuals interested in skating decide on an initial skateboard deck purchase. Just make sure you get a skateboard deck that lasts a while from a reliable brand that.
At the end of the day, you can ride whatever your heart desires. That’s the beauty of skateboarding. There is no right answer. It took me years to zero in on the size I’m currently riding, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a blast figuring it out along the way.
Skateboarding is amazing, and as long as you’re out there enjoying yourself, pushing around, everything will eventually fall into place. You will find which size board you prefer, which shoe brand fits you the best, and which terrain you’re most comfortable ripping apart. It truly is an incredible journey. Now, go outside, jump on your board, and, most importantly, have fun.