How Do You Control a Hoverboard? Find out, instead of wiping out!

October 2, 2020
Two girls learning how to control hoverboards
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So your hoverboard has finally arrived and we know how much you want to hover around like a pro to show and do some hoverboard tricks to show off to your friends. But wait!

Hoverboards can give you hours of fun, but if you don’t do it right at the beginning, you can end up kissing the ground. So save yourself the embarrassment by finding out how to control your hoverboard.

This article focuses specifically on controlling a hoverboard once you get on it. For a more comprehensive guide to using your hoverboard, including getting on & off, accelerating, and so on, please head over to my detailed guide to riding a hoverboard.

If you’re still just thinking about buying a hoverboard, here’s my guide to the best ones!

First: Some Basics about Hoverboard Control

Most of the hoverboards out there have a similar type of shape hence they all look fairly similar in appearance. Therefore, the general way you control one hoverboard is going to be pretty much the same, in theory, to the way you control any other.

Having said that, hoverboards vary quite a bit in their power and maximum speed, so when learning how to control a hoverboard, you’ll find that putting the same amount of forward or backward pressure on different hoverboards can have different results. But since you are most likely starting out with just one board, not several different ones, it’s more a matter of just getting used to your own hoverboard.

The Mechanics of Controlling a Hoverboard

Close up of hoverboard showing its features and LCD screen

One thing you’ll notice right away about your hoverboard is that the board itself is not one piece, like on a skateboard. In fact, it is divided into two different sections (one for each foot) that can be controlled independently, both forward and backward.

Some LED lights are usually situated at the center where the two sides meet, and they work as an indicator for the battery charge, whether the board is on or off, and so on. Many hoverboards also have headlights at the front to illuminate the path when riding around in dark.

How to Control a Hoverboard

Despite what some fantasy authors have envisioned about hoverboards, they can’t actually read your mind. You’ll have to give your hoverboard some physical cues to tell it how you want it to move, in which direction, and how quickly.

Over time, as you figure out what type of forces you need to apply to your hoverboard to make it do these things, it will become second nature for you. In fact, it will become so intuitive that it will almost give you the illusion that the hoverboard really can read your thoughts!

So let’s take this one step at a time. Obviously, before you follow these instructions, you’ll want to make sure your board is fully charged (especially the first time! find out why here). Also, make sure your board is turned on before you proceed.

Step 1: Get on the board

Once the battery is fully charged and the board is turned on, step onto the scooter one foot at a time, starting with your right foot if you are right handed, and left foot if you are left handed.

You must do this swiftly because if you are too slow then you’ll more easily be thrown off balance. It’s similar to how balancing on a bike is actually harder when you’re going slower. Don’t hesitate; just step with one foot, then step with the other.

To maintain the best possible control, place each foot as far outwards as possible (lightly touching the wheel covers). This helps to distribute your weigh over a wider area. Putting your weight closer to the center will make it more difficult to control the hoverboard, and thus you will be more likely to fall.

Finally, the Golden Rule is to slightly crouch down to help maintain your center of gravity and enable smoother, more controlled movements as you proceed with the following steps.

Step 2: Moving forwards in a controlled way

Before you even think about trying to turn, it’s best to simply try going forward. Before you attempt this, make sure there’s lots of space in front of you, and the surface you are riding on is smooth. Don’t do it in your living room right after opening your Christmas present!

Now, once both feet are on the hoverboard and you are balanced and crouched down slightly (see step 1), light apply downward pressure with the fronts of your feet (i.e. your toes). The pressure applied by both feet should be equal.

Voila! You are riding forward! Ease off on the pressure to slow down and come to a stop.

Step 3: Moving backwards in a controlled way

Guess what? Do ride backwards, all you have to do is the complete reverse of what I described in step 3. Apply some backward pressure with your feet, and the board will start traveling backwards. Have you still got your hoverboard under control? Then it’s time to start turning!

Step 4: Controlling your hoverboard while turning

Sometimes, first-time hoverboards think that if they want to turn left, they should simply lean to the left. But on a hoverboard, this is not the case. Leaning your body weight to one side will result in you getting thrown off balance, and you will inevitably lose control of your hoverboard. This is probably the one of the biggest mistakes for people just starting out.

Instead, get your hoverboard rolling in a forward direction by applying equal downward pressure with the front of both feet. If you don’t already have forward motion going, what will happen is that you will just end up spinning, like this girl shows in this video:

So once you are actually moving in a forward direct, to steer the hoverboard to one side (let’s say to the right), you simply need to push down slightly harder with the front of the opposite foot (the left one) to make the board start turning to the right.

For a slight turn to the right, only apply slightly more pressure with the left foot. To make a sharper turn, apply more pressure, and you can even apply a little backward pressure on the side you want to turn to (in this case the right side). These opposite forces will result in an even more drastic turn. But push down too hard with one heel, and you will also get spinning, like the girl shows in the above video.

The most difficult step will be to turn when going backwards. The same logic applies, but backwards. Rather than explain the directions with words and possibly confusing your, it’s probably better to just experiment on your board but riding backwards, and seeing what happens when you apply different pressures to each foot. Trust me, it will become easy in no time!

Step 4: Getting off without losing control

When getting off the board, you need to first come to a complete, controlled stop, then do the reverse of how you got on. Maintaining balance at your core, with legs slightly crouched, step backwards with your left foot (if right-handed). Once it’s firmly on the ground, do the same with your right one.

Trying to jump off while the board is in movement is only asking for a wipeout. Stepping forward off the board is also not recommended, as it may easier to lose control, but some people still find it OK to do it this way.

Final Thoughts on Hoverboard Control

When learning to control a hoverboard, it is inevitable that you will tumble off a few times in the beginning. Just keep practicing to get the hang of it.

If you have a room large enough, you could even try riding it on a carpeted floor or grass first, as you won’t hurt yourself when you fall. However, both of these options come with risks (running into something in your house, or falling due to uneven surface on grass). It’s definitely a trade-off!

As you start off, keep the pace slow and do try to master one step at a time before moving to the next. Eventually, the muscle memory will develop and you will be able to control your hoverboard without thinking much.

Even though it might appear challenging to control a hoverboard, learning to ride one is not as difficult as it seems. Give it some time and make sure you practice in a forgiving environment before hitting a road or a busy street.  Staying safe is important not only for you but also for others around you. With a little patience and lots of practice, you will be hovering like a pro in no time.