There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Everyone who steps on a hoverboard is almost certain to fall off eventually. It’s practically a rite of passage. But if you fall the wrong way, you risk serious bodily harm. Hoverboarding can be a joy, and it’s best to keep it that way. Here are a few simple rules to reduce the likelihood of getting hurt when you inevitably fall:
1. Pick an area without things to crash into.
We learn to first ride bikes and drive cars in parking lots, where there’s a lot of room to move cluelessly without consequence. The same should go for hoverboards. Riding near a Christmas tree, furniture or granite countertops is a terrible idea. Everything in your home is an obstacle that can be crashed into and cause you to fall. Hoverboarding is tough at first,so it’s best to minimize hazards until you have the hang of it.
2. Find a level surface.
This is The Mike Tyson Rule of Hoverboarding. Tyson tweeted a video on Tuesday of himself riding his daughter’s hoverboard. It starts great, with Tyson twirling around, smiling and clapping.
But as Tyson moves from hardwood floor toward a carpet edge — an uneven surface that’s sure to throw off a beginner’s balance — he takes a painful spill.
One of the most challenging things about riding a hoverboard is dealing with uneven surfaces. There are no shocks built in to the hoverboard. So if you ride onto a carpet or over a deep sidewalk crack, your balance will be disrupted. If you’re a beginner, that’s going to be a hazard.
3. Don’t try to be a hero.
Once you start flailing your arms, you’re in trouble. That’s the point when you need to bail out. If you tense up and try to save yourself, you’re not focusing on protecting yourself if you fall. You’ll have another chance to ride your hoverboard, so start plotting a safe exit. A bruised ego heals faster than a broken bone.
4. When you start to lose your balance, stay loose and step off backward.
This is the most important rule of hoverboarding. The overwhelming theme in the flood of painful, tailbone-bruising #hoverboardfails videos is people choosing to step forward when things go wrong. This is the worst possible idea, and it guarantees that you’ll end up flat on your back. It’s best to keep your feet glued in place on the board as a steady base. If you want to abort, step backward with your dominant foot and don’t tense your muscles.
An easy way to remember this is that you should get off a hoverboard the same way you get on it. We all stand behind a hoverboard and step on one foot at the time. Why would you get off another way?
Here’s a good slow-motion video of a person taking the dreaded step forward and then falling on his back:
You still might end up on the ground if you step off backward, but you’ll have a much better chance of maintaining your balance. And if you do fall, it shouldn’t be as bad.