When you’re learning to skate, there’s a lot of aspects that affect how quickly and well you progress. The shape and size of the board, the softness of the wheels and the slickness of the bearings — all of these can make a major difference in performance. But the one factor that often gets forgotten is foot position. Issues with pushing mongo aren’t just about style — it can wreak havoc on your performance.
There are two main things that determine your stance — which foot you push with and which foot you lead with. Most of the time, skaters push with whichever is their back foot when skating. While you won’t see any professionals pushing mongo, some new skaters find it more natural to push with their front foot. This has some major social stigmas in skate culture, but the more important effect is that it can create an imbalance, especially when you push.
When you push with your leading foot, you have to adjust your stance dramatically each time you return your foot to the board. While there is some slight adjustment when pushing regular, it’s far less than when pushing mongo. Why does this matter? Finding your stance causes movement that’s perpendicular to your direction, inevitably slowing you down. It’s minimal, but it does make a difference.
One of the biggest reasons you should avoid skating mongo is the maneuverability you give up when you push with your front foot. You wouldn’t design a car that depends on the back wheels for steering the direction — so you shouldn’t depend on your back foot for steering your board. Your leading foot should turn the board while the back foot gives momentum; you’ll get better control when skating this way.
You can’t talk about pushing mongo without mentioning style. While it’s the least important factor — it still plays a part because skateboarding, at its core, relies on style. You can land a 720 Gazelle Flip, but no one cares if you can’t do it with style. Smooth lines, clean roll-aways and steezy tricks — it’s impossible to accomplish any of this when you’re pushing mongo.
One final note on foot placement: pushing mongo is not the same as skating goofy. While skating goofy — leading with your right foot instead of your left — is still less common, it’s still possible to maintain control and keep it clean if you’re pushing with your back foot. The most important thing overall is getting comfortable skating both regular and goofy. This opens up vast opportunities for the types of tricks you’ll be able to do.