How to Ride Skateparks for Beginners
Going to the skatepark can be intimidating, especially for beginners. We put this list of skatepark etiquette and basic trick tips to get you started off on the right foot. Knowing how to treat the skatepark and interact with other skaters there will have you fitting right in and making friends in no time.
Here are 7 tips to becoming more comfortable at your local skatepark.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- Unwritten Rules
- Rolling Down a Bank
- Riding Up a Ramp
- Dropping In
The skatepark can get hectic so it is best to familiarize yourself with skating on flat ground and little hills before hitting the more advanced terrain at a skatepark. When you are skating by yourself and learning the basics it's much different than being at the skatepark because you can solely focus on the act of skating and not your surroundings as much. However, once you're ready to hit the park it's best to have your head on a swivel to avoid collisions with other riders. If you do run into another skater it's best practice to check in on them afterwards to make sure they aren't seriously hurt. Spending some time watching the others skaters lines is a good idea and it'll help you understand the flow of the park. Another key tip is to go early before crowds arrive so you'll likely have the skatepark to yourself.
There are many unwritten ‘rules’ you will pick up on the more you skate but we'll make things easier for you by listing a few here. First off, wait your turn. If multiple people are skating the same obstacle you want to ride, be aware of the order and see if you can blend into it. Another thing to be conscious of is trying the same trick on the same obstacle as someone else. Everyone is at a different skill level and just because you can do what they're trying doesn’t mean you should because this can come across as you trying to show them up. If you want to try the same or a similar trick you can always run it by them ahead of time. Falling backwards and having your board shoot out will happen and to prevent hitting other people in the ankles with your board be sure to yell ‘BOARD' so they know to watch out. Getting shark bite hurts! When you want to take a break don’t sit on a ledge or ramp in the park because someone may be trying to skate it. It's best to relax outside of the skatepark at a bench. If you stick with these few pointers above you will be well on your way to mastering skatepark ettiquette.
Starting off with smaller ramps is a great way to build confidence on your skateboard. A bank will likely be the mellowest and easiest ramp to tackle first. The key is to have your knees bent and shoulders parallel with your board. You want your body as centered over the board as possible, which makes it easier to keep your balance. When the nose of your board starts to roll down the bank you need to adjust your weight and lean in the direction you are headed. Then when your front wheels make contact with the flat ground you will lean back to remain centered on your board. Once you are comfortable on the smaller ramps you can try larger ones.
Rolling up and back down a ramp takes things to the next level since you will be moving backwards, also known as riding switch or fakie. You want to take a few comfortable pushes toward the bank or quarterpipe. Start with less speed and then push harder once you get the hang of it. Stay centered on your board with your shoulders parallel with your board and keep your knees bent to help you balance. When you hit the ramp you will need to lean back a bit to stay over top of your board. Then as you reach your apex and start coming down backwards you can turn your head and look in the direction you are rolling. When you hit the flat you will need even your weight out again by leaning the opposite direction of which you are rolling. Once you are comfortable with this you can start practicing kickturns. A kickturn is when you lift the front wheels up and turn the board 180 degrees as you reach your highest point. Once you hit the highest point, engage your shoulders and point them in the direction you want to go.
Pumping is what allows you to generate speed without taking your foot off your board to push. This takes a lot of practice but once you're aware of it you can watch other riders to pick up on the timing of the pump. A good way to practice is on a mini ramp or half pipe. Think of it like pumping on a swing to go higher. Start by going back and forth without turning and bend your knees. Push down with your legs into your board at the bottom of the transition. As you reach your highest point you will stand up a bit and expand you body but you don’t want to get too straight legged and loose your balance. Then as you go back through the transition bend your knees and push into your board again. If the timing is right, you will feel a bit of a speed boost as you go through the transition.
Carving is a combination of turning and pumping, so you will want to know how to do both before proceeding. Starting in a nice bowl corner is recommended for this. Approach the corner at about a 45 degree angle and instead of lifting your wheels up like you would on a kickturn, lean into the turn and have your trucks and bushing do the turning for you. If you're turning backside you will lean on your toes and be facing into the bowl and if you're carving frontside you will be leaning on your heels and facing out of the bowl. If you feel yourself reaching your highest point and not being able to complete the turn without kickturning then you may need a bit more speed. This takes a lot of trust and practice so starting small is key.
Dropping in is a big step in learning how to skateboard and it's all about commitment. You will need to find a quarterpipe with coping and again, the smaller the better to start off. Stand on the top, also known as the deck, of the quarterpipe and line your board up so it is perpendicular with the coping. Push your board over the coping and keep pressure on your back foot to lock the board into the drop-in position while your other foot is off the board and on the deck of the ramp. You can hold the nose to steady it if that helps. Then you'll want to put your front foot on the front bolts, line up your shoulders with your board and bend your knees slightly. When you're ready to commit, lean forward and push the front wheels down to make contact with the ramp. Making contact with the wheels is essential. At that point you are starting to roll down the ramp and just need to keep your knees bent and stay over your board to ride it out. Commitment is huge, so it's best to not overthink the drop in and only do it when you're ready. Once you nail the drop in you can start trying it on larger ramps. The steeper the ramp is, the harder you will need to press down to make contact with the ramp.
We hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any follow up questions on mastering any of these techniques or which skate gear to use at the skatepark we would love to hear from you!
For more tips on building up confidence to hit the park be sure to check out our How to Skateboard for Beginners blog.