If you’re going to the skatepark for the first time, you might be a little overwhelmed and have a lot of questions. In this blog I want to answer some of the questions I get a lot and give you some tips to help you have an epic first skatepark session and get you hooked! Some of these tips are common practice, other things are just my opinion.
1. Which gear and protection do you need?
One of the questions I get asked the most is: do I need skatepark wheels and slide blocks? Short answer: no, you don’t. I’ve skated on my roller derby set up for a really long time before switching to a dedicated skatepark set up. Any rollerskate will do just fine for your first skatepark session. If you have the luxury of owning multiple sets of wheels, I recommend going for your hardest wheels. Find out if skatepark skating is something you want to do more often before investing in a skatepark set up.
When it comes to protection I’d recommend you gear up! I’m not the protection police and I’ll never tell anyone what to wear (except for when I’m teaching), but wearing full gear, so knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet will make you a lot more confident to try new things, and it won’t hurt as bad when you do fall. Falling is part of the process, but you don’t want to get injured because you weren’t wearing any protection. Safety is sexy and having a fully function brain is even sexier.
2. Which skills do you need before going to the skatepark?
Make sure that you’re confident and stable on your skates on the flat ground. That means that you can easily skate forwards, backwards and you’re able to easily come to a full stop. Imagine having a hard time staying upright on flat ground and then adding obstables to this equation, the outcome isn’t going to be a fun or safe experience for you and possibly the skaters around you.
3. Skatepark etiquette
When you go to a skatepark, chances are you’ll have to share it with other skaters. There are some (unwritten) rules that everyone follows and then there might be some rules that are specific to your skatepark. Here are some common ones:
Don’t snake! Snaking means that you drop in on an obstacle that is already being skated on by someone else. Chances are you’ll interrupt their line or even worse; you’ll collide with them.
Watch where you’re going, don’t skate through someone’s line. This could happen at the street section of the skatepark where skaters tend to skate multiple objects in row.
Don’t hog an object. I’ve seen it quite a few times where skaters get into ramp or bowl and just pump and pump and pump for a really long time. Give other skaters the chance to skate there as well, be nice and share your obstacle.
Be respectful to the other skatepark users, that includes skateboarders, scooter kids, inliners and bmx’ers. Especially if you plan on going to that park more often, you might make some new friends if you’re not being a dick. Just like in real life.
4. What are good beginner tricks?
The tricks you can do obvisiously depend on your skill level and on the obstacles that are at the skatepark. Here are some things you can try, going from super basic to a little bit more difficult.
Ride up and down a bank. Start with little ones and work your way up to bigger ones.
Ride down a bank fakie (that means going backwards), with or without using your toe stops
Jump on and off low obstacles like manual pads and grind boxes or basically anything that goes from on height to another height. See the video posted below.
Pump in a transition. Find yourself a nice ramp and try to go up and down without pushing off sideways. I find it easier to practice in a bigger than a tiny little micro ramp, because in a big ramp you don’t have to worry about hitting the coping with your skates unintentionally.
180s. You can do a 180 on or off a manual pad (or both!) or try one in a transition. If you’re comfident doing 180s on flat ground, doing them off an obstacle or in a transition should not be problem for you, just start small and build your way up to giant 180 airs or jumps with loads of airtime (but that will probably take a bit more than just one session).
5. Have fun!
The most important thing in skating is to have fun! If it’s not fun, than why would you do it?
Going to the skatepark for the first time can be overwhelming, intimidating and even a bit scary, and that’s totally fine! Remember; everyone started out as a beginner once. If you just go and skate and have fun, you’ll find that most of those really good and intimidating skaters are actually really nice and they might even cheer for you when you land your first trick or try something new. Enjoy the process of learning new skills and tricks.
I hope you’re ready to hit the skatepark for the first time! Let me know if you have any questions or missed any information. Have fun!