Is it possible? Can Skateboarding really be easy?
I know you've probably been racking your brain trying to figure out this thing called skateboarding, practicing for hours, beating yourself up because you feel like you can't get it down.
I understand this far too well growing up skateboarding. I struggled even trying to get the ollie down. I practiced for hours.
Before getting my first skateboard I begged my parents for one day in and day out and finally got one for Christmas... it turned out to be a Wal Mart skateboard, disguising my disappointment and trying to display that I was grateful was a bit hard as I made every attempt to learn.
Usually, a quick learner not picking this up was a bit of a life-shattering moment for me starting to cripple my confidence. Until realizing later on while meeting some more advanced skaters at the skatepark the biggest obstacle can sometimes be the tools you provide yourself with.
The dead weight and heaviness of the board was impacting my ability to learn, and my ability to skate. By making this small adjustment to a better quality board I was able to learn to ollie overnight.
Instead of blaming ourselves, with skateboarding, and in life we must first assess and address the situation and understand what causes are impacting our progression. As I'm sure many of us have heard this quote time and time again, Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
By understanding what is causing the issue we can make changes to improve. We tend to apply this one size fits all approach to many things not understanding that we sometimes have to customize our tools to fit our needs and to meet our objectives. Every board is not going to be built for you, you might find you are more comfortable riding with a smaller deck size or that a larger deck size works best for you.
The most important thing is to not stress yourself out too much, stress is the biggest factor in limiting ourselves and disturbing our progress. Over time you will learn what works best for you, you will understand the intricacies of all the moving parts that make the perfect board for you, and you will develop a flow with the board that makes it an extension of you.
Have you ever been driving and have been in a flow feeling like the car is part of you? Or have you ever been playing a sport such as softball or baseball and felt like the bat was now a part of your body? Mabe not. You probably think I'm a bit crazy, but if you have you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
When you reach this point of oasis you will feel like you can nail any trick. As you move, your body will kinesthetically detect your next move propping you in the best position to land that trick smoothly.
Now don't be distraught if you can't pick it up right away, good things take time, Rome wasn't built in a day, don't give up. With all thing, though eventually, we may find ourselves in a rut, that we reached our peak, we have hit our plateau. When this happens it doesn't mean you can't possibly improve, it just means it is time to make a change.
Try riding switch or goofy to try to switch things up. This can make everything feel new again, and awaken your creative spirit and determination to learn. Start skating with people better than you which will push you to improve. We become the people we surround ourselves, especially when improving our skills so choose wisely.
Even if you're not the best on the block opening yourself up to competition and entering into skate contests can give you a whole new edge and possibly some sponsors and a little take-home money. Don't expect to win, enter for fun, and to meet other skaters, winning is always a bonus.
Now what we have covered so far are just ideas, ideas on how to improve, build your network, and understanding that things in life take time, but let's reverse things up a bit and cover some of the basics of skateboarding.
- Learning how to balance...
- Picking your board...
- Picking the spot to skate...
- Studying and learning new tricks...
- The basics...
Learning How to Balance
The number one thing it is important to learn with skating is learning to balance, you can't ride a board without it, let alone ever learn any tricks, and you don't want to ride around sitting down and running over your fingers. You could get away with that as a kid, but it's time to get serious and have some fun on the board.
With a brand new skateboard, you can even ignore your Mom on this one when she used to say you definitely can't bring it in the house. Bringing the board inside and trying to balance on it while it is placed over the carpet, can be an easy, safe way to learn how to balance, and quickly get you much more comfortable on the board.
Picking your Board
Now when picking your board, I'd first account for both your size and your height to determine the size of the deck that will work best for you. A good running average for a skateboard deck for most people is 7.5″- 8.25″. Width is generally determined by your size as mentioned before but is also influenced by the type of riding you prefer. If you're a bigger rider and are skating ramps a wider deck will generally work better for you.
Street skaters usually choose a smaller deck. I'd recommend starting out with something towards the middle, and as you ride deciding what feels best for you, you can always change deck size, when you break the board, which is bound to happen, eventually.
You may even decide you want a plastic skateboard, an odd shaped board, or who knows you may just want to cruise and get a longboard. I'd suggest getting one of each, certain days you may have a different preference, and a longboard may come more in handy for the type of riding you are looking for especially for long rides, or a bunch of downhill.
Picking the Spot to Skate
Now what I mean by this is not, should you skate a bank, or a school? I mean to decide if you would rather be a street skater or skate at the skate park. Now, this isn't an ultimatum, this doesn't mean you can only choose one or the other, but the type of trucks, board type, and skateboard wheels do play a role when it comes to choosing your skate spot.
For skating street, you want to make sure the trucks under your board make your deck sit up higher. You can achieve this by putting risers between the truck and the board or getting trucks that specifically make the board sit a bit higher. The opposite is expected for skating at a park, to do tricks it is best to have a lower center of gravity and to have your board lower to the ground.
Skating at the park also demands a harder wheel, these harder wheels will also give you a faster speed, giving you the best edge to nail those gnarly tricks. Contrarily, and a bit surprising to most the opposite is true when street-skating you want a softer wheel which will allow you to get over those rocks and cracks a little easier, by giving the wheel a little of the flex it needs.
Studying and Learning New Tricks
As with everything practice makes perfect, or at least helps you improve. By studying the very nature of the sport you will understand the mechanics behind the tricks and what makes them work. By starting with the basics, like learning to ollie, kickflip, hit a halfpipe, and grinding will not only be a good place to start but will help set the foundation for learning the most complex tricks.
Follow the greats, read their history. See where Tony Hawk or Rodney Mullen began. Only by seeing where they came from can show you where you can go. With the right vision and the proper focus, anything can be made possible. You must stay dedicated to be able to perform at the level you wish to. You will get exactly what you put in and you may find yourself 6 months later looking back wondering how it was possible for you to get so far.
Now, this is a simple guide to give you a little direction and clarity of thought moving forward. This is in no way a resource to make you a professional or the best skateboarder you can possibly be. This is just a start and it is up to you to be able to take this venture exactly where you want it to go, to grow this hobby, to give back to the sport.
As you learn you will be able to understand your pace and know how far you can push something. It is always important to be safe and to never push yourself any further than you feel comfortable with. As they say, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, and you should probably back off a little bit and take a break.
We all have different levels at which we learn and learn at different speeds. This doesn't make you any less adequate than someone else. Working on your mindset is always key to developing your true potential. Happy Skating!