So you’re in college right now. You’re doing alright in your classes, you don’t hate your roommate, and you’re remembering to brush your teeth and put deodorant on every day. You’re on your way to becoming a successful, responsible adult. But you’re only 21 and you still wanna be a kid.
You harken back to the days when things were simpler, and living didn’t hurt as much, and on one fateful day, the memories of polyurethane wheels and wood grinding on the urban jungle flood into your mind, and you start looking up Rodney Mullen videos on YouTube for hours. The old bug bites again, and you’ve now officially been re-inspired to skate.
Maybe you used to do it years ago and want to have another go at being the talented shredder that you always wanted to be. Maybe you still (kind of) do it now, but you want to finally take it to the curb hard this time and get your skills to the level that you imagine them. Or maybe you’re new blood getting in the game late, looking for something new in your dwindling time of youth. No matter. Here are some tips to help you aspiring shredders get started (again).
1. Get Over Your Fears
This is essentially the most important step in preparing your mind, body and spirit to shred the gnar. Many youngins give up because of this one. The thing with this one is that you can never rationally discard your fear of falling or getting hurt. Acknowledging your fear is important because skating is scary and people get hurt all the time because of it. Face it, though: there’s a good chance that you will NOT buy any pads or safety gear out of the different fear of thinking that you look like a dork, or that you shouldn’t need any safety gear. It’s all a matter of embracing and owning your fear, and using it as a springboard into gaining confidence. Realize that you can get hurt, but be okay with it.
There are many things that can help in this aspect. You can literally practice falling, and yes, there is proper way to fall. Instead of catching yourself with your hands (which could result in broken wrists), learn how to roll mid-fall and land on your shoulder, allowing it to absorb most of the impact. You can practice this in some grass until you get the hang of it. You can use some sort of a brace as you practice technique so that you have some support to hang on to in case you fall. This will help you train your initial foot-dexterity without having to worry about balance or falling. If none of these work for you, than for fucks sakes put some pads and a helmet on go skate. You’d be surprised at how much safety gear actually helps you get over your fears.
2. Skate with other people
Being motivated enough to skate alone is good because you’re staying dedicated, but skating with other people is going to be one of the most beneficial things you can do. Try sticking to people who are at your skill level and friends of yours that are better than you.
Skating with friends in semi-private and failing a trick miserably is fine, because A. your friends will still respect you/won’t think any less of you, B. the people who can already do whatever you’re trying will help you out with tips and insight to their experience, and C. no matter what, you still tried, and you try more when skating with company. If you think that you will be comfortable at a skate park with people you don’t know, you can try practicing there (though from my experience, many skate park rats with a piss-poor attitude will judge you for being a newbie).
3. Don’t Embarrass Yourself (at first)
Take this one with a grain of salt because in the right environment, embarrassment is healthy because it forces humility and teaches you to maintain a healthy attitude about your skills. However, there are plenty of jackasses in this world that like to say very discouraging things out of their cars whenever you fall off your board due to an unfortunately positioned rock or a huge crack. This has happened to me numerous times, and each time makes me feel like shit and gets me thinking negatively. I have since learned to turn situations like these into more motivation, but when you’re just starting out or are super rusty, any amount of serious ridicule will be extremely disheartening.
If you’re not comfortable with hearing people making snide comments or laughing at you, then use neighborhood streets or find some spots where you can skate by yourself. If you’re already in tune with your pride, then this shouldn’t be an issue, but in a hobby where respect is mostly measured by skill, certain things become territorial, so it’s important to just find your own space and go at your own pace until you feel like you can hang with the rest of the rats.
4. Start Small and Practice, Practice, Practice
This one is tough to wrap your head around, especially when you’re watching videos or just happen to catch some seasoned shredders on the street nailing tricks in public without a second thought. Realize that you are nowhere near the level that these guys are at, and that it’s totally fine that you aren’t. We all start somewhere.
Just like with any other acquired skill that you can get in your life, (i.e. sports, musical instruments, career skills, etc.) even people who seem to have a natural talent at whatever they do have honed their skills through repetition and muscle memory. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. If you enjoy and have fun doing something, you should have fun practicing it. Get really used to your board if you haven’t already. If you’re not at a tricking level yet, spend an hour or two every day just cruising around and getting used to riding fast. Get a feel for your foot placement and posture.
Learn how to manual early to get your body used to balancing. Practice your Ollie technique on grass or carpet and get used to the motion before you move to pavement. Learn how to get comfortable with riding switch/fakie. Bomb short hills before you move up to steeper ones. Learn to drop-in on a small ramp and find bigger ones once you feel like you can move up. Take small steps in each different facet of skating and build off what you’re used to. Seek advice from fellow skaters and surround yourself with friends who are stoked on your skating. Until you have a moment of self-realization that you’re finally a confident, decent skater, time, patience, and advice/support are your friends.
Generally, if you’re a cool cat, nothing good in life is easy, and this rule absolutely applies to skateboarding. It is just as hard, rewarding, and whimsical as it was in middle school if you allow it to be. Things might be way different now in terms of your flexibility and outlook on life, but if you enjoy skating as much as you used to, then all you have to worry about is what you can do to reach your full potential as a thrasher.We recommend to start skateboarding with penny boards, as they’re a lot easier to ride. If you want to learn more about penny boards check out www.bestskategear.com.