14 Apr First Time Skating at a Skatepark? Here’s Everything You Need to Know First!
Skateparks are one of the most fun places to skate! But before you drop in, there’s a few things you should know about skateparks — especially if you’re new to skateboarding!
You’ll find skateparks scattered across the world and each park has its own community with unspoken rules. If you want to blend in with the other skaters and locals, this article will fill you in on some of the things you should know first!
Make Sure You Have The Right Gear
Before visiting a skatepark, you’re going to need the right skateboard setup. Skateparks have different obstacles and not every board is suitable for skating the various sections.
If you’re not sure what type of skateboard to get, check out the Cruisin City Skateboard Guide for help.
When you’re just starting out, complete skateboards will usually be the best option to get rolling quickly.
As a beginner, it’s just a part of natural progression that you will fall down.
For this reason, we highly recommend starting with some protective gear.
Especially when learning on bigger obstacles at the park, it’s best to wear a helmet and some pads for protection.
Some skateparks even require wearing helmets, so it’s best to have some gear handy!
Of course, you can certainly wear any type of clothes you want to the skatepark. This is part of what’s great about skateboarding – you can express yourself any way you like!
However, if there’s any item we do really recommend, it’s skate shoes. Skate shoes are designed to help you properly feel your board and are more durable to withstand tricks.
Get Comfortable Skating Before Heading To The Park
Depending on the skatepark you go to, it can be a little hectic at times with many skaters riding at once.
Because of this, it’s best to have a reasonable amount of control on your board before you hit the park for the first time.
There’s nothing wrong with learning to skate at a skatepark and skaters are generally pretty understanding of new skaters trying to learn.
However, it can be a bit nicer to focus on learning to ride someplace like your driveway, an empty parking lot, or anywhere with open space for you to ride.
Make sure you check our beginner trick guide to help you learn some basic flatground and transition (ramp) tricks to try at home or at the park!
Find a Skatepark Nearby
When you feel confident enough on your board, it’s time to find your nearest skatepark!
The easiest way to do this is often just searching “skatepark” on Google Maps.
However, in rural areas or in places which have a really old skatepark, Google Maps might not be fully updated. In that case, just start asking locals if they know about a skatepark (or just a place to skate) in the area!
Especially try to find some skaters as they will almost certainly know. Your nearest skatepark will be your home court!
Remember, skateboarding requires a lot of practice to progress. So, you’ll have to spend a good amount of time at your park to get better. Plus, spending time there will naturally lead to you meeting more local skaters and making new friends!
Generally, each skatepark will have a sign that states the official rules of the park. However, the most important rules are those set by the local skaters themselves!
Don’t worry. Although the culture at various skateparks is different, most of them are similar. Check out the following sections for some key tips on what to expect at the skatepark.
Stay to the side if you’re not skating
Most people at the skatepark are there to skate.
Therefore, if you’re still not totally comfortable skating at the park just yet, just stay to the side and observe for a bit.
After a while, you’ll start to see how the “flow” of the park is working. It’s actually a good idea, regardless of your skill level, to observe the park for a moment before you start to skate. Then, you’ll understand what’s going on that day with the other skaters before you jump in.
Avoid crashing and watch where you’re going
As you skate, just try to keep in mind where the other skaters are around you and what things people are skating at the park.
Simply keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. Small crashes between skaters are sometimes inevitable. If it happens, just say sorry to the other skater, ask if they’re okay, and move on. However, this can usually be avoided by simply being cautious of where the other skaters are.
Wait your turn
Typically, when there are several other skaters at the park or multiple people are trying to skate one obstacle, you take turns with the other skaters.
If you skate without considering the others or cut in line for your turn, it’s called “snaking”.
Waiting your turn is especially important when it comes to skating things like bowls or half pipes where only one skater typically rides at once.
When you first arrive, you should simply stay back from these obstacles and wait for the other skaters to acknowledge you and signal that you can take a turn.
Then, you should maintain the order with the other skaters, letting them all ride again before taking a second turn and so on.
Of course, you can also sit down at any time and rest.
Ask before waxing obstacles
You should always be cautious about putting wax on obstacles without first asking the other skaters who may be using the obstacle.
Wax can be important to ensure that obstacles grind and slide, but it can cause unexpected speed for skaters who weren’t expecting it and can be a hazard.
If you’re skating a bowl, you really shouldn’t wax the coping (the edge that you grind on). Bowl skaters generally rely on speed to sustain a grind and wax is rarely necessary.
In fact, most bowl skaters hate putting wax on the coping — it’s like playing “Stairway to Heaven” at a guitar store!
Don’t hang out in the bowl
If you’re learning how to skate a bowl and don’t know how to drop-in yet, you can start from the bottom of the bowl and practice your kick turns.
However, if other people are waiting for their turn, don’t hang out at the bottom of it for a long time.
In fact, it’s probably best not to skate down in the bottom of the bowl if others are trying to skate it. It’s best to learn how to drop in to the bowl soon after you start riding them. Fellow skaters can give you tips and will likely encourage you to drop-in!
Avoid overly long runs
When there are many skaters waiting for their turn skate, make sure you’re considerate with how long you skate or practice on a single obstacle.
Don’t show up other skaters
When you see another skater trying to do or learn a trick that you already know how to do, it’s a universal rule that it’s impolite to show them up and do the same trick before them.
Skating is about supporting and encouraging our fellow skaters. Doing the trick they’re trying in front of them simply puts them down and sucks. Believe me; it happened to Justin Bieber once at the Venice Skatepark!
Respect failure and other beginner skaters
Skaters are known for being encouraging and you should be too!
Especially when you see someone working hard to learn a new trick, you should definitely cheer them on. Remember, failure is how everyone progresses in skateboarding, so don’t be afraid to fail or look silly while you’re learning!
Get back up when you fall
If you fall while trying to land a trick, make sure you get right back up, especially if other skaters are waiting for their turn. Yes, it may feel like a relief to just lay on the ground after you’ve taken a fall, but get out of the way first and sit down.
If you get seriously hurt, make sure to call for help. In that case, don’t worry about rushing out of the way, everyone will stop and understand if there’s a real issue.
Don’t vandalize or leave trash
If you enjoy your skatepark, it’s seriously important that you respect it always!
In most cases, skateparks are funded and built by your city. Therefore, the city usually also has the right to shut it down at any time.
Never leave your trash, such as water bottles, candy wrappers, or any other type of garbage just laying around! Most skateparks have a trash can, and if not, take your trash with you.
If it’s the end of the day and you see some trash left behind, pick it up and throw it away. It takes 2 seconds to do this and will show your city and the local police that you care about the park and want it to stay around.
Also, never vandalize or spray graffiti on a skatepark. This is simply about respect the park and keeping it looking good. In many cases, this will cause the city to have to pay to clean the graffiti or vandalism, likely shutting down the park.
Don’t forget to yell “Board!”
Lastly, if you fall and your board goes flying out or heading towards other skaters, simply yell “board” to alert the other skaters to watch out.
This is skateboarding equivalent of yelling “Fore!” during a game of golf!
Skatepark Tips for Beginners
Choose the best time of day to visit the skatepark
When you’re first learning, it’s a great idea to go to the skatepark early in the morning when fewer skaters are likely to be around.
With fewer skaters, you can focus more on your tricks and practicing on different obstacles of the park without spending as much time taking turns with others, etc.
In addition, the people skating in the morning will likely also be more beginner skaters there specifically to practice and learn. As a beginner, these are the best people to skate with as you can motivate each other and learn new tricks together!
Smile and make friends
When you’re new to the skatepark, it’s always good to establish some connections with the other skaters who were there skating before you.
Remember, everyone there is there because they love or are interested in skating just like you! Just give them a simple nod, say what’s up, or give them a fist bump when they land a trick.
One of the coolest things about the skatepark is that it’s really quite easy to make new friends.
Most importantly, don’t forget to go with the flow and have fun!
That is the true essence of skateboarding — whether you’re skating an empty parking lot or skating your local skatepark!
All of the tips mentioned here are based on my personal experience as a beginner, trying to learn how to navigate skatepark culture! Through simply being friendly and following skatepark etiquette, I eventually felt I had become a real part of my local skate community – you can too!
Article written by GB Castillo.