Skateboarding is not a pursuit limited to fearless teenagers who enjoy attempting daredevil tricks. In fact, the number of skateboarders among young adults over 18 has increased in recent years. If you want to fulfill a childhood dream of learning how to ride a skateboard, you may be confused at the array of choices for skateboards and gear on the market. The following primer can help you when you are shopping for a skateboard and equipment suitable for beginners.
Select the Right Skateboard and Retailer
When you begin shopping for the right skateboard, stay away from products you find in toy stores and the recreation section of department stores. Chances are the skateboards you find in these stores will be cheap, poorly designed and heavy.
The quality of the wheels, bearings, trucks (the board’s metal axles) and deck is very important. Do not purchase skateboards with plastic or rubber wheels. Quality skateboards will have urethane wheels that grip the ground and will not rip apart like rubber or plastic.
It is better to shop at specialty retailers including online stores that specialize in skateboards and skateboarding equipment. You want to buy skateboards that are the right width and length for your skills and may need to consult with a customer service representative to help you choose the right equipment.
Get the Right Shoes
While you can skate in any type of sneaker, you want to make sure that your shoes have the right kind of sole and support. Some skateboard retailers also offer shoes designed specifically for the sport.
Regular sneakers will not offer you proper grip. Skateboard sneakers have reinforced side panels and extra padding. In addition, instead of textured tread bottoms like many types of sneakers, skateboard shoes have wide, flat bottoms.
While you may be excited to get out on the pavement to test out your new board before you have proper shoes, you do not want to risk twisting your ankle because you do not have proper footwear. And never, ever skate in flips flops. You will probably end up with a painful, bloody stubbed toe.
Buy Protective Equipment
While it is common sense that you should wear protective gear when you skateboard, tens of thousands of people fail to heed basic precautions while out skating. In fact, injuries from skateboarding account for 78,000 emergency room visits per year.
Instead of putting your health at risk, invest in quality protective gear. Your safety equipment should include:
Make sure that your helmet has removable inner padding that you can adjust and sits low on your forehead but does not impede your sight. If you suffer a bad fall and damage your helmet, you should replace it.
If you do not want gravel burns and deep cuts and scratches, always wear your knee and elbow pads. Wrists guards are essential to prevent broken bones in your hand and wrists if you fall. When you are skateboarding in a windy area with debris flying around, you should also wear goggles.
You can purchase these accessories from skateboard retailers. Some stores offer safety kits that will include pads and wrist guards. If you plan on practicing your skills at a skate park, be aware that some facilities require helmets and elbow and knee pads.
Learn the Basics
When you begin learning to maneuver your skateboard, there are some basic skills you should master first: proper stance, pushing off, turning and stopping.
You can buy skateboard instructional videos from online retailers to help get you started. There is also a wealth of free instructional videos and guides online on popular video sharing and DIY websites.
In addition, some recreation centers and colleges offer skateboarding lessons for people of all ages. If you are not shy, you can also go hang out at skateboard parks and ask experienced skaters for tips on basic skills and tricks.