OK, before we start learning how to skateboard we need to have the right equipment.
First, we should pad up, correctly. Wearing protective pads is strongly recommended. It allows us to take more risks and learn faster. It also prevents us hurting ourselves, and when we are injured we can’t skate. Which is lame… We’ll go into more detail about how falling is key to learning later. And pads are really important when learning to fall.
Get pads that you pull over the limbs, like socks, rather than just strapping around the limb. These are less likely to move when you’re moving. In addition to this the straps should go all the way around the limb, not just join with velcro at the back of the limb.
Put your wrist guards on to protect the palm of the hand.
The is the number one mistake when padding up.
Make sure you put on your wrist guards correctly. There should be a hard part that protects the palm of the hand. The wrist guard should allow the wrist to bend right back. I always see these being put on backwards, which could lead to a nasty accident. The wrist guard should be reasonably comfortable when worn correctly.
Put on a helmet
It’s best to get a helmet which protects the forehead. Not all do. Make sure you helmet doesn’t move around too much.
Refer to our guide on buying safety pads & helmets for skateboarding.
Check your skateboard
OK, we need to make sure we have a working skateboard. There’s a lot of rubbish out there, and if you don’t have a decent skateboard you will not learn, not matter how committed you are. This is because if the skateboard doesn’t turn, you will fall off.
Let’s use the push bike as analogy. If you were learning to ride a bike and the handlebars didn’t turn, you’d fall off. This is because before actually steering, handlebars are used to correct your centre of gravity and keep you upright. The trucks on a skateboard are like the handlebars on a bike.
To see if your trucks are fit for purpose, hold a wheel with each hand, and squeeze one hand and then the other. The trucks should easily flex to either side, like so. If they don’t. You’re out of luck. What you have is not a skateboard, but a skateboard shaped object. So now you need to go and buy a skateboard.
Please refer to more details on our blog post on buying a beginner skateboard.
Try a skateboard before you buy
I will add that just because your trucks flex it doesn’t mean that they are right for you. You need to make sure that they are:
- the right size for you (again, check the buying guide or go to a skater owned shop), and
- are set up correctly for your body weight.
Only later on, when we learn to carve, we will find out for sure if the board & trucks are the right size, and if your trucks are loose enough.
It is best to try a setup before buying. I would even suggest you get to level of being able to carve before you buy, because it is quite difficult to recommend a skateboard, without knowing a lot about a person’s size, weight, personality type, what they want to skate etc. We suggest booking a skateboarding lesson on one of our boards before making a purchase.
Get to know your skateboard
When you’re confident you have a real skateboard, it’s time to get to know it.
First figure which end is the front. Look at the graphics – this should show you which end is which. The front of the board is called the nose. The back is called the tail.
Ensure you always have the nose at the front. There isn’t a lot of difference between the nose and the tail on the average popsicle shaped board. Then nose is slightly steeper and longer.
The reason to keep the nose at the front is because, as you use your board, the bushings in the trucks will soften and you will become accustomed to the subtle difference between the two trucks. The board will begin to feel your own. When you have your board the wrong way round you will notice – it will feel like someone else’s board, and it won’t feel comfortable and will distract you.
To quickly and easily tell which is your nose from the grip side up, you can put a mark on the grip tape using a key or something sharp. Maybe a N for Nose.
OK, now you’re ready to move on to the next step… Let go work out what our stance is..