HOW TO BUY YOUR FIRST SKATEBOARD
So you've decided that you are going bite the bullet and get a skateboard, OR your son or daughter has been watching Street League and are hassling you to get them a setup. Either way, you may need some help with which board to get, and this small guide will hopefully give you some insight. I've tried to cover the most frequently asked questions, and hopefully, it will provide you with a little more confidence when purchasing your first whizz-plank.
What's the best skateboard for me?
The first thing you should think about is, "Where am I going to use this skateboard?" There are many skateboarding approaches, and having the right setup will make the experience more pleasurable.
If your idea is to get a skateboard as a mode of transport, you might be better off looking at a cruiser-style board. These boards are generally more suited to taking a trip to the store or scooting around town. They come in a mix of shapes but typically have a more retro look and feel. Softer wheels are a crucial element of any good cruiser as they run more smoothly on rougher surfaces, and you get more roll per push. These boards come in many shapes and sizes; you can build one from scratch or look for a complete setup. Another approach is to add soft wheels to a standard skateboard and still have a "cruiser." You can ride rougher surfaces but maintain the ollie control that comes with a more standardised shape.
The most popular style of skateboard is the standard "popsicle stick."
Over the years, skateboards have gone through many shapes and styles, and through trial and error, skaters have settled on a more lollypop stick-shaped board. The main difference in these shapes is width, length, concave, and wheelbase. Skateboard width is usually the first thing to consider. Skateboards are measured in inches and start at about 7 inches wide and go up to around 11 inches. Trends move around, but a standard width is approximately 8 inches. This size of board is an excellent allrounder for beginners and suitable for most first-time skaters. If you are a younger skater (4-11yrs old), it might be worth looking at a smaller size; personally, I am a fan of the larger board for little kids as it allows them to kneel, sit down, and generally have a more significant skateboard play with. The only thing to watch is not to make the skateboard too heavy.
How do I choose the right size?
The main thing to remember when thinking about board size is, the bigger they are, the more they weigh. When beginning skating, it's crucial to have a board that you feel comfortable riding. Although skateboarding can be awkward and feel very alien, having a board you feel happy with will allow you to progress and eventually relax when rolling. The average size is around 8 inches, and this will give most skaters the room they need to learn to push, kickturn and ollie. Younger riders may suit a 7.5inch deck as this is slightly smaller. If you visit a skate shop, you are always encouraged to take boards down and handle them to feel the shape before committing to buy, so don't be shy when selecting your first stick. Another method is to go to the skatepark and ask the local skaters. They can give you no end of feedback on skateboard shapes, and standing on a board with wheels attached will provide you with a good idea of how a board will feel under your feet.
Should I get a complete or a custom setup?
There are two types of skateboard, the complete and the custom set up. A "complete" comes with all the elements supplied (trucks, wheels, tape, etc.) and is generally a cheaper option ranging from £40 to £90. These are an excellent first board, and at The Skate Society, we have a good selection of complete skateboards. They vary in size, concave, and all have reliable components that should last you for that first year or two skating; and as you progress and wear out the board or feel the desire for a new set of wheels, you can swap the elements out to improve and customise your set up.
The second option is a custom build. These are essentially the same as a complete but will generally consist of more high-end components, a pro board, pro trucks, and higher quality wheels and bearings. A complete setup will usually cost north of £130, but the quality will be noticeable, which is a good option if you can afford it.
Should I wear Pads and a Helmet?
Skateboarding is dangerous, and it's worth wearing pads when you start. If you are only going to wear one thing, a helmet is essential and probably the most vital safety equipment piece. Most bad slams happen when you least expect them and a head injury is a genuine possibility if you don't cover your noggin'. When it comes to pads, it is also possible to buy full pad sets or spend more and get higher-end protection. For a beginner, a complete pad set by Pro-tec or Bullet is a good starting point. They offer adequate protection and give the rider that little bit more confidence. Helmets come in many shapes and sizes and start at around £20. As with all skate kit, it makes sense to get the best you can as it will last longer and provide reliable service for longer.
Does Skateboarding hurt?
There is a phrase in skateboarding, "Pay to play," and it rings true at all levels. Even pros eat it regularly, and any progress in skateboarding will have an element of risk. Wearing pads will only offer a certain amount of protection, but the main thing is to skate within your abilities. There will always be the need to challenge yourself and take risks but do this based on your skill level. Skating isn't just about learning tricks; it's also about knowing your limits, testing them, but doing it without breaking yourself off. One of the biggest lessons you will learn is how to fall. It's as much a part of skating as the tricks and probably the most overlooked of all skateboard maneuvers. Watch any good skateboarder, and you will see them fall regularly. It's an essential part of skateboarding practice, and as a life skill, it will serve you both on and off the skateboard.
Can I get skateboarding lessons?
Getting a few lessons at the beginning of your skateboarding forays can help you learn the right way to do things. Pushing, stance, turning, kickturns, dropping in, and stopping are all excellent places to start and are the basic building blocks of skating. Knowing how to approach these foundational moves will give you a solid base to build on. Once you have these basics, it's just a question of practice. Like most things that are hard, the more you practice, the more you learn. Initial progress can be slow, but keep on trying and don't get put off by falls. Always ask for help if you are unsure and enjoy the ride.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about skateboard lessons, please get in touch.