Let’s be honest, some days skateboarding makes you hate yourself. We all have days we can’t seem to land anything, and I cannot express how red in the face I can get! What is even more frustrating is watching friends progress quicker than myself. However, skateboarding isn’t about being better than everyone, it’s all about having fun!
Who’s Considered A “Good” Skateboarder anyway?
One of the best parts about skateboarding is that it is subjective. How you observe a style, or trick intrigues you to want more. When I first started skating, my sister’s friend at the time had a custom grind bench made with a plank of wood, nailed to 2 tree stumps finished with metal coping. New to skateboarding at the time, this guy had darkslides on lock. This trick is difficult, and one which inspired me to skate.
The point being, by developing awareness, skateboarding is what you make it. Everyone has a unique perspective, nobody can take that from you!
I don’t have to mention why exercise is essential, and science confirms skateboarding is a complete workout itself. Although the actual question becomes, does working out (at the gym) improve the ability to skate better? Although skateboarding is an excellent aerobic exercise, basic weight training can enhance performance.
Effects Of Building Muscle
There was a time traveling to the gym 4 days a week became a habit. There I would follow an hours long full-body workout routine, split over 3-4 days during the week. After 2 months, I felt stronger, and energy levels spiked. I took a break from skating for about a month to remain concentrated. At the park, I felt a significant improvement.
- It took half the time to warm up, my legs felt much stronger, more responsive.
- There is a stronger grasp of strength to pop/flick tricks harder with higher confidence (hard flips).
- Longer skate sessions without dying from soreness the next day.
- A Simple workout 3x a week has justified the benefits were well worth it.
As a side note, I did pay a trainer for that month to get started (as I had no ideas where to start!)
Rolling your ankle is one of the most annoying and painful injuries. I’m certain most of us have been strolling down the road, and suddenly our ankle gives out unexpectedly. The benefits of incorporating balance training improve body awareness, reaction time, joint stability, and strength for long-term health. This is just another means to develop and build your body to reduce screwing up your joints as we grow older.
Several approaches to implement into skateboarding:
- Balance boards are perfect for establishing core muscles and developing overall posture.
- Pumping on a mini-ramp, or skating transition.
- Manuals (on flat ground). My friends and I would challenge ourselves to see how many parking spaces we could pass through.
One area I never made myself conscious early on was stretching. There are so many reasons to implement simple stretches into your everyday routine. How regularly are you sore the next day it’s almost painful? The plan to ease this would be to throw some dynamic stretches before skating to warm up muscles.
Some Examples Include:
- Lunge with a twist
- High knees
- Jump Squats
- Plank walk out
- Arm circles
At one time I chose an at home workout, running to the gym wasn’t my thing until realizing basic weight training makes a huge difference. So, I bought Insanity which, for those that don’t know, a high interval cardio exercise hosted by Shaun T, a fitness professional. This program will kick your ass, increase flexibility, and overall loosen up the body.
You can start a mini home gym with your own weights of course, and weights can be found cheap on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. In addition, eating the right food fuels our bodies to sustain a solid energy level, overall you’ll feel GREAT!
Emulate Your Favorite Skaters
How do you find great ideas? Who inspires you? In skateboarding, you will probably associate a connection to your friends, local skaters, and professionals. When a new skate part is about to be released, the anticipation has me stoked!
A unique style. Inspiration is a compelling force inspired by extreme energy. There’s this mysterious connection we have to how a person skates. A skaters style has this sense of drawing awareness that can be addicting. For example, one of my favorite professional skaters is Sewa Kroetkov. His buttery smooth style on flat ground is awe-inspiring, and mind blowing!
Find interviews with your favorite pros! I would pick up my knowledge from magazines growing up as the internet and phones were not as advanced. Here you will discover the most valuable advice, incorporating what they ride, and reasons behind selections. This is a great way to locate valuable information to expand your knowledge.
Follow them on social media (obviously). This again opens a moment to ask them questions like what their practice routine is or special techniques they might have to do tricks (in comment section). Whatever you do, don’t be that person sliding into their DM’s asking for free boards lol!
Also, following skateshops, local brands, or even distributors gives an inside scoop inside the industry and product giveaways, and sales going on.
Proper Skateboard Setup
Common questions I hear are “Is this a good setup?” or “What are the best brands?” This is subjective, so consider the following.
My suggestion is to investigate other brands, shapes, and sizes. There are so many you couldn’t try them in a lifetime! The mistake I made was selecting a board based on width, and the shape of the kicktail. Getting older, I researched more into how wheelbase, and concave shape which allowed me to define what brands fit my style best.
When choosing the next pair of skateboard wheels, get ones designed for the proper terrain. The mistake I made was wondering why my wheels kept shredding apart so rapidly. I would notice chunks of my wheel peeling off only to realize durometer (wheel hardness) makes a huge difference. When faced with rough pavement, a bigger, harder wheel will do the job perfectly.
Many skateboarders will suggest Independent as one of the best, and I’ll agree they’re well known, and REALLY good. Although, remember trucks play a great role in how responsive your board will become whether grinding or ripping around town.
The bearings that I have skated for the past decade has never gave me any issues. I place little priority on bearings because with good upkeep, they’ll last forever. Yes, shields break, casings crack but I’ve never had this dilemma with Bones Reds. The entire reason for a higher scale product would be for a cruiser setup or for longboarding.
Applying risers to your setup is great for many reasons, but are not a vital requirement.
- Shock pads reduce stress, decreasing pressure cracks.
- The extra height allows clearance to avoid wheel bite.
- Increasing height may help pop your board slightly.
Wear Proper Skate Shoes
The proper skate shoe depends on what’s comfortable to you. Now, I can’t see your feet through the computer screen, however, the right fit makes a great difference. Nobody enjoys a tight fitting shoe causing blisters or sore feet. Remember, everybody has varying degrees of orthopedic needs, and thus encounter a distinctive feel than others.
There are 4 important features:
- A durable shoe that with reinforced toe and heel area around sole.
- Nice grippy sole that sticks to the board.
- Generous board feel for trick performance.
- Affordable, I regularly search for $40 deals, $65 is max I’d spend.
How To Improve Your Skateboarding Skills
One downfall that slowed down my ability to get better was lacking inconsistency. Often, we spend hours, even months learning one trick. Sometimes we feel defeated by our emotions and move on. I’ve realized there are instances often overlooked.
For example, I constantly had trouble learning krooked grinds. To this day I have not landed one, and the reason is riding my trucks way too tight. From the beginning, I’ve always ridden on the tight side, and advise this to be a bad habit. The reason is primarily because of how this affects locking into grinds, and overall diminished board control. Overall, I maintained this setting because popping tricks on a stiff setting is easier than with loose trucks.
After 2 year break, I couldn’t deal anymore. I slightly loosen kingpin bolts just enough (less then quarter turn) every couple weeks to adjust, and get used to riding on that setting. Honestly, looking back I’m not sure how I found skating enjoyable riding around stiff as a rock.
Overcoming Your Greatest Fears
The impact fear has in our lives appears in many forms. For us skateboarders, we love to confront and take on this dreadful emotion. We risk falling and slamming our faces, (guys our manhood!)
How do you deal with and overcome fear though?
This has been a complicated mental obstacle, and to express this can be impossible as it stimulates people in unique forms. Although I can think of moments that have pushed me break this weakness in times there was no alternative decision.
There was a handrail at the park I’ve visualized boardsliding down, and this wasn’t a big rail, even though the tiny run up created a challenge. I popped my board on top to catch a feel for how high I had to ollie, and how far down the rail my board would hit, and begin the slide.
To commit with both feet on the board was hard, and insanely frustrating! My friend kept pegging me on “Just do it, dude!” As he Frontside Feebled down first try… this fired me up! Still, I couldn’t seem to freaking eliminate that overwhelming sensation of something bad happening. Flying up the euro, Cody (pro skater now) passes me a couple tips. My heart racing, my mind clenched because two things were in mind.
First, the rail was small enough I wouldn’t smash my balls bailing.
The second realization became the influences surrounding me. This cleared negative thoughts of (what could) happen.
Upon landing, at that moment struck a feeling that reminds me why I love skateboarding- the feeling of accomplishment and pure bliss together is INSANE!
- Surround yourself with good people- this boosts positive energy.
- Overcome fear by understanding what you will receive landing a trick (often times it’s worth it!)
- Overthinking a trick (especially on rails) after you ollie can lead to devastation.
- Always practice on smaller objects working your way up slowly, stairs for example.
Tips To Improve Your Skateboard Style
I have observed myself skate on camera and I’ll admit I HATE my style. The way my body moves, knees bend, and arms flop around like a dead fish bothers a me lot! I’m certain many can relate and fixing this takes time to control specific movements.
As if re-learning our first Ollie, pay attention to how you position yourself. Be aware of how you are shifting/rotating your shoulders, this helps develop complete board control.
Watch how pros ride. Chris Cole has one of the most effortless styles out there. My personal all-time favorite has to be Mark Appleyard for sure.
Find Others To Skate With
There are many occasions where you have no option but to skate alone (temporarily). I moved from Vermont to Connecticut leaving behind a whole life. The most challenging part became how I would figure out my skate routine. I devoted considerable time at the skatepark after work at least 5 days a week. What happens now? Where can I spend my time other than sitting home licking the walls for 3 hours?
- Facebook Groups
- SkateYou (app)
Go To Events And Contests
My favorite pastime was impatiently awaiting demos from industry leading teams. We would all gather on top of ramps and tight corners of the park to watch. My first demo attended, was held by Sushi wheels. Grabbing pros signatures and watching them shred gives a closer feel to professional skateboarding.
Keep On Skateboarding!
My hopes are this post gave a good insight on a few areas where anybody can advance their skills on, or off the board. I plan on updating this post as time continues on, and for any that have ideas they would recommend, drop a comment for inspiration!