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What Equipment Do You Need to Skateboard?
Every skater has had the thought that protective gear looks lame. However, keeping your body protected is the only way to ensure you can skateboard and perform advanced skateboarding tricks without major bodily harm. For a safer skateboarding experience, look online or head to a local skate shop to get the following gear and equipment:
- Helmet: You should always wear a multi-sport or skateboarding helmet that fits your head snugly (look for one with installable pads—it shouldn’t move when you shake your head). A helmet should sit low on your forehead and have side straps that form a “V” shape around each ear as well as a buckle that fastens tightly under your chin. If you can fit more than two fingers between the strap and your chin, it’s not tight enough. Also, be sure your helmet is multi-use and capable of taking more than one hit.
- Wrist guards: Wrist guards reduce the chance of twisting or breaking your wrists when you fall or bail on a trick. Not everyone wears them, but they’re sensible if you’re starting out and haven’t learned how to fall properly or if you tend to land on your hands more than your knees.
- Knee and elbow pads: When you fall—and you will fall—pads prevent or reduce the severity of cuts, scrapes, bruises, and burns. Additionally, knee pads can be used in a knee slide maneuver to slide to safely on a vert transition. Make sure yours have sufficient padding and an external plastic cap designed to take abuse.
- Skate shoes: Whatever your personal aesthetic, a good skate shoe has closed toes and flat, thick, durable, slip-resistant rubber soles that hold on to grip tape and prevent shocks from traveling up your feet. Padded tongues and thick midsoles are also key for protecting your ankles from spinning boards and obstacles.
How to Ride a Skateboard
Like any skill, learning to skateboard takes time, practice, and a lot of patience. Every skateboarder should learn the basics before attempting new tricks or trying to keep up with experienced skaters. If you want to hit the skatepark or try out some street skating, check out the following tips:
- Choosing a stance. There are two stances for skateboarding: regular and goofy. Regular means that you skate with your left foot forward and push your board with your right foot. Goofy means that you skate with your right foot forward and push with your left foot. To determine which stance is right for you, stand up straight, and have someone push you gently from behind. Whichever foot you brace yourself with is your lead foot.
- Pushing: Place your front foot over the front truck bolts. It should face forward toward the nose of the board but at a slight angle. Use your back foot to push alongside the board and propel yourself forward. To get more speed, push multiple times. When you’ve achieved your desired speed, place your back foot on the tail so that it’s perpendicular to the deck. Once your back foot is on the board, pivot your front foot to the same perpendicular position as your back foot.
- Turning: With your feet in skate position, lean in the direction you want to turn by placing pressure on either your heels or toes. Be sure to keep your weight centered so that when the board turns you don’t find yourself off balance.
- Stopping: While in motion, take your back foot off the tail of the board and place it on the ground parallel to your board on the toe side. Drag your back foot along the ground, applying pressure to your foot until you come to a full stop. Be sure to even out the weight you place on your feet—if too much weight is on your back foot, you will stop, but your board will keep going.
Want to Learn More About Skateboarding?
Whether you’re just learning how to ollie or ready to tackle a Madonna (the vert trick, not the singer), the MasterClass All-Access Pass can help you find confidence on your board with exclusive instructional videos from skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, street skater Riley Hawk, and Olympic hopeful Lizzie Armanto.