If you or your kids are ready to hop the fence and jump into the wonderful world of skateboarding you are in luck. It's not as scary as you think. It's actually the TRICKS that you should be more worried about. But more on that later.
Skateboarding has always been one of the more easier sports to take up. All you really need is a board and some dedication.
However, unless your last name is Hosoi, Caballero, or Hawk it's most likely something that you will not be able to pick up very quickly. Your future weekends will consist of hours upon hours of attempts and failures. And then even more attempts and failures mixed in with some doctor's visits. Nevertheless, nothing is more rewarding than finally landing a trick that you have been busting your butt (literally) for hours/days/weeks/years.
I've been pretty much riding the standard "double tail" or "popsicle" style boards for the last few decades. Some people also call them "double kick" boards. They've always been really good for regular and switch stance tricks. However, there has been an uptick in old-school re-issues of the classic boards many of us grew up with.
I have my eye on you, classic Caballero deck! I can't even recall how many of these I blew through back in the day. If you don't know who Steve Caballero is check out his website at www.stevecaballero.com You can even score one of his classic boards I mentioned above. These are always great gifts as well. (hint, hint).
EVERCHANGING FASHION TRENDS
Now that you are all pumped up, have your deck all set up and ready to roll, you are just about ready to hit the streets. Before you do just be sure to dress accordingly.
Skateboarding has always been about individuality and personal expression so when it comes to the kind of clothes you need to don you are also in luck. Are you sitting down? There is literally NO DRESS CODE. Talk about having options.
When I got started back in the late 80's I had no idea I would be rocking baggy pants in the next decade. Pants so big that I had to trim the bottoms. It all just kind of happened. Thankfully, social media wasn't around then so I am pretty sure there aren't too many photos of me in the wild.
The 90's will always be a stand out decade for skateboarding on many levels. Some may say even a black eye in regards to fashion, but it was a fun time indeed. I mean, I am a 36 waist and was rocking at least 42 waists back then. What were we thinking?
Anyway. As I mentioned, you can wear whatever the hell it is you want in this sport. Most riders today wear t-shirts, polos, button downs, flannels, tank tops, Jerry Rice jerseys, etc. for tops. And for bottoms you can wear shorts, jeans, cargo pants (Camo, but only if you are Josh Kalis or Rob Dyrdek), leggings, Nyjah shorts, sweat pants, track pants or whatever you have in your closet.
The main thing is to wear whatever you feel comfortable in. That's about it.
Just don't over think it. Get up. Get dressed. Go push.
Which reminds me. Proper shoes are really important once you start adding more tricks to your portfolio.
Since you are just starting out I would recommend getting a shoe that has a ton of support for your feet and ankles. Anything high top like Vans or Nike (with tons of air) will be just fine. You can go to any discount shoe store and find pretty much anything on the rack in your size that looks remotely like an athletic show. That is all you'll need at first.
Once you become sponsored you will then be able to get shoes sent to you for FREE. And, when you become good enough as Jamie Thomas you will be able to eliminate shoes all together and simply ride barefoot! Talk about setting some good career goals and saving some money in the process. Win, win.
Okay. Now that you have a board in hand and are dressed from head-to-toe in some comfortable gear, you are now ready to hit the streets. Or the front lawn as I once did.
MUST HAVE BALANCE
There are two main things you will need to learn right away when you are just starting out -- balance and how to push.
You can learn how to balance on a board by just setting it on the grass and pretending to ride and do tricks. This is a perfect place to start and you can take a few falls on softer environment before heading to the concrete jungle. Practice your ollies. Your manuals. Your Comb Your Hair airs. Get creative.
Sidewalk cracks are also great places to learn how to balance and ollie. Just place the wheels right on top/inside them and practice away. Practice balancing here as well. The sky's the limit from here. Just be careful as often times when you ollie your board will not necessarily land back in the crack. This will be your true test of balance, grasshopper.
Now lastly, and most importantly you must decide how you are going to push.
There is either "regular" foot where your left foot is in front and you push with your right foot.
Or "goofy" where your right foot is up front and you push with your left.
Notice how I said that regardless of the stance your front foot must be up towards the front of the board, right around the bolts.
I mention this because unless you are under the age of 3 or are skating switch stance I would definitely advise from pushing with your foot placed on the back of the board. Fact. This type of pushing style helped inspire the name of this website.
It's called pushing MONGO and you don't want to get caught up in the bad habit of pushing that way. Trust me.
NOW GO RIDE
Okay. Now that you're all set with a board, shoes, clothes (and maybe some protective gear), and tons of determination you are ready to hit the streets (or ramps). Get out there and practice balancing and pushing. Roll on every surface as possible - my favorite places are smooth hallways at schools and covered parking garages.
The most important thing is to just have fun and not worry about what all the other riders are doing or landing. Your time will come and before you know it I will be rolling around on one of YOUR boards.
Until next time.
Oh, and thank you skateboarding.
Skateboarding changed my life.