Is there any sport radder than skateboarding?
Here at Cooler HQ we're devoted snowboarders, rollerbladers and surfers, but we all agree that there's no cooler way to travel in a city than on a skateboard.
The two biggest problems people face with starting to skateboard is the amount of lingo they don't understand and the amount of hard tarmac they're scared to hit.
While we can't help you with the tarmac, we can give you the starter points you need to know to et out there and give it a go.
Here are the top five points you need to become a true city skater...
Picking Your Board
The best thing to do when deciding on a skateboard set up is to go to your local skate shop and talk to the people there. They will be able to help you choose a good beginner skateboard suited to your needs.
Do keep in mind different people have different opinions on brands, so no matter what advice you receive from others, you should always make sure you’re fully happy with the end product.
How much money should you spend on a skateboard?
Blank set-ups are usually a lot cheaper (around £70) than pro decks and ride just as well. But if you have enough money, an average pro set up will cost you upwards of £100.
Do NOT under any circumstance run down to your local toy shop and buy a board there just because it is cheaper than the ones you’ve seen advertised elsewhere.
These boards are badly designed, heavy and likely to break on your first attempt at an Ollie!
Setting Up Your Board
When you’re ready to buy your first skateboard, these are the four things you’ll need in order to put together your set up:
1. Deck (+ Grip tape) – The deck is the wooden bit you stand on and the grip tape is the sand papery layer that’s applied to the top of the deck to provide grip for your shoes.
Decks are sold by their width size. More technical skaters tend to opt for boards between 7.5 and 8 inches – the thinner boards allow for quick rotation. Others who like to do big tricks and skate pools usually opt for 8 inches and up.
When learning to skate, a slightly wider board generally feels more stable under your feet.
2. Trucks – These are the parts that attach the deck to the wheels and also allow you to turn. The most important thing when buying a set of trucks is to make sure they are not wider than your deck.
3. Wheels – Generally speaking, when starting out, opt for 52mm to 55mm diameter wheels. As your skating progresses you will be able to choose a set of wheels better suited to your style of skating.
4. Bearings – Don’t be fooled into spending a lot of money on bearings. When you’re starting out, look for bearings rated between ABEC 3-5 and cost no more than £20.
Finding Your Stance
There are two ways to stand on a skateboard. Regular stance is with your left foot placed at the front of the board, pushing with your right.
Goofy stance is with the right foot placed at the front of the board, pushing with your left. Try out both, you will generally find one feels more natural than the other.
Although there’s no reason you can’t skate in normal sports shoes, you should consider investing in a pair of skate shoes.
As with any other sport, a lot of work has gone into creating a shoe that will provide optimum support specific to its discipline and also help enhance performance.
Skate shoes have larger, flatter bottoms than sports shoes, which allow the skater to get a better grip. They also have reinforced side panels to minimise wear from tricks and have extra padding around the back to support your ankles.
When you get on a board you will want to jump straight to learning tips, but knowing how to stop is just as important as knowing how to go along!
You can either put all your weight on your back foot so it drags along the ground and you’ll come to a gradual stop or take your back foot off and drag it lightly along the ground beside your board.
When you are comfortable doing that, progress on to learning tricks.
An Ollie is one of the first tricks most skateboarders try to master, as it is the basis for many other tricks.
Punch “skateboard trick tips" into a search engine online and you’ll find a host of videos, which offer valuable knowledge on how to learn different types of skateboard tricks!
Read skate magazines and watch skate films – you will find other skateboarders will give you the inspiration to go and try something new.
More than anything however, there's nothing more inspiring than skating with others!
Not only does it make skating more fun and give you the motivation to go out more often, it also allows you to see other how others progress which in turn will advance your own skating level.
Meet other riders in your area check out these two sites:
The Side Project – One of the biggest female skateboarding networking sites run by American skater Lisa Whitaker. It also has a Skateboarding Network section as part of the site where you can find other female riders in your area
Skater Girl – A support network for female skateboarders, which helps women learn to skate, runs events and competitions and reports on female skateboard news and action from around the world.