Skating’s gotta be fun. It’s playing. That’s why learning it is so unlike learning other sports, with the drills, practice, lessons and other stuff that’s more a part of school than a sport. In skateboarding, trial and error is a big part of learning, but that doesn’t mean coaching can’t be part of it.
The “error” in trial-and-error style learning is actually the best mind training there is. As Daniel Coyne talks about in “The Talent Code,” making small errors and detecting them is actually the best type of rehearsal and practice a person can do – whether it’s for a sport, a musical instrument, or any activity. By detecting small mistakes safely and re-trying multiple attempts at a movement, we train our brains to do it effortlessly. That’s the secret behind muscle-memory and true mastery.
In skateboarding, we learn how to fall safely, out of necessity. If we took a hard “slam” every time a trick went wrong, we wouldn’t be able to learn much of anything at all. But, by learning how to “bail,” or how to step off the board before the hard fall happens, we enable our own path of learning. And, we can stay on that path our whole lives, even as old skateboarders.
But when we’re letting the session happen with kids, or coaching a group of skaters, letting the session happen always has to be tempered with guidance through the fundamentals and basics – first! Make sure skaters know how to push and roll, jump on and jump off a moving board, kickturn and tic-tac on the flat, and carve turns using the trucks, before they try harder stuff like dropping in or rolling down the hugest bank in the skatepark.
I’m just sayin’…the fundamentals are contained within every single trick advanced and intermediate skaters do. Let’s spend more time learning the basic tricks before we slam too hard. And learn to bail.
Here’s a fundamental tricks list, after the first few basics, above, are learned:
- Kickturn on the flat, and on a bank.
- Fakie kickturn, from rolling back down a bank.
- Carved turns, using the trucks without picking up the front wheels.
- Manual. (wheelie)
- Pumping back and forth in a small halfpipe or bowl.
- Kickturns on transition.