Starting Kids Out Skateboarding

A great stance, and a real skateboard

If you’re looking to safely start your son or daughter out skateboarding, here are 5 tips to get you going in the right direction. While these are common-sense tips for most skateboarders, as a non-skateboarding parent you might not realize that you can easily make some common mistakes when getting your young skater started.

  • Buy a real skateboard. You may think that to invest one-third or half of what skateshops charge for a complete skateboard is a good idea to start your son or daughter out skateboarding. Don’t do it! You could actually be messing them up. Toy skateboards from sporting goods stores have plastic wheels which are slippery and unpredictable, as well as plastic trucks that don’t turn as well. Even first-timers should have a real skateboard from a specialty shop.

  • Get a skateboard helmet. While it may seem like your child’s bicycle helmet can work for their first attempts at skateboarding, it actually is more dangerous than not wearing one at all. Bicycle helmets are not designed to protect from the most common skateboarding falls, and are also designed as “single-impact” helmets, which should be retired once they have a significant impact.
  • Closed-toe, flat-soled shoes only! Many kids already have skate-style shoes, and make sure your child does, or get them some. Open-toe sandals and running shoes do not work as well. Sandals don’t provide enough protection, and running shoes or hiking boots have an undesirable lifted-heel, as well as lug soles that grip fine on dirt and grass, but can lead to falls from a skateboard. Skate shoes have a flat sole with no “lugs” that catch and make it hard to adjust your feet on the grip tape.
  • Start them out in the driveway or on a flat surface when the skatepark is deserted. The first skills your child should learn are stepping on and off the skateboard, placing the feet over the front bolts and on the tail, and stepping off. They need a flat, uncrowded surface for practicing this.
  • Learn the few basics first, on a flat surface only. Don’t let new skaters try to drop in or roll down a bank or transition at the skatepark until they first have a good understanding of rolling and pushing, turning using the trucks, and turning using a kick-turn, or picking up the front wheels to rotate the board on the back wheels. If kids have mastery of these few fundamentals first, their attempts at tackling more advanced terrain at the skatepark will be much more successful.

Use these five tips to give your kids a head start and a safer beginning to their skateboarding.