Skateboarders are some of the most encouraging and welcoming people but local skateparks don’t always show that side of skating to the new skateboarder.
The truth is, skateparks are very intimidating to the new skater and can sometimes leave you thinking it’s going to be impossible to make new friends.
However, we promise you this is just an initiation process every skater has had to go through – even Tony Hawk. Because as you will read in this article, skaters want to welcome you in but you have to gain their trust and respect first.
In this article, we’re going to show just exactly how to do that and in the best way no matter your skill level.
In addition to going over How to Make New Friends at the Skatepark, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- What is Localism?
- How to Make New Friends at the Skatepark
If you already have a keen knowledge of localism and general skatepark rules, skip down to the tips on how to make new friends at the skatepark.
GOSKATE invites you to check out our beginner skateboarder’s guide to skatepark etiquette for more general information on your local park.
What is Localism?
You’ve probably heard this term before, maybe referenced to surfers or a local music venue. While skateparks showcase much of what you can expect where there’s a “local” crowd, skateparks are actually a unique localism with its own rules and standards.
For starters, skateparks are a competition for space and resources. A limited space shared by not just other local skaters but often with scooters, BMX, the wandering bystander and anyone else free to enjoy this public space.
However, imagine you’re at a skatepark 5 days a week, for several hours after high school or your day job, and during those crucial hours of operation you have little kids pushing their scooters in your way when you’re trying to land a new trick. Or imagine each week hundreds of new skaters coming into your space to drop in on the same half pipe you’ve been skating every day. To local skaters it’s their home, to new skaters it’s just a new skatepark. So they are not as invested as the local skaters.
Naturally, the local skaters are going to see you as a competition for space when they first see you. They are always on guard against a lot of people and have no idea where to compartmentalize you at first.
Additionally, how is a local skater supposed to know you’re not skating at the local park for the first time? With all the apps out there now listing new parks, vans of new kids are hopping out or coming from home-school to take up the coveted space of the local skaters.
Sometimes, skaters can misbehave or show a lack of respect as well. But if you follow the general skatepark rules and our tips for making new friends, you’ll be one of the local crew in no time.
How to Make New Friends at the Skate Park
We’ve sourced from both our instructors and students our most proven tips on how to make new friends at your new local skatepark. As you will see, it’s not always what you’re supposed to do but also what you’re NOT supposed to do.
- The Early Morning Crowd is Friendlier – A general rule of thumb has always been the early crowd at a skatepark are more mature, friendlier people. This is generally because they are older or also go to the skatepark early to avoid the larger crowds seen just before sunset.
- Don’t be a Pedestrian, Skate – While this might seem like common sense, a lot of new skaters make the mistake of sitting and watching when going to a new skatepark. While you should take your time to learn the starting and landing zones, skaters won’t see you as “one of them” if you’re not skating. Skating is always better than just standing around.
- Compliment, Clap, and Congratulate – “Wow, that was so clean! Congrats on the new trick!” These are all saying you’ll hear local skaters say to each other when in a session. Do your best to add to the convo with clapping, compliments and giving congrats. Just don’t blurt in or make it too obvious you’re looking for new friends.
- Ask Genuine Questions – “Was that switch? Do you mind if I wax the ledge? Is this your local park? These are appropriate genuine questions to ask a local skater that might even strike up a conversation and a friendship.
- Be Mindful of Where You Put Your Stuff – Sometimes when you’re at a new skatepark, you’re not really sure where you should put your stuff, like a backpack or water bottle. Be mindful you’re not putting your stuff in someone’s way or on an obstacle leading or landing zone. Also be considerate to where the main locals are hanging, if you’re lurking around their stuff they will think you are looking to steal their wax.
- Ask for a Friendly Game of S.K.A.T.E. – Games of skate are some of the most effective ways to make new friends at a skatepark, although they take some necessary skill. Just be mindful not every skater likes to skate competitively and not take it personal if they said no.
- Offer to Film a Trick for Them – Skaters film each other all the time. Offering to film a skater who might even have their phone propped up against their water bottle, if they want that trick filmed. Hey, it might even lead you to exchanging instagrams and becoming friends.
- Ask them for a Trick Tip – Sometimes the best way to gain a friend is to let them know you could use their help learning a new trick. We know a thing or two about skateboarders having a teacher’s spirit, as many skaters love to help others learn new tricks.
- Hire a GOSKATE Instructor – Here at GOSKATE, our instructors have taught hundreds of kids at skateparks and developed friendships/mentorship with each one. Hire a GOSKATE instructor today for you or your loved one to make sure they are at the park with someone who has their back and will help show them the ropes.
- Have a Skate Buddy–Okay, we know you might not even have a skate buddy to begin with, but maybe you know someone who is also a beginner or maybe someone who likes to shoot photos or video. Going to the park with someone helps with confidence even if you’re both new to the skatepark.
- Keep it about FUN – One thing some skaters can make the mistake of is bringing a competitive attitude to a new skatepark. While playing S.K.A.T.E. and hyping up the session by landing hard tricks can be a fun and great way to make friends, be mindful if some people are just there for a good time. When in doubt, fun is the route.
- Don’t Film Yourself Right Away – This one might also be a little strange because skaters love to film their tricks. But sometimes it’s not the best idea to go into a new park and just start stacking clips. You never know who’s way you might be getting in or the entitlement vibe you might be giving off. Especially if you;re hoping it will be your new local park, you’ll be skating there a lot so you can film later down the line, (hopefully a new friend will film you).
- Don’t Be Over Talkative – While you want to be friendly, a skatepark is more like a gym than a playground. You wouldn’t go up to someone in the middle of pumping iron to talk to them. You might exchange at the water cooler or passing in the hall, a skatepark is the same. Be mindful of when people are in the zone and are really focussed on a trick. Sometimes talking to them could break that focus and aggravate them.
- Let Your Skating do the Talking – Not to be confused with the above advice but some new skaters come to a skatepark and start talking to everyone they see and soon enough, they’ve done more talking than actual skating. If you skate and skate hard, someone will notice and clap for you or compliment you on landing a trick. It’s the skateboarder’s way. Sometimes you have to let them come to you.
- Locals Come and Go – This is one thing to remember in case you have a poor experience at the skatepark. Not everyone you see on a given day is a local, even when they appear to be. And some locals will come and go days, weeks, months, even years at a time. So you might not even see the same people everyday. So don’t be too invested if someone you meet didn’t go so well and make sure to take advantage when it does go well and exchange info.