Skateboarding at the skate park is one of the most fun and authentic aspects about being a skateboarder. Skateparks are where we find community, hone our skills, meet other skaters who become our best friends, and expand our passions for skateboarding.
However, for the beginner skateboarder, a local skatepark can be a pretty intimidating place. There’s localism, potential collisions, unwritten rules, that until now, took months, even years to learn.
In this article, we’re going to go over How To Skateboard at a Skatepark, so you’ll be able to skate at a skatepark with confidence and become a member of the local crew in no time.
Here are some of the things we’ll be going over in this article:
- How to Know You’re Ready for the Skate Park
- What is Localism?
- General Skatepark Rules
- Proper Skatepark Etiquette
Without further ado, let’s drop in so you can skate at a skatepark for the first time and have an amazing time while doing it.
Proper Skatepark Etiquette
Don’t Just Stand There, Skate! – Skateboarders are pretty accepting people but it comes from understanding how hard skateboarding is and how much time, energy, and love you have to put into it to become a good skater. So if other skaters see you actually trying, they’re going to see you as “one of them,” versus the person standing afraid in the corner. While there’s nothing worse than getting in a skater’s way, not skating is easily second.
Watch and Learn the Lines – Every skatepark has its own flow but you have to study the skaters around you to really understand. It’s more than skill level, zoning or how the builders went about landscaping the obstacles; it’s about seeing where skaters are taking off from and landing in. Look for starting points where skaters are throwing down their skateboards or setting up to drop in.
Pick Up Your Trash – One of the easiest ways to annoy a local skater or a group of skaters is to be disrespectful by leaving your trash. Simple, be a good person and pick up after yourself.
Don’t Blast Music – Remember, this is their space, you’re a visitor. Do your best to respect people’s space and that includes audio.
Only Wax Obstacles with Permission – Wax is a tool but for skaters who are unbeknownst to you waxing something, can result in serious injury. Always ask around before waxing an obstacle, even if no one is skating it.
Wait Your Turn or Ask If It’s Your Turn – It’s better to ask someone if they are going than for you to accidentally cut them off. This is known as ‘snaking’ and you do not want to be known as ‘a snake’ at all costs. Just ask someone if you have to, it’s also a great way to strike up a potentially conversation and friendship.
Begin at “Starting Zones” – Many new skaters will just assume the entire skatepark is open for you to skate and while that’s partially true, naturally skaters will have starting zones to start lines and pathways to obstacles. This is where skaters line up to take turns, join the line, don’t just skate in circles and cut people off.
Do Not Film Someone Without Permission – Skateboarders love filming each other but not all skaters want to be filmed, especially without permission. You should in fact do the opposite. You see someone doing a super sick trick, ask them, “Hey, you want me to film that for you?” Next thing you know you’re exchanging social media.
Don’t Leave Personal Belongings on Obstacles – The funny thing about skateparks is they have benches, ledges, and boxes that to some people might look like a seat or a place to leave your backpack. Be extra careful where you put your personal stuff, as you might be accidentally leaving it on something someone wants to skate.
Don’t Let your Board Shoot Out – This one is for the younger skaters who might be attending a skatepark with their parents. One of the worst things that you can do to potentially hurt another skater is let your board get away from you and shoot out. Often this will jam into someone’s ankle or collide with their board causing them to fall. Keep your board on a tight leash and call out “BOARD!” if it does get away from you.
How to Know You’re Ready for the Skate Park
Many young skaters will make the mistake of going to skatepark too early and become intimidated or worse, get into a collision that turns them off to skateboarding forever. That’s why we recommend going to the skatepark with one of our GOSKATE Instructors.
We will be there to walk you through the entire process and give you insights in real time. However, here are also a few ways to know if you’re ready for the skatepark.
- Master the Parking Lot – The skateboard park is a much more advanced place than a parking lot but that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect place to start. If you can comfortably skate in a parking lot, practice tricks, and have a sound foundation, you might be ready to skate at a skatepark.
- Ramps and Drop In – A clear sign you’re ready to skate a skatepark is you’re able to drop in on ramps. If you go to a skatepark and just skate around aimlessly, like it’s a parking lot, there’s a good chance you’re getting in people’s way.
- Skateparks Look Like Playgrounds – To our last point, if you’re just skating around a skatepark like it’s a parking lot, you’re really not taking advantage of the ramps, mini ramps, quarter pipes, handrails, ledges, etc., so why are you there? When you start seeing the skatepark as a playground by recognizing these obstacles, then you’re ready for the skatepark.
- Rule of Kickflip – If you’re able to land a kickflip or are in the process of learning how to kickflip, after mastering the ollie and other beginner tricks like kick turns, you’re ready for the skatepark.
- Consent Parent or Guardian – Always go to the skatepark with your parent or guardian or contact us today to book your 1-on-1 skate lesson at the skatepark from the largest network of skateboarding instructors in the world.
General Skatepark Rules
General skatepark rules will vary depending on what state or country you skate in. But here are some general rules most common at skateparks throughout the world.
- Helmet and Safety Equipment Required for Skaters under 16 – some skateparks will enforce helmets and pads in a super strict way that can easily result in a pricey ticket. However, most skateparks enforce helmet rules for skaters under the age of 16. Private skateparks will often require full pads, including elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet regardless of age.
- Hours of Operation, Sunrise to Sunset – While the lucky skaters will have a skatepark with lights, most skateparks are open from sunrise to sunset.
- No Drugs, Tobacco or Alcohol – contrary to popular image, skateparks prohibit the presence of drugs, tobacco or alcohol.
- No BMX, Scooters or Motorized Vehicles – While many skateparks will allow BMX, Roller Skates and Scooters, all skateparks will prohibit the use of motorized vehicles.
- Skate at Your Own Risk – Every skatepark will have a disclaimer to skate at your own risk as to protect them from liability. Some private parks will have you sign a waiver.
What is Localism?
Skatepark localism is different from other localism in the world for a myriad of different reasons but the most notable has to do with “space.”
For a local skater, a local skatepark is their second home, their gym, dojo, and training ground. It’s also somewhere they go sometimes 7-days a week. Additionally, skaters always travel to other skateparks, so non-local skaters are always impeding on their space.
While being a visitor at another skatepark is commonly without issue, as long as you show common sense, respect and courtesy, being accepted as a local comes with having to prove yourself.
It can take years for you to truly become a local at a skatepark because of how shielded locals are in letting others join. It’s true, the better skater you are, the more likely you are to be accepted into the local scene, however it is also true for people who are nicer, friendlier, and just overall are a hype man.
Perhaps most importantly for a new skater however, is to not get in the way. More on that below.
Clap for skaters who land tricks, congratulate them on clips, compliment their style or their tricks. And most importantly, be there everyday so they see your face. Eventually one will talk to you, complimenting you back or asking you to film a trick. Just keep being jovial and respectful and everything will work itself out. Even Tony Hawk was once in your shoes.