In skateboarding, it’s not a question of if you’re going to fall but how and when. So naturally, it really becomes a question of how to fall the safest and even the most productive way possible.
Our skate instructors always incorporate how to skateboard safely in their lesson plan and this article will share the top ways to promote safe skating for you and your loved ones.
While this article will cover the basics of protective gear and generally skateboarding safety, we’ll also go over how to avoid serious injury and treat typical skateboarding injuries with general safety tips.
- 17 General Skateboarding Safety Tips
- Protective Gear
- Treating Skateboarding Injuries
- How to Avoid Serious Injury
In addition to learning how to skateboard safely, we have beginner friendly articles on how to rehab injuries if you do take a tumble. We also have an article discussing how to skateboard with more confidence.
We also invite you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for videos on these exact subjects.
17 General Skateboarding Safety Tips
When our skate instructors meet our student’s parents, they always ask us for general safety tips for keeping their child safer. Here are some proven pieces of advice perfect for the beginner skater or someone skating for the first time.
Skate the correct beginner skateboard: New skaters, parents, and even beginner skaters ask us all the time about skating boards like the penny board, a longboard, or a fish shaped short board. In reality, all these boards produce dramatically different skate experiences. That is precisely why we offer our GOSKATE Beginner Skateboard package, as the perfect skateboard to get you rolling in the right direction – literally.
Skate in safe places: This might seem like common sense but depending on your skill level the skatepark might not be a safe space for you right away. Many parents make the mistake of dropping their kid off at the skatepark after work, the busiest hour for skaters, and a few minutes later are picking their kid off the ground after a collision. So master the driveway, the empty parking lot free of any motor vehicle, or other open areas with a smooth top surface. Keep an eye out for large cracks or any irregular surfaces that might affect the beginner skater.
Fall on the fleshy parts of your body: You ever hear about how you should never reach out with your wrists when you fall. This is precisely correct. Instead, you should fall on the fleshy parts of your body. This might be in the form of a roll avoiding your elbows, knees and head and instead sliding or slamming your shoulder or buttocks. Pro skaters are masters of skateboarding safety because they know how to fall just as well as they know how to skate.
Make sure your skateboard is in working order: Again, this might sound like one of those common sense issues but you would be surprised how many skate injuries are a result of faulty equipment. Skateboard decks can have hidden pressure cracks or maybe you left your skateboard in the trunk of your car and the trucks loosened without you knowing. Get in the habit of checking your bolts and deck to make sure your skateboard is in working order.
Tighten your shoe laces: If you ever look at the old photographs of Tony Hawk or other skate legends, one thing you’ll notice is how tight they always tied their shoes. That’s because before skate shoes existed it was the best way to protect them from rolling an ankle or having their shoe fly off during an air. Always make sure your shoelaces are tied tight and that your shoes fit nice and snug to protect you from your skateboard. In contrast, you don’t want shoes that are too small or too tight that might result in blisters.
Don’t skate with headphones: If you go to the skatepark you’ll see a ton of skaters skating around with headphones in or maybe you‘re an adult skater looking to longboard down the beach with some headphones in. While this can be a very pleasant experience, if you don’t have expert skill level, you are actually endangering yourself and those around you by blocking out the potential warnings of others. You are also much more likely to get into an accident with motor vehicles. Avoid headphones until you’re an expert.
Skating fast can protect you: Obviously if you‘re a beginner and have trouble turning or manipulating your board at a high level, going slow is a good way to learn how to skateboard. But if you’re skating a gap or a set of stairs, skating fast helps keep your momentum laterally instead of vertically. This is what allows skaters to slide out and break their fall laterally, instead of slamming vertically down potentially breaking a wrist or hitting their knee or head. Skating fast can endanger others though, so make sure you’re at the proper skill level to feel the benefit of lateral momentum.
Crouch to avoid speed wobbles: If you ever listen to someone tell you about how that one time they fell on a skateboard, they made them believe they couldn’t skate, it’s almost always a result of bombing a hill, catching speed wobbles, and slamming on the pavement. Speed wobbles are a scary word but there is something you can do to avoid them – crouch! This bridges the gap between your head and toes, connecting your center of gravity to the board and helps stabilize your weight and thus, the skate truck’s distribution.
Lower your center of gravity: Falling is almost always a result of losing your balance, which comes from your center of gravity. If you feel yourself losing your center of gravity or are about to drop in on a big ramp or go up a steep wall – bending your knees, crouching, bring your arms down, and your head into your chest, all of these things bring your center of gravity to your core, increasing your ability to keep your balance and adapt to new demands from skate obstacles.
Watch out for BMX riders and scooter kids: If you get to a skatepark and see it’s overrun with BMX riders or scooter kids, you’re better off skating somewhere else. While scooter kids are unaware of the proper skatepark etiquette and often snake skaters more than anyone else, BMX riders are legitimately dangerous to skaters. This is because they are much larger and heavier, which makes it harder for them to control – including stopping. They can’t just jump out of the way like we can. That’s actually why the majority of skateparks don’t permit BMX at all, so its always a good idea for the new skater to be wary of BMX riders.
Learn how to power slide: Power-sliding is an essential tool for skaters as they progress in their skill level as it is a great way to slow down while skating fast without having to take your feet off your board. It’s sort of like a controlled drift or something akin to how snowboarders carve down a mountain. Either way, learning how to power slide is a great tool for when you’re skating fast and want to avoid hill bombs or motor vehicles.
Become an expert on stopping and slowing down on your skateboard: This is precisely in the vain of learning how to power-slide but there’s more to it than that. There are several ways to stop and slow down on a skateboard, including taking your foot off and dragging it on the ground or using your heel with a raised nose. While these two will damage your shoes, it’s important to know when to use them in case you’re unable to power slide or need to avoid a potentially serious collision.
Take days off: Every skater who loves skateboarding says they want to skate everyday but the reality is your body is going to not only need but greatly benefit from taking a day off here and there. Most skaters will tell you something like, “Oh, I can’t skate today, I rolled my ankle.” Or maybe, “I’m taking the day off today, my legs are sore.” It’s important to know how to listen to your body and not push yourself to the point of increasing your chances of injury.
Play other sports: What do you mean play other sports? I’m a skater not a jock. Okay, some younger skaters are going to feel this way but many older skaters will tell you the benefits to their skating from doing other recreational activities. Skateboarders are athletes after all, and activities like bike riding, hiking, basketball, or even going to the gym all strengthen the muscles that you use around skating. This not only helps prevent injury but will make you a better skater. All Olympic pro skaters have a trainer in some respect and do some sort of rehab or recreational activity to help promote their physical health. You’re cool enough to do so also. A multi sport approach is the best approach.
Stretching before and after your session: Stretching can seem like the last thing on your mind when you get to a new skatepark or walk into your local area and see all your friends skating. But in reality, you’re going to benefit greatly from just 5-10 minute of stretching before and after each session. Being properly loose makes skating much safer on your ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Practice skating switch: Skating switch might be harder at first but in the long run your body, equipment and even safety will benefit from it. Because if you’re comfortable skating switch, you can pedal switch and reduce the impact on your dominant pedaling knee. Also, when you land switch from a 180 or doing a trick to fakie, if you were to fall or trip up, you’ll be more comfortable sliding or landing in the fleshy parts of your body. Your shoes will also not rip as fast.
Do not skate alone: It’s always a good idea to have someone to watch your back when you skate. That way if you fall down you have someone to make sure you’re okay or contact someone to help you if you need it. It’s one of our largest sources of pride in being your number one provider of skateboarding lessons. Your child or loved one is much safer not skating alone and having someone to help them each step of the way.
Wear Protective Gear
There may be nothing more proactive to skating more safely than wearing protective gear. So here is a quick and easy list of some of the more well known and less well known forms of safety gear.
- Elbow pads
- Knee pads
- Wrist guards
- Helmet – make sure the helmet fits and it‘s in-fact a skateboard helmet
- Slip-resistant shoes
Treating Skateboarding Injuries
Treating skateboarding injuries was something most skaters had to figure out on their own for decades. But luckily, there has been a surge in transparency in this space. While skaters have passed on this knowledge to a chosen few over the decades, we’ve listed some proven techniques to treat skateboarding injuries right here.
The most common skateboarding injury is a sprain to the ankle.
The most common skateboarding injury are sprains to the ankle. Depending on if it’s your front foot or your back foot, the sprain can last a long time. Your front foot, your ollie foot, has to curl in order to produce an ollie, whereas your back foot is your pushing foot and needs a certain amount of strength. No matter your foot, the rehab for a sprain is the same.
At the time of the ankle sprain, tighten your shoe laces and do not take your shoe off until you’re at your resting place. Next thing you’ll need is a place to lay down and elevate your ankle while being able to ice it. This will be crucial if you can ice and elevate your ankle quickly after the injury. Many unfortunate skaters will get injured then have to drive themselves home and when they open their car door, fall on the floor realizing they can’t walk.
If you have sustained a really painful rolled ankle, you’ll benefit from placing your foot in a tub of epsom salt. The tiny salt pieces breathe over your ankle and help smooth out the swollen blood vessels and bruising. It’s a great idea to do this with warm water after icing. The sensation is beneficial and rewarding.
There are more advanced steps to treat skateboarding injury.
Most skateboarding injuries follow the same philosophy of resting and icing but there are more advanced steps you can take to treat your skateboarding injury. One of the particular things about skate injuries is you have to use the part of your body that is injured to help rehab it but without worsening the injury. You might need a cane but taking a morning walk on your hurt ankle will ultimately help heal it. You might have to wrap your elbow or wrist but it’s important to also test your range of motion and keep tabs on if there’s any pain. If so, you can always ice and elevate again to lessen the swelling. CBD rubs for adults or products like icy hot can help soothe your injury and seeing a physical therapist can help strengthen you to come back even stronger.
Know when you need professional help.
Many skaters make the mistake of not seeking professional help when they need too. Our DIY attitudes work against us in this respect but luckily there has been a more positive movement and transparency in the professional skateboarding space. The hard part is understanding at the point of injury if you should go, as many of the more severe injuries in skating would be drastically better in terms of healing if something would have been done within 24 hours of when the injury occurred. Additionally, physical therapy is a great way to learn more about your body and get tips from a professional on how to make a strong recovery. All of these factors help make skateboarding safer and reduce your chance of serious injury. Which brings us to our next point.
How to Avoid Serious Injury
No skateboarder wants to end up in the emergency room and the last thing a parent wants when looking for a healthy outdoor activity for their child is to find themselves in an emergency situation.
While these moments are few and far between, head injuries or bad collisions at skateboard parks do happen. But hopefully these rules of thumb will help you and your loved one avoid serious injury when skateboarding.
Never Skitch a Car: There are two top reasons why a skateboarder ends up in the hospital (or worse) and one of them is skitching a motor vehicle. That’s when you hang on to the vehicle from the outside while it drives. The main reason why this is so dangerous is how much faster a car goes than a skateboard – and in a matter of seconds. If you were to skate as fast as you can on flat ground, you could maybe reach 12 mph. A car can hit 20 mph in a matter of seconds and before you know it you have speed wobbles and literally fall inches away from a two ton vehicle. Every year, several skaters or people who had too many drinks and want to look cool lose their life in this matter. It’s never worth it. DO NOT SKITCH A CAR.
Don’t Bomb Hills: Listen, we’re not going to pretend like skating downhill isn’t one of the best feelings but bombing hills that are out of your skill level is the second number one reasons skaters end up in the hospital. Many new skaters have no idea how to really judge a hill and they want to have fun with their friends so they drop in and hope for the best. If you are not sure if you can bomb the hill, simply don’t do it. Even if you’ve mastered every way to slow down and stop on a skateboard, then those things will help you. But if you don’t have the proper skill level, you can sustain a head injury which can leave you hospitalized or worse.
Skate with a GOSKATE Instructor: Skateboarding with someone is not only more fun, it’s much safer. There’s obvious reasons why skateboarding with someone is safer, but there’s a big difference with hiring a GOSKATE instructor. Our GOSKATE instructors are the most experienced and highly trained skate instructors in the world, with decades of skate heritage under our skateboards. We’ll not only ensure your child or loved one has someone to watch their back, we can give them these tips in real time. Not only will they get better at falling and keeping skating safer, they’ll get better at skating faster and with more confidence.
Enjoy the journey: Being a skateboarder is as much a mental and spiritual experience as physical. However, all three are intimately connected and benefit from one another. Things like keeping skateboarding in perspective and always remembering it’s about having fun, will help keep you lose. If you are super stressed, angry, or distracted, your skateboarding will reflect this. While skating can help in these areas of your life, it’s not enough on its own. You have to learn to laugh when you fall, learn to be calm when you’re injured and can’t skate. Be yourself, don’t fold to the pressure. Call a few friends, have fun and GOSKATE!
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