Skateparks are a magical place. A place for millions of people to hone their passion for skateboarding and develop the skills necessary to be a great skater and valuable skate community member.
However, for the newcomer and young skateboarder and even their parents or guardians, a skatepark can be an intimidating place.
Luckily for you, with over 3,000 skateboarding instructors, we’ve taught lessons at countless skateparks and heard all of your questions and concerns first hand. So we decided to tally them all together in one article guide to make sure you’re fully equipped to bring your loved one to the local skatepark.
There’s people from all ages and walks of life that create a localism each skatepark exhibits that is completely unique to the area.
In addition to learning everything a parent should know about skateparks and proper skatepark etiquette –
In this article we’ll go over:
- Private versus public skateparks
- Child risks involved with skateparks
- Skill level needed for skateparks
- Required protective equipment
- Which Skateboards are NOT skatepark friendly
- What to do if there’s no skatepark near you?
Need help understanding some of these skateboarding terms? We invite you to check out our Skateboarding Glossary for a complete understanding of skateboard terminology.
Now let’s get to it and GOSKATE!
Kid Friendly Hours
One aspect about the local skatepark parents will be pleased to learn is that most local skateparks have child friendly hours. These hours are typically early mornings from 8am to Noon.
While obviously during the school year this would mean weekends are the main time to enjoy kid friendly hours, it should be noted that generally early mornings before noon are more kid friendly and beginner friendly hours any day.
In contrast, if you’re getting off work at 5pm and taking your kid to the skatepark, you’ll find that many adult skateboarders also will be headed there after work. This will make it a lot more difficult for your child to skate freely and enjoy the obstacles because of congestion and more experienced skaters taking over.
In addition, you might be surprised at the amount of adults at the skatepark to begin with. Which brings us to our next point.
A Skatepark is NOT a Playground or Daycare
Many parents make the mistake of treating a skatepark like a playground or a daycare. While a skatepark is certainly fun and can bring children lots of joy, a skatepark is the farthest thing from a playground and not specifically designed for children.
A skatepark is a training ground, essentially a gym or dojo where many people from all ages will go to spend serious energy on perfecting and enjoying the craft of skateboarding.
If you let your kid loose and turn your back on the skatepark without properly understanding that the inhabitants at the skatepark take the space very seriously, the chance for collision, child injury or your child being met with local animosity drastically increases. This also includes if your child puts their skateboard aside and starts climbing obstacles or sliding down ramps on their belly.
Local skaters will be very annoyed and even go out of their way to skate those obstacles to scare your kids away. Many times young kids will accidentally collide with another skater and then be too scared to return to the skatepark.
This is also why we recommend a certified skate instructor to accompany your child at the skatepark. So if you do need to step away and check your work email or answer that important phone call from Grandma, your child is in good hands.
Need help locating your local skatepark? Check out our Skatepark Directory, the largest in the world.
Certain Skateboards are NOT Skatepark Friendly
While your child can certainly have fun on several different types of skateboards, there are certain skateboards that are not meant for the skatepark – the easiest to spot is being a longboard.
A longboard is not meant for a skatepark since it’s made for downhill cruising. It’s meant to go faster than the average short board. It’s kinda like that one car in the freeway lane that’s going twenty miles of the speed limit while everyone else is going 65.
Additionally the wheels are much larger and usually softer, which does not allow the wheels to slide, carve, pivot or kick turn with as much ease. The wheels, plus the extra weight of a longboard make it difficult to turn and maneuver in general on street or skatepark obstacles. Increasing the chances of your child not being able to get out of another skater’s way and accidentally hurt another skater.
Longboards, mini cruisers, penny boards, or boards that are plastic, exhibit larger, softer wheels, are generally not skatepark friendly boards. You want either a normal shortboard or a mini skateboard. These will also be better for learning tricks like the ollie, drop in or kick turn.
Private Skateparks Vs. Public Skateparks
For many skateboarders, a public skatepark will be the only option and that’s perfectly okay. Most pro skateboarders and even Olympic skateboarders only had access to public skateparks. But if you do have a private pay-to-skate park in your area, it might be worth considering.
It depends. Sometimes private skateparks should be treated more like a novelty because spending $20-$40 for your child to skate for an hour or two isn’t the most practical long term. But many local private parks offer memberships for more serious skaters and it can be worth it when you take into consideration the environment and class of skatepark.
There’s something to be said about a private park that regulates helmets and pads, keeps the obstacles clean and graffiti free and even sometimes has a skate shop on the premises. Private skateparks are a great place to rent out for a birthday party or a group skate lesson.
However, there’s also something to be said about the practicality of a local public skatepark and the ecosystems they produce. When you have to pay to skate, you exclude certain groups of people and skaters who can’t afford to normally do so. So private parks are generally less diverse and thus lack a certain cultural element found at public skateparks skateboarding is generally celebrated for. Additionally, even if your child begins by skating a private skatepark, eventually they will want to skate public skateparks and join the larger skatepark community as a whole.
But wait, what if there’s no skatepark near me? Keep reading to find out what to do if you don’t have a local skatepark.
Child Risks Involved with Skateparks
Okay down to some of the nitty gritty. Parents want to know what risks are present at a skatepark for young children and how to avoid them. And let’s be frank; a skatepark can sometimes get a bad rep because as a public space, anyone is allowed to go and occupy that space (for better or worse).
However, skateparks actually become policed by the local skaters, who with their dedication to their craft and love for skating, do their best to keep the space positive and productive. Certainly, if your child is displaying an earnest desire to get better at skating and shows a real respect for the skatepark and the locals, undoubtedly your child will be accepted and looked after.
But that does not happen overnight and even so, there’s risks involved regardless when taking your child to the skatepark. Some of the obvious ones are:
- collision with others and older skaters
- skate injury resulting from falling
- exposure to explicit conduct
- obstacle hazards
- intimidation and bullying
The number one way to combat all these risks is to hire a GOSKATE skateboard instructor. Your child will not only gain a teacher and mentor but a friend.
We’ve witnessed thousands of kids go on to become valuable members of their local skatepark community and truly, great skaters. And just like anything truly great, it’s never accomplished alone.
However, there’s a saying written on every skatepark guidelines or rulebook that states: “Skate at your own risk,” for a reason. Your child will fall, with the proper instruction, they will learn to fall without getting hurt or injured.
No Bikes or Scooters at Skateparks
Many parents will make the mistake of bringing bikes, scooters and other toys [sic] to the skatepark in addition to skateboards. While certain skateparks allow bikes and generally you can go early enough for the skatepark to be empty enough to ride scooters, nonetheless local skaters truly detest bikers and scooters.
“Scooter kids” is a term used to describe the kids at a skatepark on a scooter who “snake” everyone or cut other skaters off. Why? Because a scooter takes a significant amount of upper body strength to actually do tricks on. So most kids are just riding them around in circles or up and down ramps and constantly getting into the way of older skaters with just a push this way and a push that way.
Bikes otherwise known as BMX or “bikers” are basically the same, except if you collide with them, both the kid and the skater can get significantly hurt. There is also no future in riding a scooter. No X-Games or Olympics, and while there certainly is for biking, the learning curve is much harder for children since they lack the physicality to launch off ramps and bunny hop onto ledges.
Bikes and scooters also produce much more damage to obstacles, as pegs cause ledges and boxes to crack. Overall, if your child enjoys riding a scooter, have them go to an empty parking lot. If they love to ride bikes, opt for the trail or dirt park. It’s called a SKATEpark after all.
How Child Skaters Become Welcomed
If there was a conversation we could have with parents and their kids to help them understand what older skaters or local skaters believe makes them want to welcome a child skater, it would go something like this:
Skaters are accepting people. We want a healthy next generation who loves skateboarding.
But we also want skaters who respect skating and the places skating takes place. But respect comes in many forms… including self respect and the respect for others.
- The child skater who is “going for it” is more welcomed than the kid who is “standing around” timidly.
- The child skater who is “trying hard” to get better is more welcomed than the kid switching between a scooter and a skateboard.
- The child skater who “waits their turn” is more welcomed than the “snake” who does not pay attention to the starting points of obstacles.
- The child skater who places their backpack and water bottle away from where people are skating is respecting the skatepark.
- The child skater who throws away their trash and respects the skatepark is more welcomed.
While these might be obvious for a lot of parents, you would be surprised at the amount of children who are let loose inside a skatepark without any guidance.
It’s not the child’s fault for not understanding. But you should have this conversation with them before an angry local skater does.
Skill Level Needed for Skatepark
We recommend that child skaters master the foundations of skating, which we guarantee your child will learn within their first four lessons. This includes standing on a skateboard, getting on and off, pedaling and turning while maintaining balance. This is the bare minimum but really, your child needs significantly more to not only enjoy being at a skatepark but be safe.
While much of the skill related issues begin with parents believing a skatepark is more of a playground where they can just drop their kids off to have fun, skill level also needs to be highly considered when it comes to sharing a skatepark with others and the obstacles available to skate.
Think of it like learning how to swim. Your child needs to first be comfortable getting into the water, holding their breath, going under before they can even learn to swim. You wouldn’t throw your child off the high dive into the deep end would you? So don’t drop them into the halfpipe or into a skatepark for the first time without the proper skill needed for a skatepark.
Your child should be a master of the parking lot before entering the skatepark. They should be able to recognize the tricks local skaters are trying and the obstacles like quarter pipes, half pipes, ledges, boxes etc.
These are all aspects of skateboarding. Our instructors teach all our students who want to skate at a skatepark.
Required Protective Equipment
Required safety equipment can vary from state, country or region but typically for the safest experience possible you’ll want your child to be wearing the following:
closed toed shoes, preferably skate shoes
- knee pads
- elbow pads
- wrist guards
- proper attire like jeans and a t shirt
At GOSKATE, we are proud to announce our beginer skateboard package with the option for included protective equipment! Your child can receive the perfect beginner skateboard fully assembled and ready to GOSKATE, with the protective equipment they’ll need to have a fun, safe and productive skate session.
Proper Skatepark Etiquette
We could write an entire article based on skatepark etiquette but the foundations established here are sourced from our 3000 skateboard instructors and proven to be true since the old school days. Proper skatepark etiquette is much like a gym or dojo with a few simple guidelines that make all the difference:
Wait your turn – every obstacle will have a general starting point for you to begin your roll up and a landing zone for you to roll away. Often several skaters will be skating one obstacle each waiting in a line at the starting point to drop in. Additionally, landing zones need to remain open so you’re not in the way of a skater trying to skate that obstacle. Many child skaters do not grasp these points and unfortunately skate from one obstacle to the next cutting in line and getting in people’s way.
Be conscious of your surroundings – the idea of watching for the people and obstacles around you should be common sense but like we stated above children are not familiar with the abs and flows of skateparks. If you don’t have an instructor to point the lines out or instruct your child on when to go and where to land, they need to spend some time watching on their own and always be conscious of their surroundings. Not just skaters but also the obstacles.
Respect the Locals – when you or your loved one skate a skatepark, it might not always be your local skatepark. In fact, if your child gets bitten by the skate bug, they’ll be asking you to take them to all types of skateparks available. With each new skatepark comes a group of locals who skate that skatepark everyday. They have some privileges to certain zones and ultimately act like the police of the skatepark. Just be diligent in not to step on anyone’s toes or invade anyone’s space. Maybe don’t show up with a boombox and blast music in their face or leave your leftover lunch on the ledge near where they congregate.
Be enthusiastic and humble – a great way to become a healthy member of your local skatepark is to be enthusiastic and humble. What do we mean by this? When skaters land hard tricks or beautiful looking tricks, it’s customary for other skaters to clap or tap the tails of their boards on the floor in celebration. You see someone land a rad kick flip? Clap your hands and maybe mention how “Sick that was” and you’ll be sure to get a smile and thank you in response. In addition, if a younger skater or another skater gives your child props, they should be friendly and amicable in return.
What to do if there's no skatepark near you?
Don’t have a local skatepark near you? This can be the reality for many young children out there but luckily there are alternatives to skating a skatepark. One of those is to become a master of the driveway and local neighborhood.
Keep in mind, skateboarding was invented years before any skateparks were around and basically all of the obstacles you see at skateparks are replicated from obstacles found in the streets. While you might not be able to find a halfpipe or quarter pipe in the streets, an empty parking lot will have tons of red curbs and other fun gaps to skate.
You can also order yourself several obstacles to start building your own backyard skatepark. Many kid skaters will want a box, flat bar or quarter pipe ramp for Christmas to hone their skills away from the skatepark.
It’s a great way to also get your kid some extra skate time between lessons. Many of our instructors have fond memories building a ramp or flat bar with their parents or guardian and credit their at home skate equipment in helping them progress at skating.
Hire a GOSKATE Instructor
You probably knew this was coming at some point but after reading our Skatepark guide for parents, you might want someone with your child to show them the ropes.
After all, when it comes to learning how to skateboard, there’s much more than just learning tricks. Providing your child with an instructor and mentor provides them a sure shot at the confidence needed to skate a skatepark.
With over 3000 certified instructors and the largest skatepark instructor network in the world, we guarantee your child will not only learn to skate at a skatepark but love it. Contact GOSKATE today to find out which skateboarding instructors are in your area!