Skateboarding, in simpler words, is the activity of riding a skateboard. A skateboard is basically a rectangular plywood piece (deck), which is fitted with four small-sized wheels on the underside. Nowadays, new versions are available with many other optional components. It is viewed by many as a recreational activity or a type of extreme sport. Rarely, it is used as a means of transportation. A person participating in this activity is called a skater/skateboarder.
This sport is and has been a favorite with extreme sports enthusiasts. It has fascinated several youngsters over the last few decades. According to a survey conducted, majority of the skateboarders are males under 18 years of age. The growing popularity of this sport does not mean that there is no risk involved. If you are a first timer, then you should follow certain safety measures.
» The first step is selecting the right board and proper gear. As a beginner, you should choose a thick and heavy deck with less curvature. With such a board, you are less likely to slip off, and it is easier for you to keep control. As you become better, you can switch to a thin and concave deck.
» It is always advisable to check the trucks of the board. If they are very tight, loosen them by unscrewing the kingpins. After doing so, make sure the kingpins are fitted properly. A well-fitted truck will help you to turn easily, thus minimizing the risk of falling. Speaking about protection gear, you should purchase good quality skating shoes, helmet, wrist brace, and elbow and knee pads.
» The next step is to make yourself comfortable with the skateboard. You can place it on a non-slippery surface (grass or carpet), and try to stand or jump on it. Be comfortable with the shape and size of the deck and learn some basics such as placing your feet in varied positions and balancing on front and rear wheels.
» Once you are comfortable with that, you can decide your stance or skating style. In general, there are three stances, viz., regular (skate with the left foot forward), goofy (skate with the right foot forward, and mongo foot (push with the back foot, instead of the front one). Always stand in your most convenient style and try to push forward. If possible, do not follow the mongo style, as it takes a longer time to learn.
» In the initial days, practice by pushing off on an even surface or at the most, a shallow hill. You may fall from the board while pushing off, but try to relax and imagine that pushing off is like taking a normal step. Maintain balance and push your foot as you do while walking. Another trick is to start pushing off as powerfully as you can. You can ride until the skateboard stops naturally.
» The next tip is to push yourself carefully while riding, before you run out of speed. You can learn to turn left and right by putting more of your weight into the heels. As you practice regularly, you will be able to take sharper turns. Last, but not the least, you will need to learn how to stop the skateboard. The easiest and safest way of stopping it is footbraking. Footbraking involves taking off the back foot and grinding it onto the ground. There are other stopping methods such as heel drag, bail, boneless, and powerslide.
It is advisable not to try any tricks or fast-paced skating, before getting a command over the basics. Once you are confident about the twists and turns, you can practice other tricks such as ollie, kickflip, magic flip, etc. Have patience and keep trying again and again. Remember that, failure is the first step towards success.