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Are breaking skateboards and tearing shoes normal?

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Man lying next to broken skateboard
Philip J Brittan/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Question: Are breaking skateboards and tearing shoes normal?
Skateboarders tend to break a lot of stuff. Skateboards tend to be at the top of the list, skateboard shoes get blown out and ripped up, pants get ripped... parents can often wonder if this is normal! After all, if you're the ones paying for all of this, you probably want to make sure your skater isn't just being too rough, and isn't being foolish. So, is it normal to need to buy skateboard shoes every few months? Is it normal to break a skateboard every month?
Answer: I'm sorry to say, the answer most of the time is yes. Yes, it's normal for skateboarders to break their skateboards, to rip their jeans, to tear up their shoes.

Skateboarding is a rough activity. Skateboards are topped with a black sandpaper-like material called "Griptape", that wears down and tears down skateboard shoes. There's a lot of sudden stopping, a lot of falling, and that's just for the average skateboarder. If your skater is better at skateboarding, more aggressive, then he or she should go through even more equipment.

Here's some more detailed info and help:

Skateboard shoes

Make sure to get at least semi-good quality skateboard shoes. That way they'll have a fighting chance! don't buy the ultra cheap brands, like Sketchers. Those won't last. And don't have your kid skate with running shoes - those aren't designed to survive the rigors of skateboarding.

your best bet is true pro-grade skateboard shoes. However, you don't need to necessarialy buy the most expensive shoes on the market. They WILL get ripped up and wear out soon enough. The benefit of getting pro signature shoes (shoes that have a pro skaters name on them) is that you know they will be at least good quality, so long as the pro is someone respectable. However, the general "Team" shoes from trusted skateboarding brands work just fine too. Here's a list of the best skateboard shoe brands on the market - it should help. Really, as long as the shoes are from a good brand, you can shop around and get cheaper models.

Just don't be surprised when they tear, though. It happens. And, don't be surprised when some of the wear and tear is on the tops or sides of the shoes - that's normal, if your skater does many tricks. A lot of tricks involve flipping and rotating your board around with your feet, and that sandpapery griptape will wear down the shoe from a lot of angles.

Skateboard decks

The deck is the wooden plank park of the skateboard. And these get broken all the time. That's just how it goes. Any time a skater jumps off of something, or just does a dramatic trick, and lands a little off, the deck might break.

Practice should help reduce the amount of decks broken. However, the more the skater practices, the more chance there is to break decks. It's a strange cycle. So, unless your kid just rides the board around, and never tries any tricks, boards will probably get broken.

The average lifespan of a board depends on the skater, though. One board every few months is normal. If your skater is breaking them faster than that, then you might want to check on a few things:

  • Is your skater taller or heavier than the average? If so, check out this FAQ about heavier skaters. It gives some tips to not break skateboards quite as often.
  • Is your skater riding cheap skateboards? Check out this list of the best skateboard deck brands, and make sure your skater is riding something quality. This should help.
  • Is your skater not respecting his or her skateboard? Watch your skater skate for a while, and watch how the skateboard gets treated when the skater isn't skating. Most skaters don't disrespect their boards - they're just rough on them in the normal course of skateboarding. But sometimes kids don't appreciate their skateboards, and they treat them rough, just because they're punks. If this is your kid's problem, then I'll let you figure out what to do! One idea - make them work for their skateboard deck replacements!
One last thing - when skateboard decks get broken, that's the only part that needs to be replaced. The trucks, wheels bearings - all of that can be recycled and put onto the new deck. All your skater needs is a new board, and new griptape to put on it.

Everything else

Helmets and pads should be replaced after a big fall, but most of the time they should last for a long long time. Jeans getting ripped is normal. But there can be a lot of damage that is just skaters being punks. If you are concerned about this, then watch your skater for a while. Watch him or her skate, and just pay attention to how they act. You should get a good idea of what's going on, and spending time with your skater is a good thing! They might whine about it, but as I'm sure you parents out there know, you probably care more about your kid's character than their comfort!

If you come across anything else that you are concerned about, ask around! Ask me! Talk to the parents of the kids your skater skates with. A lot of skater kids act out and get aggressive, and sometimes it's normal youth behavior, and sometimes it's something more. There are piles of people around to help!

And, if your skater goes through more than you can afford to replace, the whole telling them to "get a job" angle isn't a bad one!

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