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Do I HAVE to Skate at Skateparks to Be a Skater?

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Skatepark Skateboarding

Skatepark

Michael Andrus
Question: Do I HAVE to Skate at Skateparks to Be a Skater?
I received this email from a reader - "I'm a thirteen year old girl and I picked up skateboarding a few months ago. I don't really think I'm going to get far if I don't ever go to a skatepark. Well, there is a problem with that. I am deathly afraid of skateparks. I am deathly afraid of people. Do you really have to go to a skatepark? I mean it would be kinda weird to never know how to roll down a ramp and that's why I am stressing about it. Any advice?" This question digs into the heart of what it means to be a skater - so, DO you need to skate at skateparks in order to be a skater?
Answer: The quick and easy answer is no, you don't have to go to skateparks to be a skater! Skateparks are fun, but they are only ONE type of skateboarding. There are several! Some skaters (like myself) enjoy street skating more. That's where you skate around on sidewalks, in parking lots, stairs and all of the stuff that you see around your town. Some skaters really like vert skating, on ramps and quarter pipes and even half pipes. Some skaters still ride freestyle (though not many these days), which is a lot more like dancing on a skateboard. Longboarding is another style of skateboarding. There are a LOT (see What Kinds of Skateboarding Are There?)!

So, the short answer is "nope." However, skateparks CAN be a lot of fun! So, while you don't NEED to go to them, I'd suggest that any skater should stay open to the idea, and at least give it a shot. Skateparks offer a different kind of terrain, with more flowing curves and less dangerous edges. Simply riding around can be a lot of fun, not to mention learning to drop in and all of the other skills unique to skatepark skateboarding.

If you don't want to go because you don't have friends to go with you, and you're worried, then here are some options:

  • Try it out at a time when the park isn't packed with skaters. Sometimes during the middle of the day is good, as most people will be at work or school. Night can work as well, if the skatepark is open that late.
  • Why not bring some friends who won't skate, but who will at least hang around so that you'll feel less intimidated? Of course, friends who skate would be even better! But really, friends help make pretty much everything easier to do!
  • If you don't want to go because you're worried about getting hurt, then take is easy the first few trips - there's no need to push yourself too hard. Check out Skatepark Skateboarding in the Beginner's Skateboarding Guide for some tips. But keep in mind, you will probably fall a few times, and you might get hurt, but as long as you're careful you should be just fine! Never let fear keep you from doing what you love!
Mainly, while I want to give any skater the freedom to enjoy skating in whatever way they want to, I'd also encourage anyone who feels this way to not close themselves off to the idea sometime. Skateparks can be a lot of fun! And, they're a very smooth, very different type of place to skate.

Finally, skating on ramps, on streets AND in skateparks is a good way to get some variety in your skateboarding, and to improve your overall skill. This is how it works - if you get used to any activity or sport, and you do it once certain way over and over again, your body learns how to do that thing really well, and you reach what people call, "a plateau". This is where only changing something up will help - and the same thing can happen in skateboarding. If you only skate street, then you might end up leveling out at a certain level. Sure you'll be good, but you could be BETTER! That's where skating at skateparks can be very helpful - it's a very different kind of skating.

Here are some good skatepark tricks to try out, if you go to a skatepark:

  • Learn how to drop in - this works on ramps, and on the edges (coping) of a skatepark
  • How to drop in video - it's the same information, but in a video!
  • Rock to fakie - this is a great early trick to learn at a skatepark, or with a ramp. It's not too tough, and will get you used to skating on ramps and inclines.
  • Rock and roll - the rock and roll is the next step up after the rock to fakie. It's a little tougher, so try it after you've got the rock to fakie mastered.
  • Nose stall - this is where you ride up to the coping, and stall there on the nose of your board, and then ride away. It's another intermediate trick, and one that's best to learn after you've mastered the rock to fakie!
So, there are some tricks to try out, and things to do, if you decide to check out your local skatepark after all. But, whatever you decide to do, you shouldn't ever feel that you NEED to do any one type of skating to "be a skater". If you love skateboarding, and you do your best on a skateboard, then you ARE a skater! It doesn't matter how you talk, how you dress, or how you act. It doesn't matter if that's street, skateparks, vert, freestyle, longboarding, or some new type of skateboarding that we haven't even seen yet. The point is to enjoy yourself, and as long as you're having fun and loving riding your skateboard, you're a skater.
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