If you’re like a lot of other people during the pandemic, you’ve taken up a new sport to keep yourself from going mad. If that sport is skateboarding, and you’re not exactly a spring chicken any more, you might be wondering if you’ve made the right choice.
Well, my friend… Yes, you have.
I’ve been an on/off skateboarder all my life really. I got my first board when I was probably about 10, but stopped for some reason in my mid teens. I started again in my early 20’s when I was a monster pot head, and then stopped again when I got responsibilities such as a job.
But, after a 15-20 year hiatus, I’ve taken it up again.
Honestly, its been great. It’s fun, it’s great exercise and you don’t look as lame as you think you might (well, I don’t think I do anyways).
So how do you get into skateboarding if you’re kinda, y’know, old… And you’ve never skateboarded a day in your life?
Decide on your skateboarding style
When it comes to starting skateboarding, there are actually a lot of choices.
Standard (trick style) skateboarding: This is the standard style board, between 7.5″ to 8.5″, where you see the guys popping ollies, tricks and doing cool stuff.
Longboard: Not designed to do anything other than ride, these skateboards are great for getting around town.
Crusier: The cruiser skateboard category is pretty broad, with boards which behave like surfboards, and things like Penny boards which are great for just bombing around.
As an older person, you might be gravitating towards longboard. These tend to be more stable and less ‘showy’, built more for just riding around.
However, there is definitely an appeal to being able to pop an ollie and maybe even the odd shuv it or kickflip on a standard skateboard. If you’re wanting to skate with flair, this will be your board of choice.
In this article, I will focus mainly on the trick style skateboard, but some of the advice will also apply to cruisers and longboards.
Choosing your first skateboard
Ready to take the plunge and buy a skateboard? First things first, if you’re starting to skate for the first time – or rediscovering it after a long break…
Get a good board!
Don’t be tempted to get some bargain piece of shit just to see if you really want to get back into it. The problem will be that if you do like it, you’ll need to buy a better board. And, also, a shit board can really hold you back from really getting into the sport.
You’ll see on forums about buying custom built skateboards with Indy trucks and a Santa Cruz deck… You don’t necessarily have to do that. But, get the best you can afford.
Decent complete boards are available above the £70 mark, but aim for closer to £100 for a complete.
And when buying completes, try to pick reputable brands such as:
- Alien Workshop
- Santa Cruz
- Plan B
Prtty much all of these brands do super cheap entry level boards, which you should probably avoid. Again, aim for the more expensive complete. Or, better still, go and build your own – the shop will put it together for you.
What size skateboard do I need?
There are loads of sizes, from 7.25″ up to 8.5″. As an older guy, you’ll probably want 8″ and over. If you’re a woman, or you have smaller feet, you should be able to roll with a 7.75″ and up.
The wider the board, the more stable it is which is good for cruising. If you’re aiming to do tricks, you’ll be fine with an 7.5″-7.55″, 8″ or 8.25″.
Before you start
When you skateboard, expect to fall over. It’s part of the fun of skateboarding… So take into account that you’re gonna be brusied to shit for a while.
With that in mind, do you need pads? Kneepads, wrist guards, a helment and elbow pads are all strongly advised if you are starting to skateboard as an adult. If you’re worried about ‘looking cool’, well… No-one cares if you’re wearing pads, so suck it up and strap them on. Especially in the early days.
Another factor to bear in mind is where are you going to skate?
If your local park has a skate section, awesome. Roll around and get a feel for it.
The park can be intimidating though, so many people will start on the street. Street skating also offers limitless potential and is a good way to find your balance and style before heading to the skate park. With street skating too you can just practice important things like pushing around, stopping and finding your balance.
Most people have a bit of straight and smooth road near them, so this will be the most likely start point. And that is the key here, you want street surface that is:
- Flat, and…
And then, when you’re ready you want to…
Getting the feel for your board
When you start skateboarding, you will need to take it easy at the beginning. Don’t bother trying to ollie for a bit. Just roll around, get your balance, practice pushing and get the feel for standing and controlling the board.
Later on, you can progress to jumps, flips and whatever else.
The old adage about it’s best to learn to walk before you run is especially true with skateboarding. And with skateboarding as a beginner in your 30s or 40s, that usually means taking it steady and learning how to:
- Stand on the board and not fall off
- Push – that is, how to put one foot on the board and use the other foot to propel you
- Stop – very important
Jumping and other tricks probably won’t even come into your repertoire for a while, or at least they shouldn’t. Expect to be learning the basics for at least a few hours of your beginners skateboarding journey.
Whilst you’re in the stage, it’s also quite useful to learn how to go off pavements smoothly. This is normally done by putting a little pressure on the back of the board so that the front comes up off the ground as you go off the edge.
Stopping normally involves using your foot to slow you down (which ruins your shoes very quickly – use shoes that you don’t mind trashing to start with). But you can also simply jump off and also, with trick boards, master the power slide to take the edge off your speed.
When can I start doing cool shit?
There is no solid timescale for when you can start doing things like ollies, powerslides or whatever. But, as a general rule, you want to be very comfortable just standing on the skateboard.
Once you can roll around town, stop and you don’t nearly stack it it’s time to think about trying to do things like ollies.
Remember, you can’t ollie on longboards or cruisers, so it’s just about the stability and being able to stop on these. But, if you’ve got a trick board, the ollie is the next step and will allow you to do things like go up pavements or probably more likely fall on your ass.
And thats a thing to bear in mind. Falling on your face is a part of skateboarding, so if you’re not prepared to suffer some knocks and bruises, well, you might want to find another sport.
As a result of my rekindled affair with skateboarding in later life I have definitely experienced my share of falls and even a busted finger. So if you want to start doing tricks and stunts, get a helmet and some pads and prepare to fall. A lot.
That said, it is fun, it is great exercis and it is cool.
Let me know if you’ve taken up skateboarding in your 30s or 40s in the comments below and tell me how its going…