Skateboarding officially became an Olympic sport in 2020. Skateboarding, along with its offshoots, such as mountain boarding and longboarding, is becoming more popular than ever among children and teenagers. If you or your kids are interested in getting started with this exciting yet risky activity, there are some important safety considerations you should keep in mind.
Is Skateboarding Dangerous?
Skateboarding can be dangerous. Skateboarding is responsible for approximately 70,000 visits to the emergency room every year. Among those injured on skateboards, about half are under the age of 15, and most of them are boys. Children are most likely to be injured when they lose their balance and fall off of their skateboards and land on an outstretched hand.
Some of the most common skateboard injuries include:
Skateboarding Age Range
The American Academy of Pediatricians advises that children 5 and under should not ride a skateboard at all. Their balance and judgment haven't developed, and they're at a higher risk for injury.
Children between the ages of 6 and 10 shouldn't ride a skateboard without adult supervision.
Is Skateboarding Healthy?
Skateboarding can be healthy. It gives you a full-body workout. You have to use a variety of different muscles and movements to ride a skateboard and do tricks. Your legs and feet have to balance on the board while your upper body has to constantly adjust. Skateboarding helps build your coordination and perseverance, since learning new tricks often takes a lot of effort and repetition.
How to Skateboard Safely
There is no way to stay completely safe while skateboarding, since falling is such a common part of the sport. However, you can take steps to reduce the risks and help avoid skateboard injuries.
Skateboard safety gear should include the following:
- A helmet that fits properly and was designed for skateboarding or multiple sports
- Elbow and knee pads
- Wrist guards
- Shoes with nonslip soles and closed toes
- A skateboard that's the right size
Here are some safe skating rules:
- Obey all traffic rules.
- Don't skate in the street in crowded areas.
- Watch for other skaters, walkers, runners, cyclists, and cars on any trails you're using.
- Skate on the right and pass on the left. Only pass if you have enough room to do so safely.
- Watch the trail or street for changes such as potholes, cracks, water, debris, or other hazards. Avoid oily or wet surfaces.
- Only one person should be on a skateboard.
- Never "skitch" - holding onto a vehicle while riding a skateboard.
- Make sure you know the basics of skateboarding, including how to turn, control your board, and stop, before you use a trail.
How to Learn Skateboarding
Learning to ride a skateboard takes practice, patience, and persistence.
The following steps will help you get started:
Take a stable stance. With your skateboard in front of you, place one foot over the bolts at the top and one over the bolts at the bottom. Your feet should form part of a triangle. This will give you a steady stance. Practice getting on and off the skateboard and then practice moving from a standing to a squatting position until you feel comfortable.
Practice jumping on and off. The next step is to practice jumping on and off the skateboard. Try to land on the board with both feet covering the bolts.
Try the body varial. While standing on the skateboard, jump and turn, landing in the opposite direction with your feet in the correct position.
Remember "bolts for balance." Learning to be comfortable balancing on a skateboard is a foundational skill. Your feet should always be kept over the bolts to keep a natural stance and achieve easy balance.
Push off. Learning to push off on a skateboard will get you moving. Put one foot on the skateboard just over the top bolts. Put the other foot on the ground at about the midpoint of your board. You can put either foot on the board; just find what's most comfortable for you. The pushing foot is the one on the ground. Push off of your foot while you rock the skateboard forward.
Once you get going, put your pushing foot over the back bolts, sideways across the board. While you are moving that foot, pivot your front foot until you're in the stable stance you practiced earlier.
Turning technique. When you're in your stable stance, you can turn your skateboard by either pressing your toes forward, which will result in your skateboard turning frontside, or your heels, which will result in your board turning backward.
Stopping. You can stop your skateboard by taking your pushing foot and gradually applying pressure to the ground until you stop moving.
Once you've learned the basic moves, you may be wondering where to skateboard. A skatepark is a great place to get started.
In addition to the safety rules above, you should know basic skate park etiquette.
- If you want to go down a ramp, wait in the queue. Don't go before others who are in line or before the person in front of you has finished.
- Stand back from the edge of the ramp while you're waiting. Don't let your wheels overhang the ramp.
- Don't cut across the bottom of a ramp.
- Don't cut into a ramp from the side.
- Help the younger skaters learn to enjoy skating.
- Don't hang out on the ramps or obstacles if you aren't skating.
- Watch out for other skaters, including looking behind you.
- Don't drop in unless you're certain the area is clear.
- Don't leave your stuff on the ramps or obstacles.