Every skatepark has a sign posted that tells you the skatepark’s rules. In addition to a skatepark’s posted rules, there’s also a list of unsaid things that every skater knows not to do when they skate in the park. This is skatepark etiquette, and breaking them is going to anger other skaters. Before we get into the nine things not to do at a skatepark, let’s first lay some ground rules on some skatepark basics before you go tearing up the asphalt terrain.
Ease Into Skating at a Skatepark
Your first time at any new park for skateboarding should involve spending lots of time checking out the park before you skate. You want to get a general vibe of the park before you do any skating. Scope out where the trickiest parts of the park are by skating around the whole perimeter and checking things out.
The first thing that you’ll want to focus on is the actual terrain and layout of the skatepark. Keep in mind that every park is different. At first glance, it might seem like they are basically the same. Most skateparks are completely topped with concrete and have various ramp configurations. But if you look closer, you’ll see some differences. Some parks are more flowing, allowing skaters easy access from one end of the park to the next. Some parks are even arranged like urban street parks. Before you even learn skater etiquette, it’s best to get in touch with what type of parks you like to skate. This allows you to get a feel for the park and the proper etiquette.
Doing a general skate around will help you see which parts of the park are easy for you to skate, and which parts of the skatepark are too demanding for your skating level. Don’t be afraid to stand back and skate with your eyes. Take a look around before jumping in with four on the floor.
Choose a Beginner’s Skatepark if You’re Inexperienced
It will be easiest to learn skating etiquette at a good beginner’s skatepark. The terrain should be mostly smooth with small bowls and ramps. There shouldn’t be any inclines that are too tall. Three feet high is about the maximum height you want to be skating for a beginner’s park. This type of smooth, easy terrain is great for cruising around and perfecting all your basic tricks.
It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are. As long as you know the basics of skating, you’ll be able to do well at any park with a minimum of steep ramps. A beginning skater can have fun at any sized park. It’s good to look around the entire perimeter of the park so that you can see what you like to skate what you don’t want to skate.
Before you start a run, watch what other people are doing. Compose yourself and take a look around to check the lay of the land. Check out to see if any lines are forming before jumping into a bowl or vert. Pay attention and keep your eyes open.
What Not to Do at a Skatepark
Now that you know some basics, let’s take a look at a few things that you want to avoid so you fit in at your local skatepark.
1. Don’t try to figure out a skatepark during the rush hours.
Guess when the worst time is to try and learn the nuances of a particular skatepark? That would be the early evening and late afternoon hours (or anytime during the weekends). These are the times where the park is full of people. If you’re just getting familiar with skatepark basics, you’re going to end up getting in the way. If you want to have a good time, do yourself a big favor and learn how to skate it before peak hours.
It’s always a good idea to come early. The younger kids are still at school while older adults are still working. If you go early in the morning, you’ll have the skatepark almost all to yourself. The morning AM hours are a good time to practice your various moves and get a feel for how best to use the park.
2. Don’t do flat ground stunts in the middle of a bowl.
Doing little ollie tricks is probably best done in the place that’s flat and unobtrusive. Okay, this is skatepark etiquette 101. But we had to list it. The worst place you can start doing flat ground tricks is in the bottom of a bowl or the bottom of a ramp.
3. Keep your wax to yourself.
A waxed surface might be great for helping you grind out a trick flip, but keep in mind that you’re going to leave a very slippery surface in your wake. What might be just the right amount of slipperiness for you might be something very different for everyone else. It’s understandable that some people need wax to perform their tricks. Try putting some wax on your trucks first to give you a little bit of slide. If that doesn’t give you enough glide, then you can go ahead and wax the ledge directly. But make sure that other skaters are okay with it. And don’t spread your wax all over the grounds of the skatepark. Skaters aren’t going to appreciate the spills created because you’re lax with your wax.
4. Entering a skatepark doesn’t give you wizard powers to do tricks you couldn’t nail on the streets.
Everything is skatable at the skatepark. You will see obstacles that are the same as in the streets. These could be stairs, rails, and ledges. But if you’re not at a level where you can skate these types of obstacles, you shouldn’t try to skate them at the park. A park for skateboarding is going to be a bit safer than the street, but it’s not going to give you any magic abilities that you didn’t have before. Either get there early to practice or stand back and watch some of the more experienced skaters ride those rails and stairs. This is a win-win situation: you’ll stay out of their way while picking up a few tips by watching them.
4. Don’t copy other skater’s tricks.
Don’t get on a skater’s bad side by doing the same stuff they’re doing. And absolutely don’t try to one-up them by trying to do their stunts better than them. Get to know them first, and that will come with time. If you want to do some of the same tricks as them, do it someplace in the skatepark that’s far away from where they performed the trick.
5. Don’t be a snake.
A huge problem with unspoken skatepark rules occurs when people don’t bother waiting their turn. You have to make sure that you don’t snake other people. Snaking is when people rudely cut you off during the middle of your run. In a big open area like a skateboard park, you have to be aware enough to flow with other people. The park has a rhythm that you’ll need to get in tune with. It’s proper skatepark etiquette to wait your turn. Somebody is going to get hurt if you don’t have the patience. If it’s a bowl, mini-vert or mini-ramp, then it’s strictly one person at a time. Keep in mind that there are other people at the skatepark besides yourself. Let them have their turn when it’s time for them to skate.
And although this technically isn’t snaking, you also don’t want to be that guy who hangs their board over the bowl while waiting your turn. That’s like nudging the person who’s already skating in the bowl that you’re impatient for them to exit. Chill out and relax.
6. If you lose your board, don’t be silent about it.
Yelling out “board!” is a crucial piece of skatepark etiquette. When you lose your board, chase after it and shout “board!” Think of it as “four!” in golf. Always do this when your board gets away from you, especially when it’s moving with some velocity. When you shout out like this, other people are less likely to get hurt. Other people are concentrating on skating, and they are not necessarily looking out for your board that’s gone rogue.
People are not going appreciate that you stayed silent when you let a board loose. Skaters want a heads up that a skateboard is creeping up on them.
7. Keep you (and your crew) out of the way of other skaters.
When you finish a run, move out of the way so that you don’t get hit by other skaters. It’s important to observe skatepark rules so that you don’t get hurt, and you don’t hurt anybody else. Pay close attention where other skaters are at. You don’t want to get in other people’s way.
This is also a good place to discuss the etiquette around falls. When you fall, get up immediately if you’re not hurt. Falling and staying down makes people think that you’re injured and need help. Unless you want an ambulance coming for you, get up soon after your fall. Staying down also puts you in harm’s way of other skaters.
Collisions and other accidents happen. Sometimes you’ll run into somebody, and sometimes somebody’s going to run right into you. Try to be cool about it and make sure the other person’s not hurt from the collision. After you’ve made sure everyone is okay, move out of the vicinity and let other people skate.
8. Don’t just hang out at the skatepark. You’re there to skate.
Don’t hang out with your friends at the center of a skatepark. Keep your socializing self and your crew to the fence and outer edges of the park if you’re not skating. Don’t socialize in the middle of the bowls or at the top of the obstacles. And don’t sit on the edges of the bowls. If you’re doing more talking than skating, keep to the perimeter of the skateboard park where you won’t be in somebody’s way.
And don’t forget about the spectators that you’ve brought with you. Pick a nice spot for your parents, friends and other visitors to watch you. If anyone that you bring with you is not skating, there are benches available for people to sit and watch the action. Do everyone inside the skatepark a solid and keep your guests out of the way.
9. Don’t start your skating career at a skatepark
If you’re brand new to skating, you don’t want to start your skating career at a skatepark. You need to learn the basics of skating before jumping in the bowl. First learn the basics of how to stand on the board, push off and maintain your balance. You need to learn to walk before you run. If you try to learn to skateboard at a park, you’re going to be falling all over the place instead of making slow progress. This could get you so frustrated before you learn to fly.
There are plenty of informal parking lots, side streets and driveways to learn how to skate properly. If you’ve got your heart set on learning to skate at a skatepark, some offer affordable lessons for newcomers to the sport.
The final rule is that you should always respect the skatepark and its surroundings. If you have any questions about skateboard etiquette as it relates to the park, seek out the advice of locals who are always skating the park. Make sure you respect the locals as the park is basically their second home. And always skate along with the established vibe at a park. You’ll be fitting in like a local in no time at all.
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