As a parent, it is important for you to become educated about the sport your child is playing. It helps if the sport is one you played, but if you and your child are beginners in the sport of skateboarding, here's what you need to know:
- Different styles, diverse athletes. Skateboarding is as diverse a sport as the athletes it attracts. Spend time talking with your child about what type of skateboarding (skating, doing tricks, riding in a skate-park, sliding, racing, or freestyle) he wants to try first. Just as mountain biking, trail riding, and road riding are different, with bikes specifically designed for each, there are different kinds of skateboards for different kinds of boarding.
- Safety comes first. Before you buy his first skateboard, it is important to have a frank discussion with your child about safety, and come to an agreement about when and where it is safe to skate. The rules you establish will depend, of course, on your child's age and maturity level: the rules for my eight-year-old daughter are vastly different from those that apply to my fifteen-year-old son. When in doubt, just use your best judgment.
- Get expert advice. Buy your child's first board from a store where the sales staff are skateboarding experts. Your best bet for quality product and service will be a local independent skate shop, not a big-box sporting supply store. Talk to kids at the local skate park to find out where they go to buy their gear. Be prepared to ask the staff lots of questions.
- What you'll need to buy. In addition to a board, you'll need to buy a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and gloves (they fall on their hands!). If your child plans to longboard, then add slide pucks and specialized gloves to the list.
- Buy a skateboarding magazine/visit some websites. The one our family gets is Concrete Wave, the only magazine that covers longboarding as well as skateboarding events, news and gear. The site also has a great downloadable buyer's guide. Another great site for longboard enthusiasts is http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com. .
- Boards, boards and more boards! Once you buy your child her first board, it won’t be long before she wants to try another one. Be prepared for her to want another board and more wheels even when you just bought new ones! Think of wheels as birthday candles: every day is a party and you need new ones for the next day's cake.
- Used equipment (except helmets) is okay. If your budget is tight, there is nothing wrong with starting off with second hand everything, except for helmets: Never buy a second hand helmet. You have one egg to break, so make sure your child's helmet fits properly and meets safety standards. Helmets become stale, just like eggs, so be prepared to replace the helmet when it no longer fits, or after about two years, depending on the helmet. But everything else can be picked up used to start off, even skateboards, if they are in good shape. New boards can run you anywhere from $90.00 for a deck and another $100+ for trucks and wheels. If this seems like alot, then think about what bikes cost. For a quality ride, you are going to have to pay. To get an idea of the cost of boards and components, click here.
- Lessons: Some skate shops have bulletin boards advertising lessons for beginners. Sometimes the lessons are free, just to help out new skaters; others are offered for a fee. The best way for your child to become a good rider, of course, is to skate.
Being the parent of a skateboarder means you are in for a ride. Enjoy!
Lorrie Miller is a mother, teacher and writer in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her son, Wolfgang (that's him in the photo after a race), competes in downhill longboarding.