Skateboarding 101: Tips, Tricks, and What the Heck is a "Grommet"?!
Asphalt surfers, groms and grommets, sidewalk skaters--whatever you want to call them, many of our community members (including Tommy himself!) are crazy talented on a skateboard!
This week, we're taking a look at some of the basics behind the sport of skateboarding: how to get started, how to stay safe, and some of the most common terms (and a few of the craziest, just for fun) you'll come across in the world of skateboarding.
(P.S. If you're dealing with beach and park closures right now, it's a great time to take up a sport like skateboarding! Suit up in protective gear, practice on your sidewalk, and go for short rides when the weather's nice. If you're heading out for a longboard ride, be sure to practice the rules of social distancing, and stay away from skate parks until you're ready!)
- Pick your board. Skateboards, like their ancestors (surfboards), come in a wide range of designs and styles. For example, longboards are often used for more relaxed skating over longer distances, while the tiny penny board is used for trick skating. For beginners, a flat board without too much curve is a good place to start.
- Choose your stance. Pick which leg will be your "lead" (on the board) and which will "push" (on the ground). Your stance is "Regular" if you skate with your left foot in front, and "Goofy" if you use your right.
- Bend your knees. Most turns and tricks are easier to do on a skateboard if you keep your body loose and your joints relaxed. Bend your knees to help yourself find balance and move with the natural movement of the board.
- Learn how to push. To gather speed, place your leading foot on the board with your toes pointed toward the front, and bend your front knee so your back leg can reach the ground. Use your back foot to "push" against the ground, balancing your weight on your front foot as you gather speed. Then, place your back foot on the board and skate off into the sunset!
- ...and you should probably learn how to stop. You can "foot brake" by dragging your back foot on the ground to slow down. This takes some practice, to find the right pressure to use so you don't take a tumble.
- Be ready to fall. If you're new to skateboarding, you're going to fall--and fall often! It's important to learn how to do this safely. Practice keeping your body loose and rolling when you hit the ground. (You can start by practicing in grass so you don't hurt yourself.)
- Suit up. Protective gear like helmets and pads are absolutely critical for newbies. Make sure you're fully protected!
- Wear flat-footed shoes. Skating barefoot or in flip-flops is a surefire way to hurt yourself. Flat-footed shoes with soles with good grip are the best shoes for skating. Popular brands like Vans and Nike sell shoes specifically designed for skateboards, but other brands like Converse and Keds can work just as well.
- Practice tricks on grass. Before you hit the skate park, practice your tricks in grassy areas, and practice getting up to speed in flat, open areas like parking lots or flat driveways. Practicing on grass makes it safer to fall, since you're less likely to hurt yourself!
- Stop when you're tired. Skating is a LOT of fun, but some of the most common injuries happen when we push ourselves further than we should. Know your own limits, and stop when you feel tired. Stay safe out there! Before long, you'll be skating like the pros.
Common Skater Lingo
If you're just getting started, the complicated web of slang, vocabulary, and professional terms surrounding skateboarding can sound like a whole new language. Skater lingo ranges from simple names like "ollies" and "grinds" to out-there tricks like "Roastbeef" and "Stalefish." (Don't believe us? Check out this list of skateboarding terms!)
You don't need to carry a skater dictionary every time you head to the skate park, but here are some of the most common terms you might come up against.
- Air. Distance from the ground or ramp. If your trick takes you skyward, you're "getting air."
- Alley-oop. A spinning trick where the skater spins to one side while airing to the other.
- Am. Short for amateur. In other words, not Tony Hawk!
- Bail. To fall, or kick your board away mid-trick to avoid falling.
- Burly. Used to describe a trick that might end painfully if it isn't done right (or a skater who likes those tricks!).
- Deck. The wooden part of a skateboard.
- Drop in. The act of going from a flat edge to a steep ramp. (You might hear skaters yell "Dropping!" as a warning in a crowded park.
- Focus. To break a board in half.
- Gnarly. Amazing!
- Goofy-footed. Skating while using your right foot to push.
- Grommet (or grom). A little kid who skates. Also a fantastic pair of sunglasses!
- Kickflip. A trick that rotates your board lengthwise by kicking your front foot off the board.
- Land. To complete a trick successfully.
- Mongo. A skater is "skating Mongo" if they're using their leading foot to push.
- Nose. The front end of the deck, in front of the forward-most mounts.
- Push. The action of pushing along the ground to build speed with one leg, with the other leg on the board.
- Slam. A hard fall.
- Technical (or tech). Any trick that involves a lot of technical skill, like flip and spin combinations or slides and grinds.
- 180/360. Degrees of rotation, usually used to describe a trick like an ollie.
So, how'd you do? Show us your stuff on Instagram! You can find us at @bombereyewear, where we're always sharing the cool things our community members do.
Stay safe, and have fun!