Welcome to our 10-minute beginner’s guide to skateboarding.
If you want to make an extreme sport your next hobby that’s cheap, varied, and great to do in a group; skateboarding is the perfect sport for you.
I do a lot of outdoor activities and extreme sports. And, there’s two things that bug me about them:
- I can’t just walk outside and do them (i.e. I have to drive to a motocross track, or a surf spot)
- They are sooo expensive (a half-decent second-hand motocross bike is about £3,000/$4,000)
Skating isn’t particularly expensive.
And, if you’re planning on street skating, you can literally walk out your front door and get started; that sounds good to me.
Today we’re going to cover everything you need to know to get yourself from someone that wants to skate (i.e. a complete beginner), to someone that shooting towards the intermediate level.
In part 1, we’ll look at the essential kit you’ll need to start skateboarding, or you can choose a section using the links below.
- Part 1: Skateboarding Gear & Equipment
- Part 2: How To Skateboard
- Part 3: How To Build Your Own Skateboard
- Part 4: Where To Skate + The Best Skateboarding Websites & YouTube Channels
Skateboarding Gear & Equipment List
So, what do you need to get started?
#1 – Complete Skateboard
For the complete beginner, buying a preassembled board isn’t a bad idea.
Until you get a feel for the type of deck and trucks that suit you, and start nailing down some tricks, a basic complete board setup will be more than good enough.
Your complete board should include a deck, trucks, hardware, grip tape, wheels and bearings.
Riser pads are optional. They are designed for skaters that run with loose trucks.
Loose trucks will mean your deck tilts so much that you get wheel rub. The extra height of the deck thanks to the riser pads, stop that from happening.
On a side note, I’ve always noticed the difference between a board with/without risers. Risers help to absorb big landings.
What Are The Benefits Of A Complete Setup From A Well Known Brand?
It’s going to take a lot of the guess work out of making sure you buy high quality products all-round.
So, how much do they cost?
Sure, you can get cheap skateboards for well under $60, but we wouldn’t advise it.
We’ve already covered the best skateboard decks here. And, a decent deck is going to be $40 upwards. You’re going to be hard pushed to get any high-quality complete setup for under $60.
Towards the higher end of our $60-80 estimate, you’ll be able to grab complete skateboards from Alien Workshop, Enjoi and boards like the Element Section.
For those on a tighter budget, Toy Machine do a decent complete setup for around $65.
Check any online skate shop for serious skaters, and they’ll sell these brands. They’re all durable, so they are perfect for beginners right through to intermediate.
But, which size skateboard is best for beginners?
There’s so many options. For a start, you’ll see deck widths of 7.5”-8.5”.
Most of the time choosing deck width, comes down to your size.
If you’re a small dude (or youth) with small feet, you’ll be leaning towards the lower end of the range.
For bigger dudes, aim towards the higher end of the spectrum.
You’ll also see lengths of 31”-34”. Again, your size is going to help determine the best length.
On a side note, length and width will have a direct impact on responsiveness.
A smaller deck will provide better maneuverability for tricks, but you’ll be compromised in terms of stability when cruising.
As a beginner, you don’t need anything too technical.
If your average height and build, something in the middle ground (8” x 32”) or thereabouts will be perfect.
#2 – Shoes
Sure, you can use any shoes for skating, a lot of people do.
But, if you’re looking for a set of skate shoes, a middle ground is something with a vulcanized or hybrid sole.
These soles provide the durability that you’ll need for stopping, but they also offer the shock absorbing characteristics you’ll need when landing heavy from tricks.
More importantly, as you progress from a beginner to more technical tricks, they’ll give you the sensitivity and feel to know exactly what your board is going to do next.
There’s a tonne of great shoes to choose from skate brands like Etnies, Huf, DC, Vans and Osiris.
#3 – Helmet
Even low speed impacts can cause a huge amount of damage. At 5mph, if you smash your head off a rail or the concrete, it’s going to hurt. Period.
Don’t take the risk; buy a skate helmet. This is the most important piece of protective skate gear you’ll own.
But, how do you measure a helmet? After all, a poorly fitted helmet could cause damage rather than prevent it.
You’ll need to get a tape measure. And no, not the kind for measuring windows. You’ll need a soft tape to measure around the circumference of your head (about eyebrow and ear height).
If you don’t have a soft tape measure to hand, continue to avoid a construction type tape measures.
Instead, use a piece of string and measure it with the tape after you’ve marked it, and can lay it flat.
There’s some great skate helmets available from JBM, Triple Eight and Pro-Tec.
#4 – Knee & Elbow Guards
As a beginner to skateboarding, you’re going to bail; a lot. And trust me, sliding across concrete hurts.
Knee and elbow pads are going to help prevent painful grazes and even dislocations.
Like the helmets, we’d be leaning towards knee and elbow guard sets from JBM, Triple Eight and Pro-Tec.
#5 – Wrist Guards
There’s going to be a natural reaction when you fall; to put your hands out.
And, this natural reaction is to protect your face. But, what protects your hands?
There’s a few brands making wrist guards specifically for skateboarding, and that means they’re low profile.
You’ll see a lot of skaters not wearing any form of protection. That’s usually a sign that they don’t bail very often and are experienced, or they enjoy pain!
As a beginner, I’d recommend maxing out the protective gear. If you want to ditch it at a later date, well, that’s up to you.
Next: How To Skateboard