When I first started going to skateparks with my kids, I was TERRIFIED!!! From navigating the turf wars between grumpy old skate dudes and entitled scooter kids to trying not to fall on my face, it was a chaotic and hostile place.
But, I knew I had every right to be at the skatepark. As a mom in my 40s who was starting to get on a skateboard, I wanted to skate with my kids, and I wasn’t going to let the post-apocalyptic vibes get the better of me. So, In order to survive, I learned the rules of the skatepark and I’m passing that knowledge on to you.
Here are 12 tips to make trips to the skatepark for you and skateboarding for kids, less daunting:
Skateparks are for everyone!
If you’ve got a set of wheels, you have every right to be at the skatepark. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel otherwise. Beginners and scooter kids are not posers, always remember that. An activity like skateboarding for kids and their parents is meant to be freeing and fun.
Go with the flow
Take a few minutes to observe the park. Every skatepark has an optimal flow to it and the locals usually follow those “lines”. If you cut across other skaters’ lines it will make a lot of people mad and increase the chances of injury. However, if you take a few minutes to watch the flow, you can either avoid the busy part of the park altogether or follow the same lines as everyone else and be a part of the session!
I am a firm believer that EVERYONE gets a turn. No matter what your age, skill level, or ride of choice. Once you understand the flow of the park and you’re in a busy part of the park, just ask the friendliest person there if you (or your child) can have a turn.
Pro tip: That person will ALWAYS say yes! Your turn should last as long as everyone else’s turn (in the bowl it’s usually under a minute and on the street it’s usually less). Take your turn and HAVE FUN! The same rules apply for skateboarding for kids and parents as well as seasoned shredders.
Skateparks are NOT playgrounds
Please understand that children should not be running around on the equipment or using the bowl as a play structure. Visualize how out of place it would be to see an adult man shredding a playground on his skateboard then you’ll understand how frustrating it is for people on wheels to navigate young kids running around. For your own child’s safety, please don’t let them run around.
Watch where you sit!
This isn’t a huge deal but be careful where you sit as it might be a skate obstacle. My advice is to park your stuff on the grass in the shade.
Please supervise your kids (at first)
Look, I get it. I’m a parent too and sometimes I just want to be in one place and have my kids be… in an entirely different place. That is the beauty of the skatepark! But make sure your kids know the rules first. In the beginning, my kids and I stayed together at the park all the time. I didn’t want them getting in people’s way, getting in fights, or getting hurt. We learned the rules of the park together and I slowly started letting them go off on their own.
Don’t be a “snaker”
The simplest definition of a snaker is someone who cuts the line, but it also includes someone who takes too long to do their runs or darts in front of others (not going with the flow). If you snake, even the nicest person at the skatepark will get mad.
Go when the park is not crowded
There are certain times of the day that are better than others for going to the skatepark. If you go during the day, you’ll notice there are more young kids, and the rules are a little more flexible. Early mornings and lunch times are usually when adults who have no other time to get to the park sneak off and get in some runs. Evenings are packed with young adults and advanced skaters having “heavy sessions” and maybe safer for kids to avoid.
**Photo credit: Chantal D. Garcia
Skateboarding for Kids: Bowl etiquette
Bowl skating is a separate entity all together from general street skating and has a few more rules:
- Stay back: If you are watching, please keep some distance from the edge of the bowl and do not let your feet dangle over the side. It can be very scary for the rider in the bowl and it can be dangerous for everyone.
- One(ish) at a time: Some people strongly believe only one at a time in the bowl but I am mixed on this. On the one hand, DO NOT go in the bowl if someone you don’t know is in there. But if you and a friend or your two kids want to help each other, as long as you take your turn and then promptly get out, there is no problem. When the bowl is not crowded, your turn can be longer than when it is busy but generally it should be one minute per rider. If other riders are taking too long, just politely ask, “Can I have a turn now?”
- Exit Plan: Please don’t get into the bowl if you can’t get out of the bowl.
If you’re not sure, just ask!
If you’re not sure of something, feel free to ask someone. They will appreciate you taking the time to ask. Also, if you’re not following skatepark etiquette, be prepared to get unsolicited tips. Sometimes it can be jarring but take the advice and move on quickly because they are usually right.
Keep the park clean
The skateboarding community works hard to keep the park clean and safe for riders. Please don’t throw trash into the bowl (it is incredibly dangerous). Use the trash bins available to dispose of waste and leave the area as clean or cleaner than you found it.
Be Encouraging and Have Fun
Ultimately, everyone is just trying to unwind, take a break, get some exercise, be outdoors, and have fun. You never know what others are going through and kindness can go a long way. It is possible for everyone to co-exist at the skatepark! Be a part of the community by encouraging other riders at the park, a simple “Good Job” goes a long way.
Skateparks and Skateboarding for Kids in Canada
*Main photo credit: Rebecca Tisdale Marcias