While learning how to skate as a young kid is much easier — it’s just about play, at that point — that doesn’t mean adults can’t learn how to have fun on a board. But first you have to set aside your ego, says Comet Skateboards president Jason Salfi: “Don’t worry about trying to be a pro skater.”
“I see a lot of people who get on a skateboard [for the first time] who try to do tricks, try to do an ollie,” he says. “When you show up on a basketball court, you wouldn’t try to slam dunk it. Just throw the ball at the hoop.” Similarly, you want to start skating low and slow, as it were, so that when you fall — and you will — you can get up, dust yourself off, and keep rolling. With that in mind, here are Salfi’s top six tips to get your feet under you (and keep them there).
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“There’s a lot of value in going to a core skate shop in your city or town and talking to the person behind the counter and saying, ‘I want to get a skateboard, I’m into learning.’ More than being a sport, skateboarding is a culture and an art. The culture is so deep and vast that the more time one can spend understanding the roots and feeling of skateboarding, the more it really does influence your whole experience in a positive way.”
“Completes [preassembled skateboards] on the racks can be a great, less expensive solution. But a lot of core skate shops don’t even have completes: They’ve got boards on the wall, and trucks and wheels in a cabinet. You should be able to get a sense from the person behind the counter about whether or not you want to try building a skateboard from scratch.”
“Take your new board to a flat location — emphasis on flat. Getting started in an area that’s unpopulated and without traffic is a great idea. Just go back and forth and down the street. Once you feel good, learn how to turn your board, how you like your trucks — tight or loose — and how your board feels. Just roll around and carve.”
“When you start to feel comfortable cruising around, go to a skateboard park that has some transitions [i.e., areas that transition from horizontal to inclines or vertical] and try skating some mild transitions and mild hills. Maybe find a curb and do some slappies [grinding your trucks along a surface] or try some ollies. You can entertain yourself for hours with a flat piece of asphalt and a parking block or a mellow incline to carve turns on.”
“As long as you respect the rules of the road and of skateboarding culture, people will be really supportive of you. Whenever a kid drops into a bowl for the first time, everybody’s pretty stoked for him, cheering him on. I’ve never encountered somebody not being good at skateboarding and getting teased for it. It’s just about respecting the culture at whatever level you’re at.”
“Avoid having goals. Let yourself flow, and let the process move really organically. You’ll find your comfort level and it’ll all work out. If you’re rolling down the road, feeling the wind in your hair and the vibration in your feet, that’s skateboarding’s truest, purest form. It just feels good to cruise.”