Skateboarding is so much more than a means to get to a place. It requires balance, strength and stamina. Skateboarding can be great for your child’s physical and social development, and it will teach them many useful skills and lessons. If you’re not a great skater yourself, don’t despair, because here’s a little guide on how to teach your kid to ride.
First things first
The first thing you need to do is get your kid the right board. Ideally, your kid should be standing with each foot just behind the bolts that hold the wheels to the board. If you see that their feet are too much apart when in that position, you might start thinking about getting a mini version of a regular board. After you found an appropriate board, it’s time to bring out the safety gear. A helmet and knee, elbow and wrist pads are a must. They will not only protect your kid from injuries and road rashes, but also make them feel safe and less scared.
Balance, balance, balance
After you got your kid dressed for the part, it’s finally time to step onto the board. The first thing you want to teach your little skater is balance and how to achieve it. In skating, balance comes from the head. If your head moves, your whole body will move and your weight will shift, so teach your kid to keep feet behind the bolts and their head between the feet. Their knees should not be completely straight, but a little flexed. You can practice balance anywhere you want, but preferably on the grass in case you don’t get to catch your kid.
Is your kid’s stance “goofy” or “regular”?
After your kid gets the hold of the balance, it’s time to figure out their stance – “goofy” or “regular”. This depends on which foot is in the front. The easiest way to figure this out is by putting your kid on the board the both ways and one way will always feel more comfortable and natural. There’s no one RIGHT way to stand on the board, it all depends on the skater’s preference.
Time to get moving
This is often the hardest part and many beginners have problems, such as the board getting away underneath them when pushing. It often happens because of the inadequate position of their feet. When you push the board, it’s just like walking, so don’t place your pushing foot next to or behind your balancing foot. Your kid’s pushing foot should step in FRONT of the balancing foot that is pointing straight and then they’ll be able to push without losing their board. Getting their pushing foot back on the board requires them to twist their balancing foot so that it’s placed sideways and step on the tail of the board with their pushing foot. This needs to be done in one smooth move, otherwise they’re risking falling down.
Make some turns
After your kid has built up some decent speed, it’s time to turn. Explain that they need to gently lean the skateboard in order to turn, simply by putting a little bit more weight onto their heels or toes. When they get a hold of this, they can start making sharper turns by slightly lifting the nose of their board and aiming the nose in the direction they want to go.
Time to stop
Stopping is one of the most important things they should learn and there are a few ways this can be done. The first and probably the easiest way is a so-called tail stop. This is done by grinding the tail of your board into the ground, and stopping as a result of the friction. This is probably the best way for the beginners.
After your kid learns all of these moves, you can let them enjoy the ride, but always be there to supervise them in the beginning. Your kid might want to change some things in their riding style or get a different board and that’s ok. In the United States, there are many different types of boards your kid can try, such as regular skateboards for tricks, longboards for speed and quality cruiser skateboards designed for city rides, the choice is theirs.
If you get your kid to learn at their own pace, they are sure to have so much fun while also staying active and spending time outside with their fellow skaters. Just ride on!