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10 Tips Visiting a Skatepark for the First Time (Etiquette)

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Your first time at a skatepark can be very exciting!  The obstacles are pristine, and there are people performing amazing tricks.  This article will explain how to behave at skateparks, also known as Skatepark Etiquette.

Skateparks can have a lot of rules.  What is skatepark etiquette?  In addition to the written rules most skateparks have (hours of operations, using helmets and pads, certain nights for bikes/scooters/etc), skatepark etiquette is the list of unwritten rules that need to be followed at skateparks. 

Following these unwritten rules (ie. using proper etiquette) will help you to make friends, stay out of trouble, and that you won’t have problems with other skaters, so that everyone at the park can have a great time.

So what are the unwritten rules?  While a skatepark may have its own specific etiquettes which may expand this list, this article will detail 10 of the universal rules that apply at every skatepark.

1. Be polite, and courteous

When ever you go somewhere new (new skatepark, new school, new job, etc.) it is important to be a polite and courteous to the locals.  After all, first impressions are everything.  If you are a nice, friendly person, people will generally be nice and friendly back.

If you are a jerk, and act as if you own the place, others will not be receptive to your presence.  You probably don’t like when people criticize your skating, so don’t criticize theirs.

Yelling “BOARD!!” when you fall and your board gets away from you, is an expected courtesy at all parks. But being courteous can be as simple as just saying “Hi!” when you make eye contact, or chatting with the person you roll up beside.  Complimenting someones trick or line goes a long way too.

2. Don’t vandalize

Not only is vandalism illegal, but damaging skateparks is a surefire way to piss off the locals.  Don’t graffiti, litter, spit, eat sunflower seeds, or throw cigarette butts on the park surfaces.  Nobody likes to roll through your gum and garbage.  A sunflower seed stops your wheels the exact same way as a pebble, which are any skater’s arch enemy!

Damaging obstacles can create dangerous situations for skaters.  Nobody wants to get hurt, and nobody wants to be responsible for someone getting hurt.  Being clean, and taking care of the obstacles will ensure that your skatepark lasts for decades.

3. Don’t wax

Leave your wax at home.  Chances are that ledge, or rail, will be perfectly slidable, and has already been seasoned and waxed by the locals.  Test the obstacle by sliding your board or trucks along it with your hands to see if there are sticky spots.  If an obstacle isn’t fast enough for you, wax your board or trucks.  People will not take kindly to a newb waxing their perfect rail to death.

4. Don’t “Snake”

Snakes are people who cut across someones line, or who 1-up them, when they are sessioning or learning on an obstacle.  Nobody likes a snake, and it is a surefire way to piss someone off.  Also, it is dangerous.  Collisions never end without pain, or some injury.

Watch for, and follow The Flow of skating at the park.  Skateparks are often directional, in that they can have a down hill slope, and obstacles that can only be skated from one direction.  Observer others to see the direction people are skating, the lines that people are following and the obstacles they are skating.  There will be a flow.  If you want to try something against the flow; ask other skaters first.

5. Don’t hang-out on obstacles

Most skate parks have benches, or grass for sitting and hanging out, so don’t sit on a fun box.  It’s a great way to get people mad at you, or get hit with a board.  Also, you will get wax on your pants.  If someone asks you to move, then move.  If you don’t move, the result may be unpleasant.  Watch what people are skating, and stay out of the way, and off the obstacles.

6. Ready Position

This is a do and don’t.  People who frequent skateparks look for others who are ready to start a line, before they start their’s, to avoid being a snake.  You need to telegraph your actions.  For example, if you are standing at the top of the mini ramp, and are not ready to go, don’t hang your board off the coping.  Having your board in drop in position, means you are ready to drop in.  If you aren’t ready to drop in, hold our board, or make sure it is facing to the side and fully on the deck.

Likewise, if you are ready to start your line, look like you are.  If you are going to run up, hold your board by the nose like you are going to run and jump on it.  Don’t start a run up, from a mall grab position, or holding your board some weird way.  Running in doesn’t work too well when holding the rail of the deck.

7. Don’t be A baby

Don’t throw tantrums.  If you fall doing a trick (we all do), don’t freak out and throw your board, smash it against objects or roll on the ground screaming (if you aren’t severely hurt).  Nobody likes this sort of production, and it makes a bad impression.  Laugh the fall off.  People will laugh with you.  We have all been there, and we understand the frustration.  Freaking out doesn’t help you land a trick.

8. No “infinite lines”

Little kids have a ton of energy, and can push around all over the skatepark for what feels like hours.  They get in everyones way, and nobody can tell where they are going next.  This makes it impossible for skaters to know when they can start their line, and where they can go.

Pick a line in a section, and skate it, and take a break.  Nobody is going to be impressed that you have rolled through the entire park several times in a 5 minute line, and only did a couple kickflips.

9. Don’t be reckless

Skate within our limits.  This doesn’t mean you can’t try to advance your skating.  We all want to advance our skating, but there are ways to do it, and ways not to do it.  If you are just learning to ollie, don’t try to tre-flip the 5 set.

Most parks have obstacles of varying difficulty, so get your tricks dialled on small objects and graduate to bigger, then bigger ones.  Advancing in your skating is an indescribable feeling, but doesn’t happen instantly.  Nobody likes to get, or see anyone get, seriously hurt.

10.  Follow the written rules

Most skateparks have written rules; helmets, hours they are open, no vandalism, bike/scooter/skateboarding hours, etc.  It is important to follow these rules to avoid being hassled by locals, law enforcement, and having the skatepark shut down by the owner, or the city.  If your skatepark has a washroom, and it gets vandalized, the owner will close the facility because it is too expensive to keep replacing toilets every week because someone decided to be disrespectful.

Private skateparks often have fees; usually $10 for a day, or session.  Pay the fees!  This might seem like a lot of money for you, but for the private skatepark operator, it barely keeps the lights on.  The cost of running an indoor skatepark is very high.  Water bills, power and heating bills, property taxes, rent, insurance, city permits, staff, and maintenance, all cost a private park a lot of money.

Most private skateparks lose hundreds of dollars each month, and that is compounded by “fence hoppers” not paying fees.  Most offer monthly passes, which will give a significant discount on the fees, and are definitely worth it if you are an avid skater in a place with long, terrible winters.

What are “Locals Only Parks”?

Locals only parks, are just that… For locals only.  That doesn’t mean you can’t go there, but it does mean that you need to make sure you are welcome.  It helps if you get in with the “locals” before you go there, and take time to learn the vibe.

If you are friends with a local, or get invited by a local, you are likely good to go.  But be on your best behaviour, and make sure to follow their rules, so you don’t run into any problems, and will be invited back.

Why are skateparks so busy?

Skateparks offer perfect terrain, pristine obstacles, and give people a place to skate without trespassing, and as such, they can be very busy.  If they are too busy for you, go at off peak hours.  Skateparks can get over run by small kids, with no understanding of etiquette.

The little kids usually have to go home at about supper time, and don’t usually arrive until about noon.  When I go to a skatepark, I either go by 8:00AM, or after 6:00PM.  There are usually very few little kids during these hours, and usually just us old guys.

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