Skateparks are awesome but for some it can be intimidating. Maybe you think you’re not good enough or perhaps you feel lke everyone is watching you. It’s all in your head and the first thing to do is to stop comparing yourself to others.
Everyone was a new skater at some point. We all sucked and improved, skating with your peers is actually beneficial. It’s easier to get better at skateboarding when there are more skilled riders around.
Keep in mind that there are skatepark rules for your and others safety. Be yourself, don’t throw tantrums and don’t be afraid to ask skaters how to improve.
Skatepark Anxiety: 10 tips to Ease Your Mind
Anxiety is not just being afraid of something, real anxiety is a mental illnes that needs to be treated. The word gets thrown around easily and feeling umcomfortable is not anxiety.
Let’s go through a couple of tips to make you feel more comfortable. It will not take your fear away, but at least it will help you feel a bit better. If you prepare properly, you will feel more confident.
1. Explore a Skatepark Before You Go
Many skateparks have videos or images of the park layout. Study it and check where you want to ride and how you can comfortably make your first run.
Knowing the layout will help you decide where you can and where you can’t ride. Many skateparks have obstacles suitable for different levels. Identify the parts where you want to skate, this should take away some of the stress.
2. Make Sure You Know How To Ride
I think it’s essential that you know how to ride. Skateparks can get busy and you don’t want to get in people’s way. So practice first before you enter a park. This could be in a garage, a parking lot, or any flat ground near your area.
Knowing how to ride is half the battle, you should be able to avoid others and aware of your surroundings. Beginners are more likely to get injured after all.
3. Learn About Skatepark Etiquette
There are rules in a skatepark, written and unwritten. Learn about skatepark etiquette and avoid annoying other skateboarder. Mistakes happen to everyone but make sure you are aware of the rules. Don’t camp on objects, stay out of other skaters’ lines and keep your distance.
Don’t snake, be aware of your surrounding and make eye contact. Often people will even tell you to go if you hesitant about making a run.
One thing that really grind my gears is people throwing tantrums. Throwing your board around and getting all worked if a trick fails is one of the worst thing you can do.
4. You Are Not a Poser
Perhaps not a tip, but this is something I hear a lot. Perhaps it’s some sort of imposter syndrome and you talking yourself down. No one in their right mind would think you’re a poser because you’re a beginner. This is all in your head because no one thinks as much about you as you think about you.
You’re not an imposter, you’re a skater! It’s easier said than done, but this mindset won’t help you at all. Keep in mind that everyone in your local skatepark was a new skater at some point.
5. Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something
Don’t be that awkward person who just stands there all day and doesn’t skate. This will only bring more attention to you than you realize. You are there to skate, not to watch all day.
When you are watching, make use of it. Observe the lines of the skilled skaters, where they push, drop in, pump, and get speed. Learn from it and try it yourself. This is how I learned to skate bowl, for example.
Just cruising through a park is fine, this ill help you learn about the different obstacles. You don’t have to nail gnarly tricks, just give it time. Riding with confidence around a park is very rewarding.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Tips
We all sucked at some point and a skatepark is perfect for learning new skills. People can point out what you’re doing right and what you can improve.
Often you don’t even realise this yourself, but a slight change in your stance can mean you land a trick you we’re having trouble with. Skaters love that and will cheer for you, and if they don’t just cheer for yourself.
7. Avoid Busy Hours
This is especially useful if you are really new and can’t ride properly. Crowded skateparks can be pretty hectic and you might get in the way of more experienced riders.
When there’s hardly anyone around, it’s the perfect opportunity to get familiar with a skatepark. You won’t get in the way and you can just relax and take all the time you need.
If you can, go on weekdays, especially in the morning. If you’re a bit older, you could also visit a skatepark in the evening. Usually there are older skaters that like you, don’t like busy skateparks.
8. Be Yourself
Don’t overcompensate because you have anxiety. Just take a deep breath and try to relax a little. Be you, be humble, ask for tips or just try to interact a little with other skaters.
Skateboarding is a great way to make new friends, after all you share a passion which is a great conversation starter.
9. Don’t feel Awkward Wearing a Helmet
Perhaps this is not just skatepark related but wearing a skateboard helmet is a good thing. There is a strong division among skaters, some think helmets are for losers and others will applaud you for wearing one.
In my opinion, beginners should really wear a helmet. Ignore the hecklers and to be honest, I’ve seen no one comment on someone wearing a helmet. Your safety comes first and you kinda need your brain.
10. Bonus Tip for Older Beginner Skateboarders
I get it, it can feel very awkward to visit a skatepark as an older beginner skater. Make sure you know how to ride a little and visit parks early in the morning when there’s no one around or later in the evening. Usually the older skaters ride in the evening and they don’t really care about your skills.
In fact, us older skaters love to see a new face and I for one am always happy to help. I’m also amazed by what some of the 40+ skateboarders pull off. Be sure to pad up, you’re not in your twenties anymore!
Skateboarding Can Reduce Anxiety
Skateboarding is a great way to improve mental health and can improve your mood. I always have a big smile on my face after a great session and feel like I recharged my mental battery.
Skateboarding requires lots of focus and you won’t have time thinking about other stuff. At least that’s my experience. It’s more likely you work yourself up before you go to a skatepark and when you’re there on your skateboard, you forget about it.
Afraid of Skateboarding in Public
Last, I would like to talk a little about feeling awkward when skateboarding in public. This is very normal, many skaters experienced this even if you’re older.
Just look for a quiet place and learn how to ride comfortably. This can take a couple of weeks, but once you learn the basics of skateboarding, you will feel less awkward.
Funny anecdote. I recently was cruising around town and noticed 2 cops staring at me. I felt a bit awkward to be honest.
An acquaintance was talking to them and later told me that one cop remarked that he thought it was super cool and was pretty amazed at how comfortable I was riding my board. Just shows that it’s all in your head!
That’s all I could come up with for now. Don’t deprive yourself of going to a skatepark just because you’re afraid. It could feel awkward at first but after a while you’ll start to know people, get more confident and forget about the whole thing.
Go as often as you can, learn from others and be yourself. No one is talking behind you back about how much you suck. And even if they do, they probably won’t make many friends. Skaters don’t appreciate that stuff.