Learning to Skateboard as an Adult – Tips From an Old Man


adult man on a skateboard in a skate park

Are you all grown up and want to learn to skateboard. Maybe your kids want to learn and you think this is a great opportunity to share an activity with them. Maybe you used to skate and want to get back into it. Well, Carpe Diem!! We will explain how you can learn to skateboard as an adult.

I got back into skateboarding as a 37-year-old man. I dabbled in skating from age 10 to about 25. I never gave it a proper try. I didn’t learn many tricks and didn’t have any friends that skated and there were no skateparks.

But I always loved the feeling of pushing a skateboard around and the satisfaction of learning new maneuvers, but I wasn’t able to fully commit to skating

At 37 years of age, I moved to a town with a brand new skatepark and I made the decision to learn how to skate and learn tricks. While learning to skate was difficult, the feeling was like no other. There was a high degree of satisfaction and a fantastic feeling of absolute freedom when I skated. I was hooked immediately.

What Do You Need to Start Skateboarding as an Adult?

Like starting any new activity, to start skateboarding you will need the right equipment. At the very least you will need a skateboard (here is our article on the Best Skateboard Set Up for Beginners) and a skateboarding helmet (Here is our article on Helmets).

I highly recommend that you get skate shoes, and knee and elbow pads as well. Like anything, having the correct equipment makes learning easier.

DISCLAIMER: You are going to fall… A LOT!

Skateboarding is hard to learn and our bodies don’t heal as quickly now that we are all grown up. We can feel the pain from falling impacts for longer than we used to as kids. I have had several falls cut my otherwise great session short. (These are called “Day Enders”, and are something I have come to know very well.)

Helmets will help protect your dome, and pads will prevent knee and elbow injury. They might feel awkward at first and you might think you look lame, but its more awkward and lame to walk with a limp or not be able to fully extend your arm.

I have never had anyone comment on my safety gear, aside from “those are cool looking knee pads!” Ensure you get pads and helmets designed for skateboarding. A hockey or bicycle helmet is not a skateboarding helmet. Like most equipment for skateboarding, you get what you pay for.

A few extra bucks will get you safer, better constructed and more comfortable gear. I recommend buying the best safety gear you can afford. Your brain and body are worth it!

Where Can You Learn to Skateboard?

Location, location, location! You are probably thinking that a skatepark is the best place to learn. Sorry, but you are mistaken. The best place to learn is somewhere quiet with smooth flat concrete or asphalt. Tennis courts and empty parking lots are a great place to learn the basics.

It’s true that most skateparks have the best surfaces around, but they are also extremely busy and can be very intimidating for a new skater. If you want to go to a skatepark, do it in the very early morning (dawn) before anyone else shows up. Get very comfortable with the basics then go to the skatepark, but practice good skatepark etiquette.

What are “The Basics”?

If you are getting back into skateboarding, you will remember the basics from before and it will take little time for you to relearn them. If you are starting from scratch, here is a list of basic maneuvers you need to master before advancing:

Stance

goofy vs regular stance on a skateboard

Your stance is the way that you stand most comfortably on a skateboard. For some people it is with their left foot forward or toward the front of the board. This is called Regular Stance. Others are most comfortable with their right foot forward. This is called Goofy Stance. Figure out what stance you are HERE.

Balance

Now that you know your stance step onto your board. The most stable place to put your feet is over top of each set of bolts. Bend your knees and stay centered over the skateboard.

Pushing

Practice pushing slowly at first until you are able to push and cruise fast. Many advanced maneuvers are performed easier going faster than they are moving slow or stationary. Pushing is necessary to be comfortable on your skateboard.

Learn to Fall

Falling correctly is also a basic you need to learn to avoid injury. It is a tricky one to learn, because you cannot predict how you are going to wipe out.

You could slip out backward or forward or off to the side. The important thing to remember is that to fall correctly, you want keep your body moving with the momentum of the wipeout. When you start skating ramps, pools, and transition, you will want to learn to knee slide also.

Muscle Memory

The act of skateboarding is entirely based on “Muscle Memory”. Muscle Memory occurs when you repeat a physical act over and over again so often that you can do it without thinking through the steps. Walking is the simplest example of muscle memory.

You probably don’t have to think about walking. By practicing the basics of skateboarding, they too will become like second nature. Then you can start learning tricks and develop muscle memory for those maneuvers too.

Learning Tricks

Tricks are what everyone wants to do and see. Remember, you are older now. Start slow with low impact tricks that have little chance for hard slam. Your joints and muscles will appreciate it.

Skateboarding is all about progression and reaching your own benchmarks and milestones. While some of the first tricks you learn may not seem to impressive, they are part of your progression and will only help you with the next trick you try.

I try to learn something new every time I skate, even if it is some simple, weird, stationary thing. Any maneuver you do will only improve your comfort level and board control. I have found it far more rewarding to land a simple maneuver than to try a difficult one over and over again and never land it.

When I started skating again here were some of the first tricks I learned. These tricks are fundamental basics that more advanced tricks build off:

Manual

Helps you to learn balance and is easy to get out of without wiping out. Manual tricks are done by the top pros to link tricks and create lines, but they are pretty easy to learn. Manuals are definitely easier going fast

Rolling Fakie

You will need to learn this for when you start skating transition and doing rotation tricks like 180s. It is easiest learned by rolling up a bank until you stop and rolling backward.

Pivot

The easiest way to get out of rolling fakie. This helps you get used to turning your head and shoulders when doing rotation tricks. You should learn front side and backside pivots, and nose pivots

Kick Turn

Another trick to learn before skating transition. It can be done stationary, but I found it easiest to learn on a mellow bank. Learn both frontside and backside kick turns

Powerslide

These are so fun! I do them all the time to stop, when rolling across banks and to slide down banks. Powerslides can be done almost anywhere. They will help you to find your balance point when your board is sliding horizontally which is very important if you start doing board and lip slides

Layback Carve

These are fun to do on a mellow bank and they can be broken down into their components and done very slowly. Not much chance of falling hard on this one.

Pumping

Pumping isn’t really a trick but more of a skill. It is needed for you to be able to properly navigate a skatepark to keep your speed up when going up and down banks and transitions. You will need to learn to pump when you start skating parks and ramps.

Roll on 50-50 Grind

I couldn’t wait to start grinding but couldn’t ollie into a grind. So I did roll on grinds on anything that I could roll on to or off of; curbs, edges of quarter pipes, the corner part of hips, etc. These really help you learn to balance 50-50’s on ledges and how to get out of grinds.

These tricks are simple and fun to do. You do not require much skill to pull them off but they will boost your confidence. There are lots of low impact tricks you can learn before you can ollie.

Check out some of these YouTube channels for some ideas. When you are comfortable enough to start learning more advanced maneuvers, this is a good list to start with.

Practice Routine

As an adult you have responsibilities and you probably don’t have time to skate every day all day. You have work, family and other obligations that you have to take care of. You may only get a few hours a week to skate. So you will want to get the most out of every session.

I usually have about 4 hours a week that I can skate, so I find it best if I plan out what I am going to do before I go skating. I usually go to the skatepark meet up with other skaters that are there.

Sometimes I will skate curbs. I built a Mini Ramp so now I’m learning to skate that. Regardless of the type of skating I am doing, my plan generally doesn’t change. Here is my regiment:

Stretch

As an adult, we can get very sore and cramped. I have to stretch before a session or I will cramp up in minutes. I do a few basic stretches on my legs. I stretch my calves, ankles and groin muscles. Stretches only take about 5 minutes, but it makes a huge difference for me.

Warm-up

Because I can go several days without skating, I need to get comfortable on my board again. My warm-up consists of skating around gradually increasing my speed. It helps me regain my balance and limber up. I will also do this warmup routine several times throughout the session.

Practice Current Tricks

After I am nice and warmed up, I will practice the tricks I know. I don’t always practice every trick I know, but I make sure that I maintain the tricks I think are the most important to maintain.

Work On Other Tricks

I work on tricks that I have tried previously, and maybe haven’t landed or that I want to clean up. I will usually spend as much time as I feel on this step. If I am really close to landing something, I will spend a lot of time on it.

If I am not close, I will not spend too much time on the trick but will work on the trick a bit to get my muscles used to doing the motions.

Try New Tricks

I try to learn a new trick every time I skate. I pick a trick that is within my skill level and not something that is going to be too difficult. I will sometimes try variations of tricks I know, or do them on an obstacle that I have not done them on. I might also try to learn a completely new and different trick.

Conclusion

If you want to start skating as an adult, do it! There is no reason not too try it. Learning to skate as an adult has its difficulties but, those are small and minor inconveniences compared to the sheet joy that skateboarding can provide.

When I skate I feel a strong sense of freedom. I no longer worry about work, bills, or stressful adult things. I am just focused on skating. It is the perfect release for my adult life.

William

I love all aspects of skateboarding. There is no better feeling than flowing through a skate park, having a curb session with a Homie, or cruising down the street. That "tick-tick tick-tick" sound of a skateboard rolling over sidewalk cracks alone gets my adrenaline up. Nothing gets me as pumped, or as energized as skateboarding.

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