I remember my first time dropping into a vert. I was scared and afraid to hurt myself, this was something else compared to dropping in a mini ramp. Even wearing full protective gear still made it scary. I was standing on that ledge for minutes, walked away, came back again and at some point, I just did it while getting encouraged by my friends. I fell. It wasn’t a big deal and there was no pain. I went up again and did my first successful vert drop-in.
The only way to overcome your fear of skateboarding is by committing and making sure you are ready. If you’re attempting a trick that’s beyond your skill level you’ll hurt yourself. You need to question yourself if you are ready. If you are, just do it. If not work your way up.
Fear of skateboarding is perfectly normal, Without it, you’ll injure yourself but sometimes it can hold you back. While having fear is rational you sometimes need to get over it and just do. You’ll need to be able to fully commit and have the confidence you can make it. If you lack the skill, focus on another trick first and build up slowly until you’re ready.
- Make sure you master the basics.
- Slowly build up.
- Fear is normal, don’t ignore it.
- Learn how to fall.
- Commit and don’t overthink.
- Be confident but not overconfident.
1. Slowly Build up a Trick
Many tricks require a couple movements and consist of different phases. Trying to learn a shove it? Land with both feet on the ground first until you feel like you know how to rotate your deck along the y-axis.
Find a trick that’s a bit related but easier and master it, after that go back and try again. Don’t spend too much time on it if you can’t seem to do it. Focus on something else and go back at it. Skateboarding is all about progression, sometimes you move forward and sometimes it seems like you take a step back in progression.
This is perfectly normal, it takes some time for your brain to process everything. One day you can’t seem to do anything and a week later you nail every trick. It’s funny how that works.
2. Start on a Patch of Grass
This is really helpful but doesn’t work for all tricks. If you fear to do your first boneless for example this works perfectly. It’s way easier to commit if you know your landing will be soft. Make sure you ‘slam’ the grass a couple of times so you know what happens when you move to concrete.
Remember there’s a huge difference in practicing something stationary and actually moving. 90% of the time moving is harder if you started out stationary. You might think you got the ollie down but once you start moving you think you’ll have to learn it all over again. Don’t worry, you’ll get it!
3. Master the Basics
Many skateboarders just skip the elemental steps and go right at practicing ollies and kickflips. This is a big mistake as you’ll never get familiar with your board. You might pick up wrong posture and it will take a long time to correct yourself later on. You’ll be more likely to be scared because you don’t know how your board reacts and don’t know how to fall properly.
Getting the basics will help you progress way faster than committing to tricks that aren’t at a beginners level. Still want to get that ollie down? There are some ways for you to get used to ollies while moving.
I had a friend who used an old bicycle inner tube wrapped around the center of his board. He pulled it up while jumping simultaneously. Later he got more creative and started doing 180’s, 360’s etc. Also, check out my post about beginner tricks, some really fun and relatively easy tricks that still look good (well, most of them).
4. Believe in Yourself
You can do it, you’ve skated for a while now and you know the basics. Tell yourself you already did harder tricks than this before and remind yourself that it doesn’t always hurt so bad anyway if you fall. Try it a couple of times without landing and then convince yourself you’re getting it down. Go for it, you can do it!
5. Validate Your Fear
It just could be that this basic emotion is trying to tell you’re not ready. Listen to your fear and ask yourself if you’re actually ready. Some tricks are more sketchy than others, some stuff is outright dangerous when you’re not ready. Never ignore your fear but use it as a tool. Deep down inside you know when you’re ready or not. If you do it, if not work your way towards your goal.
Don’t make your friends push you when your fear is valid. Nothing wrong with some friendly competition and encouragement though. It helps you improve but just make sure you’re ready.
6. Make Sure You’re Ready
Sometimes your gut is right, you’re just not ready to do a trick. Make sure you’re ready, have the skill and confidence you can do it. If you know the basics, feel comfortable riding and have the balance go for it. If you can barely ollie, a kickflip is a bad idea. You’ll end up tearing your ligaments for example.
7. Don’t Ignore the Fear
You need fear, being afraid is perfectly rational. Without it, we couldn’t survive. This is also why young kids pick up skateboarding so fast, they don’t see the risks in anything. You actually have to hold them back sometimes. I had a reckless friend when I was younger, the guy didn’t know any fear.
He was a great skateboarder but also got hurt pretty bad occasionally, it’s a trade-off. I rather progress a little slower while staying in one piece though.
8. Learn How to Fall Properly
One thing you could do to overcome your fear is to figure out which ways you are likely to fall. Seek out a patch of grass and actually practice falling. When everything goes south you’ll know how to fall and you can try again. If you’re wearing knee pads and wrist guards, try to slide on your hand and knees.
If you’re not wearing gear, try to roll. Never put your arms behind your back though when you fall.
9. Chickenfoot, Just Land It on One Foot
if you’re scared of placing both of your feet on your deck, also called chickenfoot, try just to place only one foot. If possible try to land first with only your front foot and after that your back foot. Not in that order, you can do it the other way around but it helps to get to know the trick. Soon you’ve built up enough confidence and you’ll able to land the trick.
10. Listen to Music to Get You Stoked
Music can really help you get motivated. I think motivation is stronger than fear so put on some of your favorite music to get you pumped. I wouldn’t recommend listening to music while you actually try to do a trick as it can be distracting, but some might disagree. Depressing music won’t really help, even when you’re an emo (is that still a thing?).
11. Visualize the Trick in Your Head
Let go of your thoughts and only think about the trick you’re going to do. Visualize every little detail and block everything around you. This may sound weird but focus on your breath and body. Breath in and out slowly, and relax your muscles.
It will help you focus, release the tension in your body, and gets you ready to commit. If your muscles are all tightened up and you’re stressed out, you can’t move your body properly.
12. Don’t Beat Yourself up About Fear
It’s frustrating, the fear holds you back and you can even get mad at yourself for being scared. If you’re angry, use the anger to push yourself. Anger doesn’t lead to the dark side, you can use it to your advantage and turn it into motivation.
13. Slam and Get Up
Pain helps, hitting the pavement helps. You just need to get back on your board and do it again (unless you’re seriously injured). If you quit after you fall it’s going to be harder next time. It’s all part of the game.
14. Wear Protective Gear
Protective gear helps you to build up confidence, the catch is you could feel too confident and take too much risk. While protection helps you to reduce the impact from falling, still many skateboarders end up in the emergency room. This has mainly to do with overconfidence and you not being ready yet, protective gear helps to a certain extent but always make sure you’re ready.
Still, it’s better than wearing nothing at all.
15. Don’t Overthink Everything
Sometimes when I try something new, just before I go for it something in my mind tells me “you can’t do this, you’re going to fall”. I instantly bail when that happens because the thought alone will make sure I get hurt. When you overthink your muscles will react to your thoughts and tighten up. Thinking too much about it will only hold you back so you need to find a way to let go.
16. It’s Not the End of the World
Fear is an integral part of skateboarding, you need fear. Busting a knee is not the end of the world. You might feel a bit sore the next day but you can say to yourself you did it or at least tried. You shouldn’t back out when you’re ready as you’ll regret it the moment you come home.
17. Do a Trick You Mastered First
Trying something over and over again or just standing on a ledge overthinking your first drop in? just walk away. Go do something else for a couple of minutes preferably something you’re already good at. Do some shove its, manuals or anything you feel comfortable doing.
It will make you forget about the fear and give you confidence. Go back and do that drop in or ollie those stairs. If you fall, do it again or else you’ll run the risk of a mental block next time.
18. Commit or Walk Away
Commitment is crucial if you don’t commit you’ll end up hurting yourself. Having second thoughts at the last moment usually ends up in falling on your face. There’s a certain point of no return where you just can’t bail anymore and you need to commit. You’ll either fall committed or you fall trying to avoid falling down (weird right).
19. Failure Is an Option
You probably know that you don’t land tricks on the first try. Like already mentioned you need to slowly build up before you make it. You’ll fail over and over again until you make it, just like life you can’t have success without failure.
Don’t get yourself worked up about it, yes it can be frustrating but just move on to something else. Once you get frustrated it won’t help you progress, you’ll lose focus.
20. Watch Some Videos
Nowadays there are tons of videos out there that exactly show the technique to land a trick. Watching videos won’t help you get the muscle memory needed but it certainly helps you to know the how to place your feet, how to balance, and gets you pumped.
I recently wrote a post about beginners tricks and decided to do them myself the next day. Watching the videos really helped and I was able to do most of them. Still need to work on my technique for most of them but I had a blast (and was pretty sore the next day from falling).
If you’re looking for motivation, here’s 40 of the best skate videos ever made (imo). Make sure to check it out.
21. Practice with a Buddy
If there’s someone you know don’t be afraid of asking for tips. many skaters are glad to help you out as they all know how frustrating it can be to learn a new trick. If you have a friend that’s into skateboarding go out there together.
Even if you’re both just starting out you can observe each other and point out what you’re doing wrong and right. It also makes skateboarding so much more fun and seeing your friend land a trick is very motivational to do it yourself.
22. You Don’t Have to Be a Pro
Skateboarding is about fun and progression, pushing yourself is good but pushing yourself too much could get yourself demotivated. There are some skateboarders out there that just have the right genes and progress really fast. You need to remind yourself you want to learn a new skill and this takes time. Keep at your own level and don’t beat yourself up, everybody was at that place once.
When I think of it, I remember a guy who quit because he could never be a pro. He watched videos and decided to just quit because he could never be like the pros from the videos. He was actually very talented so I wonder if this really was the reason or he just lost interest and just made it up.
23. Don’t Look at Others, Focus on You
While this doesn’t seem to relate to fear, it sort of does. We all had that friend who progressed really fast and learned a new trick every day. Everybody progresses at his own pace. If you get frustrated about what other can do you’ll end up trying to do tricks you aren’t ready for. You’ll hurt yourself and may fear to do a trick a second time because you had a bad experience.
24. Don’t Be Scared to Skateboard in Public
Many beginner skateboarders fear skateboarding in public. This fear comes with all ages, and yeah skateboarding is a little bit awkward when you just start out. You really have to let go of what others think, no skater is going to laugh at you because we were all there once.
Everybody who started skating know that it’s hard to learn. They know it takes persistence and dedication to get better. If a skateboarder actually mocks you, he’s just a jerk. Ignore it, you’re there for you and nobody else.
Now people that don’t skate is a different story, either ignore them or practice on a spot that is less crowded. Early morning skatepark visits, empty tennis courts, your own driveway or empty parking lots are great. You’ll have a smooth surface to practice on and you don’t have to worry about what others think, you do you.
The only way to learn new tricks and progress is to commit yourself to skateboarding tricks. You will fall, it’s inevitable and part of skateboarding. Many people quit skateboarding because they hurt themselves trying tricks they aren’t ready for. Don’t skip the basics, make sure you have proper balance and control. Skipping the basics can potentially make learning to skateboard a lot harder.
Don’t care about what people think, you skate for you and nobody else. Also, remember that fear is perfectly normal and shouldn’t always be ignored. Ask yourself if you’re actually ready to commit or that you’re better of trying something else first. Now go out and commit, make that small victory and keep on progressing.