Why is skateboarding addictive? Skateboarders Anonymous


Skateboarding is a very addictive past time.  Whether you are a professional skater with several sponsors, a little kid just learning to ollie, or an old guy who skates the bowl after work when he has the chance.  This article will help you understand why skateboarding is addictive.

So why is skateboarding addictive?  There are physiological, psychological, cultural, and your own individual reasons why we become addicted and cannot wait to go skating.  Skateboarding gets your endorphins pumping and is great exercise.  You are persistent in achieving the skateboarding goals that you want to achieve, and when you achieve them, there is no better feeling. 

The culture has a “coolness” and an appeal, and therefore it is easy to make friends skating, because you start off with a common passion, and automatically have something to talk about.  And once you begin to absorb the culture, it becomes apart of you.  The clothes, the music, the videos, social media, meeting skaters at parks or spots, persisting through slams, all become things you identify with as a skater, and that other skaters can identify you by.  These are just some of the reasons that keep us coming back to the board.

There are many, many factors that contribute to the skateboarding addiction, and this article will explain a few of them.  But being a personal, and individualistic activity, only you will know the reason(s) that you want to keep skating.

skateboarder in an abandoned warehouse

Endorphins

Endorphins are basically the hormones that alter your mood, specifically they give you a good feeling.  During times of physical stress, from exercise, injury, or doing an exhilarating activity (riding a waterslide for example), your body releases endorphins that alter your brain to give you good feelings.  While endorphins themselves, are not addictive, the feeling that you get from the release of endorphins is definitely a feeling you want to have again.

Remember the last time you worked on a trick for a while, maybe a few days or weeks, and then think about the first time you landed that trick.  It was probably one of the best feelings you have ever had in your life.  That fantastic feeling was caused by an endorphin rush.  When you worked on a different trick for several hours, and finally landed it, I bet you had a similar feeling.  Another endorphin rush.

Just landing a trick gives you a similar feeling.  It doesn’t even matter what the trick is.  I feel the same fantastic feeling when I land a simple shuv-it, as when I bomb a driveway, as when I pull off a transition trick, or even just carve a bowl.  The feeling is wonderful!

As mentioned above, endorphins are also released during times of injury.  While getting injured doesn’t ever provide a good feeling, the endorphin release helps to dull the pain.  Thats why skaters can take a hard wipeout, and get back up and try the trick again, and again.

Have you ever tripped and fallen on the pavement while you were walking?  It can hurt a lot.  Compare that to when you slam trying a trick after skating for a bit.  You probably fell way harder skating than you did when you tripped walking, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to hurt as bad.  Thats the endorphins working their magic!

For me, at the ripe age of 38, I feel any slams and bails more than I did when I was 20.  But, without the endorphins, most slams would probably end my session for the day.  Last summer, I was learning some flip tricks, and I’d slip out and smash my hip on the ground, or my board would bash my shins and ankles on a bad landing.  I usually didn’t notice the pain after a few minutes, and kept trying.  (I definitely feel the aches and bruises after the endorphins wear off, and I am taking my socks off for bedtime.)

Persistence

If skating teaches you one thing, it is persistence.  Persistence is getting back up after you fall.  It is trying the same thing over and over again until you get it, and then continuing to do it until you have it dialled. Persistence is definitely an addictive behaviour.  And it is what keeps us hopping on that deck day after day.

When you have a vision of a trick you want to do, it can take over your mind, you will think about it throughout the day, and dream about it at night.  You will visualize the trick, and how you are going to do it, planning how to put your feet on your board, and how you will shift your weight, and move your body.

Then when you get the chance to try it, you act out the plan for real.  Then you make adjustments to the plan until you finally make the trick, and get the rush we mentioned earlier.  Then, you keep doing it until you land it as close to your vision as possible.

But then are you satisfied?  Probably not!  You probably want to take that trick (lets use a heel flip as an example) to different spots.  You get it dialled on flat ground, but then you want to take it off a curb, and then down a 3 stair set, then on a bank, then heel flipping up onto a fun box, then heel flipping out of a 50-50 grind, and so on and so on.  Does that sound like addictive behaviour?  Most people would say it is.

A big factor of persistence is that many skaters are perfectionists.  We want our tricks to be as close to perfect as we can do them.  Any skater I have met, will try something over and over again until it is where they want it to be, and how they want it to look.  Then they can move on to something else.  And the process for the next trick will be the same.  To non-skaters it might seem insane, but to us, it is just part of skateboarding.

Culture

Culture can be defined as the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.  Skateboarding is definitely a culture as it has customs (skatepark etiquette, not pushing mongo, toe drag, etc), arts (street, freestyle, vert, and park skating are very different art forms), achievements of a social group (both winning X-Games and landing a simple trick are all achievements).

Skating is probably better understood as a sub-culture, as “culture proper” is better understood as a national, or regional identity of which the majority of the people hold similar customs and lifestyles.  For example, American Culture, or Brazilian Culture.  There are a lot of people in Brazil and USA that skate, but definitely not the majority.

Skate culture is a part of the addiction to skateboarding.  Skaters go down to the park, and hang out, they talk with other skaters they meet, and make friends.  It is easy to make friends when you automatically have several things in common.  Skaters all have at least one thing in common.

We all skate.  We help each other with tricks, and push each other to progress.  That creates a pretty strong bond between skaters.  Personally, I don’t have much time to hang out with those people outside of the skatepark, but when I go to the park, there are definitely people that I want to see there, and part of my compulsion to go skating, and to a certain park, is that I will probably see them there.

For a skater, the skateboarding culture is almost unavoidable.  When you commit to developing your skating, you will take in, and becoming a part of the culture.  You identify as a skater, and feel like a skater, and can usually spot other skaters (the shoe scuffs are a dead give away).

You go to skateparks or spots, where other skaters are.  Skaters all learn similar tricks (For example: Ramp skaters all learn to pump, street skaters all learn to ollie).  Lots of skaters listen to similar music, we all wear skate shoes, and dress similar.  And if they don’t have similar interests, at the very least, skaters have skateboards and skateboarding equipment, and skate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, skateboarding is definitely addictive.  The feeling you have when you skate is a fantastic feeling unlike any other, and is indescribable to someone that doesn’t skate.  You probably wear skate shoes, even when not skating, and hang out with other skaters.  When you can’t skate you think about skating, you wear skate shoes, watch skate videos and play skateboarding video games, and wish you could skate more than anything.

This winter has been very long, snowy and cold for me, and I am itching to push down the street, cruise my favourite parks, and see the skaters I haven’t seen since October.  Even people that do not skate anymore, maybe due to permanent injury or for personal reasons, “have it in their blood” and continue to be active in the skate community as they can, and identify as skaters.

Maybe Skateboarding is not an addition, maybe it is more of an obsession.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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