by Karen @dallas_pops
As the weather starts to get wetter and the temperature drops, the thought of going to an indoor skatepark to try something new and get a skate fix can become more and more appealing for some.
It certainly was for me 2 years ago! But as a new skater, or even a skater who is confident in one discipline (e.g. roller dance or outdoor skating) the thought of then going to a skate park can be daunting if you haven't been before or built up lots of hours.
Even when you do pluck up the courage and step foot inside, you may also find you are overcome with nerves about how to get on.
My skatepark journey started 2 years ago. I had taken both beginner skate and beginner roller dance lessons (both through Roller Girl Gang) and racked up some minor time outside. Roller Girl Gang hosted a series of 'Girls Skate night' sessions at LS-TEN skate park and I was eager to try something new.
I remember going and honestly feeling completely overwhelmed from the minute I put my skates on. Where do I do this, where do I leave my bag and where do I put my phone/keys?! Once I then got inside (and had my helmet on the right way round...), I remember being met by Mel who explained the 'rules/etiquette' of the park, the importance of a staggered foot with a bent knee and also pointed me in the direction of people I knew from my classes (RGG Gangster Emma and former Gangster Maggie).
I felt a lot better after this and I really enjoyed the sessions and gained confidence to arrange to meet my friends there weekly and even further coaching sessions.
As time went on and into 2019 the time I went to the park got less and less until I stopped completely. The few times I did go I developed a tendency to sit and be the video/cheer person more than giving things a try. I can't pinpoint the reason why, I think this became the easiest option for me as I lacked confidence. I had also started to compare myself to other skaters/my friends who were improving (through putting practice in) and at times I felt like I was the one doing the 'baby moves'. I realise now that this was ridiculous and only my own insecurity projected. There is no such thing as a 'baby move'.
In 2020, I decided to give the skatepark one last go during a UK Gangster tour trip to Greystone Action Sports Centre. My nerves were still there, I still didn't have fancy tricks/jumps in my bag but my helmet WAS on the right way so with my renewed determination to just 'give it a go' off I went.
This time I surprisingly enjoyed the experience. With help from my friends, I was taken around the different levels of the park, used my previous skatepark learnings to roll on the ramps and even managed a little 180 turn on the ramp. It was a huge achievement for me to go to a skate park but going to skate/not just sit and watch.
I wouldn't say I'm hanging up my jam plugs to go be a vert/ramp skater but I definitely will be trying this again this winter, so watch this space!
I hope this helps any potential new skaters to the skatepark or is an experience you can relate to in some way.
Here are my 3 top tips:
1) What you wear at a skate park is key. Comfy clothes - yes. Sports leggings - AVOID (trust me. #splinters) and Safety gear YES YES YES! Helmet, full pads - get it all on. You don't look silly and it could seriously save your life.
2) Going with a friend(s) for support is great but don't forget that there are plenty of solo skaters there too (just smile and wave!) and also amazing groups like CIB that are welcoming to all levels.
3) Go at your own speed and try not to compare yourself to others! Being 'good' at the skatepark doesn't mean dropping in and doing big jumps with those that can. It's all about going at your own pace and there are so many other things to practice such as toe stop stalls, turns, carving and pumping. Even if you are at the stage of having a roll on the flat or smaller banks - well done you for giving it a go!!
Good luck and have fun!