Skate parks are a fast-paced environment designed and built specifically for trick skating.
Skate parks are commonly used by skateboarders, inline and quad skaters, BMX and scooter riders in a trick or stunt capacity. Beginners to advanced users develop skills in skate parks.
Skate parks function best when users and supervisors understand ‘skate park etiquette’. Skate parks are not playgrounds and small children are at a significant risk of injury.
Check out some of our tips for staying safe.
the Dynamics of skate parks has changed
Skateboarding is well identified as being the catalyst to the introduction of skate parks. With deep historical roots and culture, skateboarding is still well respected as the prime mode of trick skating and is now an official sport of the International Olympic Committee.
A skate park environment also well suits BMX, inline, quad and scooter, most of which require considerable flat ground skill before ramp skating. However, beginner scooters and balance bikes are much more accessible and marketed to younger ages as they are easier to begin with than a skateboard or skates. This opens up skate park use to a much younger dynamic and we now see more toddlers to early school age children looking to find ramps to play on, allbeit, tailwhips and bar spins must start somewhere.
So who has the right of way and how do we manage such a broad range of ages in a skate park when it comes to safety issues? Well, it’s more about the ability to understand, follow instructions and stay safe as a skate park cannot work like a playground. The nature of trick skating and riding means that Skateboards and BMX’s can fly loose, skaters and riders can loose control and these risks must be accepted when using a skate park as it is not a default that adult users are responsible for the safety of child users.
When the park is crazy busy, go with common sense and protect those who need it most by either finding them a safer space or coming when it is quieter. In the same respect, experienced users can negotiate rotating areas with other groups rather than push them aside with dominating skill levels.
Please click on the topics below to read more.
1. Learn the basics first
Starting out on ramps as a beginner requires flat ground intermediate skills. Make sure you learn to skate and ride really well including how to fall, and work on all you’re your other flat ground skills and tricks. You need good balance and stability before you think about getting height and sticking ramp tricks.
2. Skate within your limits and be supportive of newbies
Work your way up, literally! Don’t drop in on a ramp before you have mastered getting height, 180 transitions, backwards skating and confidence. See if there are any local lessons available.
If you are spectating a beginner, encouragement such as JUST DO IT, and HURRY UP is a no-no…..let them prepare their own way as there is no turning back if you fall off an edge unprepared.
3. Safety gear is NOT lame, but don’t buy lame safety gear
Don’t sacrifice your safety for tough tickets and showing off. Unless you’re and adult who knows exactly what you are doing, you will not look cool without protection. Bailing out in style on a sick set of pads is killer and good safety gear is built to be as hardcore as the tricks we aspire to nail so pad up like a warrior and prepare for battle!
*Must do: Get quality safety gear including a well-fitting helmet. Many cheap brands of helmets and pads are a waste of money so get expert advice at your local skate shop.
4. Respect the space
Our Parks are payed for by council and government because we asked for them and they and are a privilege to have. We also want more. Basic considerations are that no-one enjoys rubbish, vandalism or stinky cigarette smoke. Other space related topics that are a little more unclear are
- Where to sit, spectate, and leave your stuff
Graff is wicked, scrappy obscenities are not. Let’s keep our park art awesome and if you’re keen to learn, hit up your local Graff community.
We all love Graff art, but not so much on our ramp surfaces. The wrong paint can be slippery and after a while, the build up of paint can poorly effect our expensive surfaces and it costs big dollars to repair. Go nuts and paint other surfaces but we love our smooth ramp surfaces too…a win/win for all.
The problem with WAX
For the most part, waxing at skateparks is not in the best interests of all users. Wax away on your own private ramp or rail at home, but if it’s a public space then leave the wax out of it. Not only is it dangerous to unsuspecting users, when it is left or thrown around, it melts all over the place. You should be able to get enough slip on your sliders and momentum in your grinds to gain movement along the coping or ledge. If not, it’s something to work on.
Where to sit and put your stuff
Not sure where to supervise from, rest and leave your stuff? In some instances, it may be okay to sit on a ledge or ramp, but remember, someone may want to use it.
Skaters, politely let someone know you’re keen to use the space rather than trying to drop a hint.
What’s more dangerous than children running through a skate park? A dog running through a skate park. Dogs do not understand park safety and are most unpredictable and excitable to get attention at the same time so please have them on a lead and well away from the skate surfaces at all times. There is no reason for a dog to be on or near a skate park surface EVER.
5. What is Snaking and why is it the worst?
Snaking is a reference given to park users who cut on others turn or run. Snakes push in, and carve around all areas of a park without regard for someone else’s position or space. This is dangerous because nasty collisions happen and falls from fright happen when a snake suddenly appears out of nowhere. Snakes often do not think about, or heavily misjudge other skaters’ movements and often assume they have space, or the right of way to zoom through when they do not.
Snakes can flare tempers in a park, and sometimes snaking is done on purpose as a way of pushing buttons or bullying other users. In this respect, snaking is an attitude that is not welcome at skate parks.
Sometimes snaking is due to a lack of understanding, or an accident and we want to keep this in mind before we fight about it, so let’s explore this issue:
Kids are going everywhere!
Zooming around the Skate Park and sudden deviations in direction is common with younger or less experienced kids. It might seem ok if you have the park to yourself, but when other users are around, it’s not cool no matter what the age and it’s dangerous to everyone. Parents, please keep a close eye on your kids. If you bring them to a skate park then it is important you all learn skate park etiquette and be vigilant. Often, it’s the adult that gets victimised when smaller children get hit, but it is unreasonable to expect a fast paced skater to stop or avoid sudden obstacles.
If you are sharing an area, wait your turn in the line and be aware of who is in the line-up as skaters tend to sit back and keep the space clear till it’s nearly their turn. Skaters, be a little patient with newbies that may be trying to nail their first drop in, but also, if you are new and taking a long time to pluck up courage, you may need to let someone in while you scope out your drop. If someone joins your area, let them in, or ask “where can I join the line?”
Making a habit of snaking
Consistent snaking gets you a bad reputation and that’s not what we want in our small skate community. Work together to encourage appropriate use of the park and listen to good, friendly advice from experienced users.
Don’t play dead
If you fall, your run has ended even if it was short, so quickly clear the space. If you are hurt, call for help immediately or jump up so everyone knows you are ok.
But it was an accident
Accidents happen so if you do accidentally snake, or crash due to mis-reading someone’s line, just apologise and move on. If a user appears to be a serial snake, politely educate them first as they may not be familiar with park etiquette yet.
Look left, right and make eye contact
Check your path is clear before taking your turn. Sometimes snakes will surprise you or not see that you’re about to go, or you will not see that your space is also a part of their run, so two sets of eyes is better than one. If you are waiting for your turn, don’t wait too close to the edge or you can put a skater off their run or potentially be hit. Again, if you are nervous about your coping or landing space, politely advise skaters to step back if you need them too or yell out if you’re coming in hot. Keep the edges clear. Crowding around the coping is not a way of securing your spot.
Planning a run
Keeping your run around 45 seconds to a minute is pretty fair. If you’re planning a line that cuts across the park, time it right so you’re not snaking anyone. A run that takes up the entire park and every single element may not be possible during a busy time so be realistic. If you bail or slam sooner, your time is still done. If you are falling in just a few seconds because you’re trying to nail a new trick, ask the line-up if they mind you having wedgy turns between them so you maintain your courage. Always polite to ask.
Two in one space
A double run is where 2 skaters share a space. This should always be agreed upon first before you assume there is enough space for you. Remember, you don’t have to collide to cause an accident. If you drop in close to an unsuspecting skater, the fright could make them fall in a bad way.
You will occasionally get snaked, or some kid will be in your way….Chill…. find a way to politely ask what it is you need them to do. If the park is too hectic or it’s not your vibe, that’s not everybody else’s fault either so if you’re steamed, take a break or choose quieter times to skate the park. Please try not to vent your agro into the fresh air.
6. Getting tips from and giving tips to other skaters
Our community is super supportive. Most skaters are keen to help out with tips and advice here and there. You may get some really valuable time with someone higher skilled than you, but sometimes skaters just want to chill and work on their own stuff. Find a balance in this if you’re looking for help and if classes are available in your area, support your local skate school and join up.
Spot someone learning? Check in and see if they would like guidance first. It’s not cool to bombard someone with your expert opinion on do’s and don’ts if it was not asked for. If you have a safety concern, by all means check in politely.
7. Parents & supervisors, you’re and integral part of our parks too.
Parents, get in amongst it with your kids and ensure you are across skate park etiquette too so you can help them understand the environment they are in.
Skate parks are not playgrounds and the risk of being hit by others or their equipment is a serious part of the environment. If activity and pace picks up around your child, it is more appropriate to move them rather than expect skaters to avoid hitting them. A great rule of thumb is, if they are too young to play near a road, they are probably to young to understand an activated skate park.
You will also notice that a park usually has all the little stuff smack in the middle of the park. These are the things that attract little people, but they also make up the bigger runs that other skaters are using. By all means share them, or rotate areas, however kids need to take turns too and you need to assist them in and out of their turns quickly to keep the flow going for other users. Try to avoid times where the park gets busy and congested with the higher skilled skaters so they get lots more practice.
8. Enjoy the ride
Relax and make sure you’re enjoying your time at the park. Don’t get too wound up over fails, snakes and congestion. Use initiative and polite communication to address issues early on. Be someone to look up to at all times no matter what your age or skill level.
People only have a right to use skate parks until they loose the right to be there through poor behaviour and disrespecting the space. Also remember, having a joke and a tease with your mates is fun, but using discriminatory and hate words are never a joke no matter what….we all know what those words are!