5 Tips for Gals Who Wanna Skate
Advice for a lady and her first skateboard
I mean gals, not girls. If you’re a little girl, you’re too innocent to continue reading, so check out the amazing Sky Brown instead. She knows more about skateboarding than I ever will.
I’ve learned a few things in my journey toward equilibrium and awesomeness, though. Here are five things that will help if you’re a lady interested in a sport that’s guaranteed to leave you breathless, one way or another.
1. Fall in love with skateboarding. Not Dylan.
He’s hot, I know. The hair. The tattoos. That jawline. Damn, he just took off his shirt. Listen. Curb your estrogen. The only piece of wood you’re here to ride is your board. Yes, it’d be fun to round second base with him in the cement bowl over by the pump track, but this is skateboarding, not baseball. And the pump track is for pumping your legs. On a board. As exhilarating as it’d be to feel his supple lips on your neck, it’s sexier to cruise around the bowl with smooth and confident grace, feeling the board as part of your own body as you bend your knees and turn your hips with the curve of the concrete.
I can’t promise that your ulna or your tibia will stay intact, but skateboarding will never break your heart. If you prioritize romance over athleticism, you won’t find happiness on a board.
If you’re into women, you’re not off the hook. If you see a hot girl at the park, by all means, check out her ass (I’m guilty of that kind of appreciation without much regard to gender.) But note whether her right butt cheek is more defined than her left, and ass-ume it’s because she needs to spend time riding switch to develop herself as a more, um, rounded athlete. Suggest she try it. She might have some advice for you. Lady skaters are all about encouragement. If you don’t know what riding switch is, read on, girlfriend.
2. Ride switch.
Unless you’re gracefully (or otherwise) dangling your toes off the front of a longboard like Gidget the Surfer Gal, you’re gonna be sideways on your board. One foot over each truck is the most stable position. You have a dominant foot: the one you prefer to put in the back. It’s tempting to just ride in this position, but you gotta switch it up.
Riding switch means riding with your dominant foot forward. It develops your muscles evenly. Your whole butt looks good and, more importantly, your body gets stronger on both sides. It makes all skateboarders complete as athletes and helps beginners with balance. And then there’s the confidence thing. Spend a frustrating hour cruising around switch and the once-difficult task of riding your normal way will seem like a breeze.
3. Find a place and time you feel comfortable skating.
I’m not going to tell you to not be embarrassed. Awkward flailing at the speed of turtle isn’t Tik Tok worthy. It’s hard to be proud of short, stiff bursts of unbalanced flat ground riding. But that’s how we all start: with weird posture, stepping off the board every few seconds, figuring it out. You’re most likely to improve when you feel at ease.
If you’re one of those awesome girls who just doesn’t give a fuck or a shit, head to the skatepark at 3:00 PM on a Saturday and flail around gloriously. Dylan will think your determination is cute. Oh shit, I forgot, Dylan doesn’t matter. Fuck Dylan. But not like that.
If you feel intimidated by a crowded zoo of punks and the jarring noise of slaps and slides, go to the skatepark at sunrise on the weekdays. The punks are going to bed. The light spilling over the horizon onto the empty bowls, reflecting off the metal rails, will fill your soul and energize you into action. Bring a macchiato. Talk to yourself, saying things like, “You got this, beautiful!” Play Taylor the Latte Boy at full volume on your Hello Kitty speaker. Sing along as your turns get a little less clumsy with each attempt. Who cares, no one’s there.
If you stick with it, skateboarding will eventually give you the confidence to hit up the park on Saturday afternoon and have a great time riding, no matter what anyone thinks of you. If you can already do that, I take my five panel hat off to ya, sister.
That’s what skateboarding is all about: confidence. Confidence you’ll drop into that bowl and be super rad. Confidence you’ll get back up when you fall. Confidence you’ll land well when your board is in the air- which leads us to the ollie.
4. Get that ollie down.
An ollie is a jump. You and your board leave the ground in one swift motion. The sound of wheels clattering over pavement disappears, and there’s silence: a dramatic pause, punctuated by the slap of your board beforehand and a subtler thud afterwards as your board reconnects with the ground. The clattering returns as your wheels roll on and your ride it out in all your glory. It’s simple once you get it, but it’s challenging enough to feel like an accomplishment. And it is one. You’re solidifying the foundation of skateboarding. And you know about foundation. That’s why your skin’s so gorgeous.
Ollies are about good timing and lovely posture and wholehearted commitment. You’re female, so those things come easy to you. You snap your back foot down, popping your board up, then scrape the side of your front foot towards the nose of the board, lifting it into the air as you pick your back foot up. Start with your front foot well behind the front trucks. Keep your shoulders over your board. Don’t slouch. You’re too dignified for that shit.
It takes guts to put air under your wheels. It takes faith. You have to believe that you’ve set things up just right, and just let gravity take it from here. And you can bring that faith into the rest of your life knowing that, if you do all you can to prepare for the meeting, or the marathon, or the grad school interview, you can let go of some control and expect a good landing.
Life hurts sometimes, though. You’re not guaranteed a good landing every single time. So...
5. Wear a fucking helmet.
Your hair’s fabulous. You didn’t pay Lyndsie at Hairworks $95 plus a nice tip to go cover up your Argan oil coated, perfectly trimmed locks when you’re surrounded by cute dudes. You want the wind to blow through your lovely hair like this is a Bollywood movie. Helmets are ugly. Brain damage isn’t all that attractive, either, honey.
You don’t want a head injury. There are near-endless possibilities of how it could fuck up your life. I got lucky. I smashed my face into the ground and escaped with a concussion and a missing tooth. Now I can’t make out with a guy without worrying that my fake front left tooth will detach from the one millimeter of real tooth left in my gums. It takes the magic out of special moments.
Google the cost of an ER visit, or a dental crown, or five years of visits to a specialist, and splurge on a helmet you love. Wear it every time you ride your board. Soon you’ll feel naked without it. Who wants to be naked at the skatepark? Not you. You’re here to skate, dammit.