The Skatepark is often an exciting, busy and supportive environment. The thought of going for the first time must be filling you with exhilaration... but perhaps a little bit of nervousness too. Similar to what you'll find in many different social settings, there are a collection of unwritten rules of expected behaviours for in a skatepark.
Never fear! You'll find that a lot of these rules tend to boil down to using common sense. However, it's still important to have a read through them just in case there are some that you would not have thought of.
1) Skate defensively
In order to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you, you must do all that you can to avoid collisions from happening. Of course, accidents cannot be avoided 100% of the time, but making sure that you're always watching where you're going and giving other riders (especially beginners and children) plenty of space can make a world of difference.
2) Wear protective gear
Unlike what some may think, it is never uncool to prevent very preventable injuries by wearing a helmet and various guards. Imagine how awful it would feel to have to give up skating for a certain period of time (maybe even for good) due to injury. Wearing protective gear is always beneficial! Please, protect the body that allows you to do what you love!
3) If you fall, get up (unless injured).
Falling is a natural part of skating in a skatepark. So, when you fall, get right back up and try again, absolutely! But, in terms of safety, this rule is more considerate of those who are skating around you. If you fall, you should try to get up and move out of the way of other skaters as soon as possible. It should go without saying that this rule does not apply if you are injured, as you could injure yourself more. In this scenario, you should call for help.
4) Yell "Board!"
Sometimes, you may find that your skateboard flies up into the air after a fall, for instance after dropping in to a bowl. In this scenario, you need to yell "Board" to warn other riders, as the board may hit somebody and hurt them.
5) Keep a safe spectating distance
If you're not skating, stand well back to keep out of the way of those currently riding. If you're stood too close to a ramp, those skating may have to make an effort to skate around you or may even feel unsafe to use the ramp that you're stood by. In other words: minimal dilly-dallying, please!
6) Visit at quiet times if necessary
In regards to #5, if you're a beginner you may find yourself standing nervously beside a ramp in anticipation of attempting a new trick. This is completely okay and normal! However, if you do relate to this feeling it may be wise to look online at the skatepark's busy and quiet hours. Here, you can plan to visit at a time where you will not be in the way of other riders.
7) Progress slowly and steadily
Again, relating to #5 and #6, you will find that anxiety around attempting new tricks will be much stronger if you are not ready to perform the trick yet, as you could injure yourself and possibly others. You will find that you are less nervous if you start slow (perhaps with the beginner ramps and other smaller structures) and very gradually build up. Don't drop into a bowl if you've never ridden on a quarter pipe!
8) Take turns
"Snaking" is a term used to describe one skater riding through the line of another skater, or dropping in before someone else who was waiting (queue-jumping, if you will). Don't do this! Stand back whilst a rider is skating and give them plenty of space.
9) Apologise for mishaps
Naturally, mistakes do happen and sometimes we do things that we didn't intend to. If you accidentally break any of these etiquette rules, apologise for it and move forward.
10) Make sure that all are aware of any waxed surfaces
If you feel the need to wax any surfaces at a skatepark, you need to ask permission from other riders beforehand. This is because wax can add unexpected speed when performing tricks, which may startle other riders and cause them to fall, potentially injuring themselves. It is essential that all other riders in the park are aware of this possible risk.
11) Plan your lines
It is always preferable to plan out the tricks you want to perform beforehand rather than improvising in the moment. This reduces the risk of accidents caused by uncertainty.
12) Avoid lengthy runs
Especially when a skatepark is particularly busy, it is more considerate to keep your runs short and sweet while other riders are waiting for their turn.
13) No Comping
It is seen as disrespectful to follow another rider and copy their tricks- much like the irritation that would bubble up in primary school after creating a beautiful painting and having your buddy re-create it. Whether it be an innocent beginner just wanting to pick up some inspiration for new lines, or a more advanced skater attempting to "one-up" the rider, any act of comping is tiresome and not allowed.
14) Don't ride on the bottom of the bowl
A somewhat common mistake made by beginners and children, riding on the bottom of the bowl means that other riders cannot use it for its proper purpose: dropping in and riding through the entire bowl.
15) Be positive!
Let's all remember that skating and riding is fun! Not to mention the warm and encouraging environment that can often be found in skateparks. So let's keep it that way! Remember that all ability levels are welcome, including beginners and children. Be respectful towards them; encourage them when they fall and communicate clearly and politely if they are not aware of any unwritten rules.
16) Don't ask others to perform tricks
This can put pressure on those riders who cannot safely perform the trick that you have requested, potentially causing them to feel as though they are not enough, or not a "true" rider. This can also cause them to injure themselves. Instead, you could compliment a rider on a trick that you have already seen them execute.
17) Enjoy yourself!
The most important rule of the lot! Remember, you are there for your personal enjoyment and growth, not to impress anyone else. Let loose and have fun!