Skateboard Equipment Matters!

Neal Hendrix is the third-ranked vert skater in the world and works with Woodward West.

One of the most important things in learning how to skateboard is making sure that you have the right equipment:

Skateboard: The wheelbase of a skateboard is the distance between the front and back trucks. When purchasing a skateboard, make sure that the wheelbase is approximately shoulder width. That will ensure maximum control.

Shoes: Shoes wear out quickly when they rub against the grip tape of the skateboard so it's important to get a shoe specifically designed for skateboarding.

Wheels: There are a lot of choices in skateboard wheels. Bigger wheels are primarily for ramps and large skate parks and smaller wheels are designed for street skating. To start out, a set of 52- to 55-millimeter wheels should work fine.

The Best Skateboarders Wear Pads and a Helmet!

Safety gear is important and needs proper explanation. Plastic cap pads were designed in the late '70s when skaters frequently rode in empty swimming pools -- they often fell to their knees and elbows and the plastic caps allowed them to slide instead of sticking and slipping off other kinds of pads. Be smart and use plastic-cap pads when riding skate parks or ramps.

Plastic-cap kneepads and elbow pads (sold at skate shops and some sporting goods stores) are important when riding in skate parks. If you're only going to be riding street terrain such as stairs, ledges or handrails, soccer pads should work fine.

A helmet is a must at all times when skateboarding!

Skateboarding 101

When you first start riding a skateboard, be sure to start slow. Here's a list of steps to get you started and feeling comfortable on a skateboard:

1. Purchase a deck that fits your size and weight. The wheelbase should be approximately shoulder width for maximum control.

2. Learn your stance and stick with it. The names of the stances are "regular foot" and "goofy foot." Goofy foot is skating with your right foot forward and regular foot is with your left foot forward. Both work fine, so skate however feels natural.

3. Learn to stop! You can drag your back foot on the ground, jump off your skateboard, or just do a wheelie and drag your heel.

After that, just remember to take it slow and learn at your own pace. You'll start to feel comfortable and will be riding smooth and in control in no time.

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