I stopped procrastinating, and I put myself out there! After months of postponing, I’ve finally left my flat with my skateboard. The sun is high, the ground is dry and although is quite cold out there, it seems to me the perfect day for my first day on a skateboard after a long time.
In fact, I want to point out that I attempted to learn skateboarding approximately two years ago for about 6 months, quitting for no specific reason. At that time, because I was living very close to a skate park, I could pop in there in the early morning and practice cruising and carving. I was so passionate that I also started skateboarding to go to work. I remember it took me around 30 minutes to skate from my flat to my office.
Practicing balance, push and turn in a park
But let’s go back to my first day training. I decided to have my session somewhere where I could feel safe and not judged. It would have been so discouraging attempting the basics in a crowded skate park surrounded by ten years old kids that drop so easily through ramps and edges. Instead I went to Greenwich park, in south East London, which is close to my house and which I knew had an area with smooth surfaces. Once there, I took off my coat and backpack, leaving them on a bench, and I got on the board.
I found myself quite unsafe and unstable while riding as I didn’t know what to do with my feet.
I already knew that I had a goofy stance and I was sure that I could handle getting on my board, but I guess the lack of practice contributed to making the entire process of pushing with my back very awkward. I started practicing the basics of balancing while rolling and standing. After a few minutes, I started getting more comfortable riding around with my board.
I have to mention that I didn’t attempt any turns. I was just riding up and down the street and once I approached the junctions on both sides I stopped the board and turned around with my feet. Then, I started again. I did this for about thirty minutes until I started feeling bored.
So, I stopped at the bench and I watched the Braille Skateboarding tutorial ‘How to skateboard for beginners’ – Episode 1. Now, I have to spend few words about Braille. I really don’t know what other skateboarders think about his way of teaching, but I find the guy very easy to follow, so I decided to stick with him for the moment. I’ve even decided to buy online his digital tutorials: ‘Skateboarding Made Simple’ Volumes 1 to 6’.
In order to break the monotony of my exercise, I tried a very easy beginner trick that Braille explains in the tutorial mentioned above. You put your board grip tape side down and place just your toe underneath it. Then you lift up the board with your toe and you end up with your board on its wheels. Jump on the board and give a push. Even if this trick on video seemed easy it was so hard to put into practice. I was able to flip the board, but I had one hell of a time trying to jump on the board. I practiced this for around 5 minutes, then I got back to riding around with by board.
Next thing I tried was turning. By approaching the junction, I needed to make a sharp turn, so I tried to turn the skateboard just by learning my weight in the direction I wanted, but with very poor results. I’ve learned later by watching videos that in order to perform a sharp turn I need to use the tail and do a kick-turn. Next time I go skating, I will try to pick my board up by putting my foot on the tail and actually picking up the two front wheels and turning to the side.
I ended up my first session by riding around the park few times, avoiding people and some obstacles found along the way. I also attempted to cruise down a hill, but I had to put my foot down many times to stop because I was scared of losing control.
Overall, I can say I had a very good session. I noticed that on my way back home I was in a very good spirit. I haven’t done anything special but the fact that I finally found the courage to go out there to practice was so rewarding.
I feel that a very good way to improve my skills is filming myself. I’m planning to film each of my sessions and share them online after some editing. I think is a good way to check on my progress but also a good way to motivate those that have started skateboarding like me at later age.
One rule to remember: I don’t have to be too harsh on myself
Taking into consideration how I approached my first session, although it’s very early to judge, I have the feeling that things this time are different and that I won’t quit. I’m not rushing into learning how to ollie after just my first week of training (although I have to admit I’ve just watched still in bed this morning Braille Tutorial on ‘how to ollie the easiest way 2.0’) but I’m following a well-defined journey plan that for the moment has just one single step: get very comfortable on my skateboard.
P.S. Thanks to my buddy Sara for drawing the image for this post! See her other work on Instagram.