The long process of my journey to learn how to skate was a treacherous one. Through trial and error, tears, sweat, and a lot of blood I struggled day in and day out to try and learn something most people won’t ever attempt. Skateboarding.
My journey began long before I ever bought my first skateboard. I used to hang out at the skatepark every day with my friends Dillon, Maverick, and Justin. I would watch them or people from my town zoom around, fly through the air, or throw tricks I could only day dream about ever even attempting. Incredible flips, spins, and slides thrown with the greatest of ease. But I stayed away from skating for a while because of what I saw far to often on the unforgiving concrete. Injuries. Everyday someone would get “Broke-off” a term used for when you injure yourself. I witnessed everything from mild bruises and scrapes (which were an everyday injury). To broken bones, concussions, and severe road rash. Watching one of your best friends snap his shin in half landing wrong off a staircase doesn’t exactly get you too pumped to get on a board. This turned me away for a long time, but eventually I couldn’t resist the allure. The expression on my friends faces when they would successfully land a new trick they’d been working on for weeks was that of the utmost satisfaction. The skaters that I looked up to could express the feeling of landing a new trick, but I couldn’t feel it. So I decided it was time to put aside my fear of pain and go for broke.
The first thing I did was I started riding my friends boards every now and then. I didn’t by any means jump straight into the deep end, I was still wary. I would watch how they did things and I would imitate them (almost never to the same effect). Eventually I learned the different sizes of width and proper truck size. Sizing is important so that you can have the best possible balance on the board. If the boards to skinny your feet will feel uncomfortable and you will wobble more from side to side when riding. Trucks are the term for the axles of the skateboard that support the wheels. The trucks need to be a certain width and height for the board you have to try and prevent the second leading cause of skateboard spills. “Wheel-bite”. A term used for when you lean too far to one side and your wheels make contact with the underside of your board. This can cause you to “Eat-it” (Eat the concrete) really hard. After I knew about my board I began working on my balance.
Balance is essential in skating! You absolutely have to have it while riding, and while in the air. When riding on the road (asphalt) it’s usually bumpier than it looks. You have to be able to stay stable while being jostled around the road, while also avoiding potholes and debris. When you’re moving quickly you could end up going to fast and get speed wobbles (a skaters worst nightmare). Basically you go so fast you can’t brake or you’ll risk falling, but your board is wobbling side to side. Your only hope is to pray you don’t get bucked off the boardand you can ride out the road rodeo.
Quickly I learned that the better that you get at skating the harder it gets. Tricks become more difficult. The level of commitment for each trick is more, and how much time is required to master it all increases. Once you get to a certain level your experience will reduce this, but when you’re first learning every new trick is like a new chapter of a book where experiencing something entirely new. After I got my balance it was time to learn the “Ollie”. Regarded as probably the most basic respectable trick in skating the “Ollie” is just popping the board up into the air while you’re riding it and landing. In order for this trick to be counted both your front and back wheels need to leave the ground. I spent weeks trying to get the most basic trick down. I asked help from nearly everyone at the park. Probably the best advice that I received was from one of my longtime best friends Maverick who told me, “It sucks man, but it’s all about commitment. Once you drop your fear, and just go for it balls out you’re gonna be landing tricks all day.” I spent a week alone just practicing the movement, which was advice from my friend Justin “You’re never gonna get the trick down if you don’t practice the right moves.” Slamming my back foot down on the tail of the board to get the front to pop up. Then practicing the slide my foot would do to propel the board forward. But putting it all together with the right timing and commitment took weeks. Eventually though all my hard work was rewarded. After learning how to commit by an even more basic trick. The “Caveman”. The “Caveman” was just jumping on to your board while it’s in the air. One of the old heads at the skatepark harped me all day about not commiting to the “ollie”. “You gotta just do it man get your back foot off the ground.” “Why don’t you just try a caveman?”. After more trial and error I took a few deep breaths and suddenly it clicked. I decided that if I couldn’t fully commit the next time I attempted the trick id never land it, never get any better, and all of my friends would progress while I was left in the dust. I yelled “FUCK IT!” and took the leap of faith. In the moment before I had jumped I’d been terrified of falling on the unforgiving concrete and possibly breaking a bone or something awful like that. But as soon as I fully committed and there was no going back, I gained peace of mind. When you can’t go back you’re forced to go through, and that was my key to success.
Fear is nothing but a mental block that you have put up yourself, and if you’ve created it you can destroy it. My journey through learning how to skate was undoubtedly difficult. Conquering fear and learning something entirely new is never easy, but the rewards are as vast as the valley of obstacles you will encounter. As my good friend Dillion used to say “nothing worth it ever comes easy, and if it comes easy it won’t be worth it.” I’m sure he stole that quote from someone else but it made me feel that much better about what I had achieved even though it seems simple the process for me was something i’ll never forget as it was definitely the most painful learn process i’ve ever experienced.