Is your kid a budding Tony Hawk or Lizzie Armanto?
Looking to introduce exercise into their every day routine without incurring a groan or, even worse, a tantrum?
Want to get out of the house without resorting to unplugging the router?
Skateboarding might have a bad rep for being a potentially dangerous sport, but with the right safety equipment, and when riding a properly selected, appropriate board, your kid is more likely to break a bone playing football than doing ollies.
Whether you’re struggling to figure out where to begin in the wide world of boards or just after a couple of tips on picking out one that’s kid-friendly, you’ll find our article clear, easy to digest, and most importantly – informative!
Already got a board lying around?
Depending on the condition and the specifications, it’s possible to renovate or customize a skateboard to make it more appropriate for a younger rider or better suited to someone with less experience.
Deck-wise, is it wide enough? Have your child plant their feet firmly on the board with their legs spread, then ask them to touch the bolt in the front and at the back of the skateboard. Providing that’s easy, then all is well. If not, you’ll need a bigger surface.
Inspect the wheels: are they soft enough for a smooth ride on the sidewalk? How much damage have they taken? Should the answer to those questions be “No” and “A lot,” then changing them out for a fresher, smoother set is advisable.
Build-A-Board versus complete deck
Do not attempt to build a board before you’ve thoroughly researched each key element and understand exactly what you need to do. Failing to prepare is likely to result in injuries for the board’s user, so don’t take this step lightly.
Picking out a complete set up is not the easy way out, and is especially great if you have little experience, because you won’t have to contend with buying the correct parts and failing to choose compatible components.
The trucks you choose should fit comfortably with the width of your chosen deck, and the wheels should attach with plenty of clearance to avoid hitting the side of the deck as the board is in motion.
Always pick out a model that offers the opportunity to change out the parts, as there’s nothing worse than shelling out for a quality skateboard, realizing it’s not quite worse nad having to buy an entirely new board to replace it.
Traditionally, boards came as a one-size-fits-all package, whereas nowadays, there are so many adaptations and variations on the market to check out. First thing to note? A specifically ‘kid-sized’ skateboard isn’t always necessary.
Smaller so-called penny boards are cool if you have the experience, but it’s actually better (and, surprisingly, easier) to start out on a full sized skateboard between twenty seven and thirty one inches in length.
The below table offers some general estimations for the width of a deck suitable for your child’s height, but remember, everyone is different. It might take trying out a couple of boards before your junior skater finds the right one for them.
|Height of Child||Recommended Board Width|
|3 feet, 4 inches or shorter||6.5” to 7.0”|
|3 feet, 5 inches – 4 feet, four inches||7.0” to 7.75”|
|4 feet, six inches – 5 feet, six inches||7.75” to 8.0”|
|5 feet, six inches or taller||8.0” to 8.5”|
What’s in a grade?
If you’re keen to find the best product and price, you’ll likely be shopping around, and each manufacturer labels their boards a little differently, based on their own individual set of criteria, but usually following a similar system.
Boards aimed at beginners aren’t necessarily just for children, but they’ll usually have a slightly softer wheel, lower-quality bearings and a wider deck, as their primary usage will be for street and sidewalk skating.
So-called ‘advanced’ or ‘professional’ boards are built to withstand more, last longer and survive the impact of continuous skatepark usage. You’ll find them more expensive because of their tougher decks and fancier, industry-grade components.
Speedier and more flexible, their higher price tag is worth it if your intentions are to perform a lot of tricks and skate at high speeds on uneven ground. Otherwise, a more affordable board will more than suit early and intermediate skaters.
For a kid, splashing out on those high end, industry standard boards would be unnecessary, as unless they’ve been born with an extreme talent, they are unlikely to benefit from the additional qualities of a pro-level board whilst they’re small enough to use it.
Avoid toy store boards
If you’re not an experienced skater yourself, it might feel natural to pick up a kid’s skateboard at a department store, a toy shop or a supermarket. Do not make that mistake! Your kid will pay the price for it.
Usually dubbed ‘mini decks’, these are the smallest skateboards available. Generic, usually of a poor quality and boasting wheels that barely spin, children are more likely to fall than skate successfully whilst riding one.
Almost comically minute, they’ll never provide the kind of solid support one needs to balance whilst skating, and the all-plastic deck and components will break before you even get to the top of a ramp, so they’re not even worth the money you’ll pay.
Don’t forget your helmet!
It doesn’t matter whether your child is going to be practising on their board in the comfort of your backyard, on the nearest sidewalk, at a playground or a professional skate park: safety precautions are key to a good skate session.
Primarily, you want a good-quality, solid helmet, built to withstand high impact and protect their fragile noggin from nasty head injuries. Don’t put it off – not even for the first couple of times, not even once.
Knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards are equally important, no matter how good of a skater you are – you’ll notice that even the best of the boardmasters still wrap up from head to toe in protective gear whenever they skate professionally.