So… I’ve decided to learn to skateboard in my 40s. That’s cool, right? It’s not going to hurt at all, right? We’ll see. It should definitely be a fun ride anyway.

Skateboarding has been something that I’ve admired all my life, although I’ve never been immersed in it. I’ve always loved the culture, the art, the attitude. I’ve loved movies like Gleaming the Cube and Thrashin’. I’ve loved video games like 720, Skate or Die and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. But I’ve never actually tried it myself. It was just never really present in my life in Glasgow in the 80s and early 90s. I never saw skateboarders anywhere. I didn’t know of any skateparks. I didn’t know anyone at school at all that had a skateboard. BMX was much more of a thing, so I absolutely had one of them. Skateboarding, as a physical activity, unfortunately passed me by. But as I said above, I’ve always been a fan of it, and that’s never died. It’s just a shame I missed out on it back in the day.

Fast forward about 30 years and now my 6 year old daughter has become obsessed with the idea of skateboarding. She has pleaded for weeks to get a skateboard. And there seem to be skateparks literally everywhere we look where we live now in Southend. Plus a friend of ours has just started to get back into skateboarding with his son. And my 8 year old son’s best friends all skateboard, so my son is up for learning now too. So after not having an easy opportunity to skate in my youth because I didn’t know anyone else who skated, I now do! My children! And before anyone says it, it’s certainly not a mid-life crisis. It’s finding fun new opportunities in adulthood whilst spending quality time with my kids and supporting their interests. And besides, you can’t have a mid-life crisis when you never grow up can you?!

This has all happened during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 and we’re lucky to have a small patio in our back garden that is just long enough to practice basic skating techniques. So it was the perfect new hobby to get into during lockdown.

The first thing I did was immerse myself into skating stuff. Here are the various resources that I have tapped for information…

There are soooo many amazing skateboarding videos on YouTube. What a time for the kids to learn a skill like this, with so many tutorials available on the internet.

Braille Skateboarding
After all my online research these were the guys that I went with for the main tutorials. There are loads of great ones for free on YouTube, including this one below, but I also paid for their introductory lesson videos which goes over the basics and all the way up to kick flips.

Tony Hawk videos
Obviously Tony Hawk has been the poster boy for skateboarding for years and there are a tonne of videos of him showing how to do stuff. I found this one particularly useful for watching some of the basic tricks.

The Berrics Instagram
I had loads of people recommend me the Berrics Instagram channel. It’s certainly a good resource for lots of amazing skateboarding videos. Some of the tricks these guys do are amazing. Not necessarily great for learning stuff but certainly good for inspiration.

Bones Brigade documentary
This is a fantastic documentary. I obviously knew of Tony Hawk and the Bones Brigade but I didn’t know all the members well and I didn’t know all about their history. Very interesting and very well made, with some incredible footage. I watched it on Amazon Prime but I have since ordered the Blu-ray so that I can always have it on hand even if it drops off the streaming services.

Book – Surf, Skate, Rock Art of Jim Phillips
I’d always liked the Screaming Hand Santa Cruz logo, and didn’t realise that I actually knew some other art by Jim Phillips, so it inspired me to get this cool book.

Book – The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself – Rodney Mullen
Rodney Mullen was definitely one of the skateboarding names that I knew, but I didn’t really have a true appreciation of his skills until I saw the Bones Brigade documentary. Absolutely unbelievable. Some of his stuff defies the laws of gravity. And he seems like a fascinating guy too, so I had to buy his book too.

Obviously the next thing to do was to buy the boards! I really didn’t know where to start. I was sure that there are probably some rubbish boards available on Amazon, and also I’m sure there are several overpriced ones or ones that are for people who really know what they’re doing. And when I went on specialist skating websites it looked quite complex, with the various styles, widths and combinations of trucks and wheels. Our friend has just bought their boards from a local skating supplier and I decided to go the same route, to support our local businesses. I told the guy what our needs were and he had some complete boards from Fracture at a good price that were perfect. He didn’t have a massive selection of designs to choose from (only about 3 each) but we didn’t really care. I knew I was going to plaster stickers all over it anyway. It was a great opportunity to use some of the cool retro stickers that I had and hadn’t really had anywhere to stick them until now.

My daughter’s is the top one with the Thrasher sticker. My son’s is the white and gold one and mine is the plain blue one with all the retro stickers, of course.

In my head (or perhaps my heart), the answer to that question is ‘absolutely not’. But it is something that often comes up with things like this when other people are talking about it. Same thing happened when I recently got a BMX to have a play about on. Firstly, are you ever too old to skate? I really don’t think so, if you’re physically ok to do it. I hate applying age restrictions to anything. Doing things like this is great for keeping people young. We should all try to stay mentally young, and also do anything physical help you stay fit. So 100% I’m never one of those people that say you’re too old to do something or you should ‘grow up’. Many people think that BMXs are just for kids, purely because of the size and style of the bike, but with skateboards it probably is partly also to do with the dangers of being more likely to hurt yourself as you get older. And that is certainly something I’m taking seriously. I’m obviously making my kids wear full pads, wrist guards and helmets whilst learning, and I’m doing the same as well, not just to set an example but to help myself not get hurt too! I’ve been very careful for us all to build up our basics really well so far, before even trying any tricks. And none of us have really properly fallen over yet which is good. To be honest if I fall over it’s probably more my hips or bum that will hurt the most but I don’t think you can get hip or bum pads! I’m 44 years old just now and I’ve had friends of mine who have complained of stiffness and aches and pains since they turned 30 or when they turned 40. For me personally, I’d never had that yet, but as it happens this year has been the first year that I’ve really been starting to become aware of age related aches and pains. But I think it has also coincided with me doing less exercise. So I’m determined to make sure I do more exercise, more movement, more stretching and in general be more healthy. This will be good for my overall life and playing with my kids but it’s also even more important if I’m going to be learning to skateboard. I’ve found already that you need a strong core, because when you start to lose balance you really do tense up all your core muscles to keep your balance. I’m sure my knees will benefit from extra strength work too.

At the moment we’re just practising in our back patio, all decked out in all the pads, guards and helmet. I’ll make the kids wear it all when we start to go to the skate park. I’m sure I’ll feel the pressure to not wear all the safety gear when we’re at the skate park in front of all the other youths who don’t wear any pads or helmets. Who knows whether my safety will take priority or my ‘coolness’. It may well depend on my skating ability at the time! I’m sure that pretty soon I will be fine doing a certain level of skating or basic tricks, but whenever I try new things I will definitely pad up. 

I’m in this for some fun and some quality time with my kids. I don’t want to be doing massive half pipes or big ramps or anything like that. But I’d love to be able to do the basic tricks such as shove-its, pop shove-its, ollies and ideally up to a kick flip. I’d really find it fun to try to learn that. And if I can go down the smallest ramps and bumps in the skate park with the kids then that would be cool. I think all that’s very doable and the kick flip is a nice goal to aim for. (I may have to invent a ‘bum and hip pad’ though). 

I’m not going to do a lot of video documenting of my learning but I’m sure I will certainly write more posts about my skateboarding journey and also post videos if I manage to nail any tricks. For now I’m just practising simple pushing and small kick turns. I’m probably only getting on the board about twice a week. This video below is a very early video during the first couple of weeks. That’s all you’re getting for now!

Right, I’m off to watch Gleaming the Cube again.