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Online help for new skateboarders

Skating is undeniably attractive to middle aged people. The appeal of cruising down a street, flowing smoothly with body and mind working together to produce those amazing sensations is huge. So long as you have decent levels of balance, flexibility and safety equipment you should be able to master the basics of rolling around on a board. This section is all about the issues older skaters face when starting up from scratch.

Moderator: leebryan

Online help for new skateboarders

Postby akropoliskater » Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:12 pm

First things first: Lee, very belated but sincere thanks for adding "Starting Up in Your Middle Years" to the roster of topics on the Half Dead forum.

The small handful of noobie skaters who are of a certain age face the same challenges that the older members of our forum once did—skateboarding is still skateboarding, after all. And while age doubtless increases the challenge, we latecomers have an advantage that older skaters who began in their teen years did not have: the Internet.

There's an enormous number of skate videos, tutorials, instructions, and message boards online for beginner skaters. There are also complete training programs available as downloadable files and DVDs, such as Dan MacFarlane's Skateboarding Explained, Eric Muss-Barnes's Learn To Ride a Skateboard, and Aaron Kyro's Braille Skateboarding.

I have pretty strong opinions about which of these many resources are worth a newcomer's time and which are not, but I'd love to know the opinions of other members of the Half Dead fraternity too. So have any of you guys looked at any of the instructional information that's available online? Which websites do you think are most helpful for a typical new skater today? Which ones would have helped you when you were a new skater learning the basics? Which ones might even be helpful for you at this point in your skating life?

Here's a set of webpages that I recommend to all beginners:
Some other very good sites, all containing multiple webpages, are:
Several websites are good but are generally too advanced for beginners. Nevertheless, one such site might contain an especially good single vid on a specific topic. Example: Among the hundreds of mind-numbingly useless how-to-ollie videos I have found online, here's one that's really good (imho), preceded by its YouTube channel:
Amid the welter of these "instructional" websites, it's possible to find a couple of delightfully contrarian ones. For example:
[/url]from which this great quote:
Most instructional or "how-to" videos are useless, will NOT teach you "how to skate," and should be purchased (or viewed) for entertainment value only.

There's also Dr. Tae Kim, physicist and skateboarder and the contrarian's contrarian:
The validity of his claim that skateboarding might be a good model for other kinds of education is questionable. But as an antidote to the many online exhortations (demands?) that skateboarding must be fun or you're doing it wrong, I love his pithy assertions. Among them: Failure Is Normal and Learning Is NOT Fun. I think we should all watch this YT post.

As for unhelpful online instructional sources, I'll leave my specific list of those for another post (it'll probably go under Rants), but here are my four tipoffs that what you're watching is not worth your time:
1. The trick being taught is described as "easy."
2. The video begins with several minutes of an exhibitionistic tutor showing off how good he is at the trick or at skating in general.
3. The tutor is young, even pre-pubertal.
4. The audio and/or video quality of the tutorial is poor.

If you encounter videos with one or more of these telltale signs, the best thing to do is TURN YOUR COMPUTER OFF AND GO SKATE!!

So fellow shredders, whaddaya think?
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Re: Online help for new skateboarders

Postby leebryan » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:15 pm

Thank you so much for compiling this list of resources. I completely agree with you - there are a ton of videos on YouTube and Vimeo purporting to be "how to skate" videos, with extremely variable quality. In their defense it can be tough to put together a "how to" video as I found out when I started on a series of skating basics last year (you can find it at slipnought.halfdeadskateboards.com). A common issue seems to be that there is a huge difference between learning a trick and being self aware and articulate enough to be able to relate all the nuances necessary for anyone else to learn that same trick. I've watched even some of the big name videos (Tony Hawk's Trick Tips for one) and some of the explanations are pretty rudimentary. A lot also depends on the skaters learning style. Some people work entirely by feel and repetition. Others like to dismantle, analyze and learn in components which are then strung together to make the final trick. It's tough doing one video that addresses those extremes of learning style. I tend to err on the side of too much information rather than too little, but that's just me. I love the idea of a "peer reviewed" list of resources though. Maybe that's something we should set up for the community? What do you think?
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Re: Online help for new skateboarders

Postby akropoliskater » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:04 pm

Hey Lee, thanks for your reply! We are clearly of one mind when it comes to this topic. No matter whose big-name tutorials you watch—Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, et al.—their video instruction is as deficient as their skating is dazzling. I note with interest that two of the guys whose online how-to-skate stuff I'm most impressed with (Steve Cave of skateboard.about.com and Nan Adie of skateboardhere.com) use a purely textual approach with no videos at all!

Your suggestion for peer review of online instructional resources makes a lot of sense. I'd volunteer for duty right away! How about it, skaters?

Your point about different pedagogical techniques is a favorite topic of mine: intuition and repetition vs. dismantling and assembling. I like a mix of both: analyze and break down a trick down into component parts, learn and practice each part until each feels right, then put the parts back together gradually with lots of practice and repetition along the way. I guess I'm overly inclined to the analytical approach, but we should never underestimate the importance of "The Feels." After 9 months I'm still surprised at how right it feels (and, after loads of struggle, how easy it seems) when I finally land a move decently.

Speaking of struggle and bruises and hematomas, I have a tip for additional protective gear above and beyond the usual helmet and pads: hip protection. I've had both hips replaced (due to hereditary osteoarthritis) and I want protection there too. After considerable investment in both Pro-Tec's Lo-Pro hip pads and Fall-Safe Hip Impact Protectors, I find that I get the most protection from ordinary foam rubber kneeling pads made for home gardeners. About 3/4" thick, they're available in most hardware or home stores and cost about $4.00 each. Trim them into a rectangular shape about 9" x 12" with a sharp hardware knife and stick them down over your hips between your undershorts and your jeans. They provide very effective hip protection for very little money.
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