by Ryan Rhodes
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Kennesaw, dozens of beginner skateboarders gather around Kennesaw Skate Park, trying to catch a glimpse of cool tricks that they hope one day to recreate. More experienced skaters are dropping into the half pipe, and catching air after coming off a ramp, leaving these young spectators in awe.
Skateboarding is a fun and challenging sport, and it’s much safer than most parents fear – kids are less likely to get injured on a skateboard than while playing baseball.
The sport has many physical benefits, including coordination, concentration, balance and exercise. And it helps children develop an understanding of the importance of practice, patience, and dealing with consequences, parent Eric Tarver of Kennesaw says.
Tarver marvels at the effect skateboarding has had on his 10-year-old son, Kevin. “Skateboarding has helped Kevin understand the importance of hard work, not only in the skate park but in the classroom and at home,” Tarver says. “He’s come to understand that when you work hard for something, your efforts will be rewarded.”
If your child wants to try skateboarding, follow our guide:
The first step is purchasing the proper gear to ensure that your son or daughter has the safest skateboarding experiences possible.
Your child will need:
Elbow pads ($14-$30)
Wrist guards ($13-$25)
Knee pads ($20-$40)
If your child already owns a bicycle helmet, he can use that instead of buying a new one.
“Realistically all you need to skateboard is a board, your pads, and to go outside,” says Jordan Smith, who works for Ambush Board Co. in Kennesaw.
When buying your skateboard deck, make sure that you purchase at a store where employees have a good knowledge of skateboarding because the size of board should be matched to the size and weight of your child. Purchasing the wrong size skateboard could lead to injuries or cause damage to the board, which would mean having to buy a new one.
ChutingStar Skate Park & Shop
Kids can learn the basics by watching how-to videos on YouTube, but personal instruction is better. For extra guidance, skate parks and organizations offer lessons to beginner skaters.
Mike Gruwell, who operates ChutingStar Skate Park & Shop in Marietta, says lessons start a new skater off with a good foundation. “We highly recommend lessons for the beginner as it’ll help reduce the chances of a preventable injury early on as they learn to skate. Our instructors spend a good amount of time initially on just how to fall. It’s an important self-preservation skill to learn. The basics also focus on how to stand on the board, how to push, how to stop, how to turn, and the like.”
Skateboarding lessons provide peace of mind for parents and help guarantee that a child will learn the ins and outs of the sport in a safe environment.
Brook Run Skate Park in Dunwoody offers group lessons 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays for $25 per skater.
ChutingStar Skate Park & Shop offers individual lessons for $30 an hour, or $40 an hour for two skaters, by appointment, before the indoor skate park opens to the public each day.
FC Skate Shop in Cumming (fcskateshop.com) offers individual lessons by appointment on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 5:30 pm; prices range from $30-$50.
Kennesaw Skatepark conducts skateboard day camps periodically,
teaching safety and techniques for beginners and more experienced kids. Three camps this summer were sold out. The next camp for ages 6-12 will Sept. 15-19, 9 a.m.-noon. Cost is $100 for a Kennesaw resident, $115 for a nonresident.
Many skateboard retailers also can refer customers to instructors. At goskate.com, parents can arrange for group instruction at an Atlanta area park with a certified instructor or for individual instruction, which allows parents to pick the time and location of their child’s lesson.
Long time skateboarder and Kennesaw resident Robert Shelton, 25, who was showing his moves at Kennesaw Skatepark, believes that lessons aren’t really necessary but could help beginners. And he adds, “My mom would have also been a lot more OK with skateboarding, too,” if he’d taken lessons.
Most kids climb on a skateboard for the first time in their neighborhood, but skating on a sidewalk, parking lot or street – even a cul-de-sac – is not a good idea. Instead, try one of these skate parks in metro Atlanta and Athens.
The Historic Fourth Ward Park, 830 Willoughby Way, Atlanta. The park offers world-class skateboard amenities as well as a playground and multi-use athletic field. The skate park is sectioned off by skill level. No park supervision, so parents will want to stay with younger children. Free. h4wpc.com/skatepark.htm
Brook Run Skate Park, 4770 N. Peachtree Rd., Dunwoody. This park has concrete bowls and half-pipes. All patrons must complete a signed waiver to enter and skate in the park. Children 11 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Daily fees run from $3-$6. dunwoodyga.gov (click “city of Dunwoody” then Parks and Recreation Department).
Kennesaw Skatepark, 3140 Old 41 Hwy., Kennesaw. This 40,000-square-foot park is the first ever permanent skate park to feature elements modeled on a competitive street skate park plaza design. No park supervision. Free. skatekennesaw.com
ChutingStar Skate Park & Shop, 1349 Old U.S. 41 NW, Marietta. This 3,000-square-foot indoor park is adjacent to the shop, and open 3-8 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and noon-8 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Skaters must sign a waiver and follow posted rules. Free. 770-445-4000, chutingstar.com.
DeShong Skate Park, 2859 North DeShong Rd., Stone Mountain. Features a twisting and winding streetscape to explore, complete with stairs and grinding rails. No park supervision. Free. 770-822-8840. gwinnettcounty.com (click on Parks and Recreation, then Explore Your Parks)
Duncan Creek Park, 3700 Braselton Hwy, Dacula. This skate complex is the largest skate park available in Gwinnett County, offering community users a safe environment to practice their sport. Free. 678-277-0855. gwinnettcounty.com (click on Parks and Recreation, then Explore Your Parks)
Bay Creek Skate Park, 175 Ozora Rd., Loganville. Outdoor skate park with skateboard and BMX ramps. No park supervision. Free. 770-978-5271. gwinnettcounty.com (click on Parks and Recreation, then Explore Your Parks)
Shakerag Knoll Skateboard Park, McIntosh Trail Complex, Peachtree City. Various ramps and half pipes available for skateboard and BMX. No park supervision. Free. 770-631-2542. ptcgovernment.org/recreation/aug03/fac.htm
Skate!Decatur, McKoy Park, 1000 Adams St., Decatur. This park offers pipes, rails and ramps. No park supervision. Free. 404-377-0494. decaturga.com (click on City Departments, Active Living)
Skate Park of Athens, 4440 Lexington Rd. An outdoor skate park whose central feature is a 10-foot bowl. No park supervision. Free. 706-613-3991.