Skateparks are the heartbeat—and the playground—of any great skate community. With thousands of skateparks throughout the United States, chances are that you don’t live very far from a great park.
But not matter where your park is located or, honestly, how great or not it is, there are some unspoken rules and matters of etiquette that every skater should follow. No, we’re not talking about the rules like “no running,” “no fighting,” and other such edicts best left for the community pool. Rather, there are some more subtle expectations that any good skateboarder should respect.
We know “etiquette” might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re just trying to skate and have a good time at your local skatepark. But to ensure that you and other skaters get to have a good time, follow these basic “rules.”
Watch Where You Stand
Skateparks can get crowded, and half of the fun is just feeding off the energy of other skaters and seeing some great tricks go down. But with that said, always be aware of your surroundings. Yes, collisions can and do happen when there are dozens of skaters sharing the same space. But even more so, out of respect, watch where you stand.
You might not realize it, but you could be hanging out at the bottom of a stair set or right next to a ledge that a skater is trying to use. If other skaters don’t see you, that can get dangerous. Or, if they see you, and you don’t see them, that skater will have to ride over and ask you to move. There are bigger inconveniences, sure, but it’s still a pain to have to be asking skaters and spectators to clear away from landing zones. So, be mindful.
Wait Your Turn
Here’s a commonality between skateparks and theme parks: when it’s crowded, lines form. For skateparks, there usually aren’t lines to get in, but if everyone’s trying to skate the same fun box, flatbar, or quarter pipe, get ready to hop in line.
Literal lines of skaters might not form, but everyone will be hanging out waiting their turn to try their trick. You won’t have an exact order in the line, but just be mindful of when it’s your turn and of making sure pretty much everyone else has had a go before you roll up to try your trick again. Such an informal system applies to skaters of all levels. New skaters and experienced skaters alike all wait their turn.
Props All Around!
One of the cool things about skateparks is that skaters of all levels and of all backgrounds come to hangout and skate. This doesn’t always happen in street skating. For example, only more experienced skaters might show up to skate a 10 set of stairs or to bomb a particularly long hill. But most good skateparks have a range of obstacles to accommodate skaters of all levels.
One of the great beauties about skateboarding is that you’re competing only with yourself. So don’t be shy about compliments and encouragement for other skaters. In short, you’ll see plenty who skate incredibly and plenty who are just learning to balance on their boards. For both, give props all around. When a great trick goes down, knock your board against the ground, pump your fists, and give ‘em a shout! A skater pulling off his first boardslide on a flatbar deserves as much praise as kickflipping a 10 set.
Skateparks Aren’t LEGO Sets
High-quality poured concrete parks are pretty much set in stone. You can’t move or adjust any of the rails, ledges, transition or other objects and obstacles at the park. But with some skateparks, you can do exactly that. Flatbars aren’t welded down, ledges and manual pads can be picked up and moved, and even quarter pipes and launch ramps can be carried around.
There’s a degree of customization allowed. But there’s also a fine line between making a fun setup for you to skate and making sure you’re not hogging obstacles for yourself. Sharing is caring, right? With obstacles that aren’t bolted down, there are even instances of skaters or others who walk off with skatepark property. This, obviously, isn’t cool. And before you go about rearranging a park’s setup, make sure no one’s using the obstacles that you want to move around.
Mind the Wax
Skaters apply wax to ledges and rails to make them more slide-able. Without wax, your board will just get stuck on a lot of objects when trying a grind or slide. The solution is usually applying a thin layer of skate wax (although a candle works in a pinch!). The keyword is thin. A few back-and-forths with a piece of wax is usually all that’s needed to decrease friction and get things sliding.
Be careful not to overdo it with the wax. Some skaters like to use half a bar of wax on a ledge or rail, and doing so can suck the fun right out. An over-waxed rail means your board will shoot out, making skating it slippery and dangerous. So, apply wax conservatively. You can always add more but can’t take it away.
Share the Park with Non-Skaters
At some skateparks, BMX, rollerblades, and scooters are also permitted. To be honest, there are a lot of rivalries between these groups, sometimes. But, again, at the skatepark, you’re only there to compete with yourself. So, respect BMXers, rollerbladers, and anyone else who’s doing something different at the park. Heck, you might even see people running around with Soap shoes grinding the rails.
So let others do their thing too. Skating or riding safely and respectfully should be practiced by all.
Wear Your Helmet
Some skateparks require helmets. No exceptions. When this is the case, wear one! Don’t give anyone working at the park a hard time, and don’t make them flag you down to ask that you put your helmet on. The best part about helmets is that they protect your noggin upon impact. The second best part about helmets is that you can do the exact same great tricks even with a helmet on. A helmet will in no way or shape detract from your skating. So, just wear it!
Most parks don’t require full pads, but if you’re skating transition or any bigger vert ramps, you’d be nuts not to suit up in full pads. The slams in skateboarding can be serious, even when you’re just skating flat ground or a manual pad. But when skating vert, pads and helmets can be a matter of do or die.
Don’t Trash Your Park
This rule should be obvious, but it’s commonly broken. Skateparks can become a graveyard for broken boards, junked skateboard parts, candy bar wrappers, and empty water bottles—don’t contribute to this mess. Trash cans work the same in skateparks as they do anywhere else. Use them.
Piles of garbage are unsightly, sure, but they also require extra cleanup and work on part of other skaters. How many times have you seen a bowl with trash building up in its pit? Guess what? The next skater who wants to skate that bowl is going to have to waste time clearing out and cleaning up trash. So, if you add to this problem, skate somewhere else.