Archived Q&A and Reviews
I've got a skateboard-crazed 9-year-old boy who's having no luck picking up skills on his own. I tried getting lessons/private tutoring for him through Berkeley Parks & Rec with no luck at all. Asked the folks at 510 for recommendations and came up empty again. He needs help with the basics. Are you/do you know of someone who could help? A teenage skate nut would be fine. I'm thinking 1-2 hours a week until my son gets a solid start would work. Feel free to contact me directly. timsmom
You might want to try Go Skate Skateboard School, either online at: www.goskate.com/special.html or call Steve at: 858-436-4661 (Cell Phone) 800-403-2405 (School Office) From my understanding, they pair your child up with a skateboard teacher in your area for one on one lessons. I think it's smart, and if my daughter wanted to learn it's what I would do.
I'm looking for a skilled skateboarder to teach my husband how to ride. I know there are local coaches who teach at the CAL camp and at the Berkeley skate park.. but the focus is on youngsters. I'm hoping to find someone who is PATIENT and knows how to explain the techniques... plus someone who won't roll their eyes because their student is older and not as agile as a six-year-old. (Our six-year-old will be taking lessons later this Spring and my husband want to be able to ride with him) Thanks
I didn't see that anyone replied to your request for an adult skateboard coach, so I wanted to reply. I own 510 Skateboarding shop in Berkeley and while I don't have time to give formal lessons, a few good tips would definitely get you on your way. I may be able to hook you up with someone who could do some lessons if you felt you needed more than tips. Contact me at dbordow [at] sbcglobal.net or call the shop at (510) 843-1863 on Monday or Wednesday afternoons to talk skateboarding to get started. It is totally possible to learn to skateboard on your own, especially if you get some basic pointers about body position, where to place your feet, weight distribution, pushing and stopping - after that it's just practice. Dandy Harris
I know of a person- his name is Isaac and he teaches formal beginning skateboard lessons to 3 year olds in San Francisco- you will have to email him to get more info on the classes- he has been doing it for quite a while. thanks and good luck. isaac isart21 [at] aol.com
I've checked both the advice and reviews archives but I guess other parents have been more successful at avoiding skateboards.
Our 9 year old's dad and I have finally agreed to succumb and I'd appreciate any advice. We are planning to sign him up for Berkeley's skateboard camp this summer. In the meantime, he's pretty small for his age -- do we get a full-size board? Some of them seem like the size of a small surf board. Can we buy a pretty cheap one? Is there one generic style that's better? Anything in particular to look for?
Is there a safety difference between skateboard and bike helmets? If we do need to get a skateboard helmet (which we might do anyway because this is a birthday present and he will probably want the ''look''), can he use it with his bike? We've got knee, elbow, and wrist protection.
Thanks for any advice (even if I didn't know enough to ask it). Someone told me to go to the high-end shop, 510, on Telegraph but it doesn't seem right to go for advice if I'm not going to shop there. Since I'll end up at a chain store, I'm not expecting expertise from the staff.
thank you! Anne
My son has done the skateboarding camp at Cal & is enrolled again for this summer. They have a strict policy of only using ''real'' skateboards, not the cheaper ones from Target, etc. The real ones are safer and all of the counselors can tell them by the trucks, wheels, etc.
They also do not allow anything other than ''real'' skateboarding pads and advise against wrist guards altogether because they've had issues with compound fractures higher up on the forearm. I know that 510 offers a discount if you bring in your Cal camp receipt.
I had one friend whose son couldn't skate on day 1 of camp because he didn't have the right equipment. It's a shame to waste a day as the camp isn't cheap as it is.
The good news is that the good skateboards really do last. 510 fan, not a personal friend
Bike helmets and skateboard helmets are designed differently and should not be used interchangeably. Bike helmets are designed to protect against one big (potentially terrible) fall. They should be replaced in the event of any fall where the helmet gets struck, even if the helmet seems okay. Skateboard helmets, on the other hand, are designed to withstand a bunch of little falls, as one would encounter in skateboarding. So, it's not just for the looks alone that you'd want to get the skate-specific one. Good luck! molly
From the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (bhsi.org): ''Aggressive extreme trick skating and skateboard helmets have a different ASTM standard, for multiple hits but lesser impacts. Most bike helmets are not made for that, although a few of them are. Skate helmets may not meet bike helmet requirements unless they have a CPSC bike standard sticker inside.''
You should remember that the skateboards sold at a skate shop have interchangeable parts - meaning that as wheels or bearings wear out or break, they can be replaced without buying a whole new board. This might not be the case with department store boards. Something to consider if you think that skating is something that your son will stick with.
I found (15+ years ago) that it was often cheaper to buy sakteboards via mail order. I see that one of my favorite catalogs, California Cheap Skates, is still around at www.ccs.com. former skateboarder
For Berkeley's skateboard camp you'll need to have a legitimate skateboard for your son - you may be wasting your money if you buy him a generic skateboard because the counselor's will usually require a professional quality board for the camp and will often disallow participation without a good quality skateboard. You should check with the camp director before spending any money on a skateboard.
The reasons for this are that besides the fact that generic skateboards are not considered safe for anything more than very basic riding back and forth on flat ground, they also do not perform like a legitimate skateboard - they're difficult to maneuver and the wheels barely spin. For the most part, generic skateboards are more like toys, and would be the equivalent to sending your child to guitar lessons with a toy guitar. While generic skateboards can be okay for very young children to start on, a 9 year old will very quickly become frustrated when his board barely rolls and won't turn when he leans.
A 9 year old should get a regular sized board on the small side - 7.5'' wide or so. Skateboard helmets must be CPSC/bike certified now, so either a bike or skateboard helmet will work fine for both a bike and a skateboard.
Don't be afraid to go in to 510 and talk to someone about skateboards even if you ultimately decide not to buy one there - if your son ends up loving skateboarding, it will actually be less expensive in the long run to get him a good skateboard to start with. You might be surprised at how little the price difference actually is between a good skateboard and a generic, and it will make all the difference in your sons experience of skateboarding.
Feel free to email me if you have more questions - dbordow [at] sbcglobal.net. -Dandelion Harris - Local mom and co-owner of 510 Skateboarding
Dudette-let you kid skate! It's rockin' it's fun and they will love it, plus regardless of the scary factor all those skate park kids will watch out for the ''little dudes.'' the BerkelEy SKATE school REQUIRES high grade board and helmet and pads-they run some half day clinics in Piedmont at our skate park(which is open to the public with an onsite monitor after school MWF and in the pm on S)
So hit the 510 skate shop on Telegraph, they will custom make your future Tony Hawk a board and have junior pads, the boards are big but there is a difference and these guys are cool and have made boards for my smallish 7yo and my almost 10 yo. Your gear and a good helmet(sometimes they have pads/helmets by Razor at Target for LESS) will run about $200-THEY MIGHT SMASH THE BOARD (deck) but all the components can be re-used for a while. sk8tr gurl
My daughter's wish is finally coming true -- she will soon get a skateboard for her 8th birthday. She's pretty athletic, but I've never been a skateboarder and am scared to death of the darned things. I think I've heard of some place that gives classes on skateboard technique, safety, etc. Any recommendations? Thanks, Skater Girl's mom
Check out the skateboarding summer camp at UCB Rec...each camp session is two-weeks (half day)...my 8-year-old son will be attending...great to hear of a girl interested in skateboarding!! Andrea
SF Skate Club run by Shawn Connelly and Thuy Ngyuen is AWESOME! They do amazing work with the kids and they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. see also: http://web.mac.com/sfskateclub/iWeb/Site/about%20us.html Moniz
Hi - my son has been in awe of skateboards since he was 2 years old. He desperately wants one for his 4th bithday which is coming up soon. I don't want to buy a cheap one from a toy store, I know it needs to be good quality but not sure where to start... Advice on skateboard size for a 4 yr old and local skate stores etc. would be really helpful. (Please, no posts about safety/danger.) Thanks!! Cathy
I learned to skateboard at a pretty young age and offer the following bits. Look for a narrower board. One might think that the wider a skateboard is, the easier it would be to balance on, but it is kind of the opposite for kids. You want the board narrow enough so that when the kid has the pushing foot on the ground, the other foot is able to be in the center axis of the board. Often when you see a kid on a full grown board, the board wobbles to one side with every push, because the ''on-board'' foot has to scoot over so that the pushing foot can reach the ground.
Almost all my early falls were due to my skateboard wheels hitting a pebble or small twig, which caused the board to stop suddenly throwing me forward onto the ground. In my youth I just lived with this and eventually just learned to avoid pebbles, but ask the guys at the skateshop if there are some wheels more prone to sudden stops than others. Aran
My oldest son started skateboarding just before he turned five. He had been on a Razor since three and two wheel bike without trainers before he was five- all this helped with his balance.
On advice from skateboard shop owner, we got him a full size board. You want an ''adult'' board when kids first start so they can get their balance- the larger boards are best for this.
Once your son has his balance down and is solid, you can look at purchasing a shorter board which makes it easier for the smaller kids to practice tricks (lighter then the full size board).
Visit your local skateboard shop- they will have suggestions for you and you might want to request the name of any kids that may give lessons. Most of the camps won't take kids under six, so you are looking at private lessons ($15-$20/hr) to help your son get the basics. My husband skateboards, so they both go out every weekend and I take him out a few times a week. He loves skateboarding and gets lot's of practice- combination of balance and confidence.
We have a few different size boards, but he still likes and is more comfortable on the full size one. And he is not a big kid- just start with the full size board and go from there.
Have fun and of course get him a couple full sets of pads. I use one set of elbow pads for knee pads and this works quite well. Get a decent helmet- Protec is the one I've been really happy with- don't just stick a cycling helmet on him. And always reinforce wearing safety gear- if my son even goofs around on his skateboard at home without a helmet on it's gone for the rest of the week. Hope this helps. RTL
My 8YO son is desparately hoping that we can find a great camp for next summer where he can learn Fencing, Archery and Skateboarding. He's never had a chance to do any of the above, so we need an introductory-level setting. Other than that, some swimming, art and building/science time would be wonderful. We know about Sports and Science camp, but it appears they won't have archery or fencing for his age group in summer of 2008. We hope to find a full day camp between El Cerrito and Oakland-- any suggestions? Mom of Modern Knight
Check out www.oski.org and go to ''youth programs'' and then ''skateboarding camp'' - Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley offers skateboarding camps, although I'm not sure about fencing and archery. Sign up early though, because I know the sessions fill up very quickly. Dandy Harris/510 Skateboarding
Re: 14-year-old hates summer camp (May 2003)
For a teenage boy who hates the structure of summer camp, but loves to skateboard, the skate camp run out of the Visalia YMCA is your ticket. It's in the mountains, surrounded by trees, by a lake. But instead of the required art projects and archery, there is a huge, terrific skate park, built right beside the lake. Plenty of counselors and pro's around, but no one is required to do anything. You can just skate all day. Or swim. Or hang. Or do nothing. Kids seem to have a great time -- in large part, I think, because it is fun, but unstructured. The draw-backs: it's expensive and it may already be filled. Claire
For parents of SKATEBOARDERS: if you have a kid (over 10 years) who needs something to do this summer, there's a brand new skateboard clinic at the Alameda skateboard park starting June 18. Runs through Aug 31st. Weekly sessions 10-3:30pm. They are signing up kids now. Call 510/666-1140 for registration forms, etc. Lynn
July 2004 update: a parent reports that no one answers this phone number, although she did find a listing using google.
Where is the hottest skate park in the Bay Area? Oakland/Berkeley would be best but willing to drive. m
The Berkeley skate park is at the corner of 5th St. and Harrison on the Albany/Berkeley border. This is a free park open from 7:30 am until 9:30pm daily. Dandelion
I would appreciate suggestions for places my 12-year-old can skateboard safely and legally. We are familiar with the Albany and UC Berkeley skateparks, but would like recommendations on places that are closer to North Berkeley/El Cerrito and have less restricted hours. Do any schools allow skateboarding on their paved areas after hours? Thanks. Cheryl
My son does skateboarding at Cragmont school in N. Berkeley (Marin/Spruce). There's probably nothing fancy you could do there but there are lots of skateboarders and scooter users in the evening. (They probably wouldn't allow it until after 600 or whenever the after-school program ends.) Fran
To the parent who wanted suggestions about skateboarding on school grounds.a Berkeley will soon have a skateboard park for skateboarders. In the meantime, I urge all parents to dissuade their children from skateboarding on school grounds.a Unfortunately, a significant number of skateboarders (including bicyclists and skaters) have caused huge amounts of damage to the cement on school grounds.a Thousand Oaks which hasn't yet been fully completed is one of those.a The edges of the school's cement surfaces have been broken off and have skid marks all over them.a Additionally, the speed at which some of these kids & adults are moving, and the dangerous turns that some of them take (sometimes compounded by the size of the group) put themselves and other children playing on the school grounds at risk for physical injury.a Then it could become a liability issue to the boarder, their parents, and the school district.aa Some boarders (not all) with whom I have talked are not interested in considering these dangers/consequences.a It became so bad, that the school was forced to post signs excluding all skaters, skateboarders and bicycle riders.a Any entry onto the school grounds for those activities could be considered trespass. The school district is now looking into installing preventative devices.a Possibly, these devices might allow the grounds to be open again to the less dangerous aspects of some (not all) of these sports. Jeanne
There is an excellent skateboard park in Alameda, at the old naval air station. This park has the distinction of being built and organized by high school students, who rallied 900 volunteers, and had the facility built in less than a week, a remarkable achievement. It's considered one of the best parks in the state, and certainly in the area. It is located on the Northern side of the the old naval air station (now known as Alameda Point) by the estuary, next to the old gym. Phil