Trying to sift through decades of information to figure out some of the most interesting skateboarding facts can be tedious. To save you from that fate, we’ve compiled a list of some skateboarding facts that might help to whet your whistle when it comes to your interest in this sport.
Table of Contents
The History of Skateboarding
Out of the many skateboarding facts that exist, one of the most interesting is that skateboarding is derived from surfing—if you switch out the ocean for a skate park, a wave for a half pipe, and then shorten the surfboard before adding wheels . . . congratulations.
You’ve created skateboarding.
The Birth of Street Skateboarding
The first skateboarders were surfers who initially relocated their sport from the water to the ground back in the 1950s, and they were, aptly, called “asphalt surfers.”
These early skateboarders carved space for their new passion through their “sidewalk surfing,” and their passion inspired others to take up the mantle and join their ranks.
These early asphalt surfers appeared primarily in California and Hawaii back in the 1950s, but the initial boards they used at the time were . . . not much to write home about. Metal wheels and repurposed surfboards do not a skateboard make.
It was only in the early 60s, in the space opened up in a post-war world, that toy companies discovered the worth of this still-burgeoning sport and threw their weight behind it. It was this that truly started street skateboarding.
Improving the Skateboard
The first company to put their backing behind skateboarding was a company you might have heard of called “Roller Derby,” which was established back in 1936 and it is still around today; they remain one of the main suppliers of skateboards to this day.
Skateboarding began when they released their first skateboard. They took the original, slapdash designs from early skateboards and improved upon them to create toys that had better handling and balance.
Because of Roller Derby’s improvements—specifically to how skateboards handle thanks to new and improved roller skate wheels—early skateboarders were able to start figuring out how to do tricks.
(Why humans, when placed in a new, semi-dangerous arena, strive to find new and better ways to make the activity even more dangerous continues to boggle the mind, but skateboarding was not exempt from this odd phenomenon.)
A section about skateboarding’s history would be incomplete without mentioning one of the other reasons skateboarding really took off back in the 70s and 80s. Transworld Skateboarding was a sought out international skateboarding magazine that helped pioneer those early skateboarding roads.
Unfortunately, they printed their final issue back in 2019, but they ignited a passion for skateboarding in many young boarders and as such, they deserve an honorable mention.
Tricks in Skateboarding & Skate Parks
No list about skateboarding facts would be complete without mentioning skateboarding tricks!
The amount of tricks that exist and are recognized as “official” by the skateboarding powers that be are innumerable.
Since skateboarding began, new tricks have been created as people continue to push the limits of human skill.
Thus, with the sheer amount of tricks that exist in the sport of skateboarding, there are different levels of difficulty that one can expect. There are tricks that beginners can complete and tricks that should only be attempted once you have many years of experience under your belt. Skateboarding injuries can be absolutely horrific, so please be careful.
Again, for the people in the back—please do not pick up skateboarding and immediately try to do all the tricks unless you want to get up close and personal with major skateboarding injuries.
To be fair, as you attempt to perfect these sorts of tricks, you’re likely to get hurt anyway, but you can mitigate the injuries you’ll end up with if you instead try not to bite off more than you can chew.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some tricks that might be interesting to attempt, assuming you have the requisite amount of experience grounding your wheels. Many go to local skate parks to master these tricks, so maybe you’ll learn alongside others!
One of the easiest tricks to learn on the skateboard is that of the kick-flip. As the name might suggest, it requires “kicking” one end of the board up so that it’s raised nearly 180 degrees into the air. This trick acts as a good starting place, both for its ease and also to feed into other, more difficult tricks.
This skateboard trick might be one of the most familiar on the list, especially to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the sport (which should be most of you reading this article, but perhaps you might be surprising yourself).
To perform an ollie, you must lift yourself up while keeping the skateboard on the ground. Then, bend your knees before you fully lift off, which should help make sure that the tail of the skateboard comes off the ground as you reach your maximum height.
Assuming you’ve timed it correctly, you land the exact way you jumped (with bent knees) in order to absorb the shock.
This, as with most skateboard tricks, is one that is greatly benefitted by visual aids. Do proper research before you attempt this one.
A skateboard trick that should not be performed by beginners—partially for the increased risk, partially for the skill required, and partially because it’s not going to succeed if attempted by the faint of heart—is the wallride.
To perform the wallride, place both feet on either side of the skateboard deck in order to raise up the board’s nose right as you’re reaching the wall. Once the skate begins to roll onto the wall, keep your back facing the wall while directing the board in an arcing movement. When it’s time to return to the ground, raise the nose of the skateboard again to help you slide back down without injuring yourself.
If you want to learn this skateboard trick, it’s another one that greatly benefits from visual aids. Again, make sure to do your research before you attempt this trick.
As mentioned above, there are so many different types of skateboard tricks. To go through all of them would require hours of your time to even just learn their names.
Start from the easiest ones and begin to work your way up—before you know it, you’ll have a surprising number of them under your belt . . . and the additional bruises to prove the truth of your effort.
Please be careful and safe. Skateboarding injuries are no joke. Always wear protective gear!
Then again, no pain, no gain. If nothing else, skateboarding requires effort, persistence, practice, and patience. If you’ve got all of those qualities in your arsenal, you’re sure to find at least a bit of success in your venture to learn some skateboarding tricks.
You can also head to local skate parks and see if anyone will help you with some hands-on tutoring, perhaps!
Types of Skateboards
Now that you’ve learned about some of the tricks that are possible to do on a skateboard, it might help to know what sorts of boards exist when it comes to learning these tricks. Some tricks are easier to do with certain boards, which is why many professional skateboarders will have worked on, and mastered, different types of boards during their career.
Longboards vs. Shortboards
Although there are upwards of a dozen different types of skateboards, they can ultimately be broken up into one of two categories: longboards or shortboards. As a general rule, shortboards are the ones that are used most often for tricks and longboards are the ones to choose if you want to cruise along and have a more relaxed experience.
Then again, see the earlier point about how humans keep pushing the limits of this sport, so for all we know, we’ll see an increase of longboarding tricks within the next few years.
Do Your Research
All boards have different strengths and weaknesses. When you’re deciding on the type of skateboarder you want to be, make sure to do your research.
The type of skateboard you eventually decide to choose can be influenced by any number of factors, even some you might not expect to have a bearing at all.
These factors can include the types of activities you want to do on your board, the terrain you might be using the board on, if you want your board to be better with speed or with durability, your budget, your experience, and your age.
If you’re truly in it to win it when it comes to skateboarding, you might decide you want to prove your skill in the Big Skateboard Leagues. There are a plethora of competitions to choose from when it comes to skateboarding, and some are bigger than others.
The first official skateboarding competition took place in 1975, but it only exploded from there. As it stands, three of the most recognized competitions these days are the X Games, the World Cup of Skateboarding, and the Vans Triple Crown.
Most competitions have no upper age limit and, although most competitive skateboarders tend to be male-identifying, there are an increasing number of female-identifying skaters who are making waves in the competitive world of skateboarding.
Competitions can take place all over the world and include skaters of all different levels of experience. If you’re interested in taking your game to the next level, check your local area to see if there’s any upcoming competitions at the nearby skate park you can enter.
With a sport like this that only continues to grow and evolve, it stands to reason that there are some professional skateboarders out there who will go down in history as “the greats.”
No list about skateboarding would be complete without the “Birdman” himself. Tony Hawk was the first to complete the “900”—a two and a half revolution aerial spin on a ramp—he competed in 103 contests (of which he won 73 of them) and remained the vertical skating champion for 12 years in a row. One of the most decorated athletes in the history of skateboarding.
She is the first female professional skateboarder who shook up the sport back in 1964 by setting the world record for the fastest girl on a skateboard at 47 miles per hour!
And again, just to reiterate, she was the first female professional skateboarder! Massive kudos to her.
Alva was the king of skateboarding in the 70s and has still been seen skateboarding in recent years, making him one of the oldest athletes in the sport at age 64. A true pioneer who we owe the current iteration of skateboarding to.
A skateboarding legend who invented many of the skateboarding ollies and flip tricks that are still used in daily street skateboarding today.
A skateboarder since age nine, Sheckler is the master of tricks that require massive amounts of air. His most famous feat is clearing a 55 foot jump back in 2008; it’s like he’s flying when he’s on the board.
Although there are many other “greats” in the world of skateboarding, these are the main five professional skateboarders to have some knowledge of if you want to prove your mettle to others who are in the know . . . or, if you want to potentially win at weekly trivia.
What Skateboarding Has Influenced
Across the board, the influence of skateboarding and skateboarding culture continues to grow and affect many different spheres of life, such as music, fashion, and television, amongst other things.
The era during which skateboarding became popular happened to coincide with the emergence of the genre of US punk rock. Both skateboarding and punk rock were considered spheres that allowed for expression of the “other,” and because of that, they ended up influencing one another. The influence can be seen today in groups like Blink 182 and singers like Avril Lavigne.
Skater fashion is one of the most iconic and recognizable when seen on the street. Especially as the popularity and niche nature of the sport continues to widen, so too do those who honor the sport through their fashion choices.
Many youths will gravitate towards skater fashion, which can be recognized by themes such as: hooded jumpers, ripped jeans, and large graphic tees. If you’re not sure what this fashion looks like, take a quick jaunt to your local skate parks and look around for a second.
Skateboarding can be seen everywhere in the media—one doesn’t even have to look that hard to see it. In fact, within the last year, skateboarding has even become more mainstream in other parts of the world, such as Japan.
Just this last year, Japan released an anime called SK8 The Infinity, which features beautifully drawn and animated skating sequences. It acts as a stunning introduction for those who may be both new to skateboarding and to Japanese anime. For skateboarding to have made its way all the way to mainstream Eastern media is one of the many ways in which it continues to grow and impact the world in surprising ways.
At the End of the Day
The amount of skateboarding facts that exist outside of this article is incalculable. And, considering that the sport continues to evolve in depth and difficulty with every passing day—just as the first skateboard has evolved into its current configuration—trying to know every single skateboarding fact is a truly Sisyphean task.
However, whatever your reasons for looking into skateboarding, hopefully this article listing some facts about skateboarding has helped to increase your interest without overwhelming you, and perhaps it even has deepened your interest in the sport.