Top 10 Tips for Your First Trip to the Skate Park

Going to a skatepark for the first time can be an extremely intimidating experience even for those that are already comfortable on a board.  However, armed with a few tips, a little courage and a lot of gumption, you can make that first experience enjoyable and open a whole new world of skating.
1.Know your ability:  You will run into (hopefully not literally) skaters of all skill levels.  Be sure you're aware of your ability and of those around you and, when just starting out, stick to the basics.
2. Bring the appropriate equipment.  Safety equipment is key; helmet is a must, but knee pads are a good idea too, especially for your first time out.  But, I also suggest bringing your own skate tool and wax.  There's no easier way to make friends at a skatepark if you're the person that has a tool and wax when needed.   
3. Don’t be intimidated: Every single person at the skatepark once attended a park for their first time.  Every one of them.  I promise that even the best skaters are used to beginners and more than likely are excited to see new skaters enjoying the sport.
4. Know the rules:  There's a lot of written rules of a skatepark that are usually posted such as don’t leave trash or graffiti, no standing/sitting on the edge of the bowl, respect the space, etc.  However, it's the "unwritten rules" that are the ones that you really need to be aware of.  These are such thing as knowing who has the 'right of way' when going to an obstacle (the person who went first), or how much wax to add to a rail or ledge.  You'll learn these the more you frequent skateparks, but just know they exist and when you inevitably break one of the rules, to try not to break it again.

5. Not all skateparks are created equal (i.e. start out at a park with less obstacles): Most skateparks will have big, medium and small obstacles, be sure to skate the area that your skill level is ready for.  Of course in order to progress, you'll have to challenge yourself, but be sure you're ready.  This stuff can be dangerous!!
6. Wait your turn (don’t snake, don’t drop in immediately after someone else, pay attention to what the other skaters are doing so you don’t crash): This is one of the most common mistakes to newcomers to skateparks.  Nothing can aggravate a seasoned skate vet more than someone that isn't aware of their surroundings and is "snaking" everyone else.  Again, this is something that happens all the time and if it does, be polite about it and apologize if you are the snaker.  On the other hand, if you get snaked, be cool man, you were young once too.
7. Know when your time is up (keep your runs short and sweet so others can take their turn).  There's only so much time and so many obstacles.    A good example of this is on the mini-ramp.  When it's your turn to drop in, do so, nail your tricks, and then give someone else a turn.  If you fall, it's next person up.  
8. Make new friends (but don’t ask too many questions and bother people that are there to skate).  I've found the skate park scene is full of encouragement and a great place to meet like minded people.  Heck we all probably got into skating because we had a lousy jump shot or couldn't hit a curveball, so we've already got that in common, but people usually go to the skatepark to skate and it takes an extreme amount of focus to land tricks.  Be friendly, be kind, be cool.  
9. Go in the morning (it’ll be less busy).  This is still my favorite time to skate.  If it's an outdoor park, it's usually cooler in the morning, definitely less crowded and I have more time to focus on tricks that I'm currently working on.  This is also a great time for beginners to get out there and get time on the park.  Enjoy the mornings.  
10. Get Up (if you fall, get up immediately. otherwise you may get hit by another rider or a flying board, or injure someone else. if you lose your board, yell “board").  Can't stress this one enough.  When you first get to a park, it feels like you're sitting in the middle of a 9 lane freeway.  Skater flying by this way.  Scooter scootin by that way.  BMXer cruising every which way.  If you fall (if you have the ability to do so), get up, look around and get out of the way.
Again....I know the intimidation factor can seem really high when you are planning your first trip to the skatepark, but everyone had their first day there and the only way to get better is to go once, then go again, then go again and again and again.  Soon you'll be the salty vet helping out the new kid on their first day.

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