Choosing Your Kids' First Skateboard: What to Look For

Choosing Your Kids' First Skateboard: What to Look For

Choosing that first skateboard for your aspiring shredder can seem daunting. With so many sizes, styles and brands out there, how do you ensure you pick the right fit? A poorly matched board hampers progress and risks injuries. 

This guide cuts through the noise with insights from experts and parents who've been there. Learn how to select ideal boards based on age, size and skill level. Discover the features that aid stability and control as kids build confidence. With these tips, you’ll dial in the perfect starter skateboard to safely progress their passion.

Benefits of Skateboarding for Kids

Skateboarding offers a range of physical and mental benefits for kids that make it an excellent activity for overall development. From improved strength and coordination to increased confidence and stress relief, skateboarding can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Physical Benefits

Skateboarding is a great way for kids to improve their general fitness and physical health. Mastering skateboarding requires coordination, balance, and control over one's body - skills that are developed through consistent practice on the board. Kids will build strength in their core and lower body as they learn to ride, kick-push, and perform tricks. Their leg muscles will become more defined and their endurance will increase from all the pushing and riding.

The dynamic movements involved in skateboarding help develop motor skills, reaction times, and body awareness. Riding a skateboard engages muscle groups in the ankles, knees, hips, core, and back - leading to improved overall muscle tone and fitness. Skateboarding is an effective cardiovascular workout, getting the heart pumping and boosting stamina. Learning to ride a skateboard also enhances balance and foot-eye coordination. Kids will gain confidence in controlling their body's movements and positioning in space.

With consistent skateboarding practice, kids can improve their flexibility as they stretch and reach to perform tricks. The activity develops greater mobility in the hips, knees, and ankles. Skateboarding works muscle groups that may be underused in other sports or activities. All these physical benefits make skateboarding an excellent cross-training activity.

Mental Benefits

Beyond the physical advantages, skateboarding also provides mental health benefits for kids. Learning new skateboarding tricks requires determination and focus. The sense of achievement upon landing a new trick boosts self-confidence. Skateboarding teaches kids to be resilient and keep trying when they fail or get injured. Gradually progressing their skateboarding skills can lead to immense feelings of pride and self-satisfaction.

Skateboarding with friends can help kids develop social skills and feel part of a community. They learn teamwork, communication, and compromise when skating together. Kids also relieve stress when they're fully engaged and focused on skateboarding. The creative expression and thrill involved make it an immersive activity that takes their mind off worries or anxieties. Regular skateboarding can improve mood, reduce stress hormones, and lead to better sleep.

The mental concentration needed to perform tricks, balance, and control the skateboard can enhance cognitive abilities. Skateboarding activates areas of the brain associated with coordination, motor skills, and problem-solving. Kids learn to analyse their surroundings, identify risks or obstacles, and decide how to respond appropriately - boosting spatial awareness and quick thinking. These cognitive skills developed through skateboarding can translate to improved academic performance.

Social Benefits

Skateboarding has a vibrant youth culture and community attached to it. Skate parks and spots provide a space for kids to meet other young skateboarders and make new friends. They learn to take turns, share equipment, cheer each other on, and provide constructive feedback. Kids often progress their skills faster when they have peers to learn and grow with.

Group skate sessions foster communication, teamwork, and relationship building. Kids bond over their shared interest and passion for skateboarding. More experienced skaters often mentor younger kids just starting out. Skateboarding crews and teams provide a positive social outlet and sense of belonging. Participating in skate competitions also allows kids to represent their crew or skate park.

Overall, skateboarding can play a valuable role in childhood development. The physical activity, mental focus, and social connections provide well-rounded benefits for health and wellbeing. Skateboarding teaches kids determination, creativity, and perseverance through a fun activity they are passionate about.

Understanding Skateboard Sizes and Styles

Selecting the right size and style of skateboard is crucial when choosing your child's first board. The correct dimensions and shape will ensure they can control the board properly, stay safe while learning, and develop their skills. Understanding the importance of size and the options for different skateboard styles will set you up to find the ideal fit.

Importance of Size

The size of a skateboard affects everything from stability to turning ability. The main dimensions to consider are the deck length, wheelbase, and width. A deck that is proportional to your child's height will give them the best command over the board. If the deck is too narrow or short they won't have enough room to balance and maneuver. But going too big can also make it unwieldy and tough to flip or control.

The right sized skateboard allows better weight distribution and leverage when steering and landing tricks. With their feet properly supported, kids will feel more confident to experiment. Choosing a size that matches their current skill level reduces the risk of speed wobbles or bails that can lead to injuries. The ideal size deck will be large enough to progress to more advanced techniques, without exceeding their ability too soon.

While adult boards range from 7.5 to 8.25 inches in width, kid’s boards are typically 6.5 to 7.5 inches. Considering shoe size and stance width will ensure optimum comfort and stability. Allowing growing room without being overly large reduces frustration and makes the learning process more enjoyable.

Different Skateboard Styles

Beyond size, the shape and style of the deck are other key factors. Standard popsicle decks with a straight profile are versatile for various tricks and riding styles. Wider cruiser decks offer more foot space for beginners to find their balance, while old school decks have more dramatic shapes and wheel flares. Mini-cruisers and penny boards are better suited for younger kids under age 5.

For children just starting out around ages 5 to 8, a standard popsicle deck is recommended. The concave in the deck helps lock feet in place while not being overly specialized for stairs and ramps. Wider cruiser decks provide extra stability for those working on balance and pushing, before trying advanced tricks. Old school decks have retro appeal but the defined nose and tail require more precision.

Once kids reach age 8 to 12, they can progress to standard or slimmer street skateboard decks. The narrow shape allows flip tricks and grinding with a little more control. By the teen years when skating skills are more advanced, they can choose more performance-oriented decks tailored for their favourite style - whether park, street, or vert skating. We've even wrote an article on the journey through the history of skateboarding to help newcomers.

Size Recommendations Based on Age

To simplify choosing the best size, here are some rough guidelines based on age groups:

  • Ages 3-5: Consider a mini-cruiser with a deck length of 22-27 inches. These offer a compact and nimble ride for little kids. Penny boards and plastic composite boards are also suitable starter options.
  • Ages 5-8: Pick a wider standard deck from 28-32 inches long. This gives enough room to find balance and learn basics. Cruiser shapes around 29-30 inches work well at this stage too.
  • Ages 8-12: Go for a standard popsicle deck about 30-33 inches long. The classic street deck shape lets them flip and control tricks. Slimmer decks help progress skills further.
  • Ages 12+: Choose deck sizes in the 31-33 inch range depending on riding style. Wider boards for stability or narrower decks for advanced flip tricks. Older kids can pick decks tailored for park/vert, street or cruising styles.

The width of decks should fall around 6.5 to 8 inches depending on foot size and preference. Shop staff can recommend the best size range for your child’s height. While guidelines provide a starting point, have your kid stand on a few different deck sizes to assess comfort and control. Prioritize stability while allowing room to progress to more advanced skills for years of enjoyment.

Making Sure the Skateboard is Age-Appropriate

Age and Skateboard Size Correlation

Choosing the right sized skateboard for your child's age is crucial for their safety and enjoyment. There is a direct relationship between age and the ideal deck length and width. Younger kids under 5 need smaller boards for stability, while older kids require larger sizes to progress their skills. Matching the board size to your child's current height and ability ensures they can easily control maneuvers and tricks.

As a general guide, mini-cruisers around 22-27 inches suit children ages 3-5. For kids ages 5-8, wider standard popsicle decks from 28-32 inches work well for learning basics. Once they reach ages 8-12, standard street decks of 30-33 inches let them flip and land tricks with precision. Understanding this age to size correlation allows you to select a board tailored for their developing skills.

While age ranges provide a starting point, also consider factors like shoe size, height, and stance width. Have your child test out a few different deck sizes to find one proportional to their frame. A board too large will be clunky and heavy, while too small causes instability. Finding the ideal size match for their age prevents frustration and injuries during those critical learning years.

Dangers of Inappropriate Sizes

Choosing the wrong sized kids skateboard for your child's age poses various risks and challenges. Boards that are too big or small can hamper their ability to properly control maneuvers. An oversized deck may lead to falls due to its weight and unwieldiness. Conversely, one that is too narrow or short provides inadequate foot support for balance and tricks.

Using an age-inappropriate board raises safety concerns as kids attempt tricks beyond their current skill level. A deck sized for older kids may encourage them to go too fast or try advanced flips prematurely. This increases the chances of speed wobbles, slips, and crashes leading to scraped knees or sprained wrists.

Selecting a board that doesn't match their age can quickly sap confidence. The constant lack of stability and difficulty balancing hinders their progression. An improper sized board may turn off kids from skateboarding due to the frustration. Always double check length and width recommendations for their age before purchase.

Transitioning to Regular Skateboards

As your child grows taller, you will need to transition them from a kid's skateboard up to a standard sized deck. This upgrade lets them broaden their skills as their height, foot size, and strength increases with age. Generally, around age 8-10 is an ideal time to move them onto a regular popsicle or street deck.

When transitioning, allow room for them to grow into the standard deck somewhat. Pick a length at the lower end of the sizing range, around 31-32 inches. This provides control for current abilities, with space to progress tricks. Move up incrementally in width to suit their stance and evolving tricks.

Explain the reasons for graduating to a bigger board as their skills advance. Encourage them to take it slow getting used to the new feel and leverage. Practicing kick pushes, turns, and riding on a regular deck builds back confidence. Add simple flip tricks once accustomed to the increased size. With the right transition process, kids will thrill in expanding their skating horizons.

Choosing a skateboard suited for your child's age is fundamental to safety and enjoyment. Follow size recommendations based on height and ability. Allow room to grow into an appropriately sized board. With the ideal age-appropriate deck, kids can have fun while building skills safely over the years.

Where to Seek Advice on Buying Kids' Skateboards

Consulting Local Skate Shops

There's no better option than tapping into the expertise of your local skate shop. The professionals working there have years of experience and can provide custom recommendations based on your child’s needs. Discuss factors like your kid's height, weight, age and ability to narrow down deck sizes and styles.

In-store guidance allows your child to test out different boards and get a feel for what works best. The hands-on experience and feedback from store staff ensures you walk away confident with the perfect starter board. Local shops also assemble complete setups with quality components ideal for beginners.

Rather than ordering a board online sight unseen, local shops ensure everything is adjusted and safety checked before pickup. Their expertise prevents injuries and frustrations that can happen with poor quality or incorrectly sized boards. Local skate stores want to encourage the next generation, so take advantage of their knowledge.

Online Forums and Communities

In addition to in-person advice, connect with fellow skate parents online. The collective wisdom of skateboarding forums and communities serves as a valuable digital resource. Read existing threads with recommendations and photos of setups for kids of different ages.

Search forums to find threads dedicated to topics like budget boards, upgrading from a mini-cruiser, and must-have safety gear. Online discussions reveal the most important features, like easy pushing and turning for absolute beginners. You can read about the pitfalls of cheap components that break easily. Community members share experience of how their kids progressed to ensure you buy a quality board built to last.

Larger forum communities enable you to ask questions and receive feedback from experienced members. Describe your child’s height, age, ability and interest level to get custom recommendations. Photos of your kid on a board help the experts suggest ideal sizes and shapes. Online guidance provides peace of mind before committing to a particular first skateboard.

Personal Recommendations and Reviews

What skateboard did your friend's 8 year old start on? Ask fellow parents in your circles for recommendations based on their experiences. Word of mouth from other skate families you trust goes a long way. They can recount what styles and sizes worked as their kids learned and progressed.

You may discover brands that are popular locally or shops favored by your community. Face-to-face anecdotes help identify quality boards that withstand novice spills and growth spurts. Ask if they have any pre-loved boards to pass along to get your kid started. Hands-on feedback on durability and ease of use makes personal advice invaluable.

Beyond friends, browse online reviews of kids' skateboard brands and setups. Focus on boards praised for stability, soft wheels for rough roads, and quality bearings that spin smoothly. Look for criticisms of boards that cracked easily or were too narrow for balance. Customer images reveal how pint-sized models fit young shredders. Draw on the experience of both veterans and beginners to gauge what works.

Take the time to consult experienced voices before purchasing your child's first skateboard. Local shops provide customized setups and adjustments to match skill levels. Fellow skate parents and online communities offer invaluable first-hand knowledge. Reviews reveal ideal features and flags potential issues. Getting the right fit ensures skateboarding success and safety for your aspiring shredder.

Safety Precautions for Kids

Essential Safety Gear

Outfitting kids with quality protective gear suitable for their age and size is a must. Helmets are the most vital piece of safety equipment for skateboarding. Helmets cushion the head on falls, preventing traumatic brain injuries. Look for a helmet that meets safety certifications, isn’t too bulky, and fits properly. Models with adjustable sizing pads grow with kids.

Knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards also play a crucial role. They shield protruding joints that hit the ground first. Breathable pads with thick cushioning absorb impact while allowing freedom of movement. Ensure pads aren’t too bulky under clothes but still provide ample coverage. Wrist guards brace against sprains and fractures during tumbles.

Slide gloves help kids safely fall forward onto their hands without skinning palms. For beginners, opt for full-finger protected gloves with plastic pucks. Make sure to get the right size with a snug fit. As kids advance, half-finger skate gloves give more board feel while shielding wrists.

Go over how to properly wear and adjust all safety gear to ensure right fit. Check condition frequently, replacing worn padding or cracked helmets. Set rules that gear must be worn anytime they ride. Making protection habitual from the start prevents injuries down the road.

Safe Skateboarding Practices

Beyond equipment, teaching kids safe practices while skateboarding is key. Start kids off slowly on flat ground to learn board control. Avoid hills or slopes exceeding their ability until skills progress. Remind them to stay aware of surroundings and potential hazards like cracks or debris. Scan terrain ahead and give pedestrians the right of way.

Until confident riding, new skaters should avoid skate parks with ramps, bowls and obstacles. Stick to designated beginner areas at skate parks once ready. Take lessons if available to properly learn park etiquette and rules. Only drop in once able to control speed and turn.

Set limits tailored to your child’s skill level and maturity. Clearly convey rules of where they can or can’t ride based on traffic, terrain and supervision. Ensure kids take breaks and stay hydrated to avoid fatigue. Watch for signs of inappropriate tricks or behaviour that could cause injuries.

Reinforce that skateboarding safely within their abilities lets them hone skills while having fun. Mastery takes time and patience. Making incremental progress through practice builds real confidence. Staying focused prevents rushing into tricks too advanced for their current skill level.

Role of Supervision in Safety

Vigilant adult supervision provides an indispensable layer of protection for young skaters. Actively watching kids on their boards allows you to intervene if they attempt maneuvers beyond their capabilities or without safety gear. Spotting can help guide them to land new tricks safely.

Younger kids under 10 should not be unsupervised when skateboarding. Be within arm’s reach providing oversight, especially when learning. Presence deters risky behaviours that could cause accidents. As kids demonstrate responsible practices, supervision can become more casual for older youth.

Skateboarding together is also a great chance for bonding. Kids feel pride showing off newfound skills while you encourage progression. Your presence alone reminds them to exercise caution. Share tips drawn from experience to fast track mastery. When falls happen, you’ll be right there for reassurance.

While peers can motivate kids in skating, exercise judgment when allowing groups of young skaters together unmonitored. Pack mentality may encourage foolhardy risks. Check in periodically as friendship dynamics change over the years. Setting smart limits gives kids freedom to safely pursue their passion.

Taking safety measures allows kids to reap skateboarding rewards like confidence, creativity and resilience. Protective gear tailored for small bodies, building skills gradually, and vigilant supervision keeps harm at bay. Prioritizing safety helps create life-long skateboarders.