Skateboarding has always been a popular afterschool hobby with kids and teens, but the Tokyo Olympics has firmly pushed the sport into the mainstream.
Skateboarding is appearing at the Games for the first time this year, with some of the world’s best athletes competing in two different disciplines: street and park.
The street events have both produced Japanese winners, with 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya, and Yuto Horigome, 22, taking home the gold medals.
All eyes are now on one of Team GB’s rising young stars Sky Brown, who at just 13-years-old, will be the youngest athlete to ever compete for Great Britain in the park event.
Incredibly, the youngster says she wasn’t professionally coached, but learned to execute flips and tricks by watching videos on YouTube.
As Brown proves, skateboarding is an impressive sport to master, and with physical activity being one of the most important parts of children’s health, it’s a great way to get kids moving. Here are a few reasons to hit up the local skate park this summer…
1. It keeps kids fit and improves their coordination
Better coordination, balance and flexibility are just a few of the health benefits of skateboarding, as well as improved cardiovascular fitness.
Balancing on the board while you’re moving engages the leg, core and arm muscles, and children must learn to make precise micro-movements, so they can skate smoothly and accurately.
As well as keeping them at a healthy BMI, it’s also a great cross-training discipline for kids, as the skills they learn on the board will benefit them in lots of other sports, like surfing, yoga and gymnastics.
2. It relieves stress
Skateboarding can be described as a kind of moving mindfulness.
While meditation is typically associated with sitting still, challenging activities like skateboarding can help children to focus on the present moment and calm their mind into a hyper-focused state.
The sport is particularly great for kids that suffer with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, as it can engage their mind away from any everyday worries.
Working out in general is also great way to relieve stress, because physical activity releases endorphins in the brain.
3. It encourages patience
Any parent who has tried to stay upright on four wheels will know that skateboarding is not an easy skill to master.
Even when you’ve learnt how to successfully push yourself from one side of the park to the other, there’s an infinite amount of tricks and combinations to master, like ollies, kickflips and shuvits.
All of these actions require important developmental motor skills that improve with practise.
4. It gets kids outdoors
Outdoor play is vital for children, as it gives them the chance to build self-confidence, enjoy the wellbeing benefits of being in nature and also get a dose of vitamin D from the sunlight.
Not only does skateboarding equip kids with skills they’ll need for life – like exploring, risk-taking, and fine and gross motor development – but it also helps them to cut down their screen-time.
5. It’s a good way to make new friends
The skatepark is a very social environment and it’s a good opportunity for children to meet new friends outside of school – especially if they’re struggling with social confidence.
While skating is largely a solitary sport, kids gather together at the local park to practise, watch and give tips and advice, and many youngsters make friends for life this way.
How to do it safely
A basic skating class is the safest bet if your kids have never tried skateboarding before. These classes teach important skills like how to stop and how to fall without hurting themselves.
For safety, it’s advisable to invest in protective gear like a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and closed-toe shoes to avoid injuries while learning.