If you are beginner, then skating in public can be a bit nerve wracking. You legs wobble, your ollie attempts look ridiculous, and you struggle to stay on your board. You feel so exposed and judged for being a beginner.
Even if you are more experienced, skating in public can be anxiety inducing. No one wants to fall and hit the concrete just as a group of cute girls are walking by.
Skating in public can leave many people feeling insecure and exposed. However, most of this anxiety is only in your head. Other skaters don’t mind seeing a beginner practice and everyone was a beginner once. Bystanders are not as aware of you as you might think either. Generally, most people are simply too preoccupied with thinking about themselves.
So the good news is that most of this anxiety and fear is only in your head. The next goal is to slowly build up your confidence with skating in public. The reality that most people don’t notice or care about seeing a beginner skate is only so useful.
We need to get over the negative feelings that come with skating outside or skating alone.
How To Get Over a Fear of Skating in Public
First of all, getting nervous to skate in public is completely natural, especially if your a beginner.
So don’t get frustrated with yourself over it. Just understand that you are going to need to move on from skating your garage, driveway, backyard, or isolated spot soon.
Skateboarding thrives on the social aspect of the sport and making a group of friends to skate with with enrich your life in many ways. Skating with friends or just in public will also allow you to get tips and tricks from more experienced skaters.
You will have a group of skaters to share your success and failures with and you will get better faster.
So how do you get over your fear of skating in public?
Let’s go over some easy steps.
Understand the Situation
The reality is that most people, skaters and pedestrians, really don’t mind or even care about you skating. Very occasionally, you will get some looks from maybe kids passing in a minivan or a group of teenagers at the park.
This is not super common though and they likely aren’t judging you for being so bad. You’re just something to look at.
Honestly, most people will be thinking good thoughts about you if you get yourself out there. Most skaters encourage beginners and are happy for their successes. Everyone was a beginner once.
So your anxiety and nervousness is in your own head. That’s where the thoughts and bad feelings are coming from; your brain not reality.
What we need to change is your anxious thoughts and ideas about skating in public.
Expose Yourself Slowly
There is something in therapy that is used to treat phobias. It’s called exposure therapy.
The idea behind it is to slowly expose yourself to the thing you’re afraid of. Be that spiders, crowds, heights, or skating in public.
While skating in public seems so daunting now, it won’t be soon. We just need to take that first tiny step.
I recommend skating out in your driveway if you have a driveway. If you don’t have a driveway, then skate in the street a couple blocks from your house. That way your neighbors won’t see you at first, but you’re still in public.
Do this just for 30 minutes at a time. Build up your tolerance for skating out there.
After a couple weeks, you likely are a little more comfortable with skating as a few people drive or walk by. You haven’t died yet.
The next step will be to increase your time spent skating out in public. Build up to being comfortable skating on the street for a couple hours.
At this point, it is also fun to mix up locations a little bit. Go skate a normal park (not a skatepark). Go skate a parking garage. Try to find new isolated spots to skate. Have some fun with it.
This whole process might take somewhere between 1-3 months. Be patient and allow yourself to get comfortable. Pushing yourself too fast will just result in you regressing.
Once you have gained a bit of confidence then, the next step is to skate in public with other skaters around.
Go to the Skatepark
This is probably the biggest hurdle in becoming comfortable skating in public.
Going to the skatepark can be anxiety-inducing because now other skaters will be there to watch you learn to navigate the skate park for the first time. Some of them might be great skaters. Some might be edgy teenagers. Some will likely be scooter kids.
However, some will likely also be beginners who are as nervous as you are.
If you want to know about when the best time to go to the skatepark is you can check out our guide here.
Skaters are More Friendly Than You Think
Going to the skatepark was the hardest step for me to take. I began by going to the skatepark early in the morning when no one else was there. This allowed me to learn the basics of the park with no one watching.
Occasionally, though, I wasn’t the only early morning skater. Sometimes I shared the park with a friendly older guy who carved bowls like no one’s business. He gave me tips that helped me drop in for the first time and he also helped me tighten my trucks.
Once, I shared the park with a group of teenagers who also had some beginners in the group. I ended up pushing myself to drop in from a higher bank than I had previously because I saw those beginners push past their fear and do it.
I remember me falling and one asked how long I had been skating. I told him I just got back into it a month ago (I was 25 years old and in grad school at the time). He told with a smile, “That’s awesome. As long as we’re getting better right?”.
It was kind of wild hearing that from a teenager. But it helped me realize that the skate community at the park wasn’t going to judge me so hard. I wasn’t a complete beginner, but it gave me the confidence to go to the park at busier times.
So just trust people, and give it a go. You will eventually meet an asshole, I’m sure. But they will be few and far in-between.
Go to the park in the morning at first to get comfortable and build up from there.
Give It Time
So at this point, you’ve skated your neighborhood and isolated spots for up to two hours at a time. You’ve been going to the skatepark once a week maybe just in the morning.
The next step is to just give it time. The idea behind exposure therapy is just that. With repeated exposure and enough time, the fear and anxious feelings will start to fade.
You will become confident skating in public and with others. Also, as you practice more and your skills improve, you will naturally feel more confident in your skating.
So be patient and good things will happen.
How to Get over a Fear of Skating Alone
Skating alone can be nerve-wracking for some.
Honestly, one aspect of skating that I love is that I feel free to skateboard alone or wherever and whenever I feel like it. Out of anything you can do, skating alone is probably one of the most freeing.
However, I understand that some feel differently. I liken the fear of skateboarding alone to the fear of doing anything alone. You’re afraid of being judged.
Are you comfortable going to dinner at a restaurant by yourself? Are you comfortable going to a movie by yourself or even traveling by yourself?
If you are nervous skating alone, then you probably have some fear of doing other things alone too.
Skating anxiety comes from a fear of being judged. Most people are not as aware of others as you might think and are not judging anyone. You can get over being afraid to skate alone by slowly starting to skate alone in small amounts. This will build up your confidence.
What is Skating Anxiety?
If you try anything new, you will experience a bit of nervousness. For some people, it’s just a case of nerves, but for others, it can be debilitating.
Skating anxiety is a fear of skateboarding in public or fear of committing to tricks such as dropping in. Most new skaters experience this at some point. As you progress, you will naturally gain confidence and skating anxiety will fade away.
How to Deal with Skating Anxiety
There are a few ways to deal with skating anxiety and generally, it comes down to building up your confidence.
As I mentioned above with exposure therapy, this is another case where you will gain confidence through repeated exposure.
Start off with what you can do without too much anxiety. Just commit to skating once a week for an hour. This can be done in a garage or your driveway even. The idea is to simply start even if you need to start small.
Over time, challenge yourself in little ways. Don’t challenge yourself to drop into a halfpipe immediately. Start with challenging yourself to go to the skatepark in the morning. That alone should be enough to get your heart beating a bit faster.
If you push yourself in skateboarding too much, you’ll likely regress or injure yourself. The only times I’ve hurt myself skateboarding was when I tried to do something I wasn’t ready for yet.
One example was when I first started skating. I could barely ollie while moving and couldn’t reliably ollie over a stick. Yet, I wanted to progress so bad that I decided to ollie off a four stair. I did it a few times and mostly just bailed. I even landed one sketchily.
If you want to know about how often you should be skating to progress check out our poll of skaters answering this question.
But, on maybe my 10th go, I tried to step off my board and ended up rolling my ankle badly. That ankle sprain took months to fully recover.
All because I tried a trick I wasn’t ready for. Don’t be like me and please be patient. Take your time with your progression.
Here is a snippet of a Tony Hawk interview about overcoming fear. It’s generally applicable to all parts of life and it’s great. Give it a watch.
Feeling nervous skating in public or skating alone is completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up for it and accept that’s how you feel.
Realize that the judgement that you fear is really only in your head. Most people are genuinely very nice and also not so concerned about what a stranger is doing. I love seeing beginners at the skatepark or anywhere. I have also received tons encouraging comments from total strangers while skating.
The community in general is amazing and supportive and you shouldn’t cut yourself off from that by being too shy to skate with others or in public. One of the best things about skateboarding is the friends you make and struggle to learn tricks with.
Just take it slow and do the smallest step until that’s comfortable. Then try to take the next smallest step and do that until you’re comfortable. You got this. You can and will find freedom through skateboarding if you stick with it.
Anyway so that’s that. Thanks for reading and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.