Skateboarding has always had a reputation for being a dangerous and rebellious sport, and to be fair, it's definitely not one of the safer activities to engage in. However, skateboarding as a whole is really not nearly as bad as many parents may think. Sure, it has its dangers, especially if the person who is doing the skateboarding is not very experienced. Then again, there are many other sports that carry these issues, such as football, rugby, lacrosse, wrestling, and even the more mundane activities like swimming, pole vaulting and gymnastics.
Every sport carries its fair share of risks, and skateboarding is no different. Although, as dangerous as skateboarding can be, it does in fact provide a wealth of benefits for the person engaging in the activity, especially over the course of a long period of time. Some of these benefits are those that not too many other sports can claim a stake to, while others are shared by nearly every sport. After exploring the 12 major benefits of skateboarding, you should plainly see that the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to this sport. So if you're a parent who is worried about whether or not skateboarding is a good idea for your child, you should find this information quite useful in making your decision. Being a skateboarder myself for 12+ years, I have learned from experience that these benefits do indeed exist.
As we all know, any kind of exercise is great for your metabolism, and rigorous exercises such as skateboarding are even more beneficial. Skateboarding is not always such a rigorous sport though. Beginners will not be nearly as active as the more experienced skateboarders obviously due to their lack of skills and comfort riding for long periods of time (not to mention how demotivating it is when you fall down a lot).
Skateboarding provides a unique type of exercise that the body is not normally used to. One reason for this is because a skateboarder's legs and feet are constantly performing different tasks in a wide range of varying positions for every individual trick executed, thus working out a large amount of muscles. This is contrary to running or cycling where the body is using the same muscles every time, for the most part.
Skateboards do not move by themselves, short of rolling down a hill anyway. What I am getting at is that skateboarders are responsible for providing their own forward motion. Those who ride skateboards purely for transportation purposes will see the most out of this health benefit, as their cardio will gradually become better and better.
Many of the most popular sports involve teams. Skateboarding, however, is an individual sport and this provides a different social environment for the skateboarder. Even though team sports do still incorporate some type of individual dependence, it doesn't compare to sports like skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX, and even some non-extreme sports such as bowling and golf.
Independence is a great characteristic for any person to possess. This particular benefit helps the skateboarder become more trusting in his or herself, as they and only they are the ones in control of how successful they become. They have to rely on their own skill and talent if they want to succeed, and this mentality can easily translate into several non-sports related situations in life, such as living alone, working certain types of jobs, and even taking tests in school.
I would have to assume that most people can plainly see that this is most definitely a large benefit associated with skateboarding. Coordination is basically the main talent or skill that is required to be successful in the sport. If you watch professionals it is beyond obvious that their coordination skills are off the charts. Even when watching an intermediate skateboarder at a local skate park can be pretty amazing if you've never skateboarded yourself. The only slightly negative thing to say about the coordination benefit is that it is limited only to the legs and feet, whereas most other sports also improve coordination skills in the arms and hands in addition to the feet and legs.
Pain tolerance is a great benefit that skateboarding provides that not too many other sports can. In some ways you could look at this aspect as a double-edged sword. Most parents would not be too enthused about their child getting hurt routinely. However, as long as the practical and necessary safety precautions are taken, such as protective gear or just simply not skateboarding beyond your personal skill level, a young skateboarder will quickly learn that pain is just part of the game and become accustomed to the feeling.
When someone first starts skateboarding, they are likely going to have a lot of fear of getting hurt, but this almost always goes away within time. The main parts of the body that take the biggest beatings are the shins, knees, wrists, palms and elbows. Ankles, heads, and groins are in another category because those kinds of injuries result in a lot more pain, which is nearly impossible to become tolerant to. It's the constant scratches, bruises and cuts that are going to essentially "help" the skateboarder build pain tolerance. As the skateboarder becomes more advanced, he or she eventually realizes that they simply have to ignore the pain, and continue skateboarding like it never happened...which also ties into the next benefit on the list - perseverance.
I'm fairly certain that nearly every sport out there provides this benefit, but in my opinion, skateboarding is pretty high on the list of sports that instills the most perseverance in the athlete. Skateboarding is a very frustrating sport, and unlike many other activities that incorporate a team mentality where you can often rely on other players to help you succeed, it is a sport that requires only the athlete to succeed alone.
There are a massive amount of tricks and stunts to learn with a skateboard, and each one is very different. Although some of them are similar, they all require the skateboarder to execute a wide range of motions, kicks, scoops, and shoves with their legs and feet. And this is just for flat ground tricks; you also have to add in grinds, stair gaps, and ramp/half pipe tricks. Compare this to a sport like basketball, which has only a handful of things to learn: dribbling, passing, defense, and shooting. If the skateboarder truly enjoys the sport, they will never give up on the trick they want to land until they land it, and then they will just move on to another one of the countless tricks and step it up a notch, and the cycle of perseverance starts all over again.
Learn more about this topic in my other article: How Does Skateboarding Improve Perseverance?
One of the big reasons that reflexes are such an important benefit is because having good reflexes can prevent you from getting hurt doing things other than skateboarding. The pain associated with skateboarding has a lot to do with why reflexes are improved. I mean, nobody likes to get hurt, so skateboarders often learn quickly to avoid it and in turn their reflexes become better and better over time. I can't count the amount of times I avoided something falling on my feet at my factory job or tripping over something in everyday life, thanks to my fast reflexes that I achieved from years of skateboarding.
Here is another benefit of skateboarding that not many other sports can claim. Most sports are relatively safe, but since we are talking about what's considered an "extreme sport", this particular benefit seems to make sense. One of the basic rules of skateboarding is that you are scared to do a trick, you will likely never land it. Therefore, a skateboarder must constantly train himself to overcome their fears and basically just say "screw it, I can do this". This benefit of being able to ignore fear and commit to a difficult task can easily translate into many other real life situations such as having a clear and focused mind during emergency situations.
Just as having the ability to overcome the initial fear of performing a difficult or potentially dangerous trick allows a skateboarder to succeed more easily, so does having a good amount of self-confidence. After all, if you don't believe you can achieve something, chances are you probably won't ever achieve it.
A seasoned skateboarder will have much more self-confidence in himself both in everyday life as well as while skateboarding than many people who have never skateboarded. Novice skaters will learn in time that if they believe in themselves, and have faith that they can land the trick they are about to attempt, it makes success significantly easier. And this benefit translates into all sorts of non-skateboarding situations and environments, which is good because self-confidence in anything is a desirable trait.
Learn more about this topic in my other article: How Does Skateboarding Improve Self-Confidence?
Being a stressed out person myself, I can personally attest to the significance of this benefit. When you're skateboarding, you basically have no choice but to block out everything on your mind and just focus on what you're doing. That includes stressful thoughts. Any skateboarder can agree that if you are riding around thinking about how your girlfriend just broke up with you or how you are behind on bills, you're not going to do very well that day, which then just adds to the stress even more.
Concentration is what keeps a skater's mind focused and away from stressful thoughts as previously mentioned. An advanced skateboarder can do simple tricks with little to no concentration at all, and this is a testament to how their concentration skills have obviously improved over years with practice. No skateboarder can do a new trick without thinking about it before and during the execution. They have to concentrate on their speed, their initial footing, their execution, and the landing all within a second or two if they want to succeed.
Balance is one of the three more important aspects of skateboarding right along with coordination and concentration. You need to have balance to be able to skateboard, but not everyone is born with good balance, so just like any other skill, practice eventually makes perfect. Balance is a great benefit to acquire, especially to the extent that skateboarding provides. As a beginner skateboarder continues to practice, his body will naturally gain better balance simply because the core muscles will become stronger from the positions and work-outs that they don't normally get from everyday activities.
There are so many things in skateboarding that improve balance. Riding a skateboard on flat ground in itself takes a great deal of balance. But then you also have to consider skating at a high speed, or on an incline, or over sidewalk cracks. On top of all that, the tricks also come into play. It takes even more balance to be able to perform tricks, land back on the board and continue riding. More advanced tricks like grinding on rails or ledges improve balance exponentially. Finally you have all types of different ramps that require a huge amount of balance to be able to use. Half pipes, quarter pipes and banks all incorporate a multi-dimensional balance skill: to be able to go up the ramp, perform a trick, land, and come back down the ramp. All of these different aspects undoubtedly do wonders for a skateboarders balance for anything else in life.
Learn more about this topic in my other article: How to Improve Balance for Skateboarding
This one kind of goes hand in hand with reflexes, but this benefit is more specific and it can be categorized by itself. In skateboarding, you usually fall more than you succeed, especially in the beginning. Because of this, skateboarders learn to fall in ways that are less painful and result in fewer injuries. This benefit continues to improve as a skateboarders coordination, concentration and reflexes improve as well. And like most of the other benefits on this list, it can also easily translate into being helpful for a slew of other things the average person encounters in life. You will probably never hear about a good skateboarder slipping on a patch of ice and knocking himself out. The worst they may get is a bruised elbow.
Even if you only take half of the benefits on this list into consideration, that is still a generous amount and it can hardly be argued that skateboarding is indeed one of the most advantageous independent sports to take part in.