There are many skateboarding styles, like cruising, street, vert, and others. Skating in bowls — or pools — kind of stands apart. You can find all of the above styles combined in bowl skating.
Skateboarding in a bowl gives you sensations very similar to the ones we experience riding the wave. The skating technique is not too much different either. That’s why surf-skaters love bowl-skating.
How Bowl Skating Emerged
Over the recent 50 years, skateboarding underwent numerous changes, but it all began with waves. When the ocean was flat, California surfers still longed to surf, so they started using the wheeled boards to skate. In pursuit of getting the surf-like experience, skaters of the 1970s began skating in dried pools. They would crawl into other people’s back yards and skate until people kicked them out or called the police.
Eventually, skaters began making their own pools intended particularly for skateboarding.
What a Bowl Is
Bowl is a pool variation. While all the pools are bowls, not all the bowls are pools.
A bowl can be enormous. The complexity of the bowl is limited by the designers’ imagination and budget only. It may contain vertical and even steer ramp radius, pipes (like in natural waves), small basins conjoint with large ones, different size corner sections, and others. Large bowls offer a large variety of trajectories, making it an exciting experience.
Things that Bowl Skating Takes
It is not as challenging to skate in a bowl as it may first seem. Still, if you do not have minor skating skills, it’s too early for you to skate in bowls, as it may be dangerous for yourself and others.
So, before you head to bowl-skating, you should first learn to become a confident skateboarder on the flat surface and while braking and turning.
Getting the Right Skateboard
Make sure you have proper equipment: the right skateboard and protective devices.
For skating in bowls and pools, one can certainly use any board equipped with wheels. But if you want to get the most of it, there are several moments to mind:
Speed, adhesion, and stability are what you will need in the first place to have fun in the pool.
Speed and Adhesion
Ideally, your wheels should be about 56-60mm in diameter. Those should also be hard wheels: soft ones will stick to the walls, wasting speed. This is especially essential for the beginning before a skater has mastered decent speed gaining.
At the same time, harder wheels may also not be a great fit because they quickly lose gripping. This means your skate may suddenly slip down the wall while making a turn. So, ideally, you want some average hardness wheels of about 82-86a.
Stability and maneuverability require wider and softer trucks for performing small radius carving turns. The deck should also be wide for better stability and more control over the turns. Surfskates are a good fit for this.
But if you’ve never skated in a ramp radius, we recommend starting with either a cruiser board or with a traditional skateboard because, for beginners, a front truck of a surfskate may be over-responsive.
Safety above All
Protection should not be neglected. Most pools are made of concrete, which is an extremely hard substance. Falling just once may take away your desire to practice in pools and to skate in general. A helmet and knee pads are a minimum required set of protection. But protective gloves and elbow pads would be nice to have too. To learn how to fall, check out this post.
Rules are necessary to make all the pool users happy. Failure to follow the social grace rules may cause harm.
Follow these rules, and you’ll be fine:
- If the pool is small, only one person at a time can be there. If it’s too large, though, people may agree on the areas each of them will be skating.
- If you have fallen, you need to leave the pool right away, and for your next time — it’s other people’s turn now.
- Keep order. Don’t get right into the bowl, ignoring other skaters if you’ve just arrived. Do some observations first to figure out who goes when.
Hint: Being a beginner, it’s not a good idea to show up in a skatepark at busy hours. The ideal time for beginners is the early hours. This is when skate parks are empty.
How to Skate in a Bowl
Step 1. Getting Used to Ramp Radius
- Find the section of the bowl that looks like a simple ramp.
- Stand at the bottom of the ramp curve with your board directed towards the other end.
- Push your foot to skate onto the ramp radius and slide down without making a turn.
- Maintain your weight right above the board. Shifting your weight too far ahead or back will make you fall.
- Get used to the feeling. Try it slowly first. If necessary, push your foot again.
- Mind other skaters (if they are around) and let them have their part of skating too.
Step 2. Gaining Speed, Pumping it
The next step is to learn to gain speed on using ramp radius with pumping. Pumping is a method of gaining speed by bending and unbending your knees as needed. The variation of pressure over the skate causes speed gaining.
- Lessen the pressure exercised over the board by unbending your knees as you skate onto the ramp radius. The lesser the pressure, the higher the board will reach.
- Slightly bend your knees at the top dead point right before the board goes down. The lower you bend, the faster speed you’ll gain.
- If you perform all the moves on time, you’ll feel you gained more speed.
This principle — and sensation — is somewhat similar to pushing on the swings.
Use this method to learn to control your speed too. If you feel you’ve developed too high a speed, you may just stop bending your knees, which will result in slowing down.
Hint: watch out for the coping! A coping is a metal pipe — or its concrete alternative — at the top of the ramp radius intended for performing tricks. But at this stage, you need to keep away from it cause if you gain too much speed, you can bite the coping with your front truck and fall, hurting yourself badly.
Step 3. Pivoting
Because we aim at skating around the circle, you need to learn to change your moving direction.
There are frontside and backside turns used when skating in a ramp radius, just like in surfing.
Frontside turn is performed when a skater approaches facing the wall. For goofies, this will be turning right, for regulars — turning left.
The backside turn is performed when you move with your back turned to the wall, your face looking down. For goofies, this will be turning left; for regulars — turning right.
Many beginners consider backside turn much easier because you always see which way you are moving and turning.
First, try to skate into the wall slightly anglewise and at a low speed so that you don’t have to rotate your core. After you get used to your body movements, begin increasing the rotation angle and the speed you perform it. Ideally, you want to learn to pivot 180 degrees.
Now you need to learn to pump while making turns. As soon as you manage performing turns and bending your knees simultaneously, you’ll learn how to maintain the speed. This will let you skate around the circle, always being in your stance.
Hint: to move to the next stage successfully, you’ll need to be patient and persistent. If you start feeling discouraged, focus on having fun and the success you’ve achieved so far.
Step 4. Carving
The trick about carving is to learn to make turns merely by maneuvering your trucks without getting your front truck away from the bowl surface. This will require more speed, and to skate up the wall, you need to move kind of in parallel to it. As soon as you master carving turns, the real fun will begin.
Step 5. Find your Trajectory
There are various types of bowl constructions. The trajectory to follow depends on the bowl construction. Observe other advanced skaters riding in the bowls, the places they gain speed, the turns they make.
Observing them, you’ll get your idea to help you realize how you want to skate in a bowl and the trajectory you will follow. Make up your line of skating. Break it down into several stages and start mastering it. Such kind of skating will be much closer to surfing.
Skating in bowls and pools is extremely fun, which may help relieve the boring time while you have to wait for your journey to the ocean or during quite waveless days. And the coolest part is, all the bowls are different, letting you draw different trajectory lines, still having the same fun though. And there’s certainly no limit to perfection. Eventually, you’ll learn to frontside and backside steep corner sections. You’ll learn to gain increasingly more speed in a variety of places. Your turns will be getting more steeper, and the ramp radiuses will be getting higher. The key is to avoid skipping essential basics. Begin with small things, making small steps towards your goal, and you’ll be rewarded with the most advancements, lots of joy, and minimum possible injuries.
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