Over 11 million U.S. kids and teens skateboard for recreation, sport or for transportation. It’s nearly a five billion dollar a year market even with the “aging” 12-17 year old skateboarders who are falling out of the buyer’s range. That segment still averages around 70 percent of skateboarders. The 5-9 year old range is up-and-coming, however; as the number of kids under five has grown in the past few years. That should replenish the market around 2010.
Specialty stores garner the greatest buyers of skateboarding paraphernalia. Gone are the days where kids made their own skateboards out of old roller skate wheels and a big piece of wood, skateboarding without any gear. Safety items make up a large chunk of the market after skateboards, which are now state of the art and faster than ever. Skate parks have sprung up all over the United States where kids can skate safely and practice all the latest gymnastic moves on both flat surfaces and ramps.
It is estimated that around 1,000 kids end up in the emergency room each week due to skateboarding injuries, most resulting from falls. Personal protective safety gear alleviates injury by protecting the head with a properly fitting helmet and the elbows and knees with pads. The American Academy of Orthopedists and the American Academy of Pediatrics advises:
- Children under 10 need supervision while riding a skateboard and kids under five should not ride them at all.
- Younger children tend to be hurt the worst as they are fearless riders with higher centers of gravity, poor balance, and slower reaction time.
- Beginning skateboarders of all ages need to wear personal protective gear and ride in skateboard-sanctioned areas that have even surfaces away from crowds.
- Experienced skateboarders should wear personal protective equipment, refrain from hot-dogging, and never hitch rides with vehicles.
Even with the proper gear, skateboarders still fall and suffer broken bones, lacerations, and catastrophic brain injury. Skateboarding enthusiasts, both recreational and professional, should know how to fall to minimize injury similar to the way in-line or rollerblade skaters do. The National Safety Council says:
- Crouch if you feel you are going to fall off your skateboard so you won’t have far to go.
- Try to land on a fleshy part of your body, like your bottom.
- Relax your body.
- Roll with the fall.
- Remember to always wear your helmet and pads.
Once you know how to fall off your skateboard, then it is time to load up on the tips and tricks that make skateboarding the exciting ride it is:
- Know where your body lies in relation to your skateboard: where’s your feet on the board? Your shoulders? Is your weight shifted to the front or to the back?
- Timing and practice is everything when you are executing tricks.
- Keep your skateboard clean and dry. If it gets wet, you will need to take off the wheels and the trucks and dry them so that your bearings won’t rust.
- When attempting a trick, do not go into it with fear because it holds you back and stiffens you up, making falls more dangerous.