Learning To Skateboard In Orange County

Skateboarding In Newport

I’m back in the UK, vacation back at my original home of Orange County, California, now over. But I had a few things from my trip I still wanted to blog, with my skateboard lessons at the top of the list.

My two sons recently wanted skateboards. There’s a skateboard halfpipe in The Mumbles, Swansea — a seaside town in Wales where their grandmother lives (as well as where Catherine Zeta Jones is from, but she never visits, calls, writes…). I bought some cheap boards from the nearby Toys R Us, but I felt inadequate that their California-native father, from where skateboarding started (see here and here), really could barely ride a board. Don’t get me going about surfing….

So when we went back home to OC, I told them we’d go to the Vans Skatepark in Orange, where they could take a proper lesson. I really should have traded lessons for proper SEO of the appalling Vans site, but I went for the credit card.

I signed all three of us up. That was fun. First the woman taking my money thought it was just the boys I was enrolling. “No, all three of us,” I said. “Really?” she replied, with no hiding of her disbelief.

You’re supposed to book a week in advance — and it’s a pain, because you have to go there, pay the week before, then come back. But while we were there, someone cancelled — so we got right in. The instructor came along, asked if the boys were both doing it, and I said yes — plus me as well.


You can see how filled with confidence I was 🙂

Well, we did some stretching, then went off to learn. Going up and down a ramp was the main thing. I learned that when coming back down, you need to lean backwards and you descend, which is against all your instincts. But it’s what keeps you balanced. With lots of practice, I could eventually go up a ramp, then come back down on and pivot my board around to kick off and head to another ramp. Tony Hawk, lookout!


One of the best things was how friendly all the other skateboarders were. I’m use to people talking about how welcoming folks are in the SEO space. Where here I am this old man stumbling around, but all the kids around would still be giving me some honest words of approval and encouragement.

My oldest son decided skateboarding wasn’t for him, but my youngest was hooked. We went back again, and I promised that if we’d made it through some time on our own — and he still liked it — then I’d get him a proper board. Being a big teddy bear fan (he’s six), he’d spotted a board he loved.

On our own, we did more practice and got to know the halfpipe, practicing going up and coming down. Then it was board time:

Our Skateboards

Yeah, his is on the left — and when we did our second lesson, his instructor was more impressed with his than my awesome rainbow board on the right.

The picture at the top of the post was us taking the boards out along the Boardwalk in Newport, which is strictly verboten according to the many signs. So we didn’t do it much, mainly enough to scuff the boards up for our return to Vans.

I really wanted another lesson, so the following week we went in. This time, we learned a range of things. The instructor encouraged me to go down a ramp from the top, up a smaller one, down it and then up a higher one. Yeah, right — but I tried, didn’t fall and kept practicing. He also taught me how to keep your momentum going on the half pipe (throw your body forward as you go up; drop down as you come backwards). Yeah, I can sort of do that now — but I need a lot more practice.

My biggest achievement I learned on my own –grinding along a rail. They have a small rail there that comes up from the ground, then slope back down. So I kept aiming myself at it and eventually could go up, slide across balanced on my trucks and come down the other side. And consistently, too!

Overall, we had a great time, and I can’t wait to go out more. I’d really like to have more formal lessons, but talking to other skateboarders also seems to be the way to go. But if you’re in Orange County and want to get started, the Vans Skatepark is well worth checking out.