Skateboarding is a growing sport. Kids and teens skateboard for fun and competition.
As its popularity has increased, so has the number of young athletes treated for skateboarding injuries.
Safety and prevention education are vital to keeping your young skater on the board and out of the emergency room.
Skateboarding Injury Risk Factors
Data from the National Safety Council states that:
- First-time “boarders” (those skating less than a week) account for one-third of the skateboarding injuries treated each year in emergency departments (EDs).
- In 2015, EDs saw more than 125,000 skateboarding injuries.
- Skateboarding injuries tend to be more common in boys, with 60 percent involving kids under age 15.
Common Skateboarding Injuries
- Head injuries, including concussions, pose the greatest danger to young skateboarders. These can involve time in a hospital, permanent impairment, and — in extreme cases — even death.
- Hand, wrist, or shoulder injuries may occur when skateboarders lose their balance and fall on an outstretched arm.
- Ankle injuries, such as fractures are also common.
The experts at UPMC Sports Medicine's Young Athlete Program can work with your child's doctor to:
- Assess and treat his or her skateboarding injury.
- Help prevent more serious long-term effects.
Skateboarding injury causes
Young skateboarders are at greater risk than adults of suffering severe injuries because they:
- Have higher centers of gravity.
- Have poor balance.
- Have slower reaction times.
- Have less coordination.
- Often overestimate their skills.
- May not properly judge barriers, ramps, and traffic.
The most serious injuries happen when skateboarders:
- Lose control and fall.
- Run into a car, road hazard, a person walking or biking, or another skater.
- Try tricks beyond their skill levels.
- Skate on improper or irregular surfaces.
Skateboarding Safety Tips to Prevent Injury
Young skateboarders should always wear proper protective gear, in good shape, to reduce the risks of injury.
Proper skateboarding gear includes:
- Closed, slip-resistant shoes.
- A well-fitted helmet.
- Pads for knees, elbows, and hands.
Fitting a helmet
The best style and fit of a helmet is different for everyone, but essential to a skateboarder's safety.
You should try on several styles and sizes to find one that fits correctly and securely. Once you find a good helmet, wear it flat on your head with the bottom edge parallel to the ground.
All helmets should meet or exceed the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
A proper fitting helmet will help prevent head injuries, and should include these features:
- Sits low on the forehead.
- Has side straps that form a "V" around each ear.
- Has a buckle that fastens tightly, allowing room for only two fingers between the helmet strap and the chin.
- Has pads that you can add or remove from the inside, so the helmet fits snugly.
- Doesn't move in any direction when you shake your head.
- Doesn't hinder movement, vision, or hearing.
Replace the helmet at least every five years, or when it's damaged or outgrown.
Learning to fall
Young skateboarders can increase their safety knowledge and reduce injury if they practice falling.
Doing so can:
- Help their coordination.
- Improve their reaction times.
- Lessen their impact with the ground.
When starting to fall, skateboarders should:
- Crouch down on the board to reduce the distance to the ground.
- Try to roll, using their arms to absorb the force of the fall.
Learning to stop
Skateboarders should be well versed in stopping before they skate on a sidewalk, at a skate park, and especially around traffic.
Foot-braking is the first "trick" to learn when boarding.
Learn to foot-brake at a slower speed (one where you normally wouldn't need to brake). Then work up to stopping from faster speeds.
How to foot-brake:
- Turn the front foot forward in line with the board. Turn your chest and face forward as well.
- Transfer your weight to the front foot and keep it centered on that foot without leaning back or forward. At the same time, swing out the back leg, keeping it straight. Lower the back leg to the ground.
- Apply light pressure to the ground with the sole of the shoe. Continue to apply more pressure to slow down faster.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. You can't master foot-braking in just one try.
When learning to brake, boarders often have trouble with the back foot "skipping" off the ground. This happens when you put too much weight on the back foot.
Instead, make sure most weight is on the front leg, and lightly drag the back foot to slow down.