How to Suck Less at … Skateboarding
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you’re only as sucky as you feel.
By Corey Duffel
The “How to Suck Less” series wasn’t a series until we realized that to suck a little less we should make it one and so we have. Chess, crafting masks and monstering are just a few of the activities we’ve covered so far. Here is pro skateboarder Corey Duffel on how to get better at what he does best.
My mom always wanted her kids to be happy, so she was down with what I wanted to do. She knew skateboarding was important to me, so she allowed me to start traveling the country on tours when I was 13. It’s been 23 years now and I still love it (and my mom is still happy knowing that I’m doing what I love).
I’m 36 and just had an osteoarticular transfer system surgery. That’s when they use cadaver cartilage and bone transplants on a lateral femur. I was already nursing a broken hip when I slipped on some trash at the skate park my first week rolling after five months off. I tore my articular cartilage. Because of the pandemic it took five months to get the operation. The atrophy in my legs is terrible from taking so much time off, so it will be a tough recovery. Nothing is ever the same after a major injury, and every injury changes the way we live and perform. Fingers crossed that I recover strong and can continue to skate.
If you can’t handle pain, you won’t be able to hang: Skateboarding hurts.
I still don’t know what to do with my life. I enjoy talking with people and trying to inspire others to go after goals and do what they love. I also love spinning 45s and introducing people to underground music. Whether it’s skateboarding or another activity, I try to do my best. Skating — street skating mostly — just happens to be what I love most.
Cops and good Samaritans — aka fun-haters or, as they’re now known, Karens — are still doing whatever they can to prevent people from enjoying themselves on skateboards. Which is why we have to be strategic when dealing with the streets.
How to Suck Less at Skateboarding: A Primer
- Know the right times to skate and who to avoid. And stop worrying about what anyone else thinks. The more you worry about others, the harder it will be for you to enjoy yourself. You have to want it and not be bothered by negative comments or harassment. Most skaters are insecure and struggle with jealousy and don’t know how to talk to others, so they clown you for trying to learn. Eventually they will open up and start cheering you on. If you give in to your own insecurities you will be messed with. If you just keep skating you’ll win everyone over and make lifelong friends.
- When skating, you have to be confident and know boundaries. If you’re not prepared you’ll get broke off and will regret it. Your body needs to be strong and trained for stairs and gaps. It’s just like jumping off a roof. If you’re not conditioned to a hard impact you will crumble or end up bummed out for getting hurt because you went bigger than you could handle.
- That being said, there are no rules in skateboarding. It’s totally subjective and free-spirited: You do it how you want to do it. Eventually you realize there are some arbitrary style rules, such as pushing with your back foot makes things a lot easier and it looks better than pushing with your front foot.
- When you fall, always roll with the fall. Don’t fight it. Go with the momentum. If you try to stop the force it’s going to hurt more. Also, if you can’t handle pain, you won’t be able to hang: Skateboarding hurts. It is also the best thing ever.
- Bend those knees, and don’t stick your butt out like you’re a weightlifter. Think surfing or snowboarding. Know your surroundings and pay attention. It’s a lot like driving a car — you’re looking a few stoplights and blocks ahead. Always be ready and know you might get smoked doing nothing.
- Don’t put the board in the closet or leave it in the rain and don’t give up: Skateboarding is hard as hell. I’ve been skating for 26 years and I still feel like a fish out of water some days. We all have good and bad days. Some days it doesn’t work. Some months are hard. It’s hard for everyone.
- Speaking of boards, I think a bigger one with softer wheels works better for someone getting back into it. It’s like being on a cruiser bike compared to a road bike: a bit more comfy and you might not go flying when you hit a pebble. As a skate shoe, I like Adidas Superstars. So many people want thin little Vans, but they hurt my feet. I like something with more support that still looks stylish.
And here’s an extra pointer:
- Spend more time skating. Why are you even listening to me? I never followed any rules and I’m breaking all of my own rules by preaching to you right now. Stop reading and go skate! My only true rule, which is more of a personal preference: Go faster. Skating always feels good with speed and it looks better too. Have fun, laugh, smile and go fast!
- Corey Duffel, OZY Author Contact Corey Duffel