The most valuable lesson that I've learned is that there is no price tag that you can put on feeling good. You've got one of these vehicles - your body - your whole life, and if the vehicle is busted, it's not a fun ride.
- Danny Way
five things to avoid at the start of your session.
You might think skating is just about what you do when you're actually on that little plank of wood trying tricks, but what you do before and as you're starting your session also has a big impact. If there are certain things that help your skating, there also has to be things that are going to make you skate worse.
In this one I'm going over five things you should avoid at the start of your session. Some of these things I see skaters doing all the time, so some things might come as a surprise to you...
1. a big meal.
So the first thing you should avoid before you skate is something your grandma's been telling you since day one - avoid eating a lot of food. Not only will your body not be able to access the energy from the food because it hasn’t been digested yet, but it will also waste energy that could be used for skating trying to digest the food. Eating before exercise affects some people more than others so you might be able to get away with a sandwich or something like that just before you skate, just pay attention to how you feel and if you’re feeling sluggy when you’re skating, that could be the reason.
Check out the skate nutrition section for more on skate nutrition and how to stay energised during your sesh.
2. static stretching.
Next up is static stretching which unless you've been following my page for a while, might be a little surprising. Static stretching is the classic warm up that a lot of people all over the world, in skating and all types of sport, still do. However, there’s a lot of science showing that it’s not the best option before exercise.
Static stretching temporarily elongates your muscles and the other structures involved, temporarily reducing their elasticity. Elasticity is an essential component of your body’s ability to generate force, so when it’s reduced it results in a loss of strength and power. There are some situations where static stretching is okay, for example if someone like a physio has told you to do it to help with some specific issue you might have. Or if your flexibility/range of motion is really bad and you need to stretch to help get into better positions when you skate.
On the other hand some newer research demonstrated that the negative effects of static stretching might be reduced if you follow it with some dynamic stretching. This research isn't conclusive though so unless you've got a good reason to static stretch, go dynamic to avoid any potential negative effects on performance.
So what's a better way to warm up? Check out the warm-up for skateboarding page for a full warm up that will get you much better prepared for your session.
3. the slug warm-up.
So the next thing you should avoid is the slug warm-up. This is a classic warm up I’ve seen many times over the years, it’s the type of warm-up where the skater is warming up in extreme slug mode. They’ll pull up to the spot and warm up by doing certain things and tricks with like a 30-60 second wait in between each thing, and then complain about having a shit session. Maybe they’ll do a quick 1 second quad stretch, go talk to some people, then they’ll do a 50 on the ledge, then wait another 30-60secs, then go for a super hard trick that maybe they’ve never landed before, and then complain about having a bad session.
Well, of course if you warm up like that you’re gonna have a bad session, and it will take forever to get into it. First; the breaks you’re leaving in between each trick attempt are so long you’re probably not even warming up your body, and an increase in body temperature and blood flow are the main factors that get your body prepared, and cause an increase in performance with warming up. And second; I don’t know about you but I’ve got to ease into the sesh; start off with my basic tricks and work my way into the session, some tricks on flat, go through my basic ledge tricks. If I do this I find I skate much better.
4. no warm-up at all.
This one is really similar to the last one and it's not warming up at all. A proper warm up prepares you mentally and physically for what you’re going to do and if you just jump straight into the session, going for hammers, you’re probably going to skate worse.
I know when you get to the spot/park all you want to do is start skating, but on top of helping you get prepared for the session, most research shows that skipping the warm-up increases the risk of injury, which is a pretty solid reason to make sure you spend some time warming up properly. This is especially true if you live somewhere cold.
The skate warm-up I made takes just 10 mins, and 5 mins of those can be spent skating to the spot.
This last one is trying to avoid being in a negative state and complaining about how you feel or how you’re skating. I find that stressing or complaining about how bad I feel or how I’m skating just gets me in my head more and I end up skating worse.
I did a video/article on visualisation for skateboarding, which is all about how your mind (what you're thinking and imagining) can help you learn tricks, get motivated, and overcome fear in skating, but this also works in the opposite way. If you're just focusing on how you're not skating how you want, then it's highly likely that you're going to skate worse. Law of attraction, science, or just straight life-experience, whatever your point of view, all of theses sides strongly support the concept that your mind influences reality.
This is also closely related to the previous two points as well; if you properly warm up and go through your basic tricks you’ll be landing a lot more tricks, which will increase your confidence, hopefully how you feel, there won’t be as much to complain about, and all of that should improve your skating for the rest of the sesh as well.