You must be this big to ride a skateboard!

June 24, 2014 1 Comment

It seems that skateboarders are getting both younger and older at the same time! Tony Hawk ollies over his Mini-Cooper at age 46 and a kid like Tom Schaar goes and lands the sport’s very first 1080 at age 12! You may have even seen the viral youtube videos of Kahlei, the 2 year old Australian skate phenom cruising around in nothing but a diaper. 

So how old do you need to be to start skateboarding? Can you start too young? What is the right age to start skateboarding?

We set out to find the answer!

If you are really pressed for time - the safe bet says go for it between 5 and 10 years old, always wear a helmet and pads, and make sure there is adult supervision! It is absolutely never too late to start skateboarding. Many of today’s pros never started until they were teens. Plenty of parents are grabbing their first board to try to keep up with the kids.

By far, the most often cited experts on the matter seem to be the American Society of Pediatrics who appear to have first issued their perspective in 1989 that “Children younger than 5 years of age should not use skateboards. They are not developmentally prepared to protect themselves from injury.” This statement is expanded upon in a follow-on revision published in 2002 ( http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/3/542.full ) which included the more complete statement:

Young children may be at high risk of injury from skateboards and scooters because their judgment of their own skills and strength is often poor, as is their ability to judge foot or vehicular traffic. Their center of gravity is higher than that of older children and adults, their neuromuscular system is not well developed, and they are not sufficiently able to protect themselves from injury. For these developmental reasons, children younger than 5 years should not ride skateboards, and those between 6 and 10 years of age should be closely supervised while skateboarding.

This 2002 paper and its recommendations was re-affirmed by the Society in 2005, 2008 and most recently in late 2013.

The mathematician in me grumbles that they excluded 5 year olds entirely, so I tend to take the liberty of lumping the 5 year olds in with the "6-10" group as opposed to the “under 5”.

While I bristle a bit at all the relatively subjective generalizations being made here, presumably the analysis is fair, at the very least for center of the bell curve, there are surely outliers on both ends.

Based on our experience the recommendations seems fair. We do see kids under 5 at the skatepark, and some are very good. The really good ones seem to innately  compensate for their higher center of gravity (proportionally larger heads) by bending their knees almost squatting on the boards. At the same time, we haven’t seen anything that indicates a skater would significantly benefit or have a major advantage in the long run for having started out under 5. That being said, the level of progression occurring in those that are start skating between 5-10 is dramatic. Those kids are on a trajectory going into their tween years that will continue to drive the progression of skateboarding to brand new levels.  

Please share your perspective in the comment section below. I know our readers would love to hear what other parents are thinking.



1 Response

BriSouthJersey
BriSouthJersey

September 03, 2014

Hey guys! Love The Site! Here’s my thing… My son carter is 4. He rides my board right now, until I am able to order one from your site. He is only 4 years old and I read the above article by the American Society of Pediatrics but what am I going to tell him “NO” ? HECK NO Im ot going to tell my son he’s not aloud to skateboard! He wants to do it! I am thrilled!!!! I just help him.Teach him. Make him wear pads. (knees, and helmet right now. Elbows and wrists gaurds are next paycheck.lol) Its not like hes out there alone. Hes just now starting to get three pushes in and coasting, with me running next to him. HAHAHA Its a Blast. Would I not let him skate? NEVER! Thanks SkateXS

BrianReinert, 26 NewJersey

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