Right. Where to start? Firstly, you won’t be able to do the famous Tony Hawk 900° on a half-pipe the first time you step on a board. It takes a lot of practice, but as we all know, practice makes perfect, but you’ll only get there if you start with the right gear.
If you’re serious about trying skateboarding we recommend you get a proper board, that plank you saw on ebay with a Disney character on it will probably do more harm than good! We recommend visiting a specialist skate shop where the staff know what they’re talking about.
The most important piece of skateboarding question is - yep, you guessed it - the skateboard itself. A good skateboard consists of a number of individual parts, first there’s the deck, this is the piece of wood you stand on. The length of the deck can vary massively from mini-size to long-board. For those starting out we recommend the standard 32in (81cm) board that has two raised parts at each end of the deck (these are known as 'kick-tails'). On top of the deck ensure there is grip tape, this is the black sandpaper-like material that provides grip for your feet, so you don't fall off so easily.
Attached to the deck, by bolts, comes two metal trucks, these are the axles of your board that allow you to turn the skateboard when you're rolling. Trucks can come in a range of sizes and can be tightened or loosened to give reduced or increased ranges of movement. For beginners we recommend a tighter truck, just so you’re not wobbling all over the place to start with. Attached to the ends of each truck lie the bearings. Bearings are what allow the wheels on the board to turn easier, the higher the 'Abec' rating the smoother the ride.
Around the bearings come the actual wheels. Wheels can vary in size with smaller wheels being better for small areas and technical skating and larger wheels better for cruising and going fast. We recommend beginners start in the mid-ground of around 55 to 60mm (2.1-2.3 inches) wide wheels.
Shoes for skateboarding
Shoes are important for skateboarding, you won’t get very far starting off in flip-flops. We recommend a flat based shoe with plenty of cushioning and protection around the ankle. If you're planning on doing tricks expect your ankles to take a lot of punishment so buying suitable shoes will save you a lot of pain in the future!
Your safety is paramount. It may not be the coolest accessory in the world, but safety equipment will save you from a lot of grief and pain. When you start off skateboarding you will expect to fall off a few times so wear protective knee-pads, elbow pads, wrist-guards and a helmet.
The skateboarding environment
As well as your skateboarding equipment, where and when you skate will have a big influence on how safe you will be. Try to find a recognised skate-park in your local area, this will provide you with the right surface to skate on. Only skate when the weather permits, if it’s raining heavily or snowing don’t try skating, your wheels can can slip, the grip tape will stop working and you will fall off, and nobody wants that!