Urban Sports - Skateboarding, Freestyle BMX and Stunt scooters
Half term is fast approaching and it’s time to start thinking what to do with the kids to get them out of the house, so you don’t all go stir crazy.
Living so close to G and the grandkids means we get to spend quite a bit of time together during the school holidays, which I love, and when the weather is dry and fine you have so many options of things to do.
However, in the February half term the weather can still be a bit cold, wet and miserable so you’ll probably be looking for some indoor options, I know we are.
A couple of years ago our two eldest Grandsons, now aged 8 and 10 started going to the local outdoor skatepark with their Stunt Scooters and enjoyed it so much that they then started BMX Freestyling at the skatepark.
Grandson no 3 (Z) has now started taking his scooter to the skatepark as well and they all had new freestyle BMX bikes for Christmas.
Anything that encourages kids to get outside and get active gets a big thumbs up from me and there’s been a real surge in popularity of Urban Sports over the past few years.
There are now a huge number of indoor and outdoor skateparks across the UK and they all tend to cater for Skateboards, BMX, Scooters and Skates; although some have different sessions for each discipline as well as mixed sessions. Some even have toddler sessions where they can use balance bikes.
Skateboarding, as we know it, was probably born sometime in the late 1940s, or early 1950s, when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were flat.
BMX freestyling also started in California around 1974 and is descended from BMX racing and consists of five disciplines: street, park, vert, trails, and flatland. In June 2017 the International Olympic Committee announced that it will be added to the Olympic program for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Then a few years ago an alternative to the older trends of skateboarding or inline skating came about when the freestyle stunt scooter was born. Scooter riding quickly rose to become the new rage at skate parks and on the streets. Scooter riding is fun and easy to learn, our 6-year-old grandson loves riding his in the skatepark and trying out bunny hops.
Stunt Scooters are a good introduction as they’re relatively cheap compared to freestyle BMX bikes and you don’t need too much extra equipment. Just ensure that for all these Urban Sports your kids have a good safety helmet that has been approved to British Safety Standards. It is also highly recommended that they wear protective elbow and kneepads and sensible shoes.
The boys cool gear to wear apparently is Hype and Vans, F loves his Vans shoes and they all have Hype and Vans hoodies , t shirts and caps, which I must admit do look pretty cool. Although thye’re just as happy wearing their skinny joggers and sports hoodies.
A lot of the outdoor skateparks are run by local councils so they’re free to use, but you won’t want to use them in wet weather, so you might want to look at the option of using an indoor skatepark.
Indoor skateparks also have the added advantage that you can usually hire all the equipment, so kids can try it out the sports before you actually buy them their own equipment.
There are indoor skateparks across the UK, our eldest grandson has been to XC in Hemel Hempstead where he had a fantastic time and we’re planning on visiting a few more soon with all three grandsons.
We haven’t visited all these below, but I have heard good things about them:
1. XC – Hemel Hempstead
Street section with a huge variety of quarter pipes, flat banks, boxes and many pads. In the middle of the street section there is a set of Hubbas (for regular and goofy skaters alike) with a gnarly rail down the middle. Concrete bowl, 5ft in the shallow end, 8ft in the deep end with a 9ft extension.
2. House of Vans – London
Built in the disused tunnels underneath Waterloo station, and just a short stroll from the world Southbank, House of Vans occupies five of the tunnels. Tunnels Four and five occupy two world-class skate parks, with a deep bowl. The neighbouring Tunnel Five has a whole mini ramp area, and separate street skating section, all made from smooth concrete.
3. Projekts MCR – Manchester (under cover not indoor)
Situated in the city centre a few minutes’ walk Manchester’s main train station – Projekts is a skatepark that’s open to skateboarders and BMX riders of all ages, although the team there do ask that anybody aged under seven is accompanied by an adult.
4. Creations Skatepark – Birmingham
A street section was added in 2014, but Creations is really known for its ramps. Smooth wooden features on a concrete floor, it has a full-sized vert, a flowing bowl, a flow section, jump boxes and even a foam pit – ideal for anybody trying to master a new trick
5. Rampworx – Liverpool
At a whopping 70,000 square feet, it’s not only on of the biggest indoor skateparks in the UK, but one of the largest skateparks in Europe! Split into three distinct sections, the first is full of jumps and boxes, the second is full of rails and ledges that are ideal for grinding and sliding. The third section is full of step-ups, flat banks and fun boxes
You probably read the descriptions of the skateparks above and thought, they sound nice but what an earth is grinding, why do you need a bowl and what is a quarter pipe. It’s like a different language.
After getting requests of “Grandma quick, you need to come and record this Grind” I thought I should familiarise myself with a few of the common expressions!
So, if you want to look cool in front of the kids or be a Thoroughly Modern Grandma then here’s a few of the common ones (the list is endless, but the kids can teach you more).
a few Common Urban sports words
- Bar Turn – in mid air use both hands to turn the handle 90 degrees and back then land
- Barspin – a 360° rotation of the bars while in the air
- Bowl – a completely enclosed area of quarterpipes that curve in corners. The curve placement and opposing quarterpipe placement can manifest in any fashion.
- Bunnyhop – riding along and lifting both wheels off the ground, the starting point for almost all BMX tricks.
- Foam Pit – A pile of foam pads to land safely into while learning tricks, usually found after a launch ramp.
- Funbox – A combination of banks, flats, rails, kickers, etc. connected to each other to form mini gaps.
- Grind – a trick performed by placing a part or combination of parts of the bicycle, such as the pegs, chainwheel, or pedals, on an obstacle and sliding along it.
- Half-pipe – a ramp resembling a half cross-section of a complete cylinder, consisting of two quarter-pipes facing each other
- Hubba – a down ledge that starts at the top of stairs and ends at a lower level than the starting
- Pool – Usually an actual swimming pool that has been drained out for skateboarding.
- Quarter-pipe – a ramp resembling a quarter cross-section of a complete cylinder, consisting of a transition, lip, deck, and coping
- Ramp – an obstacle made of cement, wood, or dirt and used to perform BMX tricks
- Sick– impressive, amazing. “I love this park, it’s so sick.”
- Vert – BMX riding on a single half-pipe where the transitions are vertical
As I said the list is endless and If your kids are into Urban Sports I’m sure you’ll come across a whole lot more words that could be added to the list, so do share.
I hope you enjoyed the read it was a quick overview and if your kids are already into stunt scooters, freestyle BMXing or skateboarding I’d love to hear about their favourite skateparks. If not, I hope this might have inspired you to take them along to a session at one of the indoor parks in the half term to try it out ready for the summer months when they can spend more time outside.
Have a great half term and please share your thoughts.