Choosing Skateboards for Kids

Father And Son Playing on Skateboard
Cavan Images/Taxi/Getty Images

By the time a youngster reaches 12 or 13 years of age, there's no question that he or she is going to want a skateboard that feels like what the pros use—both in size and grade. But what about really young skateboarders—the four- or five-year-olds who are just getting into the sport? What guidelines are there for parents choosing a model for the youngest skateboarders?

Kid Size or Adult Size?

On the basic level, there is no difference between skateboards for kids and skateboards for adults.

Some companies do make smaller, short skateboards about 21" or 22" in length, but this is more a matter of marketing than genuine consumer need. Smaller skateboards can be fun, but it's better for kids to grow into the sport using a full-size skateboard, 27" to 31" inches in length. Plus, full-size skateboards aren't that large. Most 4-year-olds should be fine with a standard-size board. Plus, kids' skateboards are usually about 6" wide, and kids may actually do better with the 7.5"-inch wide deck on a full-sized board. 

How About Grade?

Different manufacturers categorize their different skateboard grades using different terminology. Some version of Beginner, Advanced and Pro is a class system used by many of them. For others manufacturers, it's a Rookie series vs. a Pro series. The differences are really in the materials used in the wheels and bearings, with the Beginner boards using a slightly softer material in the wheels, which works better in street/sidewalk skating.

Pro boards, on the other hand, have very hard wheels and high-quality bearings. They are intended for durability and speed, and really shine in skatepark use. There may also be differences in the construction of the board itself (called the deck). Pro boards may use a multi-ply construction designed to resist breaking under the hard use of a skater who does tricks.

 

For kids just beginning, though, there is no reason to splurge on a very expensive board, because kids won't really benefit from the added features of a pro-grade board. A $25 or $30 22-inch long board will do quite nicely until a young skater is 10 or 12 years old. If he or she is still enthusiastic about the sport at that point, you can consider moving up to board costing $100 or more. 

Where to Buy Your Kid's Skateboard

If you'd like to save a little, there are several brands ideal for young skaters out there. But one strong recommendation is to NOT  buy a skateboard from some massive department store or mass merchandise Those generic skateboards aren't good quality and will give your kid a bad experience. Stick with known manufacturers of quality skateboards. Those companies that also make good pro-level boards are a good bet when it comes to buying a rookie-grade board. 

Buying a skateboard online is just fine, provided it's manufactured by a reputable company. 

And go ahead and let your child pick out a board with graphics they like. This might seem petty to a parent who is more concerned about quality of construction, but the graphics on the skateboard are strangely important to a skater and can greatly increase their enjoyment of the sport.

 

Don't Forget the Protective Gear

One final word—make sure you get a skateboard helmet. After that, you can get him or her elbow pads, too. Knee pads and wrist guards can also help. Beyond that, you should be fine. Termite and other brands make skateboard pad kits for kids. And review the information on skateboard safety. Your child—not to mention you as the parent—will enjoy the sport a lot more if you avoid serious injuries.