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The Four Performance Qualities EVERY Skateboarder Needs

Skateboarding can be an extremely entertaining sport to watch- these wiry humans spinning through the air, grinding on rails, and flipping their boards in seemingly impossible ways. Even the SOUND of skating seems to be quite pleasing to the ears.  (check out our boy Tom Schaar winning the recent Vans Park Series Event at the 2017 Australian Open) What few fans of skating realize, however, is the BRUTAL TOLL it takes on their bodies.  From concussions, broken bones, soft tissue injuries, and skin lacerations, these stereotyped “skate rats” are much more GLADIATOR than they are given credit for.

Now we know with ALL SPORTS there is no such thing as eliminating injury, but through our experience working with some of the BEST skateboarders in the world, we have developed certain philosophies and techniques to attempt to REDUCE the risk of injury. The 4 major performance qualities we are ALWAYS going to target are Single-Leg Stability, Rotational Force Expression/Absorption, STRENGTH TRAINING, and Anaerobic Energy System Development.

Single-leg Stability

This focus could easily be called “don’t blow your knee out!!!” training modalities.  We aim to teach our athletes to “stack and stabilize” their ankle-knee-hip during various bounding and hopping drills. These types of drills not only build structural joint integrity (a NECESSITY for lowering the risk of musculoskeletal injuries), but also an AWARENESS for the athlete of what a STRONG position feels like, and how to self-correct while on their skateboard.  The key with these drills is properly progressing from simple to more challenging ONLY ONCE consistent competency has been displayed by the athletes.

Example Progressions:

  • Bounding (jumping from one foot to the other)
  • Stationary->Traveling Forward->Traveling Laterally->Traveling Backwards->Load with Medicine Ball-> Eyes Closed
  • Hopping (jumping from one foot to the SAME foot)
  • Stationary->Forward over Hurdle->Lateral over Hurdle->medial (towards the midline of the body) over Hurdle->Backwards over Hurdle
    Recommended Volume: 2-4 sets, 4-6 reps per leg

Rotational Force Expression/Absorption

The cliche “Spin to Win” has been uttered in professional skating for many years and for good reason. Some of the most iconic moments in the sport (Tony Hawk’s first 900, Tom Schaar’s Mega Ramp 1080) involved not the feat of superhuman rotation, but more importantly, the ability to control the spinning and LAND the maneuver!  Due to this performance need, we infuse rotational jump and plyometric progressions with a HEAVY EMPHASIS on proper landing mechanics into our skater\’s programs.  This helps the athletes develop the necessary power in the transverse (rotational) plane to perform BIGGER maneuvers, and just more importantly LAND THEM SUCCESSFULLY!!!!

Example Progression:

  • Squat Jump->90degree Rotational Squat Jump->180degree Rotational Squat Jump->360degree Rotational Squat->Loaded with Medicine Ball->Continuous Rotational Plyometrics
    Recommended Volume: 2-4 sets, 5-8 reps


We stand firmly on this (as it seems MANY coaches in the action sports training world disagree) but there is way too much literature and proven success from this simple point – ALL ATHLETES BENEFIT FROM STRENGTH TRAINING!!!! Properly strength training your athletes makes them more ROBUST & RESILIENT when collisions/spills do occur, as well as increasing their potential for higher levels of COORDINATION, POWER, and ENDURANCE. At NAKOA we believe in mastering, then loading all the primal patterns including squatting, hinging, lunging, push, pull, rotation, and core bracing.
Recommended Volume: 2-4 sets, 3-12 reps

*Loading athletes and volume prescriptions are COMPLETELY DEPENDENT on training age and movement competency.  Ex- The basic program we begin our groms in looks MUCH different than the Advanced methods Coach John Welch is using for Ryan Sheckler!!!!

Anaerobic Energy System Development

This style of training challenges the Energy Systems involved with an athlete performing at high levels of heart rate, muscular fatigue, and if in competition, STRESS!  This is important for 2 reasons:

  1. Mental errors (which equals falls on wood, metal, and concrete for our skaters) typically happen to athletes when they are TIRED!
  2. The skateboarders we have worked with usually display an established Aerobic Base, due to the LONG sessions they spend skating on a daily basis

That leaves it up to us as coaches to prepare their Energy Systems to be efficient in the “red line” Anaerobic Heart Rate Zones (85-100%), so they can perform effectively during those high-stress 30-60 second competition runs (Example Combi Bowl runs we have been preparing Jordyn Barratt for this Spring).  Different Metabolic Conditioning protocols can be used to achieve these goals (Versaclimbers, Assault Bikes, Battling Ropes, Prowlers, etc), the key is to keep the duration and intervals short (5-10 minutes total for the session, 15-60 seconds of work period).

*Note from author: At NAKOA we do not cookie cutter our athlete’s programs based on these four qualities, we just make sure these skills are targeted within their sessions and periodizations. We would still include specific drills and exercises needed for the individual e.g. Australian turbo grom Keegan Palmer doing extra ankle mobility in his warm-up due to a recent injury.

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