Vert skateboarding: What you should know
© Alfred Jürgen Westermeyer/Red Bull Content Pool
Vert skateboarding is a style that takes a huge amount of skill and practice to master.
What Is Vert Skateboarding?
In a nutshell, vert skateboarding refers to riding your skateboard on a nearly vertical ramp. So, vert is short for vertical where vert skating is concerned. While this sounds simple in theory, it's actually quite difficult to pull off. It takes a lot of skill and practice to take on the challenge of vert skating. This may not come as much of a surprise to you, but vert skateboarding originated in swimming pools. Early pioneers of the sport would practice skating up the sides of the pool.
Pool riding, as this was called, was excellent practice for the sport of vert skating, gaining popularity in the 1970s. Surfers were using pools to attempt to simulate riding the waves on dry land. They often found empty neighborhood pools and used them for practice, and then the rise of purpose-built skate parks further helped to increase the popularity of this type of skating.
Vert skaters start out in a horizontal position at the bottom of the vert ramp or pool and slowly gain speed as they push themselves from one side of the ramp to the other until they're performing tricks from a vertical position. Unfortunately, public vert ramps have become hard to find. This has made it difficult for those who love the sport to find places to practice their skills, which worries some that this type of skating will soon be solely underground.
However, you'll still find many people who love the challenge of vert skating. Although vert skating won't be in the 2020 Olympics, you can still see it in the X Games. Additionally, you can check out awesome skateboarding videos on Red Bull including one that explains what the future might hold for the skateboarding industry.
The future of skateboarding
Indoor Vert Skateboarding vs. Outdoor Vert Skateboarding
You may think that skating is skating regardless of where you choose to do it, but whether you skate indoors or outdoors makes a big difference in your skating experience. They both have their pros and cons, of course, but is one better than the other? It may all depend on preference. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Indoor Vert Skating Pros
- High-quality ramps, rails, and more.
- Safer to surf at night.
- Well-maintained and clean.
Indoor Vert Skating Cons
- Costs money.
- Can be crowded.
- Hard to find.
Outdoor Vert Skating Pros
- Usually free to skate.
- Don't have to wait in line for ramps.
- Easy to meet up with friends.
Outdoor Vert Skating Cons
- Ramps can have dirt and debris on them.
- Free skate parks aren't always well taken care of.
- Difficult to skate at night.
Some people love to feel the sun on their face and the wind in their hair, while others prefer the consistency that indoor skating venues provide. No matter where you like riding a skateboard, vert skating provides a thrill and challenge like nothing else you've ever experienced.
Street Skateboarding vs. Vert Skateboarding
How is vert skateboarding different from street skateboarding? Well, simply put, street skating is more accessible than vert skating. The reason is that, as mentioned earlier, vert skating requires a special vert ramp, and these can't be found just anywhere. A vert ramp is basically a half-pipe or a long quarter pipe that goes up for at least 12 feet, which means they're big and take up a lot of space. On the other hand, just about anyone can pick up a skateboard and hit the streets with it. That being said, both take practice and skill to master.
Street skating consists of skating in urban areas and using the local terrain to perform tricks. This means using things like:
- Park benches.
- Stairway handrails.
- Stairs and steps.
Other differences, aside from the way tricks are performed, include the type of skateboard used for each kind of skating. When you're vert skateboarding, you want a skateboard with larger wheels and a wider deck. For those who want to skate the streets, you'll want a narrower deck with smaller wheels. Typically, you'll see street skaters riding old-school boards with flat noses and kicktails or shortboards with asymmetrical popsicle shapes that make them perfect for doing tricks.
How To Get Started With Vert Skateboarding
With the decline in public vert ramp access, vert skating may seem like a dying sport. However, among some in the skateboarding community, this type of skating is the root of all skateboarding and will live on forever. If you're new to the sport and you want to find out how to get started, the first step is locating a vert ramp in an area where you'll be able to practice regularly.
Both Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist, two award-winning vert skaters, have private vert ramps where they allow both professional and up-and-coming skateboarders to practice. Once you've located a ramp and have the right skateboard, you'll be ready to get yourself some protective gear. This includes:
- A helmet.
- Knee pads.
- Elbow pads.
- Wrist guards.
Having the right protective equipment ensures you have fun and stay safe.
The next thing you have to do is learn how to fall because, let's face it, you know you're going to. Make sure you land on your knees and slide down the ramp. If you do it right, it might even be fun. Next, you'll want to practice pumping your way from one side of the ramp to the other. When you're comfortable with this skill, move on to tackle dropping in.
Dropping in is when you stand on one side of the ramp with your skateboard hanging over and slowly shift your weight until you're skating down the ramp and up the other side. You can also practice stopping yourself when you get to the top of the ramp. Build up your confidence with these skills, and before you know it, you'll be flying through the air like a professional skater.
Other Types of Skateboarding You Should Know About
If you're interested in the sport of skateboarding, then you should be aware that not all skateboarding is the same. When getting into this sport, you want to choose the type of skating that best suits your personal style and ability. Aside from vert skating and street skating, other forms of skating are:
- Freestyle skateboarding.
- Downhill skateboarding.
- Park skateboarding.
- Off-road skateboarding.
Anyone looking to get into the sport today will have challenges that skaters of the past weren't faced with, but the love of pulling off an incredible trick from high above a crowd will always have its place with extreme sports enthusiasts.