It’s very important to define and understand what it means to be a pro skateboarder from the very beginning. With so many associations trying to establish a hierarchy, crossing the line between amateur and professional is usually done when you are able to earn a living from skateboarding. This basically means you need to be good enough to attract enough attention for a company to get a return on their investment in you. This article will introduce you to the basic steps of becoming a pro skateboarder.
1. Get Good
This first step is no surprise, and there’s no shortcut: you have to become really, really good at skating before you can attract sponsors. The more you skate, the more comfortable you will feel, and the more tricks you will be able to execute. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of a skill, and that estimate likely holds true for skateboarding as well. Spending time practicing is the only way to improve your skills. Dedicate a couple of hours each day for practicing skateboarding and make it part of your daily routine. Use your skateboard to get around the city on your daily commute and you’ll be surprised how quickly the hours add up.
2. Take care of your health
Being professional means you need to achieve consistency in your performance. While injuries are common in skating, try to avoid long layoffs due to potential injuries or illnesses. Many skaters are reaching a dilemma: many feel that in order to be good you need to risk your health and add dangerous tricks. Every professional skater knows and understands that a serious injury can put his/her career in jeopardy. Taking small steps to keep the risk factors under control are smart alternatives not just for professional skaters, but also for everyone wanting to enjoy the sport. Don’t forget the essential safety gear, and always wear a helmet. Don’t skate around traffic, and if skating at night, make sure you’re visible by using a set of Board Blazers!
3. Connect with the community and skate in competitions
Get connected with the local skate community, who can encourage you and spread news of your success. Joining local groups and attending lots of competitions will help you make friends and perform in front of skateboard company representatives. Events of all shapes and sizes are open for amateur skateboarding. Getting experience competing in events is often the determining factor for later skateboarding opportunities. Remember, there is a big gap between skateboarding while practicing and skateboarding inside an event. Being watched and cheered by the crowd is both an exhilarating and nerve-wracking situation, and sponsors want to make sure their skaters can perform under pressure.
4. Construct your image and build a following
Once your competition results prove your ability, take some time to analyze your image. Are you wearing the right clothes? Are you able to take a fall and get on your feet with a smile on your face? Are you establishing any connection with the public watching your performance? Successful pro skateboarders are people bright personalities, capable of driving spectators insane with unbelievable skills.
Most importantly, first you need to build a fan base, and then sponsorships will follow. Brands want to sponsor skaters that already have a large following, and one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is through social media. Share clips of your best tricks on Instagram, or tweet at skate companies. Engage with younger skaters on a Facebook page, and try to build a following of engaged supporters.
Many companies will look through a skater’s social media accounts before offering a sponsorship, so be sure to curate a consistent and engaging image, and post your best moves. Be careful too: don’t post pictures of illegal or unsavory activities. Emerging pro skater Mike Berdis is one of the best examples of using social media to attract sponsors, so check out his Instagram for inspiration.
5. Work It
It goes both ways – after you’ve won several competitions and have a few thousand social media followers, brands will begin to approach you with sponsorship offers. However, you can also actively search for sponsorships by introducing yourself to brand reps at competitions and directly emailing skate companies. While money is perhaps the most sought-after type of sponsorship, remember that sponsorships of free product or exposure can also be valuable to building your career. Oftentimes, emailing a company to ask for free product in exchange for promotion on your social media channels is a great way to get your foot in the door.
Written by Yogin Patel