The Board Blazers Blog


How to Become a Pro Skater

If you want to become a professional skater, it’s very important to define and understand what it means to be one! 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 sponsor you, meaning they will get a return on their investment in you. This article will introduce you to the basic steps to becoming a pro skateboarder!

Tony Hawk sponsors

1. Skate, Skate Skate!!

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 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 intentionally practicing your skateboarding and make it part of your daily routine. Push your self to improve and practice the hard stuff! 

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, feeling 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 your essential safety gear and always wear a helmet. Always look out for vehicles and if you're 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. Check out your local skateboard shop to learn about competitions in your area!

(Credit: www.doitnow.co.za)

4. Construct your image and build a following

Once your competition results prove your ability, take some time to analyze your online presence. Are you repping brands you believe in? 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.

Mike Berdis Instagram

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.

Most 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.

Paul Rodriguez is pro skateboarder sponsored by Target & Nike! (Credit: http://kingpinmag.com/)

Conclusion

Just like life, to get where you want in the skateboarding world, you need to put in the work & effort to achieve your goals. There are no 100% foolproof methods or recipes for success. But following these steps can set you in the right direction to becoming a pro skateboarder. Luck can be a real component in determining the path of a skater’s career, so always expect the unexpected!

Every skilled skater in the spotlight is a magnet for companies wanting to promote their products or services. It is one of the most organic and convincing forms of advertising. Of course, nobody will sign a sponsorship contract worth millions of dollars from the very beginning and patience should be a virtue for any skater aspiring to become pro. Years of effort can make you tempted to lose hope, but it is crucial to stay positive and hold out for better days! Getting a sponsorship is far from easy and establishing relationships inside your local skating community is essential. Beside skill, technique, and discipline, you will also need show off your pleasant personality and people skills.

Photo credits

Image: Tony Hawk, one of the world’s most famous pro skateboarders. (www.lendio.com)

 

About The Author:

Yogin Patel HeadshotYogin Patel is a serial entrepreneur who currently attends Arizona State University. At the age of 16, Yogin became an independent marketing consultant, along with an avid blogger and online marketer. He builds clean websites, ranks businesses on the first page of Google, and manages social media for brands. In his free time, Yogin likes to read thought-provoking books and play basketball with friends. To learn more about Yogin, or to get in touch with him, add him on his LinkedIn. Yogin blogs at Doolid.com.


Let's hang out!

Hit us up in your favorite spot.

Drop into Discounts!

Snag secret savings, super sweepstakes, and sweet swag!

Got the write stuff?

Now welcoming guest posts from our skate fam! Send us your topic ideas.

Jobs in Skateboarding

Investment banking, Real Estate, Medicine, Law… all of these career paths have one thing in common: direction. Enter school, declare a specific major (Finance! Business! Pre-med!), and off you go. There are advisors to help, and a mostly predetermined path set before you. But what about when your interests take the road less traveled? There’s no entirely determined path to becoming a pro skater. There’s no “Skateboarding Industry” major. But there’s so much more to the skateboarding world than just skating on a pro tour or working at Zumiez. Nearly ten years ago the New York Times estimated the annual worth of the skateboard industry to be just over $5 Billion per year. And like every other major business sector there are many ways to break in. If you’ve ever wondered how to break into an actual skate-focused career, we’re going to tell you all about it.

Photo/Video
A career as a skateboard photographer/videographer is entirely possible! Like any arts-based career, a personal vision and style are essential, and if college is in the plans, then consider majoring in photography or videography and focusing your projects and homework on the skating industry as often as possible. And with the advent of photo and video sharing platforms like Instagram and YouTube, it's easier than ever to get noticed for your skills. If you love digital art, and you’re willing to put in the hard work to shepherd your personal brand and grow your following authentically, you’re bound to get noticed. Eventually seeking out a photo career for Thrasher or applying to be Tony Hawk’s creative director might seem like reaching for the stars, but everyone starts somewhere!

Consider Writing
We’re not talking dissertations here. The skateboarding industry is based on FUN, and the writing style reflects that. From brand blogs to magazines, to websites like Vice and BuzzFeed, there are piles of platforms looking for great writers. And while it may not seem as glamorous as becoming InstaFamous, but it’s stable, lucrative, and incredibly fun! Majoring in creative writing or communication is a great start, as is writing for a school news publication. Take time to hone your individual voice, grammar, and storytelling skills. This will make you even more desirable. Want to be a freelance contributor to Transworld magazine? Skateboard novelist? Extreme sports reporter? The options here are as open-ended as you dare to dream.

Pro-Skating
This is the option most skaters dream about, and hey – why not? This potential career is also arguably the most challenging, time-consuming, and brutal path into the skateboarding industry. The first and most crucial step to becoming a pro skater is to get SERIOUSLY good at skating. According to practice experts, it takes roughly ten thousand hours of deliberate practice (not just going out for a fun cruise) to become great at any skill. If pro-skater is the goal, be prepared for the time investment, and also be prepared to possibly relocate. If you don’t live in California, you’ll want to consider it. We’re not saying a rise to pro-skater stardom is impossible in Cleveland, but it doesn’t help your chances. If pro-skater is the goal, also consider a degree in business or sports industry management. These fields of study will help you manage your brand when you make it big. Read more about how to become a pro skater here!

Products and Gear
Skateboarding is a product-heavy industry. For proof, check out this post about our favorite products and gifts for skaters! From helmets to wheels, to shoes to ramps, there are millions of skating accessories, and each one of those has entire teams of people developing that particular product. The options here are truly endless. Product design is an incredible industry with tons of creative opportunities. If skate clothing is your jam, consider a degree in Fashion Merchandising. Are you always tinkering with your board? Why not get an industrial design degree and create your own skateboard line? Consider a degree in sales and help bring new skate products to market. A degree in computer programming would put you on the cutting edge of the latest skateboarding tech. The most lucrative portion of the skateboarding industry is all of the accessories, and this is a great way to get a slice of that pie.


Skateboard Entrepreneur
Doing your own thing might sound scary, and for a good reason – entrepreneurs work tirelessly to develop and bring to life their ideas, and if they fail, there’s no 401k to hold them up. BUT, nothing compares to building something from the ground up off the sweat of your brow. Every enormous skateboarding company or brand started with one person who had a dream and was willing to do the work. If you have a great idea and a killer vision, just GO FOR IT. We’re personally biased toward entrepreneurs because of our own story! Our founder, Greg Rudolph, spotted a skater on campus at Arizona State University with Christmas lights duct taped to the bottom of his skateboard and thought, “There’s got to be a better way.” Risking his personal savings, he created the original fully-customizable LED underglow board lights, and the bright idea quickly took off (read more about our story here!). Does that sound like you? Do you find yourself thinking, “How can this be better?” or “Why not try a new way?” You might just be a serial entrepreneur. Consider a business degree to help foster your passion. Or risk it all on your next great idea. You only answer to yourself, and that’s a vision we can get behind!

There are so many ways to build yourself a life-long career in the skateboarding industry. Find what you love, be it photography, writing, inventing, skating, or something entirely different, and foster it. Whatever the direction of your passion, do that thing and do it well. Hustle. Work hard. Hone your craft. Put in the effort and believe you will succeed. A career in skateboarding is just one great idea away.


Let's hang out!

Hit us up in your favorite spot.

Drop into Discounts!

Snag secret savings, super sweepstakes, and sweet swag!

Got the write stuff?

Now welcoming guest posts from our skate fam! Send us your topic ideas.