If you’ve been following for a while you already know that I’m far from “expert” or even “advanced” in the park. At 30 years old or so I decided to start upping my game from basic grabs and 50/50s. I would say my park skills are probably “intermediate”; I’m moderately comfortable with a few boardslides on low rails and a few more on boxes, small spins (180s) on & off boxes and low rails, occasionaly 270s on to ride-on boxes if I’m feeling saucy.
Progress has been slower than I’d like, but it has been fairly steady. Like I said, I’m no expert when it comes to park riding, but these are a few things that have helped me over the last few seasons.
Ride back-to-back days
Ever feel like it takes too long to “get comfortable” in the park? You know that old saying “Practice makes perfect,” right? You need more practice. Repetition helps your body remember what it needs to do and how to do it. And the shorter intervals between sessions, the more your body will remember. If you landed some new trick yesterday, get back out there and attack it again today. You will improve dramatically when you can ride a few days in a row; yesterday was your warmup lap!
Ride with someone else
It always helps to have a friend to push you, to tell you “Don’t be a pussy!” when you keep avoiding that new rail, to coach you on what you might be doing wrong, etc. A little friendly competition and peer pressure goes a long way and I would not be where I am without the guys I ride with, they’ve shown me some new things, pushed me to go harder, persuaded me to go for it when I maybe didn’t want to, and without going all Hallmark on you, we really do kind of share in each other’s progression.
Rest when you’re tired
A few weeks back I was working on front boards on a big ass culvert pipe. I was landing some, slipping off early on others. I really wanted to get that one dialed in. My legs were tired and I knew it was time to take a break but I went at it “just one more time”. Caught my heel edge and went flying, banged up my hand pretty hard and rattled my brain a bit, too. Moral of the story is to take 15 minutes and rest up every once in a while. When you’re fatigued is when you’re most likely to hurt yourself.
Similarly, some days you’re just “off”. Don’t push too hard on these days just take it easy and have fun without focusing on the progression part of it.
Ride somewhere new
Sometimes a change of scenery really helps you overcome hesitation. A box is a box, a rail is usually a rail, but sometimes just looking at a similar feature in a new environment makes it less imposing, because this rail is not the same rail you’ve been afraid to hit all season at your local hill.
Put the camera away
This is a mixed bag. You can certainly get that “Kodak Courage” effect, where the camera encourages you to do something you might not do otherwise. Footage also helps you diagnose mechanical problems. But I also think that riding with a camera is a hassle sometimes. It takes away from your riding time and that slows your progression. Wait until you’ve got some tricks dialed. Then, take a day off from “progression”, get out there have some fun and film a little bit. The footage will be that much better and your edits will be more fun, too.