howtodowell1The 2013 Freestyle contest season is upon us, and once again it is time for freestylers to venture out and show what they’ve been learning over the winter months.

However, for many skaters, 2013 will be the year of their first ever freestyle contest. With the standards so high, it can be intimidating to enter into the competitive freestyle circuit, but there’s no need to worry! We’ve been watching over hundreds of contest runs over the years and have compiled together a list of Dos and Don’ts that might just help you out!

Do Plan your run

This one’s for the hyper competitive ones! If you want to leave a lasting mark on the judges, you need to show that you know what you’re doing out there. Some freestylers choose to choreograph their runs to music, intertwining a wonderful synchronicity between the rider, their board and their flow. This was more prevalent in the freestyle “glory days” as demonstrated in this run by Rodney Mullen.

In more recent freestyle contests, music is often utilised as a tool to compliment a rider’s run rather than dictate it. If the music gets you stoked or amps up the crowd, you can transfer that energy into your run. If you go in with a game plan of what you want to do, you can also plan for any mistakes that may be made in the run. Meant to go from casper to rail but landed on the bolts? No worries, you’ve got the time to try again, or just pop into rail.

Don’t Get hung up on one trick

All too often this is the killer mistake in a lot of runs that I too have fallen fowl of. Skaters feel passionate about their tricks and if they’re trying something difficult, with the crowd behind them and the adrenaline flowing, it’s all too easy to get caught up and lose track of time. If you find yourself on the third or fourth of a trick, it might be time to just write it off! Judges will mark you on consistency and in just a few brief moments you can drop your score from a 90 to a 70. If you’ve got a big move that’s 50/50, try to save it for the end of your run. It won’t affect your score if you go over time and if you land it your run will make a lasting impression on the judges

Do it all!

Another factor for the judges is variety of tricks in a run, which contributes to about 25% of your run. A good mix of rolling and stationary tricks can help you mix things up. Skaters such as Sean Burke and Mike Osterman are known for unparalleled technical ability when it comes to stationary tricks, but they always ensure their runs are balanced out with a range of solid rolling tricks – be they fliptricks, wheelies or otherwise. Check out this run from Sean Burke and you’ll see the great mix of tricks that contributed to his high scoring run.

Don’t box yourself off

Freestyle events usually provide a large area of flatland to use and it’s important to utilise the space. Even if your run is mostly based around stationary moves, there’s no reason you can’t move around the space or even centre yourself within it. If you find yourself skating in a corner, almost out of sight of the judges and most of the crowd, they’re unlikely to remember or even see your run! You should always try to move around as it shows confidence in your ability and can get your adrenaline pumping.

Do Express yourself

The best thing about freestyle skateboarding is that it’s a real opportunity to express how you feel about skateboarding and what it means to you. You enjoy bonelesses? Boneless away to your heart’s content! You love spins? Spin until you fall down! I, nor any judge, can tell you what skateboarding should be or tell you what you should or should not be doing in runs. Whilst a lot of judges frown of stationary trick-heavy runs as mentioned earlier, the ability to focus on these in a run with real confidence can be just as appealing to judges. Take this run from Stefan Albert; his run here is not “hammer heavy”, but this is a true representation of his style of skating and the tricks he loves to do.

Don’t panic

It can be intimidating standing up in front of a huge audience and the fellow freestylers you respect, so it’s not unnatural to feel panicked! My first ever contest run followed the current world champion Gunter Mokulys and my run was preceeded by the announcer, a friend of mine, stating “From the current world champion to the upcoming world champion”. The important thing to remember when you’re skating a contest is that you are ultimately in control. Try to relax yourself and, if it helps, try to envisage yourself skating in a familiar spot. It will always help if you have friends supporting you at the events and freestylers will generally support one and other!

Do have fun

I cannot express the importance of this enough! Everyone who competes in freestyle contests is not doing it for fame or fortune, simply for the love of skateboarding. If you watch riders as they undertake their runs, 90% of the time they will be smiling, laughing and joking around. Take Per Cangeru; his runs are always different, he has a great mixed bag and he is one of the most cheerful and energetic freestylers to watch.

To summarise, remember that you are in control of your run. Anyone can give you tips or suggestions but ultimately it comes down to you to decide what you want to do. Remember, a love for skateboarding will echo through your run and the judges will notice this. I hope some of the advice in this piece helps you when it comes to planning your runs. If anyone out there has any tips that help them, please head over to our facebook page or tweet us @fslatetricks and let us know.

All the best for the 2013 contest season everyone!

How to Do Well in Contests