Is Skateboarding a Sport?

by Ben Smith | Last Updated: May 6, 2022

Skateboarding is considered to be a professional extreme sport.

Although it is a very young sport compared to others such as gymnastics, it is very live and shows no signs of going away.

It has always had a competitive scene, but officially solidified it’s spot when it debuted in the summer Olympics.

What exactly defines a ‘sport’?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, sport is ‘an activity that involves physical exertion and skill in which a team or an individual competes against others for entertainment’. 

Skateboarding is definitely all that. And here is proof…

grinding rail

Skateboarding requires athleticism

People that are not familiar with skateboarding might think of it as a method of transportation preferred by a lot of teens. However, riding a skate is not as easy as it seems (that’s not to mention all the elaborate tricks that can be done using a skateboard).

The sport requires agility, balance, and coordination. Depending on how you choose to ride, the activity can become either cardiorespiratory fitness or can contribute to flexibility and muscle fitness. The muscles that’ll be working the hardest are the quads, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and abs.

Even if you are simply pushing a board on flat terrain, you are performing an impressive cardio workout during which you’ll be burning between 8 and 12 calories per minute.

The health benefits associated with skateboarding are:

  • Physical endurance – usually, skateboarders don’t ride for only a few minutes, you can spend the whole day riding and learning new tricks.
  • Full-body workout – you’re moving your legs and your arms and core are helping you balance.
  • Flexibility – your body should stay limber and the ankles should be flexible.
  • Improved coordination – the sport involves a lot of coordination between your legs, arms, and eyes. 
  • Calorie burning – you can expect to burn between 150 and 500 calories per hour.
  • Stress relief – when you skateboard, you give all your focus to that one single activity. This allows you to take your mind off the things that have been bothering you. Moreover, doing any kind of sport helps you feel like you’re more in control of your life.
  • Overall health – skateboarding, like any other physical activity, reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases and helps fight obesity. It is also great for people with diabetes and high blood pressure. 
  • Injury prevention – anyone who is into skateboarding should know how to fall correctly. As you practice more and more, you are going to learn exactly how to position your legs and arms when falling.

As you can see, skateboarding is surely an activity that involves physical exertion. 

Skateboarding is competitive

One of the things that we are used to associating with sports is competitions.

Even though when skateboarding was created it was advertised as ‘sidewalk surfing’ and didn’t imply any kind of competitiveness, the first-ever skateboard competition took place in 1963.

Nowadays, there are plenty of different skateboarding events that happen all around the world. Skate jams, vert and street events, and skateboarding competitions – this is where the skaters get to ‘officially’ show off their skills. Events such as Street League, X-games, and now the Olympics prove the competitive nature of the sport.

However, experts are still trying to figure out how to fairly and accurately judge such contests. Skateboarding will forever remain a subjectively judged sport where professional judges are trying to master the art of judging art

In 2016, skateboarding officially became an Olympic sport. During the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, both male and female teams got to compete.

Just to give you an idea of how this sport is judged, we have listed the criteria that are taken into consideration during the Olympics.

  • Difficulty (includes the trick performed and the selection of the obstacle)
  • Execution (the quality, the style, the use of the course, and the variety of obstacles are taken into consideration)
  • Consistency (runs without bails are a major factor, but not the most important one)

One of the main ideas in the judging philosophy is that experts aren’t there to try and define what is considered ‘good skateboarding’; their only job is to rank the performance of the skaters against each other during this specific competition.

With that being said, the fact that skateboarding made it to the Olympics proves to everyone who doubted the seriousness of this activity that skateboarding is actually a sport that requires much training. 

jumping stairs

Is Skateboarding a Sport or a Lifestyle?

Even though skateboarding includes everything that a sport should involve, according to the dictionaries, we have to mention that a lot of professional skaters are actually against calling skateboarding a ‘sport’

The majority of skateboarders are not willing to compete and win. Some pros confess that they feel like skateboarding should be celebrated rather than judged.

Unlike with a lot of other sports, there is no rulebook that tells you exactly what to do to become the best skater out there. You can skate how you want and where you want. And that’s one of the main differences between skateboarding and sport – the former leaves you plenty of space for imagination.

Finally, the community aspect is an enormous part of skateboarding. A lot of people view it as a way of hanging out with your friends and meeting new ones, rather than a professional sport.

Final Thoughts

If we now try to compare everything that has been said with the definition of ‘sport’ from the Oxford dictionary, we would be able to confidently say that skateboarding is a sport. 

  • It is a physical activity that trains your muscles, improves your flexibility and endurance, and even provides stress relief.
  • It requires a certain level of skill – you’ll get to master hundreds of tricks that have various levels of difficulty.
  • You can compete against other skaters – there are plenty of competitions to choose from (including the Olympics).
  • It is certainly something that one does for entertainment.

However, skateboarding is also so much more than just a sport

It can mean a different thing to each skateboarder. You can make it whatever you want for yourself.

A sport, a method of transportation, a culture, or a lifestyle – as we have already mentioned, skateboarding leaves a lot of room for imagination.

Ben is the owner of and has been skateboarding on and off for around 15 years now. It is on this site where he documents what he learns in hopes that others will be able to benefit from it. In his free time, he is skating, watching UFC, or just hanging out with the fam.