Your First Comp, Part 1 - Preparing for a Freestyle Scooter Competition

Preparing for a Freestyle Scooter Event

Paxton practicing his tabletop hip tansfers in prepration for the Subway Games.

This is the first part in a two-part article about your first competition. Part 2 can be found here: What to Expect at a Freestyle Scooter Competition

This coming weekend, we'll be going to Sammamish, WA to compete at the Subway Games. Over the last 15th months, we've taken my scooter kid to 8 competitions in Oregon, Washington, California, and Arizona. It took a few events to feel comfortable, but now we know what to expect. However, the first few experiences were pretty nerve-wracking for both Paxton and my wife and I.

A little preparation can really impact what kind of experience you and your scooter kid will have at a competition. Every competition will be different, and being flexible is key, but by having an idea of what to expect, you can help prepare your scooter kid to do his best and have as much fun as possible.

The Month Before

By the day of the competition, it's too late to learn the park and develop lines and a run and most competitions are on Saturday or Sunday and, unless you're lucky, it probably won't be your home park, so if at all possible, try to visit the park at least once in the weeks before the event. A low-stress, casual day of riding is a great way to learn the park and get comfortable with the obstacles. Every park is different and it will take some time to get comfortable with the obstacles in order for your kid to be able to put together a competitive run. Even two obstacles that appear the same at two different parks may have very different transitions, coping, ramp angles, ledge heights, etc., so it is important that your kid have some time to learn the park.

If you are unable to make it to the park prior to the weekend of the comp, you can use YouTube and other online resources to check out videos and pictures of the park. This can help your kid begin to visualize the obstacles and what he can do throughout the park. Even if you are able to make it to the park before the event, this can be a great way to prepare and refresh his memory.

For the most part, scooter parts are hard to find at shops. You can usually find bearings, griptape, and grips at bike or skate shops, but pretty much everything else will need to be ordered unless you happen to live near one of the few shops that carry scooter parts. Give yourself 2 weeks minimum for ordering and delivery of any parts you need to replace or upgrade prior to the event. You don't want to wait until the last minute and then realize that you can't get a part you need in time.

If your kid wants to try a new part, be sure to change that part out at least 2 weeks prior to the event and give him plenty of time to adapt to the change. Bars, decks, and forks typically require the most time to get comfortable with whereas grips, bearings, and griptape could, in theory, be changed the day of the event, but I recommend against that if possible. The main thing to remember is that you don't want to send your kid out on a scooter that he isn't comfortable with yet, so don't swap out parts at the 11th hour.

If you are flying, be sure to have your plane tickets purchased as well as hotel and rental car reservations made as early as possible to save money and for the most flexibility.

The Week Before

In the week before the event, be sure to do some regular maintenance on your scooter to ensure that it is competition-ready. You should perform the following tasks:

  • Clean bearings, axles, and wheels
  • Resurface wheels to remove flatspots if necessary or replace wheels
  • Apply Speed Cream (or similar) to bearings
  • Apply Loctite or similar thread-locking agent to axles and brake bolts - DO NOT APPLY THREAD LOCK TO CLAMP/SCS BOLTS
  • Clean and repack headset bearings with waterproof bearing and bushing grease; motorcycle grease works great
  • Change grips, if necessary, and check bar ends
  • Ensure that griptape is secure and not torn; if necessary, replace or secure loose areas with double-sided tape
  • Adjust tension of headset to desired resistance for optimal tailwhips and barspins

Make sure that your kid has the right clothes for practicing and competing. If he is sponsored, ensure that your sponsor's shirt is in good shape and clean. If you need a replacement, notify your sponsor as early as possible to arrange for a new one at the event. Also make sure that your kid has decent shoes for riding without holes in the soles or broken laces. If your kid wears pads, wash them so they aren't stinky. ALWAYS BRING AND WEAR A HELMET. Many comps and parks require helmets. There's no excuse for not wearing a helmet and you should always have one with you, but some comps and parks won't even let you ride without one.

Be sure to pack the necessary tools for any part swaps you may need to do at the event. If you are flying, try to take least amount of tools possible. I highly recommend bringing an extra set of wheels that are already packed with bearings and spacers in case you have a wheel dehub during the event. Sometimes vendors are on-site at the event and may be selling the parts you need, but you shouldn't count on that. Don't count on others or the park having the tools you'll need either. Bring what you need for you and your kid. If your kid knows the park, now is a good time to start sketching out the ideas for a run.

Talk with him about the kinds of tricks he's been learning and where he can apply these new tricks throughout the course. You don't need to put anything in stone right now, but just get his mind working to visualize the course and how he will use it. If you're traveling by car, make any auto preparations (oil change, clean out junk, etc.), plan our route, and make hotel reservations.

The Day Before

Even if you had the opportunity to visit the park in the previous weeks, be sure to give your kid plenty of time to ride the park the day before the event so he can re-familiarize himself with the obstacles and start thinking seriously about the competition. You can't assume that there will be time before the competition as the morning before the competition is often chaotic and stressful. This is far from the best time to practice and learn a park. If the competition is on a Sunday, try to get there by noon on Saturday. If the competition is on Saturday, try to get there in time to ride on Friday. If it's an indoor lighted park, you should be able to have time to ride in the evening.

If your kid is anything like mine, you'll have a hard time getting him off the park to rest and get sleep the night before the competition. He's excited, anxious, nervous, and trying to get as much time on the park as possible. Unfortunately, he'll ride until I literally have to pull him off the park at 10:00PM the night before. We try to break up the day into chunks so that he gets to ride the park, but doesn't get too tired. We've had a few instances when Paxton was exhausted the day of the competition because he had ridden too many hours the day before the comp.

In addition to ensuring a good night's sleep, make sure that your kid drinks lots of water and eats some decent meals. If he's dehydrated and hungry, he can't focus on learning the course and he'll suffer fatigue on the day of the comp. By the day of the comp, it's too late to plan and practice a run, so make sure that your kid plans out a run the day before. Many comps will have 2 rounds of 1 minute runs each. We like to focus on planning one really good run and then have a handful of go-to tricks that Paxton can use in an improvised second run.

Click here for the second part of this article: What to Expect at a Freestyle Scooter Competition


Comments

I just wanted to say I love your site. I am a scooter mom with a 12yr old who lives to scoot.. Although I have only one child I often feel the mom to many of the scooter kids. The scooter kids are great kids no matter what division (pro, am or beginners) I wish more parents encourages their kids in this sport. It refreshing to see a parent who truley supports his son!

By Denise (not verified)

Thank you, Denise. I really appreciate your kind and supportive words. We only have one kid too, but I know exactly what you mean about being a scooter parent to many others. Again, thank you so much for your supportive words. :o)

By Kenny

How can I get a Scooter competition to come close to our area. I have tons of boys who want to be in one but can not afford to travel across the country to get there.

By Jamie Rowe (not verified)

Hey Jamie, I wish I knew what the right formula is for generating scooter comps. We have had very few in the Pacific Northwest in the last year, so we decided to run our own. If you can get some people to help you, I would suggest finding a skate park that will allow you to run a comp and throw one yourself! It doesn't have to be big. You can just do a small first comp. If you'd like some advice on the types of things you need to do, I'd be happy to give you some info on our experiences with the last 3 comps we have run. Maybe I'll even write an article about it. :o)

By Kenny

Hi Scooter Dad...you've answered my questions in the past and am so grateful for your insight into this new territory for me. I'd love to coordinate a small scooter competition at our local skate park which is a public skatepark at the beach. My kids go early before anyone gets there so they don't deal with the skaters. I'd love some advice or tips on running one. If you already wrote an article about this, post a link to it so I can find it. Thanks!

Hey Krista,

Unfortunately, there isn't an easy go-to guide for running a scooter comp. I'd say that the biggest obstacle you have in front of you is getting permission to run one at a park. Many public parks require insurance or they may not allow events, so be sure to find out if it's even possible to have one at your desired park.

Next, get organized and be as professional as possible. That doesn't mean that you need to hire a marketing team and fly a blimp over the event, but take your time, plan WELL ahead, and get help from people who have a vested interest in the event, like other parents or sponsors. If you don't have your location selected, approved, and your event sponsors on board earlier than 6 weeks before the event, you're too late.

Get your flyer done early. As soon as you pin down all the details, make your flyer (with all the details and sponsors) and start distributing it online and in local skate shops and parks. You want to get the word out so you at least have a decent turnout. On the other hand, prepare for more than you expect. I've seen events that expected 60 kids and over 120 showed up.

Get your judges and announcers to agree to help out ahead of time. Don't try to organize that one the day of the event. Be sure to have some kind of sound amplification system for announcing and music.

Set a schedule and stick to it. Scooter comps are known for running late due to disorganization. Don't be one of those event coordinators that isn't prepared and organized.

Build your prize packs ahead of time. If you have mulitple prizes for each position on the podium (5 things for 1st, 3 things for 2nd, 2 things for 3rd...), have those packages already put together before the event.

Make sure you have plenty of support from parents and other people involved because you will undoubtedly need to ask for favors at the last minute.

Prepare your registration and money-taking system so you aren't trying to piece it together on the fly. Have a cashbox, a signup sheet with the proper forms, etc. Make sure you have someone to man the registration table during the allowed registration hours. Also, plan to have some indicator for who has paid, like those plastic entry bracelets for the fair, or tickets of some kind.

Expect to lose money and years off your life. :) We don't do this kind of thing because it's a lucrative venture. You will wish you never agreed to do this before it's over. ;)

Good luck!

By Kenny

I am trying to put together a scooter comp in my city. I would love tips and some knowledge from someone that has already put one on themselves. Like what to do better or common troubles ran into. Did you write an article about how to? If not, an email back with tips and tricks would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you!

By Paul Tumpson (not verified)

I haven't written an article on this, but I do have some insight have run 3 comps in the past. Feel free to email me with specific questions and I'll do my best to answer them. You can find the email link in the upper right of any page on the site.

By Kenny