Skateboarding includes quite a few disciplines. Two of the most popular ones are park and street skateboarding, which are the only ones included in the Olympics.
Park skateboarding involves riding bowls, transitions, and vert, where riders gain enough momentum and speed to do airs and grind over the coping. In street skateboarding, skaters perform tricks over rails, ledges, staircases, and other obstacles typically found on the streets.
If you visit a skatepark, you’ll find different sections that involve both park and street skateboarding. Both are difficult to learn as a beginner, but any skater can learn both disciplines simultaneously.
When comparing these two disciplines, beyond the type of obstacles you get to ride, you also need to consider the proper skateboard setup for each type of riding – or setups that can do both.
See also: should a beginner go to a skatepark?
What is park style skating?
As the name implies, park style skating is a discipline that mostly takes place at a skatepark.
If a skatepark has a bowl, pool, vert, or even a snake run, you can learn how to build speed and do tricks over transitions.
Any skating that involves skating lines and flowing through different park sections at a skatepark is considered park style skating.
Even if it involves doing flatland tricks, such as flips and ollies, you may still consider it park skateboarding as long as it involves transitions and vert.
Some of the basic tricks when park skating are grinds, stalls, slides, and airs. You can also do these tricks on street obstacles, but when done in bowls, pools, verts, and even small 2’ transitions, they are typically considered park skating.
Here are some of the elements you will encounter when riding park:
- Vert walls
- Mini ramps
- Quarter pipes
- Snake runs
See also: Is bowl and pool skating hard?
What is street skateboarding?
Street skateboarding involves being creative when skating obstacles that you would typically find on the street, such as park benches, ledges, banks, rails, handrails, staircases, etc.
You can do street skateboarding on actual street obstacles though you would also find many of these elements at a skatepark.
Instead of flowing in a bowl and gaining speed and momentum, the tricks in street skateboarding involves doing ollies and ollie variations when going down starsets or grinding on rails and ledges.
Street riding may also involve skating transitions, but this is mainly to maintain speed when doing a run.
Transitions in street skating are only used to maintain a flow of speed, which is why street sections are still built with quarter pipes on each end of the course.
Obstacles typically encountered when riding street include:
- Hubba ledges
- Fun boxes
See also: Can You Skateboard In The Cold?
Is street or park skateboarding harder?
Neither discipline is easy, and learning both at the same time as a beginner is an excellent way to get better at both.
That said, some professional skaters choose to only focus on one discipline and seek to get really good at it. This, however, doesn’t mean one is more difficult than the other.
Skaters who are used to skating parks and have been doing it for a while may find it easier to learn street because they already know the fundamentals of skateboarding – balancing and being comfortable riding their board. And vice versa.
However, street skateboarding can be harder if you take into account the difficulty of the spot you are skating.
Most skatepark courses are standard, whereas the variation in street obstacles such as bigger staircases and higher rails — not to mention the guards that try to prevent skaters from skating a specific spot, can all add to the difficulty.
See also: can you teach yourself to skateboard?
Is vert easier than street?
Vert involves skating giant 10’ to 12’ ramps and pools, which is not the typical obstacles you would skate if you are a street skater.
Vert can be hazardous and somewhat harder than skating street. Street skating allows you to practice tricks on small 1’ to 2’ ledges, while in vert, there are no small vertical walls to practice on.
If you want to learn how to skate vert, the best way to prepare yourself is to learn park style skateboarding.
Park skating will help make you comfortable riding transitions, which is the best way to prepare yourself to start riding 10’ to 12’ half pipes and pools with 90-degree walls.
Can vert skaters ride street?
Most of the popular vert skaters, such as Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Lance Mountain can ride street.
They might not be as good as riding street compared to skating vert as vert skating primarily involves pumping and gaining speed through riding transitions to perform aerial tricks, stalls, grinds, and hand and foot plants.
The fundamentals of street skateboarding, which are ollies and flips, can get lost when you have been riding vert for a long time. However, it does show us that you can learn multiple skateboarding disciplines.
Is street or park skateboarding more popular?
Nowadays, the most popular skateboarders are street skaters – Nyjah Huston, Yuto Horigome, Leticia Buffoni, Chris Cole, just to name a few.
There are more popular and talented street skateboarders in the world ranking and on social media than park skateboarders, which tends to bring increased popularity to street style compared to park.
However, it really depends on the fans. Many fans enjoy watching riders do gnarly tricks down 20 sets of stairs, while some people love watching skaters fly up in the air when park skating.
Among all the skateboarding disciplines (see below), street and park are the most popular, which is why both of them made it to the Olympics as two separate events.
Park setups vs street setups
The skateboard setup you use can affect your ability to skate street or park.
Park skateboarding setups typically include:
- A wider 8.3 to 9” wide deck
- Trucks that match the width of the deck
- Larger 52 to 56mm wheels with a harder durometer around 99 to 101a.
On the other hand, street skateboards generally involve:
- A narrower deck at 8.0 to 8.25
- Trucks to match the width
- Smaller 52mm wheels with a softer durometer around 90 to 99a depending on the terrain.
Since street skateboarding involves a lot of ollies and flip tricks, the setup should be lighter.
On the other hand, because park riding involves a lot of speed when riding transitions, you want a wider, heavier, and more stable setup to avoid wobbling and losing your balance.
Park skaters’ truck configuration is also different. When riding park, you want your trucks to be on the loose side so you can carve smoothly around corners of the park sections or bowls.
Truck config for street skateboarding is generally tighter to avoid wheelbite when dropping down high altitudes or when ollie-ing really high over obstacles, such as park benches, barriers, and cones.
Here is a table that shows the most effective setups for each discipline:
|Deck||7.75 to 8.25” width||8.25 to 9” width|
|Trucks||139 to 144cm||149 to 169cm|
|Wheels||50 to 52mm 90a to 99a durometer||52 to 56mm 99a to 101a durometer|
Who are the best park and street skaters
Here is a list of some of the best park and street skateboarders based on world rankings and popularity – so you can watch their clips and get inspired with their skill and talent.
The best park skateboarders
- Keegan Palmer
- Tom Scharr
- CJ Collins
- Alex Sorgento
- Lizzie Armanto
- Misufu Okamoto
- Sakura Yoshizumi
- Poppy Olsen
- Sky Brown
- Cory Juneau
- Pedro Barros
- Heimana Reynolds
The best street skateboarders
- Daewon Song
- Yuto Horigome
- Shane O’Neill
- Geoff Rowley
- Andrew Reynolds
- Nyjah Huston
- Chris Cole
- Eric Koston
- Chad Muska
- Leticia Buffoni
- Aori Nishimura
- Alana Smith
- Momiji Nishiya
- Rayssa Leal
What is old school vs new school skateboarding?
The difference between old school and new school revolves around the different types of styles, the evolution of the skateboard itself, and the tricks you do on a skateboard.
Classic “old school” tricks include boneless, no-complies, hand plants, foot plants, and airs. New school skateboarding took those old-school tricks and made them evolve into technical variations that formed new tricks.
For example, the kickflip has evolved into double kickflips, triple kickflips, 360 flips, switch kickflips, kickflip late flips, and a whole lot more.
The 80s and 90s shaped skateboarding to what it is today. That era is also known as the old-school skateboarding era where park skateboarding from skating pools when the first urethane wheels came out.
Competitions back then consisted of a platform where skaters did all sorts of tricks such as spinning around on the back wheels and other dance-like tricks.
However, when the Z-Boys came to town, they mixed surfing with skating and developed pool skating.
The next generation of the Z-boys which is the Bones Brigade, including Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Rodney Mullen to name a few, introduced a new style of skating.
Rodney Mullen invented most of the flat land tricks that most skaters do until today.
What are the other types of skateboarding?
Park and street are just two of the many skateboarding disciplines. Here are the other skateboarding styles you might want to know:
Freestyle skateboarding involves the use of hands and taking your feet off the skateboard to execute unconventional tricks such as primos, flamingos, caspers, hang tens, hippie jumps, etc.
It is basically free skateboarding that does not have rules. It truly brings out the art of skateboarding and you can get very creative with it.
Downhill and Freeriding
Downhill skateboarding involves the use of longer boards (longboards) that measure up to 46” with a 10” width, longer 169 to 180 cm trucks with a reverse kingpin, and larger 70 to 100mm wheels with a softer 78 to 86a durometer.
Downhill skateboarding is very dangerous as it involves skating at downhill speeds ot up to 65 mph.
Freeriding is a slower form of downhill skateboarding where riders go downhill and perform slides to slow down.
Vert involves skating pools and half pipes with a height of 10’ to 12’. Skaters like Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Sandro Diaz, etc. are known for being the best vert riders.
Vert setups are similar to what skaters use when skating park.
Cruising is a way to get around town, explore, and get to where you need to be. Besides being a skateboarding discipline, it’s also an alternative way of transportation.
Cruiser skateboards come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common cruisers have 29 – 30” long decks with width 8.0 to 8.5”.
They have responsive trucks and larger softer wheels typically in the 60 – 70mm diameter range with a 78 to 80a durometer.
See also: Best skateboards for cruising