Could skate coaching help redress the gender balance in the culture's ranks?

Could skate coaching help redress the gender balance in the culture's ranks?

At class with UK advocate Lucy Adams — It's not about imposing rules, it's about stripping away preconceptions.

UK shredder, coach and all-round skate advocate Lucy Adams gets just as much satisfaction from you landing your tricks as she does from hers. Well, almost.

The bundle of kick-push energy – who last year won the Vans UKSA skate championships, The Ledge UK Miniramp Champs, The Unicorn Girls Skate Jam and more – is just passionate about creating environments where all kinds of people can experiment and have fun with their own way of skateboarding.

“Improvisation is one of the fundamental aspects of skateboarding,” says Lucy, who currently coaches a weekly, female-only skateboard session in Brighton (called Brighton She Shredders) as well as other group sessions and private classes. “It’s creative and spontaneous in its raw form and you get to see this a lot when in coaching sessions. Participants are learning to take in quite a lot of info and they may have a few skills but not necessarily be able to link them together. Once they start to progress you can see them go down a ramp and start to improvise when they reach the other side by adding something else they’ve learned to their line. The formation of lines is wicked to see!”

Lucy started coaching in 2002 after getting involved in some Powerpuff Girls Skate Workshops at the Sprite Urban Games. She has lesson plans that she refers to but generally each session is unique, encouraging the newbies to go with their instincts. “I try to arm them with all the knowledge about a specific trick and how it should feel and look and then they have more confidence,” she says. “Then I encourage the rider to go for it but offer them some advice on how and when to bail safely.”

But is coaching at odds with something that’s usually profoundly intuitive and self-taught? “The type of teaching I’m doing with novice skaters is much more about giving tips and advice to help them learn the basics quicker,” says Lucy, now thirty. “Those imperfections and the development of a unique style still happens as it takes a lot of time to learn to really skate! Giving someone a hint on where to put their foot in order to master a certain move is what happens all the time during skating anyway. The environment in which we do it just tends to build people’s confidence, especially with a lot of females. It provides a good learning atmosphere and skaters buzz off each other’s stoke.”

So what keeps the supportive coach motivated to keep helping others get their lines? “When people get really stoked on the tricks they learn and when I hear those words, ‘I never thought I could do that!’” she says. “It’s good to see people overcoming their fears. Also, shredding the gnar! Pushing myself and making myself ache all over after a long session. Also, just the skatepark vibes and the good people.”