Mountain boarding is a lot like skateboarding. The only differences are that mountain boards are much bigger, have foot wraps, and are typically ridden on rougher terrain. That’s one of the main reasons mountain boarding is also referred to as grass boarding; you will most likely be riding down the side of a grass-covered hill at high speeds.
Are mountain boards for kids? Absolutely.
However, like most things invented by adults for adults and then adapted to accommodate younger enthusiasts, some inherent risks come with the sport. These risks exist whether or not it’s a kid riding the board or an adult.
Here are a few things you need to know about mountain boards for kids.
How Mountain Boarding Works
The simplest way to describe a mountain board is that it’s a combination of a snowboard and a mountain bike, but only slightly smaller. A mountain board is essentially a snowboard with wheels or rugged tires and suspensions attached. This modification makes it one of the most unique pieces of equipment known to man.
Unlike skateboards, mountain boards can be used on any surface, from paved streets to sand dunes, dirt roads, rocky terrain, and even grassy slopes. You can also use them in a skate park and on a BMX track. You can see why they would be so appealing to kids.
The main driving force will be gravity unless the mountain board is motorized. If you happen to place your kid’s mountain board on a slope, you will see it move downhill as it is pulled by gravity. When your child rides the mountain board, the same forces of motion will be at work. This means that the steeper the slope, the faster they will go, and therein lies the problem.
Tips for Children’s Safety when Mountain Boarding
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend mountain boarding or skateboarding for kids under five years. This is mostly because the child’s balance and judgment aren’t fully developed yet at this age, which leaves them prone to falls and injuries.
See our guide: how to prevent mountainboarding injuries
The same organization also recommends close parental supervision for children between 6 and 10 years. Furthermore, it is recommended that parents closely supervise where their children go mountainboarding and ensure that it’s away from highways and busy streets.
That being said, here are some other safety tips for kids who want to enjoy mountain boarding:
Helmet Safety and Mountain Boards For Kids
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there’s more to helmet safety than just making sure your kids have one on when they get on their mountain board. A properly fitted and safe helmet should:
- Worn flat on your child’s head with the bottom edge of the helmet being parallel to the ground
- The side straps on the helmet should form a “V” shape around each of the child’s ears.
- The helmet should sit low on the child’s forehead
- The buckle on the helmet should fasten tightly enough so that there’s only room for two fingers between the chin and the straps
- The helmet should have pads that can be installed or removed as necessary, so the helmet is snug on the child’s head
- The helmet should not interfere with the child’s vision, movement, or hearing in any way
- The helmet should not move in any direction when the kid shakes their head
Once you have found the right helmet for your child, there are several safety checks you can employ to ensure that it’s the right fit for your child. Here are tips on how you can check the gear:
- Eye Check: Once the helmet is positioned on the child’s head, have them look around. They should be able to see the bottom rim of their helmet; this rim should be at least one or two finger-widths above their eyebrows.
- Ears Check: The helmet straps should be snug and comfortable when fastened. Make sure they form a “V” under the child’s ears when buckled.
- Mouth Check: Have your child open their mouth as wide as they can. They should be able to feel the helmet hugging their head. If they don’t, you need to tighten the straps and make sure that the buckle is flat against their skin.
In addition to the helmet, a younger rider should also use elbow pads and knee pads.
Choosing a Safe Mountain Boarding Environment
Even though children are always at risk of falling and injuring themselves when mountainboarding in their own backyards, this risk is compounded when they do so in unsafe spaces.
Places near traffic or areas where a mountain boarder is put in a direct collision path with bikes, motor vehicles, obstacles, or even other pedestrians are particularly problematic.
This is one of the main reasons many communities have provided their children with safe mountain boarding and skateboarding parks. These areas are often located away from both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Choosing the right environment for your younger rider to mountain board greatly reduces their chances of injury. Here are some guidelines that you can follow when looking to find the perfect location:
- Carry out a quick survey of the area in which your kids intend to mountain board. Look for irregular spots, rocks, cracks, sharp bends, and other types of debris that they need to keep a close eye on when flying down the path.
- Make sure that they are riding in well-lit areas instead of darkened paths.
- Teach them to avoid holding onto the sides of vehicles, bicycles, or other forms of transportation when riding their mountain boards. These vehicles can make sudden stops, turns, and slowdowns to knock them off balance.
Use the Right Equipment
Just like there are vehicles designed for different purposes, there are mountain boards rated for different weights, ages, and riding styles. Choosing one that resonates with your child’s riding style is a good way to ensure that they have the right board for them. Other than that, make sure they are riding at their specific ability level.
Furthermore, ensuring that the mountain board is always kept in good working order will prevent unnecessary injuries stemming from equipment malfunctions. Be proactive about equipment maintenance by looking for issues that need repair, such as:
- Slipper boards or top surfaces
- Sharp or broken edges on the deck
- Loose, cracked, or broken parts
- Worn out wheels
Most of these repairs you can do on your own, but it’s advisable to get a professional for the more complicated issues that involve the trucks. It’s also advisable to have a professional look at the mountain board now and then for any possible defects or necessary preemptive repairs.
Focus on the Right Technique
The more your child gets involved in this sport, the better their technique will develop. The issue with kids is that they get excited easily and may be tempted to try out skills that they may not have mastered yet. The trick is to ensure that they learn the basics first and master them before trying more complicated maneuvers.
Some of the most important skills to master when starting out are learning how to stop, slow down, and turn safely. They also need to learn how to fall safely.
Here’s a video illustrating safe falling techniques when mountain or skateboarding:
Mountain boarding can be a fun way for your kid to learn motor skills, socialize and reduce screen time during the day. Ensuring they do so safely is every parent’s responsibility. The ideas highlighted above will help in that endeavor.