Unleashing Skatepark Potential: Exploring the Dynamic World of Pool Coping Blocks

June 2023

Skateboarding, a culture that thrives on innovation and pushing boundaries, has evolved over the years, adopting various elements from urban landscapes and architectural structures. One such element is the use of pool coping blocks, which have played a significant role in shaping the skateboarding experience. In this article, we delve into the history, profiles, and finishes of pool coping blocks, highlighting the importance of embracing a variety of options across New Zealand for a more diverse skateboarding culture.

The Humble Beginnings:

The origins of pool coping blocks can be traced back to the birth of skateboarding in the 1960s. As skateboarders sought new terrain to ride over these years, they discovered the empty swimming pools scattered throughout Southern California in the 11970's. These abandoned or emptied pools presented an exciting challenge, with their curved walls and transitions that mimicked the feeling of riding waves.

Skateboarders quickly adapted their skills to conquer these pool bowls, gradually progressing to higher and more daring manoeuvres. As they gained confidence, riders began incorporating the coping—the concrete edge of the pool—into their repertoire. Riding the pool coping opened up a whole new world of possibilities, allowing skaters to perform tricks, slides, and grinds along the pool's edge. This marked the birth of a revolutionary style known as pool riding.

The inclusion of pool coping blocks transformed skateboarding, infusing it with a new level of creativity and technicality. What started as an organic evolution within the pool riding scene has now become an integral part of skatepark design and the broader skateboarding culture.

Profiles and Finishes:

Over the years, as skateboarding evolved and skatepark construction became more standardised, different profiles and finishes of pool coping blocks emerged to cater to the diverse styles and preferences of skateboarders. These variations in profile shapes and finishes have a significant impact on the riding experience.

Profile Types:

Skateboarders can choose from a range of profile types when it comes to pool coping blocks. Each profile offers a distinct riding experience, challenging riders in unique ways. Here are some of the popular profile types:

  1. Round Profiles: The classic round profiles, resembling cylindrical shapes, come in different radiuses and protrusions. These variations in shape offer different riding experiences and challenges for skateboarders. The radius of the round profile determines the smoothness and tightness of turns, influencing the flow and speed within the bowl area. Additionally, the protrusion, commonly known as the "bonk," refers to the portion of the coping that extends into the bowl area. The size and angle of the bonk can affect how skateboarders interact with the coping, adding an extra element of creativity and skill to their runs.
  2. Square Profiles: Square profiles offer a distinct riding experience with their flat, angular edges. This type of coping provides a unique feel for grinds, requiring skateboarders to adapt their technique to navigate the sharp corners. Square profiles reward precision and balance, making them a favorite among riders seeking a different challenge.

Surface Finishes:

In addition to profile types, the surface finish of pool coping blocks also plays a crucial role in enhancing the skateboarding experience. There are several surface finish options that skateboarders can choose from, each with its unique characteristics:

  1. Smooth Finish: A smooth surface finish offers a sleek and seamless ride. Skateboarders appreciate the smooth finish for its low friction, allowing them to slide effortlessly along the coping. This finish type provides a consistent and predictable feel to grinds and slides.
  2. Perforated Finish: The perforated surface finish features small holes or perforations along the coping. This design adds texture and grip, enhancing the control and feel of grinds. Skateboarders enjoy the added challenge and unique sensation that the perforated finish provides, as it can alter the dynamics of tricks and maneuvers.
  3. Firecracker Finish: The firecracker finish is a surface treatment that exposes the top aggregate of the coping, creating a textured and gritty riding surface. This finish type adds an element of challenge and excitement to the skating experience. Skaters appreciate the textured feel and the additional noise generated during grinds, adding a sensory aspect to their sessions.

By incorporating a variety of profile types and finishes in skatepark designs, skateboarders are exposed to diverse challenges and experiences. This variety promotes skill development, creativity, and a deeper appreciation for the nuances of skateboarding. It also allows skaters to explore different techniques and push their limits, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and vibrant skateboarding culture in New Zealand.

Coping Block Materials: Concrete and Granite

In the world of skateboarding, the choice of materials for coping blocks plays a crucial role in shaping the overall skateboarding experience. The two most common materials used in the construction of coping blocks are concrete and granite.

Concrete Coping Blocks:

Concrete is a widely utilised material in skatepark construction, including the production of coping blocks. Its durability, strength, and versatility make it an excellent choice for coping. Concrete coping blocks with the correct mix can withstand the constant impact and abrasion caused by skateboard tricks, providing a reliable and long-lasting surface for grinds and slides. They can be poured in-place or molded into specific shapes and sizes, allowing for customisation based on the design and requirements of the skatepark.

Granite Coping Blocks:

Granite is another popular material used for coping blocks, prized for its natural beauty and durability. Granite coping blocks are known for their high strength, resistance to wear and tear, and aesthetic appeal. They are typically cut into various shapes and sizes, providing unique options for skatepark designers.

Granite coping blocks offer a smooth and consistent surface for grinds and slides. They are particularly favoured for their visually appealing qualities, with their natural patterns and colors adding an aesthetic element to skatepark designs. Skateboarders appreciate the premium feel and distinct characteristics that granite coping blocks bring to their riding experience.

The decision between concrete and granite coping blocks ultimately depends on the specific needs and preferences of the skateboarding community. It's important to strike a balance between functionality, durability, and aesthetics to create an enjoyable and engaging skateboarding environment.

Conclusion: Embracing Diversity in Skateboarding

As skateboarding continues to evolve, it is crucial to embrace diversity in all aspects, including the use of pool coping blocks. By incorporating a range of profiles and finishes in skatepark designs across New Zealand, skateboarders can enjoy a variety of riding experiences, fostering creativity and pushing the boundaries of what is possible on a skateboard. Whether it's the smooth and consistent feel of a round profile or the challenging textures of perforated and firecracker finishes, each option contributes to the rich tapestry of skateboarding.

Let us celebrate the history, profiles, and finishes of pool coping blocks, recognising their role in shaping skateboarding and inspiring a new generation of riders. By providing a diverse range of options, we can create a skateboarding culture that embraces individuality, encourages exploration, and propels the sport into thrilling new territories.

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