What follows are the official UKFSA contest guidelines as decided upon by the UKFSA committee on the 26th of April 2020. They are not necessarily hard-and-fast rules, but are meant to serve as an aid to anyone who wishes to organise freestyle skateboarding contests within the UK. These are provided not only to help organisers understand what is required for a good freestyle event, but to try to achieve some sort of standard so that freestylers know what to expect at the end of what could potentially be a long and expensive journey to a competition.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require more information.
Standard Format Competitions
A standard competition should always give each skater two runs of the length shown below:
Masters and Amateur Divisions
90 second or 2-minute runs
All skaters should be allowed to skate to music of their own choice.
Jams or other special formats
“Side events” – i.e. special formats or competitions alongside the main competition – can be as creative or unusual as desired. These are often fun for both the skaters and the crowd, and be a useful way to fill time while the head judge is compiling the final results.
Examples of this would be a best trick jam, a longest wheelie competition, or a 360 spin-off.
However, if the main event of a competition is going to deviate from the standard format, this has to be advertised to skaters long in advance. It is unfair to allow skateboarders to travel long distances, often at personal expense, only for them to turn up at an event which does not meet their expectations.
Each competitor must bring his or her own music to the event. Organisers, please inform competitors what formats are acceptable – CDs, MP3s on USB sticks, or even just Spotify links are all possible, depending on technology available on site.
Preferably a very smooth, clean, flat, and crack-free surface that is neither slippery nor excessively grippy, with an area of at least 30 meters by 15 meters. Always try to find a contest area with attractive surroundings for the benefit of competitors, spectators and media. Demarcate the performance area to clarify the space that is off-limits to spectators.
If indoors, the contest area should be heated. Smoking should not be allowed, even if it is at other times.
If outdoors, the contest should be staged at a time of year when the weather is warm and dry. An indoor back-up site should be planned in the event of rain.
Note that these recommendations are in line with the WFSA’s international contest guidelines; we understand all too well that few locations in the UK meet all of the above criteria. Generally, British freestylers are a hardy bunch, and more willing to skate in less-than-ideal locations than international skateboarders. However, if you are planning on holding an event which falls short of these recommendations, please make sure all attendees know what to expect beforehand – especially if you are expecting international attendance.
A strong PA system, preferably with a cordless microphone, is a definite must and adds great value to events for both competitors and spectators.
An announcer is required to indicate which competitors are to perform, and in what order. The announcer should also inform skaters how long they have left in their runs; we recommend notifying the skater after one minute has elapsed, and when he or she has 10 seconds left. Commentary can also be made during the run to explain tricks for the audience or to encourage the skater; however, we recommend that it is kept to a minimum. The skater is the performer, not the person behind the microphone.
It is also important that the announcer does not show undue bias towards or against any of the freestylers in the competition. Banter is fine and to be expected at a British event; bias is not.
The announcer will largely dictate the tone of the event. It is up to the organiser and announcer’s discretion as to how the announcer handles his or her duties; just make sure that all skaters in attendance understand what to expect.
A reasonable period in the morning should be reserved for the competitors if possible to practice and adjust to the surface and area. If there are more than ten participants, they should be divided into multiple practice groups based on divisions, run order, or other criteria. Practice sessions of 30 minutes are recommended. Prior to the start of new contest divisions, a warm-up of 10 – 15 minutes must be given. Ensure that only the correct skaters are using the practice space during this time – i.e. no amateurs during professional warm-up sessions, and vice-versa.
Starting order and Heats
A clearly-announced randomised drawing should decide the starting order. If there are more than ten participants, they should be split into heats of ten skaters to keep them warmed up. Prior to the start of new heats, a warm-up of 10 – 15 minutes must be given.
Time between competitor runs
The judges may need up to two minutes to decide upon scores. During that time, the next competitor may roll around to feel the surface. The MC should announce the upcoming performer; this period can also be used for the announcer to explain the event in general to the audience or engage with the crowd.
Judging is always the most difficult and controversial aspect of any freestyle event. In an ideal world, former and current professional skaters should serve as judges, since their experience gives them greater discernment of the subtleties. However, that is not always possible – especially for smaller events.
It is best to try to find five judges so that each run has five scores. This then allows the top and bottom scores to be removed in an attempt to eliminate bias.
As five skilled judges can be difficult to find, we often operate a self-judging format in the UK, wherein five of the competing skaters will judge as well as compete. This is obviously far from ideal, but providing the skaters are knowledgable, it has often shown to be more functional than using random non-skaters or amateurs as judges.
For this system to work, the skating judges will judge all other skaters as they normally would – however, as they cannot judge themselves, their runs will only have four scores. This then requires some mathematics to get a fair and unbiased final score for the run; the scores are added together and then divided by four to get an “average” score for the run across the four judges. This is then multiplied by three to be in the same range as the other skaters.
Overall Impression System
5 judges each give an arbitrary score between 0–100 for each run. These scores are chosen by comparison to the skaters which have come before.
This has the benefit of being fast and easy to calculate. However, it is also difficult for skaters to understand results and includes the potential for bias (or even just the accusation of bias). A further problem comes with “score creep” – there is a tendency for judges to score early skaters low to ensure there is enough space in the judging scale for later skaters. This inevitably means skaters going later in the running order are more likely to score higher than earlier skaters, regardless of the quality of their performance.
As such, while it can make running events much simpler, we do not recommend this system is used for serious events.
British Category System
This is a more complex system which has been in use in England since 2003. In theory, it is more balanced and more representative of how a skateboarder has actually performed. It is also more accountable, in that a skateboarder can see how he or she achieved their final score. The UKFSA highly recommends this system is used at all serious UK-based events.
- Each judge awards 0–20 points for each category.
- 0 = not good; 20 = perfect
- Each judge then has a final score out of 100 for each skater
Technicality, 0–20 points
The level of difficulty of the tricks executed and landed. Points are not deducted for missed tricks in this technical category, which also encompasses how elements are executed and linked. This isn’t just a flip-counting exercise; complex footwork or difficult combinations will also score highly here.
Consistency, 0–20 points
Consistency refers to a seamless, fluid routine that is free of mistakes. Points should not be deducted for occasional planned stops, or for controlled changes in tempo and pace. Points should be deducted in this category for mistakes, missed tricks, unplanned breaks in flow, and excessive number of stops-and-starts.
Note that a fluid, interesting routine can conceal mistakes. It is up to the judges to decide how much an error hurts the routine – not all mistakes are equal!
Style, 0–20 points
The Style category encompasses numerous elements: Style can loosely be defined as form, ease, and control of the entire body and skateboard, but it also includes musical interpretation, originality in style and technique, how a skater moves between techniques, and the use of the entire competition surface.
A skater does not have to move in a textbook and precise fashion to score highly here; a wild and exciting performance could also be considered stylish if the overall presentation is good.
Variety, 0–20 points
Variety in technique. This does not necessarily mean performing elements from each and every technical category, which might encourage formulaic skating. But a perfect score should only be awarded to a routine that, within the chosen approach, shows an interesting, exciting variety of elements from multiple trick groups.
It is easier to explain why someone would score low rather than see why someone might score highly; if someone only does stationary tricks, has a run where 90% of the tricks involve ollies, or almost everything they do involves landing on one leg, they would get zero points (or close to it).
Originality, 0–20 points
This is where British category scoring deviates from international systems. Originality has been one of our categories since the first modern event in 2003 in a bid to encourage progression. Note that originality does not necessarily mean “deliberately weird” or refer exclusively to brand new tricks; points can be given for unique trick selection, unusual sequences or linkages of tricks, and stylistic elements as well as innovated tricks.
Once all scores are finalised, the category scores are added together so that, much like the basic Overall Impression System, each judge will have given the run a score out of 100. These final scores are then processed to remove bias as normal.