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How to kickflip: Step-by-step instructions to get it right
Here are the basic steps you need to take to execute a kickflip.
Interested in learning the kickflip? This skateboarding trick is one of the most popular, and also hardest, moves you can learn. The original kickflip was very different than the move we know and love today, though. It was originally invented back in the 1970s by Curt Lindgren. He performed the kickflip by placing the top of his toe under his board and flipping it upwards.
The trick was modified in 1982 by Rodney Mullen, who changed it to resemble the trick we know today. He used a flat ground ollie and then slid his front foot to the top of the board to pop the trick higher and control the board's direction during the flip. Over time, this trick became a move freestyle skateboarders added to their arsenal.
How to Kickflip
Think you're ready to learn the kickflip? Here are the basic steps you need to take to execute the trick:
1. Position Your Feet
The position of your front foot is more important than the position of your back one, as it's your front foot that dictates the kickflip. Your front foot should be off the board a bit and angled slightly to facilitate the kick, with the ball of your front foot behind the front trucks. Put your back foot flat on the tail of the skateboard. If you're accustomed to the ollie stance, you may feel somewhat unsteady in this position. However, do your best to keep your balance.
2. Position Your Upper Body
Keep your shoulders and balance level. While some people do a kickflip with the back of the board below the front, this is actually a style error. To execute a kickflip properly, the board should be level in the air, with your shoulders and weight equally distributed between the front and back trucks.
3. Pay Attention to the Direction You're Jumping
The direction your body is moving during the trick is also another important aspect to keep in mind to properly perform the kickflip. You should be jumping upward more than forward.
4. Pop the Tail
Kick down on the tail of the skateboard with your back foot. You should be kicking down with enough force to make a popping sound. If you know how to do an ollie, this move will be familiar, as the motion is nearly identical.
5. Drag the Nose and Kick Out
After popping the tail, you need to drag the nose with your front foot. You'll use your toes more than you likely would if you were executing an ollie. As the toe of your front foot reaches the nose of your board, use a flicking motion outward and forward. The height of the kickflip will depend on how high you can get the nose to level off before you kick out.
6. Rotate the Board
Practice staying over the top of your board while you watch it rotate under your feet. As mentioned above, pay attention to your body motion and make sure you're jumping up and not forward or off the board as you kick it underfoot.
7. Catch the Board
If you have successfully maintained your balance over the top of the board as you flipped it, all you need to do next is time the catch so that you land as the board completes the rotation. This will take some practice, but once you get the hang of the kickflip, other tricks will come much more easily.
Guide your feet to position them over the hardware on your board. This will allow the stress of impact to be absorbed by the wheels. Make sure you use your knees to absorb the shock of the landing as well. This is incredibly important as you attempt to jump gaps or larger sets of stairs.
ABC of... Skateboarding
Tricks to Master Before the Kickflip
The kickflip is one of the hardest skateboarding tricks you'll learn, which is why it's important to master a few other skateboarding tricks first. Here are a few we suggest starting with:
The ollie is probably the most important of all of the tricks you should master first, as the kickflip is achieved by combining an ollie and a kick-flick motion. The trick requires you to stomp on the tail of the skateboard to pop it off the ground and get the board mostly vertical. You then jump and slide your front foot forward to level out the board before landing. This trick is considered a fundamental skill that lets you leap over, on to, or off of obstacles.
A frontside 180 is another basic trick, although you first have to know how to do a regular ollie. Once you have an ollie down, the frontside 180 is pretty self-explanatory. You just pop an ollie and turn your body and board 180 degrees toward the heel side.
The backside 180 is essentially the same as the frontside 180, except that when you make the 180 degree turn, you move your body and board in a backward motion so your back faces the direction you're going. The main challenge for this trick is approaching obstacles like stairs and ledges, as the backward motion disrupts your line of sight.
Like any new trick, each one of these requires time and practice to execute them safely and successfully. Keep practicing the movement until your body begins to trust your mind's intent. As you begin to land the movements, look for additional ways to challenge yourself, such as catching the board while it's still in the air, improving your balance, or increasing the height of your kickflip. Once you have the move mastered, you'll be able to take it with you wherever you go and execute it in a variety of locations.