Now that you’ve got your ollies down, you want to step into learning your first flip trick, right? But should you start with heelflip or kickflip? Is one really easier than the other?
Kickflips are typically easier to rotate than Heelflips because of the open posture of the upper body. This comes at a disadvantage as they’re harder to balance on while setting up. Your feet being closer together with your body weight standing over the deck. In the end, it all comes down to preferences. Try both and go with the one that feels the more natural to flick.
The first flip trick is a huge milestone in your skateboarding journey, the second right after the ollie. I remember the sentiment of accomplishment I felt when I landed my first heelflip, priceless. What’s the Difference between Kickflip and Heelflip?
By definition, a Flip Trick involves at least a 360° rotation of the skateboard around its horizontal axis. Kickflips and Heelflips are the 2 pillars forming every more advanced flip trick. The Yin and Yang of skateboarding, if you’d like.
The Kickflip is a 360° rotation of the skateboard around its horizontal axis behind you. Clockwise for goofy footed and counter clockwise for regulars. It requires the front foot toes to flick out the heel side pocket of the nose.
The Heelflip is a 360° rotation of the skateboard around its horizontal axis in front of you. Counter-clockwise for goofy and clockwise for regular footed. It involves the front foot heel flicking towards the top end corner of the nose.
Should I learn Heelflip or Kickflip first?
Well, it all depends on your preference and the body posture you feel more comfortable with. When doing heelflips people have their shoulders more closed, they look more towards the tail and have a wider stance. Kickflips require a more open upper body posture in order to flick behind you.
I learned heelflips first, but many of my friends felt more comfortable with the kickflip right away.
Ultimately, there isn’t one to learn before the other. Pick the one that comes more natural to you and stick to it until you landed it. Learning one will help you learn the other. This will open the door to many variations that originate from these two flips. How hard is a Kickflip?
Landing your first flip trick is definitely a hassle. Whether it’s the kickflip or the heelflip, it can take many years for some skaters to learn. From what I’ve seen, if you skate regularly, 6 months should be a good estimate.
Don’t get discouraged by the videos where people learn them in a day. Unless you’re very focused, gifted, and lucky; chances are, it will take you a while to learn.
Pro tip: break down the movement and master every piece individually. It’s a good way of figuring out what’s preventing you from landing it. For instance, don’t jump on the board before being able to form the flip consistently.
Is It Easier to Kickflip While Moving?
If you’re struggling to learn the Kickflip standing still, you can give rolling a go. This will make the board flip faster, but it will be harder to keep it underneath you. Usually, people learn tricks rolling once they’re very comfortable on their board and consistent with their basics. If that’s your case, then definitely go for it rolling.
Although, the easiest way to learn any flip tricks is to stand still, holding on to a rail or a fence. Not only do you remove the risk of falling and slipping out -you can catch yourself- but you can use it to stay longer in the air.
This last point is key. The extra second of hang time allows you to complete the rotation and land with both feet on almost effortlessly. Once you can do them holding on to something, doing them standing still is just a matter of commitment.
How to Commit When Skateboarding
Skateboarding is and always will be intimidating. No one ever stepped on a board for the first time without fearing slipping out. Even pro skaters who spent thousands of hours on a skateboard battle their fear daily.
Danger will always be a component of skating. It’s part of what makes it so empowering. The small shots of adrenaline when you commit to doing something that scares you are the best.
Like with any fear, the only way of conquering it is to face it. Straight on. You need to stay away of the danger but believe in yourself you’re capable of doing it. Anyone can start skating. Whether you’re 10 or 60 years old, heavy or skinny, male or female.
Follow these 3 fundamentals to start the practice of skateboarding optimally; and hopefully, get over your fear.
1. Wear Proper Gear
If you fear stepping on a skateboard, get padded up first. Wear a helmet and knee pads for a starter. If this doesn’t feel enough, you can put up wrist guards and elbow pads.
2. Start Slow
When I first started skateboarding, I didn’t even roll for the first week. I practiced ollie and shove-it standing still for hours on end. This way rolling wasn’t such a big deal when I finally take my board for a ride later on, as I already spent so many hours familiarizing with the deck.
You don’t have to do the same off course, but practice every small step until you’re comfortable taking it further.
3. Learn to Fall
Your fear might originate from the anticipation of falling and getting hurt. If you train yourself to fall properly, you will gain confidence and avoid some injuries.
Skateboarding is falling. Every landed trick you see hides the hundreds of hours spent failing and falling. You will get hurt. You need to be aware of the danger, but don’t think about it when you’re trying.
Whether it takes you hours, days, months or years of practice to achieve, you will land your first flip tricks as long as you stick to skating. Don’t trip about it if takes you longer than others. Skateboarding is so much more than just flips. There is a plethora of tricks you can learn that might come more naturally to you. As Rodney Mullen said: “Go out there and create”.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.