YouTube has made it painfully easy for the skateboarding community to document and share their achievements; keeping up with the best, in terms of both technicality and pure risk taking, is practically a full-time job.
So, we’ve scoured YouTube for our favourite clips and put together a list of ten skateboard tricks you need to know about if you're serious about shredding.
The kickflip is high up on the list of skateboard tricks you’ll first start practising. Once you've mastered the Ollie, Pop-Shuvit and Manual, the Kickflip is the next logical step in your trick arsenal. In the skateboarding sphere, many consider the Kickflip to be the trick that distinguishes the beginner from the skateboarder.
The Kickflip was first invented in 1983 by the skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen - completely by accident. In a chat with Tony Hawks, he recounts how he was just practising some Ollies, pushed the board away to avoid hitting his shin and he watched the board flip. He spent the rest of the day replicating the move, and so was born the ‘Magic flip’, now known as the Kickflip.
The basis of a Kickflip is a skateboard Ollie, so it’s important to have that fundamental move down. The most common issue skaters have with this trick is being able to catch and drag the front foot on the nose of the skateboard. Although it’s considered one of the more basic skateboard tricks, this move can still take a while to perfect. But once you’ve executed the Kickflip, you can start to modify and combine it to create tricks like the Double Kickflip, Varial Kickflip or Kickflip Indy.
As far as skateboard tricks go, the Chinese Nollie is both practical and really fun. This move is essential for getting around areas with a ton of cracks and ridges in the ground - it means you don’t need to ollie every two seconds. The origins of how it came to be coined as the Chinese Nollie have been lost, but if you ever hear the more fitting term ‘Crack Nollie’, they’re the same move.
First thing’s first: you need the right environment to do a Chinese Nollie. You need to find a crack or ridge on the ground that has one side higher than your wheel. The ridge will act as a force that propels you into the air and over the crack as the nose of the board hits it. The most important element of this trick is remembering to nudge forward with your front foot, otherwise, the wheel can hit the crack and the board will stay behind you rather than boosting into the air.
This entertaining trick is more than meets the eye; at first glance, people might think you Ollied until it clicks that it’s something entirely different. That’s sort of why we like it, because this seemingly easy skateboard trick is straightforward to do decently, but far more challenging to do really well. Mastering these little tricks takes patience and time, but it pays off.
The longest standing of these tricks, the daffy is an old school freestyle skateboard move that goes way back to the 70s. However, this trick is perhaps mostly known from the iconic skate video ‘Yeah Right!’ by Girl Skateboards in 2001. This is why the Tony Hawks’ games refer to the Daffy as the ‘Yeah Right Manual’.
The Daffy incorporates the classic Manual move on the front foot and the back foot on another board. Considered one of the easy skateboard tricks without Ollie, this move may initially be more straightforward to get to grips with, but the hard part is keeping it smooth and steady.
Since its heyday, the Daffy has been innovated by those in the contemporary freestyle skateboarding community. There are now variations such as Crossfoot wheelies and Spins, or the One-foot Double-board Daffy, showcased by the likes of Kilian Martin.
Straight out of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game comes the Waxslide. Although it’s a rarely seen skateboard trick in local skate parks, some have succeeded in bringing this move to life. As the name would suggest, this trick has two key elements: waxing… and sliding.
Wax is imperative to this move. In skating, the wax is crucial in making it possible to slide and grind your tricks on surfaces that produce more friction because it gives a smooth layer to slide upon. This trick requires wax so that your feet can glide down a surface like a handrail; both the surface and your shoe soles should be thoroughly waxed - you want a seriously slippery situation.
Once you’ve prepped, the idea is to jump and slide down the handrail with your board in hand and then land on the board when you get to the end of the rail. It might look slick and relatively straightforward, but it’s one of the more intimidating moves once you’re trying it out - it probably goes without saying that this isn’t a beginner skateboard trick.
Another move inspired by Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is the Flamingo. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Figure Four’ or ‘calf wrap’ because of the shape it makes when executed, the Flamingo was brought to popularity by pro skateboarder Mike V who features in Hawk’s Underground game to teach the move.
This trick consists of using one foot to wrap the board around the other leg, which is fixed to the ground, and then dropping back into skating from there. The most common issue found by skaters is them hitting their shin with the board.
Many consider it to be one of the funnest yet underrated skateboard tricks. The move has been modified so it can be done on both on flat ground and quarter pipes and banks, allowing variations like adding the Backside 180 to it.
Rodney Mullen is one of the biggest skateboarding legends of all time for so many reasons, but one stands out: his creation of new moves and tricks that are still huge in skateboarding today. Along with the kickflip, Mullen also invented the Ollie Impossible.
Rodney Mullen has linked the origins of this move to when he was nursing an injury back in 1982. At the budding age of just 16, he found himself stuck inside, messing around with his board. He recounts taking his board, popping it up, rolling it around his foot and doing the wrap. Just a couple of days after his recovery, he was back out skating and re-enacted the moves; it was then that the first Ollie Impossible was executed.
Despite it being one of the hardest skateboard tricks at the time, the trick slowly gained popularity from the 80s through to the 90s with help from the likes of Ed Templeton and Ocean Howell. It was during the 90s that Ocean Howell popularised a front-foot 180 variation of the ollie impossible. However, the popularity was short lived. The trend of pressure flips died out along with anything that had that ‘scoop feeling’: Ollie Impossibles just weren’t cool anymore.
But then an Ollie Impossible revival took place. Young skaters began to show interest in the move throughout the 2000s. This comeback was truly landmarked by the late Dylan Rieder when he jumped over a park bench executing an Ollie Impossible. He took the move to a whole new level. Today, the Ollie Impossible is still going strong and adapting to the contemporary skate scene.
Another one from the Rodney Mullen repertoire is the Darkslide: one of the more difficult moves on this list of skateboarding tricks. Although it’s been reported that the first person to actually do a Darkslide was Mark Gonzales, Mullen was the first person to do it only using his feet.
The Darkside is a complicated trick in which the rider approaches the ledge or rail and does a flip kick onto the obstacle so that they land on the board upside down. The board slides across or down the obstacle. The board then flips down to the ground and the skater lands on it.
Just like the Waxslide, this trick needs a lot of wax if you’re not doing it on a downwards sloping obstacle. A common issue skaters seem to find with this tricky move is that it can really damage your board. The slide tears up the grip tape and requires you to land on the weakest part of the board. However, the thrill of trying it and the rush of perfecting this sophisticated trick is completely worth it.
The Feather Flip is a really neat variation of the Ollie Impossible. For some reason, the Feather Flip has become a bit of an enigma; many skateboarders don’t know what it is or mistake other moves for it, like the Tuna Flip.
So for the record, the real Feather flip trick requires the skater to hit the nose of the board in the middle of an Ollie Impossible, then push it back with the back foot. It might be easy to explain, but it’s definitely not easy to get the hang of.
As one of the hardest skateboarding tricks on this list, this move should only be tackled if you’ve already got moves like Ollie, Impossible Ollie and Casper flips. Feather flips can take a long time to figure out. Once you’ve got it down, the most challenging aspect is being able to make it look really smooth and streamline.
Maybe we should have just titled this ‘Rodney Mullen’s Inventions’ because here is yet another of his creations: the gazelle flip. It’s believed to have been invented in 1981 when he was just 15 years old - he pretty much revolutionised the skating game as a teenager with these freestyle tricks.
In skater terms, the Gazelle flip is 540-degree flip with a 360-degree body rotation - a big flip with an extra turn. The back foot pushes the board into your front foot and then the back foot catches it like a regular kickflip.
The most common issue is getting the turn right because you’re turning and flipping at the same time. The best way to tackle this is to take the trick slowly and compartmentalise it; do a big flip first and then revert it, getting faster each time until it’s one smooth movement. Even the pros find it tough to do this trick quickly - it’s definitely not the easiest flip trick on a skateboard. But then again, is there any such thing as easy tricks on a skateboard?
In the past few years this trick has been modified into different variations like the Lion Flip, which is essentially 720 Gazelle Flip - and we’re sure there will be more innovations to come.
Although it’s technically not a skateboard trick, we’re still going to include the epic backflip onto a skateboard. It’s been done in a couple of different variations, like rolling on a skateboard and then backflipping onto another skateboard or going up a bank and backflipping onto the board while it’s rolling down.
However, the most famous and impressive is Adam Miller’s backflip off six flights of stairs in 2013, a trick that has been coined as a 'Gainer Backflip from one skateboard to another. The YouTube video has now gained more than 3.5 million views.
Another clip shows the gruelling two days worth of practice and pure determination that goes into pulling off a trick like that. The clip captures his ‘slams’ (the failed attempts of the trick) - it’s basically Adam Miller propelling himself off the ground to then painfully slam back down countless times. It probably goes without saying, but it’s best not to try this one at home...
We predict that in the years to come the skate community will see an influx of innovative tricks, like the feather flip or Chinese nollie. But we’re also pretty certain that the old school tricks will continue to withstand the test of time in the skate park. And, speaking of old school, why not check out our interactive content piece on the history of skate shoes. Have a nice skate.