Proper Foot Placement for Nailing a Kickflip

Skateboarder falling off of railing in skate park
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Once you've mastered the ollie, the kickflip is the next trick most beginning skateboarders learn. It's one of the most common tricks in skating, but it can be challenging to master, especially sticking the landing. Beginners often struggle to flick the board and land on both feet. Instead, they chickenfoot the landing, meaning they land on one foot. With practice and some confidence, however, you can master the kickflip and nail foot placement every time. Here's how.

Begin With the Ollie

The kickflip begins with an ollie, the foundation of most skateboard tricks. Put your back foot flat on the tail of your skateboard and put the ball of your front foot right behind the front trucks. Don’t go very fast at the start. Just get rolling at a comfortable speed and then move your feet into this position.

Pop the Board

As you launch up into the air, slide the side of your front foot toward the edge of the nose. Using the top of your toes, flick the board. The motion of your foot should be out and a little down. Be careful not to kick down, which is a common beginner mistake. Your foot will be underneath the skateboard, making it impossible to land right. Instead, you want the motion to be both down and out back behind you.

Move Those Feet

Another reason you want a good pop is so you'll get enough air so the board and flick and you can get out of its way. Don't let your front foot end up underneath the board, or your board won't be able to begin rotating properly. After flicking the skateboard, pull your front foot out and up. 

Stay Level

One big reason that skaters land on one foot is that they're not balanced. Remember to keep your shoulders level with the ground and pointed in the direction you are going as you're airborne. Try not to turn to the side and tilt your upper body so that one shoulder is higher than the other. If you do, you're likely to miss the two-foot landing.

Catch and Land

The final step is also the hardest because it requires coordination and confidence. Once the skateboard has spun around completely one time, you'll need to catch it. Plant your back foot first at the tail of the board, then bring your front foot down. As you land bend your knees deeply to absorb the shock of landing and stay in control of your board. 

Troubleshooting the Kickflip

Any skateboarding trick requires practice to perfect it, but going airborne also requires believing in yourself. The fear of falling is often worse than falling itself (and you probably will take a tumble or two you learn), but you can overcome this. One easy way to begin is by practicing a kickflip indoors on a carpeted surface or outside on a level lawn. You won't be moving, which will help you focus on perfecting the footwork involved in the pop and flick, and a softer surface underfoot will ease any fears of hurting yourself. Lastly, remember to wear proper footwear. Good skate shoes will help you stay in control of your board in a way that sneakers or flip-flops won't.