How to 50-50 Grind on a Skateboard

Skateboarder grinding a hand rail.
Skateboarder grinding a hand rail. Daniel Milchev/Getty Images
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Step 1 - 50-50 Grind

Skater - Jamie Thomas. Photographer - Jamie O'Clock

The 50-50 is the most basic type of grind, and the first grind trick that most skateboarders learn.

What's a 50-50 Grind? A Grind is the name for sliding along an edge (such as a curb, bench, rail, coping, etc.) using your trucks instead of your wheels or deck (read more on what a grind is). A 50-50 Grind is where the edge or rail being ground is in the middle of the hangers on the trucks. The name "50-50" refers to being half on the edge and half off, with both trucks even.

You will need to know how to Ollie before learning how to 50-50 grind. Read How to Ollie, and get comfortable with your Ollies first. You will need to be good enough to land your Ollies flatly, and you will need to be able to land with your feet where you want them on your skateboard. If you are brand new to skateboarding, start with the basics (read Just Starting Out Skateboarding).

Make sure you read all of these instructions before you try to 50-50 Grind. Once you feel good and are ready, go for it!

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Step 2 - The Ledge

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

Choosing a good place to grind is important. For learning, I suggest using a ledge, rather than a rail. The skills are the same on a ledge and on a rail, but when 50-50ing a rail, you can fall easier.

A lot of skate parks have perfect edges already set up and reinforced with a sharp metal coping to help you grind. You can also buy rails for your home, or make your own rails. These can work just as well - especially if the height is adjustable. Or, you can make your own "Funbox". A Funbox is a long, low wood box with a metal reinforced edge for grinding. Any of these would be great for learning on. Just make sure that the ledge or rail has plenty of room before and after for you to skate on.

For your first ledge, try one that is about 6 inches to half a foot (15 to 30 cm) off of the ground, but make sure you can at least Ollie that high since you will be Ollying onto the ledge. Curbs could work very well, but I don't recommend them for learning to 50-50 Grind right at the start. You will want to be able to ride straight to the ledge, and curbs are usually built so this doesn't work well.

Once you have found a good ledge, you can wax it up if you want to. Wax lets you grind smoother and quicker. You can buy special skateboarding wax at your local skate shop. If you are using a local area to learn to grind on, make sure that whoever owns it doesn't mind you waxing the area up and grinding on it.

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Step 3 - The Setup

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer: Michael Andrus

Move a fair distance from the spot on the ledge or rail that you want to 50-50 Grind, facing right at the start of the ledge or rail.

Hop on your skateboard, and push to a comfortable speed. The faster you are going before the 50-50 grind, the further you will grind once you are on the rail or ledge. I suggest going at whatever your most comfortable top speed is, aiming right at the start of the edge you want to 50-50 grind.

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Step 4 - Your Feet

Photographer: Jamie O'Clock

When riding toward the ledge, have your feet in the Ollie position, with the ball of your back foot in the center of your tail and the front foot above or just behind the front trucks.

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Step 5 - The Pop

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

When you are at the edge of the ledge, bend your knees low and Ollie up onto the object you are 50-50 grinding.

Land with both trucks evenly on the object, directly on the ledge or rail, with the ledge or rail in the center or your trucks. Bend your knees as you land.

Do your best to land with your feet still in the Ollie position on your skateboard. This will make it easier to get off of the object you are 50-50 grinding at the end of the grind.

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Step 6 - Balance

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

Keep your weight balanced while grinding - don't lean back! In fact, if you have a hard time with this, keep a little more weight on your front foot. Use your arms to help balance and relax.

Also, don't hunch over too much. Try to keep your shoulders above your skateboard. Use your knees instead - bend them deeply for the initial pop up the obstacle, and keep them bent while grinding.

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Step 7 - Relax

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

More than anything, RELAX! If you have some good speed, Ollied up the ledge or rail and landed well, and keep your balance, the skateboard will be grinding. It's that simple. Keeping loose and relaxed is the key to good, comfortable, confident skateboarding. You may fall - and that's OK. In fact, you probably will fall many times. But you'll be OK. Even if you get hurt, you'll heal. So relax, and grind!

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Step 8 - Pop Off

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

At the end of the ledge or rail, give the tail of your skateboard a small pop and land back onto the ground. Again, aim for landing with all your wheels on the ground at the same time (this is where being good at Ollie's is important!).

If you want to get off of the rail or ledge before it ends, you can do this same more to hop off of it. Just use the same motions you would to Ollie, only smaller, and pull to the side a little.

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Step 9 - Ride Away

Skater - Matt Metcalf. Photographer - Michael Andrus

It's that easy. Depending on how steep the rail or ledge is, you may be going faster or slower at the end of your grind. Be prepared for it. If the ledge is fairly flat, you will be going slow at the end of your grind. If the ledge is steep, like in this picture, you will be going fast. Be prepared!

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Step 10 - Problems

Am Skater pulling a 50-50 grind in the DC Nationals in Vancouver, BC. Photographer: Jamie O'Clock

Falling - Not so much a problem as much as something that WILL happen! Grinding is tricky, and until you get the feel for it, you might take some pretty heavy falls. Wear a helmet for sure, since there's a GREAT chance to whack your head on the rail or ledge. And then there goes your bright future at Yale. I recommend using elbow pads too when learning to 50-50 grind. Slipping and cracking your arm just plain sucks, and will knock you off your board for weeks.

Stopping - Sometimes, you try to grind, and nothing happens. Your board just stops and doesn't grind. There are two possible reasons for this: One, you are going too slow. Remember, the faster you go before you Ollie up onto the rail, the faster you grind. Two, the ledge or rail you are trying to 50-50 grind is too rough to grind on. Use some skateboarding wax to smooth it out. Remember, skate wax stays on the ledge permanently and turns kinda black, so before you wax up something, make sure whoever owns it won't freak out. If they do, they may put up Skate Stoppers, and then you're outta luck.

Skate Stoppers - little metal pieces bolted onto ledges or welded onto rails to stop people from grinding them. If these are there, you need to find a new place or get the laws changed.

If you run into any other problems, let me know or stop by the Skate Lounge to get some advice. For other trick tips, take a look at the Skateboarding Trick Tips area. Keep practicing, and always make sure you're having fun!