Kickturn on a Skateboard

Learning to Kickturn
Kickturn Basics. Credit: Hinterhaus Productions
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Basics of Kickturns

Skateboard Kickturn
Kickturn. Credit: Robert Alexander

Kickturning is a basic skateboarding skill described in the Skateboarding Dictionary), but it can be confusing to learn how to do it. Kickturning is when you balance on your back wheels for a moment, and swing the front of your board to a new direction. It takes some balance and some practice

Kickturning is step number 8 in Just starting out skateboarding. These directions here go deeper in explaining how to learn to kickturn on your skateboard.

But, before we start, make sure you have steps 1 through 7 of the basics down! You'll need to have the right equipment and be confident enough with simple riding.

Once you're there, it's time to learn to kickturn:

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Kickturns and Balance

Kickturn Basics
Basics of Kickturns. Credit: MoMo Productions

First off, you need to learn some balance on two wheels. Put your skateboard on your living room carpet, or on the grass outside. Somewhere where it won't roll much.

Stand on your skateboard with your back foot across the tail and your front foot right behind or on the bolts for the front trucks. This is a basic ollie stance, and is used for a huge number of skateboarding tricks.

Now, bend your knees and keep your shoulders level above the skateboard deck. Relax. Breathe normally. Stop freaking out.

Next, shift your weight to your back foot. Not all of it, maybe about two thirds. As you shift your weight to your back foot, bring your front foot up a little. The more you shift your weight to the tail of the board, the more the nose of the board will want to pop up into the air. Try balancing on just the back wheels, just for a moment. It will feel scary, like you are going to fall. Maybe you WILL fall! Don't worry about it, just relax and get back on your board. See how long you can balance on those back wheels.

Once you've done this for a while, we can move to the next step:

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Learn to Duckwalk

Skateboard Basics
Duckwalk. Photo © 2012 “Mike” Michael L. Baird

This next step is fun, and might seem ridiculous. But, it does help! A very wise skater taught it to me, and then went on to play hockey...

You can practice this outside on a street or flat concrete driveway, or on the carpet in your home. Wherever you want. Stand on your skateboard, with your back foot across the tail of your skateboard. Put your front foot across the nose of your skateboard in the same way.

Now, once you have your feet on the nose and tail of your skateboard, try and and walk. You do this by shifting your weight to one foot, and swinging the other foot forward a little, still on the skateboard. Do this back and forth. Like I said, this might seem a little ridiculous, but relax and have fun with it. It's good practice.

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Frontside Turns

Skateboarding Turns
Frontside Turn. Credit: Hero Images

Now you are ready to actually kickturn. Stand on your skateboard with your back foot across the tail, and your front foot on or behind the front trucks. You can do this on carpet or pavement. If you start on carpet, then you should really try it on pavement soon, to avoid making any bad habits.

Just like with the balance exercise, you will want to shift your weight a little to the tail of your skateboard, and bring the nose up off the ground. Also, while the nose is in the air, you want to push the nose of the skateboard a little behind you. Do this by pushing or scooping back with your toes. You don't need to worry about turning very far, just try and turn a little.

Since you are turning with your front to the outside of the turn, this is a Frontside Kickturn.

At first, you will probably only turn a little. But, keep practicing. Notice how swinging your arms and hips helps. Do little kickturns until you turn in a complete circle. Then, do it again, but try and turn all the way around with as few kickturns as possible! Practice for a while, trying to beat your own records.

Once you can kickturn about 90 degrees or so, you can either keep practicing, or go to the next step:

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Backside Turns

Basics of Skateboarding
Backside Turn. Credit: Toshiro Shimada

This is turning the other direction. The principle is basically the same, but most skaters find it easier to do frontside kickturns than backside kickturns. This time, you push with your heel.

In the same way as with the frontside kickturn, do backside kickturns and turn in a full circle. Do some more, and try and beat your own record.

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Tic Tac Kickturns

Skateboard Tic Tac
Tic Tac. Credit: Uwe Krejci

Once you can turn in both directions, try combining the two. Do a short kickturn one way, and then a short kickturn the other way. Do them quickly, while swinging your weight forward, and you can move forwards! Tic Tacing is a real skateboard maneuver, and is super usefull if you don't feel like stepping off of your board, and want to go a short distance.

At first you will move very slowly, or even move backwards! Keep at it, pushing your weight forwards. Give yourself a goal - try to go a few feet, and then try and tic tac across the street.

As you practice, pay attention to what your arms, shoulders and hips are doing. Feel free to really swing yourself into the turns. If you fall, get up and do it again. It's best in skateboarding to not stop for hte day after a fall, unless you are really hurt. It's good to get back on your skateboard, if you feel ok, and do a little more.

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Mastering Kickturns

Master the Skateboard
Mastering Skateboarding. Credit: sanjeri

With that you should know the basics of kickturning, and from here on out it's just a matter of practice, confidence, and incorporating kickturns into your normal skateboarding.

As you gain more confidence, try kickturning while moving. Try kickturning while on a ramp (ride up a little ways, kickturn 180, and come back down). The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become.

I've seen many skaters get confident in turning one direction, and never really practicing kickturning in the other. This is OK, but I think it's a bad habit. If you want to be a really confident skater, you need to be comfortable kickturning in whichever direction you need at the time. So, while you go on to learn more skateboarding tricks, remember to spend some time every once in a while practicing your kickturns. Get to the point where you can 180 kickturn in either direction. Even go for 360 kickturns. And, as always, have fun! Now you are ready to learn the Kickflip