What Makes Skateboarder Rodney Mullen So Great

Rodney Mullen
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Known as the godfather of street skateboarding, Rodney Mullen is considered one of the best and most influential skateboarders in history. Having begun his professional career as a freestyler, he made his mark on the sport through the many tricks he invented and his work as an inventor and entrepreneur.

Mullen is a member of the Skateboard Hall of Fame, and his board is part of the collection at the Smithsonian, where he received a professional fellowship.

Born John Rodney Mullen in 1966 in Florida, he began skateboarding in 1974 at the age of 8 and began competing just three years later. He won his first world skateboard championship at the age of 14. He turned professional in 1980.

Rodney Mullen's Skateboarding Style

Mullen is easily the best street skateboarder the world has seen. His skateboarding style is comfortable and relaxed, making the incredible tricks he has done look light and simple. Mullen often smiled and laughed while pulling off trick after trick. He had an inventive, creative, confident and easy-going manner when he skated in competition.

Among his favorite tricks are Front-Side Crooked Grind variations, particularly the Munkey Flip Out, or Nollie Hard Flip. He also likes Darkslides.

Skateboarding Tricks That Rodney Mullen Invented

Mullen revolutionized skateboarding with the tricks he invented, most notably the Flat-Ground Ollie, the Heelflip, the Kicklip, and the 360 Flip. Here are some of the other tricks he invented:

  • Godzilla Rail Flip
  • 540 Shove-it
  • 50-50 Saran Wrap
  • Helipops (360 Nollie)
  • Gazelles
  • No Handed 50-50 Kickflip
  • Double heelflips
  • Ollie Impossible
  • Sidewinders
  • 360 Pressure Flip
  • Casper 360 Flip
  • 50-50 Sidewinders
  • One-Footed Ollie
  • Backside 180 Flip
  • Ollie Nosebones
  • Ollie Fingerflip
  • Airwalks
  • Frontside Heelflip Shove-It
  • Switchstance 360 flips
  • Helipop Heelflips
  • Kickflip Underflip
  • Casper Slides
  • Half Flip Darkslide
  • 540 Double Kickflip
  • Caballerial Impossible
  • Half-Cab Kickflip Underflip
  • Handstand flips
  • Rusty slides


Rodney Mullen Skateboarding Career Highlights

In 1977, Rodney Mullen won the first freestyle contest he entered. He was just 11 years old. Other highlights of his career include:

  • 1980— joined the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade
  • 1984, 85, 87, 88— featured in the Bones Brigade Videos 1-4
  • 1988— appeared in the feature film "Gleaming the Cube"
  • 1992— began World Industries with Steve Rocco
  • 1990-2014— featured in videos by Plan B, A-Team, Globe, and Almost
  • 2002— won the Transworld Readers' Choice Award for Skater of the Year
  • 2002— created the Almost skateboard company
  • 2003— wrote The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself

Mullen lost only one freestyle contest. Ever. In his entire life. And in the contest he lost, he came in second, because he was sick. He's even won one vert contest.

Personal History

Rodney Mullen's father, a doctor, only allowed Rodney to skate if he always wore pads and would quit after his first serious injury. The younger Mullen avoided injury, obeyed his father, and got sponsored nine months after getting his own skateboard.

Freestyle skateboarding faded from popularity, but Mullen took his creative skills and continued to be featured in skate videos even into his 50s. He no longer skates in competitions, but still skateboards two hours a day.